Using a carnet when you"re filming abroad

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carnetLast week at BVE we hosted a panel session with our international sister website KFTV about filming abroad. We’re fairly new at public speaking but - thanks to an amazing panel - the event was attended by roughly 60 people and could be called a success. Phew!

One thing became clear to us though; we provided many of the attendees with valuable information on tax relief, liability insurance and film commissions, but while we listened to the speakers and questions, we did notice a certain knowledge gap when it came to the use of carnets.

If you are travelling with professional equipment abroad, you should always check before taking off if that country, or any of the countries you are travelling through, takes part in the ATA Carnet system. If this is the case you must have a carnet.

What is a carnet?

What is a carnet I hear you ask? It’s a very simple but very detailed shipping document that allows you to travel from country to country with all your filming equipment, without the need to pay import duty or tax.

What happens when you don’t have one varies by country but if you are working on a big shoot, with lots of equipment, you can rest assured that the bill at the border will be high (you will be charged import duty at a set percentage of the equipment's value). On top of this you would have to be prepared to hang out at customs for quite some time while the paperwork is being prepared. Do you really want to do this?

A carnet is basically a very long checklist of all the equipment that will show that you have returned all the items to your home country and that nothing has been left in any of the countries you have visited on your trip.

Where do I go to get a carnet?

Your local Chamber of Commerce can help you with the nitty-gritty details and provide you with the documents you need to fill in and carry with you at all times. Don’t just presume someone else takes care of this but check before you are setting off.

Also make sure this is not a last minute job as lost or unlisted items might cost you a large slice of your budget. You will need to schedule in enough time to get all the information you need for the equipment list – it can be a laborious job with kit coming from a range of suppliers, so make sure you map it all out.

What does a carnet cost?

Of course, getting a carnet, as with most things in life, isn’t without a cost. It will depend on your home country, who you use as an issuing agent, what you are taking with you and to where. Again, check this with your local Chamber of Commerce.

So, with this basic ‘guide to’ you now, hopefully, know a bit more about carnets and the importance hereof.

If you’d like to add any additional info you think is useful for our readers, or if you’d like to tell us about your personal experiences (e.g. horror stories), then get in touch through the comment section below or via our Facebook page.