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Case Study: Crossing the EU Border Using a Carnet

A band Tour Manager recounting their border experience using a Carnet.

Last updated: 24 May 2022

Adam Aggiss, a Tour Manager, recounts their border experience using a Carnet on a 4-date tour to Belgium and the Netherlands Band tour to EU.

UK Outbound (export)

We rolled up together in 3 cars at Sevington IBF and after explaining we had a single ATA Carnet to cover the equipment in all three vehicles to anyone who asked us we were eventually given an allocated parking spot per vehicle that you go and park up in. I then walked the Carnet to the export office (there were loads of people working there to help direct you to the right place).

A couple of points to keep in mind:

  • You must be wearing a Hi Vis to walk about on the Sevington Site. There are toilets but other facilities are in the planning/building stage.
  • The Carnet was in my sole trader company name at my address, but I had listed every member of the band/crew as 'named representatives’ so any of them could have presented the Carnet.
  • You need to present ID with the Carnet to show you are either the holder or a named representative.
  • It was the first time using the Carnet so I had to make sure the Green front page was signed and I had to then fill out a Yellow exportation voucher. You can do all of this in advance but must sign the yellow voucher in front of the clerk you are handing it to. You should also have copies of your general list in case of inspection.

At the export desk you need to fill in a short form stating that you are exporting via Carnet, give the vehicle reg(s) and their allocated parking spot number(s) and your mobile phone number. They keep all your paperwork and give you a slip/receipt and you go back to your vehicle and wait for a text.

We eventually got a text saying everything was fine and to go back with our slip to collect the paperwork, which we did and then drove off to the Eurotunnel.

Altogether it took about an hour from arriving on site to driving away, but if we had been picked for inspection that would have added the amount of time it would have taken to inspect the goods against the general list.

EU Inbound (import)

The hardest thing about this bit was finding the office, as when exiting the Eurotunnel the Freight traffic were directed left to follow the orange signs to SIVEP, but if you're not travelling Freight then vans and cars had to go right which made life a little harder. 

You basically need to take the first available slip road on the right as soon as you as you see an orange SIVEP sign on the overhead gantry. If you get to the Total garage, you have missed it, but you can still get there with a bit of sat nav fun (I missed the turn). 

You can search for the Sotracom Office Calais on Bd de L’Europe on Google Maps but the easiest way is to use What Three Words using ///class.massive.abolish where there is a gate and a buzzer that you ring and say you have a Carnet that needs stamping as you are importing from UK to EU. Then they will let you in and you park up and walk to the office.

As before, take ID & Carnet with completed white importation voucher and copy of general list, sign it in front of them and hand it over. Then you get given a number, just like on the meat counter at the supermarket, and you wait for your number to pop up to show your paperwork is ready to collect. Then off you go!

It took about 30 minutes altogether.

Note: be very clear that you have just arrived from the UK and are importing from UK to EU as I saw a lot of confusion and people being sent off to other places.

EU Outbound (re-export)

Usefully, you need to go somewhere different at Calais Eurotunnel on the way back to the UK to get the carnet stamped!

  • Follow the signs to the tourist terminal at junction 42b (not freight)
  • Go through Eurotunnel check in 
  • Turn right into the passenger terminal car park (if you have gone through border control you have missed it!)
  • Walk into the terminal and turn right. Go past WH Smith and on the left-hand side before the toilets there is a customs window (Douanes)
  • They process your white re-exportation voucher that you have filled in and sign in front of them etc. As mentioned before, I was the only one there, and it took 5 minutes!
  • Incidentally this is the same place that process your duty-free refunds!

UK Inbound (re-import)

I had been told at Sevington when doing the outbound trip to return to Sevington on the way back rather than go to Stop 24 services, but I know others have used Stop 24 with no issue.

Exactly the same procedure as doing Outbound but with the yellow re-importation voucher, in fact you have to go to the export office again rather than the import office to get the carnet done.

It took just under an hour.

Thanks to Adam Aggiss

We would like to thank Adam Aggiss - Tour Manager - 'Cloudbusting - The Music of Kate Bush' for this information from their recent visit to the EU.

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