Your guide to the international trade show ATA Carnet 

international trade show
Your guide to the international trade show ATA Carnet 

Trade show shipping can be complex at the best of times, so it’s no surprise many are left scratching their heads when it’s time to hit the international circuit. You have to contend with the usual trade show shipping challenges — like packing, logistics, and more — and you have to think about customs and international regulations. 

Let’s look at the most important things to know and help you prepare for trade show shipping overseas.

International trade show shipping: What you need to know

The two most vital parts of international trade show shipping are customs regulations, which you may already be aware of, and the ATA Carnet, which is a very specific document you’ll need to familiarize yourself with to ensure smooth, affordable international trade show shipping.

Customs regulations for international trade show shipping

Most people will jump to fees when they think about customs. However, customs regulations are much more than duties and taxes on your internationally shipped goods. They govern what goods can be imported or exported between countries, with strict rules about how they should be transported. 

Customs regulations vary depending on where you’re shipping from and where your goods will end up. If you’re shipping trade show materials to a country within a customs union, you’ll need to follow regulations set out within the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade that are shared by each country in the union. 

A customs union enables free trade within member states and implements a common external tariff for those outside of it. This makes international trade show shipping much easier to navigate. That said, not every country is part of a customs union, and you need to be cautious to avoid getting mixed up. 

For example, the US is not part of any customs union, but Canada has been in an agreement with the EU since 1998.

You’ll need to research and prepare your materials for overseas trade show shipping. Failure to comply with any customs regulations can result in your materials being held by authorities and significant fines. With so much on the line, it’s often easier and cheaper to work with a company that specializes in trade show shipping. They can assist with the paperwork and arrange the logistics on your behalf. 

Another great way to reduce international trade show shipping costs is with an ATA Carnet, so let’s look at what this document can offer. 

ATA Carnet

An ATA Carnet can be your best friend when prepping for an overseas trade show. It’s an international customs document that allows you to temporarily import goods duty-free and tax-free. This is perfect for trade shows since you’ll only be shipping your booth and supplies to a country for the duration of the show, after which they’ll return to your home country. 

Sometimes referred to as a “passport for goods,” the ATA Carnet document replaces the need for usual customs documentation when shipping within the 70 countries belonging to the Carnet scheme. It’s important to note that the Carnet scheme does not include all countries. So, if you plan on attending a trade show in a country not on the list, you can’t use an ATA Carnet and will be responsible for complying with their customs regulations.

An ATA Carnet is valid for one year and can cover multiple trips. This is perfect for businesses with a busy trade show schedule because you can avoid paying duties and taxes for every show, saving a considerable amount of money. 

It also eliminates the need to pay a bond or cash to foreign customs offices. Even though you’ll get the bond back, wait times can be between six months to two years. That can quickly eat away at your bottom line, so it’s better to avoid it altogether.

Get ready for your international trade shows with DTS

There’s a lot to learn before you start shipping trade show materials overseas. 

While an ATA Carnet can make the process of international trade show shipping much cheaper and easier, it can still be complicated. 
Partnering with a trade show shipping company can help you with the process. Be sure to check out the DTS blog to learn more about trade show shipping. And when you’re ready to go, get in touch with the team at DTS to get help and tips about international trade show shipping.

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