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Dennis Kersten

Traveling without ATA Carnet

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Hi all,

some of my sound and camera colleagues travel without ATA Carnet to countries within Europe (sometimes also outside Europe), especially to Russia etc. because of the major hassle it takes to get in and out of customs... I had some bad experience myself in Russia several times (waiting half a day for someone to put a stamp on the papers... )

I have some travelling to do in the couple weeks and want to know if you always travel with Carnet? I was never asked for a carnet in the past, always saw it as my duty to travel fully legal..

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I live in a Turkey but am from The Netherlands. Never bothered for a carnet but that's also because you can still can talk yourself out of it here if you know the right tone of voice... Also traveled to China without but I don't think they are part of the system anyways. They did made us pay a deposit for all the equipment though, they asked 10 percent of the gear. We where traveling with a xdcam set, tripod etc and sound gear, I did a rough calculation and said the whole set was around 2000 dollar ( ;) ;) ) and we had to pay 200 dollar which we got back when leaving the country.

By the way in Europe EU it's not needed, free trade rules and such.

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Am I right you are from Holland Dennis? My experience (fellow traveling cameramen sound men etc) is dat customs in holland are more uptight than the other countries...

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Denis: " want to know if you always travel with Carnet? "

it isn't about what I do (CARNET!) but what you want to risk... as steve G said: " Better to have a carnet and not need it, than to need it and not have it. "

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Am I right you are from Holland Dennis? My experience (fellow traveling cameramen sound men etc) is dat customs in holland are more uptight than the other countries...

Thanks for sharing your experiences Vincent.

Yes I'm from Holland. I was never asked for a carnet on the dutch airlines, always had to make sure I pass customs myself when leaving / returning.

On this case I let the d.o.p decide; if he travels without Carnet I'm too (docu/small crew).

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It doesn't work like that. The thing is: you have the responsibility to go to customs before you travel outside the EU. They check your stuff and see if everything is on the carnet and give you a stamp. Same on the other side at the country of arrival. It's your responsibility to go to customs office there and get basically the same stamp. You can see a carnet as a passport of your equipment. So this will never be brought up by the airlines, they don't care frankly.

So, if you don't do any all of this, you only can be f*cked if they do a random check, in holland or on your destination.

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One anecdote: friend of mine came back from Syria. At the beginning of the civil war. He couldn't get a proper stamp when he left holland, because to long of a line at customs, but did get two whilst entering and leaving Syria. In holland he, according to the rules, went to customs again and explained the situation, but he got fined because of the lacking first stamp. Quite frustrating because nobody forced him to go to customs so if he went straight home there was no fine...

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There is a list of countries that honor and require a carnet!  Once we got to the EU, it was not necessary as long as we were between EU member countries.  Yes, USA has asked where is the carnet?  I tell them we were in a country that did not require it, and they were good with that.

Mexico one time asked for a deposit.  I told them gear was very old and ancient technology... probably not worth $100.  They just shrugged and waved us on thru!  It may have actually been a bribe, but no one got a penny!  Producer was scared to death when I started negotiating that the gear would wind up in a Mexican warehouse somewhere never to be seen again...he bought several rounds of drinks when he did not have to pay the deposit...

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One anecdote: friend of mine came back from Syria. At the beginning of the civil war. He couldn't get a proper stamp when he left holland, because to long of a line at customs, but did get two whilst entering and leaving Syria. In holland he, according to the rules, went to customs again and explained the situation, but he got fined because of the lacking first stamp. Quite frustrating because nobody forced him to go to customs so if he went straight home there was no fine...

the fine would have been levied when the carnet expired and was surrendered to the chamber of commerce,  and seen to be incomplete.  they also have the power to keep your file open for a year after your carnet expires,  in case another country makes a claim against improper travel. 

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Have done it both ways in years of travel.  Most successfuly by registering with US customs at a customs office.  Can do it way ahead of time if your package isn't changing.  Get them to sign and stamp the list.  Upon return to US all that is needed is to present the stamped list and you're done.  No hassle.  They seemed mostly worried about foreign manufactuired items to be sure they were yours when you left and not items you were trying to get into the US without having paid import taxes. I sometimes carried paid invoices for foreign items to help prove they were mine before I left the country.  Getting into and out of other countries can be simple or difficult.  Carnets help in some cases, not at all in others.   Have traveled without Carnet more often than with.

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Jim's point is good. If you are going to a non carnet country, get your home country to put official stamps all over a (couple of) printed lists of your gear. Not only does this help get your gear home, but it also may help to get the gear out of a foreign country. Leaving Iraq (which is a non-carnet country) a number of years ago, they wanted to see "paperwork" proving my gear was not being illegally exported from Iraq. My list with the Canada Customs stamps worked perfectly.

Cheers,

Brent Calkin

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One thing I learned about a carnet..... They are good for a year, and can be used on a bunch of trips. Try to anticipate what you might need for future trips in that year. It's easy to say "I didn't bring items 25-35" when leaving your home country, and they mark it. It costs money to redo paperwork to add new things to the list. 

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If this is the only trip you'll be using the carnet for it would be cost-effective for you and the camera guy to put all of your gear one carnet.

Saves time at border - only have to stamp one carnet and, saves money - only have to get one carnet.

If you plan to do other international trips this year get your own.

That, and I second everything said above, like 'better to have it than not'.

Carnet's are sometimes viewed as extra hassle and expense, but if you ever cross into a country that isn't a part of the system and cares about what you're importing/exporting... Carnets seem easy.

R

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It's really the production company that should deal with the carnet. Over here, the larger rental houses provide a carnet service. They will even include my audio gear.

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It's really the production company that should deal with the carnet. Over here, the larger rental houses provide a carnet service. They will even include my audio gear.

I tend to disagree on this. I the responsibility of the owner of the equipment to get the proper "passport" for their stuff, since they are the only ones who can prove all ins and outs about the purchase. Hence the fact that rental companies do it as well.

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I tend to disagree on this. I the responsibility of the owner of the equipment to get the proper "passport" for their stuff, since they are the only ones who can prove all ins and outs about the purchase. Hence the fact that rental companies do it as well.

Well, yes, but production companies should pay for it and assist me as much as possible, as it is them who want me to leave the country. I still prepare a list with everything on it (incl serial numbers), but they will deal with all the formalities beforehand of getting the actual carnet.

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Once you have all your stuff on a list, a carnet isn't a big deal anymore.

The only thing to watch out for is that main, additional front, and additional back pages' colums are slightly different in width.

 

Also you can have production pay you another prep day for touring the offices.

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: " it would be cost-effective for you and the camera guy to put all of your gear one carnet. "

as the production is paying, they may want to do this, but I suggest avoiding any such entanglement of your equipment in paperwork.

Constantin is correct, production takes care of the hassles, or pay you for them...

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Heard a story of someone (Hi Alex ;) )who knew someone who lost his gear (or got stolen), the insurance company asked for the carnet to prove that the equipment indeed was in a foreign country..

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: " it would be cost-effective for you and the camera guy to put all of your gear one carnet. "

as the production is paying, they may want to do this, but I suggest avoiding any such entanglement of your equipment in paperwork.

Constantin is correct, production takes care of the hassles, or pay you for them...

agreed:  having camera and sound gear on one carnet means that you are giving up travel flexibility,  either staying longer where you are shooting to going elsewhere for business or pleasure. 

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