Temporary Export / Temporary Use of Objects, for Example for an Exhinition, a Theatre Performance or a Concert

In the case of a temporary use (temporary export) of goods it is important to ensure that the object in question returns to its country of origin, which can only be achieved if it is identified precisely. The same applies to a mere transit via a country outside the EU.

For these purposes, ATA Carnets are used (abbreviation of l’Admission Temporaire, ATA Carnet is a set of customs passes, hence the French word carnet – notebook). ATA Carnet is an international customs document that simplifies customs formalities in the event of a temporary use of goods beyond the border, i.e. in the event of a temporary export and re-import (return) of the goods to the country of origin. In the Czech Republic, ATA Carnets are issued by the Czech Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber of Commerce has many branches issuing ATA Carnets all over the Czech Republic.

The ATA Carnet is used as a document enabling to exhibit objects and samples and to transport professional equipment, provided that the items are transported beyond the border just temporarily and will return to the country of origin. The ATA Carnet is designed both for entrepreneurs and private individuals. It is valid for up to one year. The ATA Carnet first needs to be filled it, then stamped by the Chamber of Commerce and finally brought to the customs office where it is “opened”.

Temporary exportation without an ATA Carnet:

A temporary exportation must be settled at the border of the country of temporary importation (for instance at the border of Switzerland), where a customs deposit equalling 10 percent of the value of the transported item must be paid. The customs authorities thus secure the payment of the customs duty in case the item does not return from the country of temporary importation. Since this procedure – import upon a customs deposit – is very slow and inefficient, the solution to this situation has been unified internationally.

Where can I import goods temporarily using the ATA Carnet?

In order to unify the customs practice, the International Chamber of Commerce has introduced the ATA Carnet (under the Convention on Temporary Admission). The ATA Carnet can be used to transport of items via countries that have acceded to the Convention (Countries that have acceded to the Convention)

The ATA Carnet saves time and money. It does not require a customs deposit. It ensures fast customs clearance and easy handling of the exported goods. The certificate provided by customs authorities on the ATA Carnet is not subject to any fee. The issuance of the ATA Carnet is, however, a paid service. The amount to be paid depends on the total price of the cargo.

What objects can be exported temporarily using the ATA Carnet?

  • Professional equipment
    Equipment necessary for artists, theatre companies and orchestras, including things used for public or private performances (musical instruments, costumes, stage sets, animals, etc.)
  • Objects/items to be exhibited or shown
    Typically exhibits, artworks, etc.
  • Aids used for exhibiting
    For instance projectors, panels, etc.
  • Live animals used, for example, for participation in shows, competitions, races, circus animals, etc.

Note: The regulation on temporary export does not distinguish between artistic and other professions, so it does not even discern individual types of works of art, whether they are paintings, stage decorations, puppets, etc.

The value of the exported objects must not exceed CZK 5,000,000. The objects must not be consumer goods (such as food) or articles intended for distribution (promotional materials). The goods/object must return to the original country in an unaltered condition, which means that the ATA Carnet cannot be used for goods that are to be processed. Everything that is exported under an ATA CArnet must be imported back.

Transport of stage design and costumes

If, for example, a theatre performance is to take place abroad, there are several options for the transport of stage design and costumes. They can be transported by road, by ship or by air, but the latter only if the size of the stage sets complies with the requirements and approval of the transport company. If the dimensions are suitable for transport by air, such transport is considerably fast. It takes approximately seven to fourteen days from the loading of the cargo to its unloading at the destination. If, however, the destination cannot be reached by air due to the size of the consignment, it is necessary to expect a longer time, depending on the distance of the destination, for example about two to three weeks to Israel and eight to ten weeks to Japan. All materials transported outside the EU need the ATA Carnet.

Transport of musical instruments

Musical instruments can be transported abroad by air or in containers of a transport company. Each air carrier offers different services in transport of musical instruments. For example, Easyjet, a low-cost carrier, transports musical instruments as hand luggage only if the instrument dimensions including the protective case do not exceed 30 cm x 120 cm x 38 cm. Musical instruments meeting this dimension requirement include the violin, the viola, the piccolo, the flute, the clarinet, the bugle, and the trumpet. The transportation of musical instruments as hand luggage is allowed only if it there is free space in the overhead compartments and giving the permission is solely up to the captain. Please note that the instrument will be regarded as the one allowed piece of hand luggage. Each air carrier sets different conditions for the transport of musical instruments. It is therefore reasonable to check the acceptable dimensions for a hand luggage or for the freight compartment with your airline well ahead of your trip.  The weight of the instrument can be limited as well. Musical instruments such as the harp should be transported preferably by a haulier. Large musical instruments (with the exception of the cello) must pass the check-in as checked luggage, must not weigh more than 32 kg and are subject to luggage fees. In practice, however, instruments such as the double bass, the harp and the timpani can be lent from other orchestras at the venue of the concert.

A cello can be taken to the passenger compartment in the airplane if you buy an extra seat for it. Given its size, a cello you can be easily laid down on the seat and secured with the seatbelt. A smaller musical instrument (e.g. the violin, the guitar, etc.) could slip out of the seatbelt and fall on the aircraft floor, which could become dangerous in an emergency situation. For musical instruments larger than the cello (e.g. the double bass, the harp, etc.) there is no option to purchase an extra seat, since these instruments are too large and heavy.

A company that can provide transport of a large number of musical instruments, for example for an orchestra.

Who can obtain the ATA Carnet?

Basically anybody. You do not have to be an entrepreneur.  Individuals are required to present their identity cards and pay a customs deposit at the issuing institution, i.e. the Czech Chamber of Commerce.

If the consignment is accompanied by a person other than the ATA Carnet holder, such person has to be granted a power of attorney. This applies when the transport company bears liability for the transported consignment. The ATA Carnet is signed by the executive/representative of the company that has applied for it, for example a theatre director, etc.

How to apply for an ATA Carnet?

By submitting an application to the Czech Chamber of Commerce. The applications must be made on prescribed forms that are available here (the Czech Chamber of Commerce website). You must bring the printed forms to the Chamber of Commerce with you. The best way is to collect the empty colour-coded forms at the Chamber of Commerce in advance and print the text on them from an Excel template. The template will help you in uncertainty as to how to fill in the form. A fee is paid to the Chamber of Commerce for each page of the ATA Carnet.

What are the fees for an ATA Carnet?

The fees for the issuance of an ATA Carnet depend on the value of the goods. You can find the pricelist here.

How long is an ATA Carnet valid?

For no longer than one year from the date of its issuance. Customs authorities always set the time limit for the temporary use/transit, which has to be observed. In the case of transit, the limit is set for a few days (for example, two days for transit via Switzerland).


An exhibition was transported from the Czech Republic to Milan via Switzerland due to transport restrictions. The artists were moving their exhibition from the Czech Republic to Italy themselves, but they had to follow a traffic diversion via Switzerland, where a customs officer required a consignment note for individual artworks with specification of each item, its value, material, information on insurance, etc. As they were unable to fill in the document on the spot, they could not travel through Switzerland and had to return.

What happens when an object remains abroad permanently?

A guarantee for the ATA Carnet holder is made by the institution that issued the carnet, i.e. the Czech Chamber of Commerce. It also pays any fees due in the event that the goods are not returned. Subsequently, the Chamber recovers the fees from the carnet holder.

What if the goods transported under an ATA Carnet get stolen? The customs authorities do not care whether the goods are stolen, they only check whether they are returned. It is therefore necessary to pay the customs duty and taxes in any case. We recommend taking out an insurance policy against theft with coverage from the moment the consignment is handed over to the carrier until the moment it is returned. If the artist carries the objects himself or herself, the items should be insured from the moment of his/her departure until his/her arrival.