Temporary Export to USA


We want to send some equipment to an exhibition in the US, but don’t want to be charged duty over there. It will be sent by a courier.

The courier has given us a pre-alert form that I guess they will use to complete forms on our behalf, but how does it actually work – will we be charged duty by the courier and then have to claim it back later?



Hi Nicola
You need to state quite clearly to the courier that these goods for temporary import into the US and return to the UK. You do not want to pay duty and VAT (sales tax) in both countries! The best way to do this is to speak to your local Chamber of Commerce and get an ATA Carnet, which will allow the above movements to take place without duties and taxes, as long as the correct procedure is followed. That carnet will need to be given to the courier or whoever you use. It must not be sent out as a permanent export (the default) as you will then incur unnecessary costs i.e. taxes x 2. You may want to consider a specialist exhibition freight forwarder such as EFI Logistics www.efilogistics.com who will be able to offer the complete service maybe. Or it is likely the exhibition organiser will have dedicated parties set up for the exhibitors to use?

I hope that helps?


Nicola, if this is for an exhibition. Talk to your local chamber of commerce and get a Carnet. As long as it’s exported within the given time you have nothing to worry about. IFyiu just export it to the U.S. and when it arrives you tell customs it’s only a temporary import you may get held up. A carnet is your best way to go


Thanks Paul and Howard,

I have discovered that a carnet may not be suitable for items sent by courier as the carnet needs to be presented with the packages at each customs point.

Have you used them with couriers sucessfully?

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