Carnet might seem like a strange term, but the concept behind it is actually quite simple. The fact that these documents exist represents a large multinational agreement about how goods should travel across borders and what is accepted for import. If you temporarily export goods from the US on a regular basis, as do many mechanics, salespeople and graduate students, carnets might be of particular interest to you.
A Passport for Cargo
Carnets are documents that allow prescribed goods to be temporarily imported into a variety of countries. The jurisdictions that have agreed to this concordance decided that it was beneficial to issue documents for individuals that repeatedly perform temporary imports of goods, such as medical professionals, media technicians or researchers.
There are many cases for these documents. A carnet is as indispensible to film crews travelling between locations as the equipment itself, for example. It eliminates the need to repeatedly pay duties and incur fees, and saves time on entry and exit. Trade show equipment and sales demonstration prototypes are also often eligible for this document.
There are many types of items that can have their export and duty cost assessed ahead of time through use of a carnet. These documents last up to one year, and they often allow travellers to save money, as well as precious time in the customs process in the US and foreign countries.