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Carnets – what are they and how to use them

I always try to have the sections of the document required to be filled out by me, completed before arriving in the country. Usually on the plane as I'm about to land. I find that it's good to have the document already out and in full view of customs officers giving directions to the area for processing.

Have the rest of the crew follow you and they will usually slide through the procedure in your 'wake'. You will probably know more about the procedure that the customs officer in some countries. 

Have the number of items listed (eg 1 thru 86) written clearly in that part of the document and insist on stamps where they are needed. Have the total value of the carnet written in the local currency of the country you are entering. This tiny bit of thoughtfulness impressed the hell out of tired and weary Customs officials. Typo's can be corrected on the way out with a pen and stamped by the customs people there. 

Don't accidentally fill out and tear off an exportation voucher instead of an importation voucher when entering the country. Done that! We lost a carnet in Italy (house keeping threw it out!) and had to wait a week to get the equipment from customs in Milan while we waited for a hard copy of the carnet to be DHL'd from Australia. Could have been worse – a week of sitting about in Moderna, Italy drinking coffee etc! 

Some production companies ask you to reduce the value of your items listed on the carnet document in order to reduce the bond they have to pay to the authority. I suggest that you don't agree to do this as in the event of an insurance claim, these marked down values can be used as a guide to the replacement costs. 

Finally, allow 3 hours to get yourself and the gear out of Tel Aviv. You will be subjected to an extensive interview with your equipment laid out in front of you. Your interviewer may be no older than 24 and be very pleasant and apologetic.

© 2013 Pieter de Vries ACS