What is an ATA Carnet????

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By Suzanne Cross

Only six weeks before we leave now and we keep coming across new challenges to address. 

Our South African consultant, Karen, who is diligently working on getting our permit to film in the rural school mentions we might need an ATA Carnet.  I spend lots of time on the web trying to learn and understand exactly what this form is and if it applies to our project.  I toss the inquiry off to my growing group of consultants and get some scary feedback from a filmmaker friend of our contract attorney, Justine Jacob at Lee & Lawless. 

Back to the web to learn more and I finally find solace at the U.S. Council for International Business (uscib).  So I bite the scary bullet and register for the ATA carnet on-line application. 

Essentially, this is a “passport for the film equipment”.  Without it we would risk having to pay export taxes when we take it all out the U.S., import and export taxes in whatever countries we travel through, then import taxes upon our return to the U.S.  I discover that this form is very tedious to prepare with 100% accuracy so I spend a lot of time very carefully reviewing all of our equipment pieces with our filmmaker, Alexis, to be sure everything is listed, and the model and serial numbers are precise along with the weight and values.  

There is also a bond to post in addition to the fee for the carnet processing.  Alexis and I breathe a sigh of relief when I finally press the “submit” button.

It is now way past the time to organize all this growing pile of paper and pre-production consultants, so I buy and begin using a lightweight file organizer from Staples with many drop folders.


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