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Musical Instruments: Customs

Question for Treasury

UIN 174927, tabled on 24 March 2021

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if the Government will publish guidance on how (a) instruments carried in vehicles and (b) music-related equipment are to be considered by (i) UK and (ii) EU regulations for ATA carnet exemptions.

Answered on

13 April 2021

ATA carnets can be used for commercial goods, professional equipment or goods going to trade fairs or exhibitions in participating countries, which are moved on a temporary basis to a new customs territory (i.e. they will not be sold and will return to the country of origin). This includes musical instruments and equipment.

The ATA Carnet system is an internationally agreed method of moving certain goods between customs territories temporarily (i.e. a passport for goods). An ATA Carnet simplifies the customs formalities by allowing a single document to be used for clearing goods through customs in the countries that are part of the ATA Carnet system. The ATA Carnet must be presented to customs for endorsement each time the goods enter or leave a customs territory. It is valid for one year and allows for movement of the goods shown on the Carnet as many times as required during the 12 months to any of the destinations applied for. The use of a Carnet is optional, depending on an individual/business’s specific circumstances. Further information can be found at

Temporary Admission is an alternative procedure to an ATA Carnet to import goods temporarily into the UK. Information on the Temporary Admission procedures in the UK can be found at

Portable musical instruments which are carried in a traveller’s baggage or personal vehicle can also be “declared by conduct” if they attract a relief from import duty such as Returned Goods Relief (RGR). This means they can be declared to UK Customs by walking or driving through the ‘green channel’ at the port or airport. Returned Goods Relief (RGR) allows the re-importation of items that were originally in the UK without payment of import duty and VAT. To qualify for RGR the goods must have been in free circulation with all duties and taxes paid when they were exported from the UK. Further information can be found at

The EU will have similar processes to the UK. However, the management of EU import and export procedures is the responsibility of the customs authorities of the Member States so it is important that travellers/traders confirm the processes at their port of arrival and any conditions or procedures that may apply. Information can be found at

Answered by

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