How does an Indian filmmaker shooting a song-and-dance sequence in a European locale for a couple of weeks get to take his equipment there? Why does an art dealer needs to obtain a “passport” for a collection to exhibit in a US gallery for three days or how can a leather bag manufacturer ensure physical presence of sample of his products at a fair in Japan for a week? 

These Indians need to get a ‘temporary’ customs papers — ATA Carnet — for the gadget or wares. “It’s like passport for goods,” said S Vijayalakshmi, Deputy Director at Ficci’s ATA Carnet wing, told Business Line .  Ficci is the sole national issuer and guarantor for ATA Carnets in the country.

As many as 74 countries, which are also prominent trading partners of the country, now recognise and accept India-issued ATA Carnets.    

ATA Carnet is an internationally accepted customs document used by exporters, manufactures, professionals from India, to travel abroad with commercial samples for participating in exhibitions, trade fairs or business and promotional tours.

This admission document simplifies the customs procedures and clearances in a foreign country, without paying duty or a bank guarantee for “temporary import” — up to one year — into that country.

Growing demand

“Usage of ATA Carnet has been growing in India. From just six issuances in 2003, the figure have grown to over 500 in 2015-16,” said Vijayalakshmi. The documents let short period of entry in a foreign country for goods worth $28 million. The permits sought last year was primarily for jewellery, automotive parts, leather goods and film equipment. Similarly, India accepted about 2000 ATA Carnets from overseas in the previous fiscal. 

The Ficci official said the Centre is considering to expand the scope of ATA Carnet convention. “This would allow foreign professional equipment, commercial samples and private exhibition temporary entry into the country”, she explained. At present, India is a signatory to convention on exhibitors and fairs only. The proposed expansion would help overseas business community, professionals, film shootings units, musical troupes, sports people and media to carry their wares to India.

PS Pruthi, former Member (Tribunal) of the Union Ministry of Commerce said that Ficci was pursuing the subject with the Finance Ministry. The Centre needs to amend the relevant customs notification (157/90) through Parliamentary approval for accommodating new areas under ATA Carnet system.