Everything You Need to Know about Carnets and Moving Your Equipment Abroad

Touring musician carnets

As musicians and performers, we understand that you need your own equipment with you for your shows. We at House of Tours, are here to make sure you have the right kit, at the right venue and at the right time, within the law. So here are some of the frequently asked questions we get about the logistics of moving your stuff about the globe and the answers to them for your touring peace of mind. You know, for when we can tour internationally again.

What is a carnet?

A carnet (car-neigh, not car-nett) is a legal document which allows you to transport goods across international borders as long as they are going to return to the country of origin within twelve months. According to EFM Logistics “the ATA Carnet (often referred to as a “passport for goods”) is an international customs document, that permits duty and tax-free temporary import of goods into a number of countries world-wide, usually for a period of up to 12 months. It has been in use since the 1960s and is valid in over 80 countries currently.”

Essentially a carnet allows you to take your gear with you on tour without paying taxes and fees on the import and export of it because you’re only importing/exporting it temporarily. It’s like a temporary passport for your guitars.

Where and when do you need a carnet?

A carnet needs to be raised when you wish to temporarily transport goods across most international borders. EFM say that “an ATA Carnet document can be used to cover: Trade fair and exhibition goods, professional equipment, commercial samples, educational and cultural items.” Most of your gear will fall into the “professional equipment” and/or “cultural items” categories and so can be covered by a carnet. So, what can’t be covered by a carnet passport? EFM states that “most items can travel under an ATA Carnet. Typically however, items that cannot travel under an ATA Carnet include consumables, perishable goods, gifts and single use items that will be disposed of and will not return to the country where the ATA Carnet would be raised.” Carnets are valid in over 80 countries at the moment, including many of the most popular touring destinations.

We know how important your kit is to you, so we take the very best care of it in logistical transport and in ensuring that the correct documentation has been procured to safely and legally transport your equipment across borders. House of Tours and our partners are able to assist in the raising of the appropriate carnets for each individual tour as part of our logistical service, so you don’t have to worry.

How has Brexit affected touring?

Well, it hasn’t made it easier, let’s put it that way, but it is still perfectly possible. When we are allowed to resume our international tours, we have a little more paperwork to fill in and passes to apply for than we used to for Europe, but no more than to tour in other popular touring destinations further afield. There is good news on that front though. The Musician’s Union reports: “It has been confirmed by DCMS Minister Caroline Dinenage MP that musicians travelling into and around the EU with portable musical instruments are not required to obtain a Carnet.” That is great news, especially for musicians without a ton of equipment to their set. It makes smaller scale touring even easier without needing to take out carnets for their portable instruments. If your equipment doesn’t need a vehicle of 7.5 tons or more to carry it, then it can be deemed as “personal and portable” and therefore should not require a carnet. However, we advise that a ‘Gear List’ with confirmation that the gear is owned personally should still be made easily available if stopped!

It has also been a worry for many about acquiring work visas for European nations. There are currently whispers of a plan to make work visas unnecessary for tourers if they have a document outlining their work commitments in the EU. Dave Webster of the MU comments that “we are continuing to push for a visa waiver agreement with the EU and bilateral agreements with individual member states on work permits.” If that is successful, then there is even less paperwork to complete before we can get touring Europe again. The red tape starts appearing when lorries and larger vehicles are needed to move gear (personal or not), sets and stage equipment under Cabotage Rules, but we assure you that House of Tours is paying close attention to the situation and as decisions are made about the logistics of international touring, we’ll know about them.

Some might also be worried about whether they will be allowed to tour Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland without extra permits. Well, according to the Musician’s Union, “an ATA Carnet is not currently required for your equipment when travelling to Northern Ireland for work and back – or travelling from Northern Ireland to other parts of the UK and back. You will however, most likely require an ATA Carnet if travelling to the Republic of Ireland for work from any part of the UK.” It is quite simple – the Republic of Ireland is in the EU, therefore a Carnet should be raised if using a vehicle above 7.5t to transport any personal and portable gear and is a must for all Commercial moves.

Despite continuing restrictions on public gatherings and international travel, we are optimistic that we’ll have you back on the tour bus (or a vehicle under 7.5 tons) in no time. When you work with House of tours, you don’t have to worry about the paperwork and the red tape, because that’s our field of expertise. Even with the shifting sands of Brexit under our feet, we’re all over the situation and perfectly placed to get you where you need to go with all your equipment, your instruments and your lucky jacket. We fill in the boring forms and apply for permits so you can do what you do best, Rock and freakin’ Roll! We’re not jealous in the least. Well, just a bit.

If you want advice on touring post-Brexit, virtual touring or any of our other exceptional services, then get in touch with us at House of Tours and let’s get it sorted.