What is the best way, Carnet, duplicate list or other, to take art work to exhibit in China, with the possibility of some sales, but unsold work to be returned to the UK?


I have been offered the possibility to show some porcelain art work at a show in China. it would help cover my costs if I could sell pieces if offers are made. I would like to return unsold work to the UK. Is there anything in export paperwork systems which fit around the needs of artists who sell at exhibition not in advance, and need to repatriate unsold work? All systems I can find are designed around work either going out ‘sold’ or as samples. I want to avoid taxes when I reimport ‘unsold’ work to the UK, but I only seem to be able to do this by taking it out as samples.


Hi Liz – you’re right when you say the customs systems are set up for either goods going to be sold or samples not a mix of both. There are 4 areas of customs you have to consider here
1. Getting the goods out of the UK
2. Getting the goods into China – suspending or paying duties
3. Re-exporting the goods from China – reclaiming any duties paid if possible or cancelling duty liabilities if it was suspended
4. Re-import into the UK without payment of duties.

A Carnet will do all 4 things but everything that goes in must come back. Note China is not a signatory to the ATA Carnet except specifically for international trade fairs and they are typically limited to 6 months. You can get more information on Chinese regulation from the Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) ATA Division Beijing (email [email protected] – website www.atachina.org.

If you use the duplicate list procedure then you are only covering 1 and 4 above. The duplicate list will allow the temporary export of the goods but you will need a customs export declaration as well (NES/C88/SAD) and on the return to the EU/UK you can enter them under Returned Goods Relief (RGR) using the export declaration and duplicate list as evidence of the return duty and VAT waived.

The problem with the duplicate list is that you have to take alternative steps to cover 2 and 3 above. You will need the assistance of someone in China who could arrange for a temporary import bond to be put in place. This is generally 2x the cost of potential duty/tax and is surrendered in full if the goods are not correctly exported. It is possible to arrange under this procedure for the permanent import of some items and re-export of others. Sometime a freight company can arrange for this on your behalf.


Hi Liz
An ATA Carnet can ONLY be used for temporary export of goods and all items that leave the UK must be returned to the UK, so if you are planning to seell any items this would not be the correct paperwork to use.

You could use the duplicate list procedure but you may still have to pay duty when importing the goods into China, you would then have to reclaim the duty when the goods are re-exported out of China back to the UK. Of course if goods are sold in China then for those goods, the inport duty would be non refundable.
You would also need to contact HMRC in the UK to get the correct Customs procedure code so that you could reimport goods without paying additional duties and taxes into the UK. without having to pay imprt duty


You can consider both the Carnet system and the Duplicate List procedure.

Both are explained in HM Revenue & Customs Public Notices which can be found on our website www.hmrc.gov.uk under Quick Links > Library > Official Statistics – Publications – Notices, Info Sheets & Other Reference Materials > Import, Export & International Trade. The Public Notices are in numerical order.

See Notice 104 – ATA and CPD Carnets and Notice 236 – Customs: Importing returned goods free of duty and tax.

HM Revenue & Customs
Customs International Trade & Excise

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