World first for Business West

By Barrie Hudson - 2 November 2023

  • The Digital Carnet team

    The Digital Carnet team

Business West has pioneered the use of a digital passport for goods.

  • A Digital Carnet

    A Digital Carnet

The organisation, one of the UK's largest Chambers of Commerce in the UK, joined forces with  EFM Global, an international logistics consultant for live events and special projects.

Together, they successfully transported camera equipment from Heathrow to Brussels and back, using the new passport, called a Digital Carnet.

It was the world’s first demonstration of a Digital Carnet in action.

When commercial goods, such as musical equipment for a touring band, are exported temporarily, it is typically by way of paper-based ATA Carnets, which can contain more than 100 pieces of paper, requiring numerous physical authorisation stamps. 

For a large-scale movement of goods, such as those involved in an international tour, there could be suitcases full of paper-based ATA Carnets, which need to be kept and looked after, as loss or incorrect use can incur significant delays and costs.

Brexit has seen the number of Carnets rise significantly for UK-based companies, as Carnets are now used for the movement of goods into and out of the EU, in addition to over 50 other countries across the globe.

The digitisation of the ATA Carnet system simplifies and expedites the Carnet process. It also reduces the risk of Carnet loss or damage and reduces environmental impact.  

With the new Digital Carnet, temporary exporters can apply via a digital platform and download an app, which produces a QR code that customs officers can scan and then digitally stamp the Carnet. This has been in development by the International Chambers of Commerce for a number of years, working to achieve proof of concept and adoption by pilot countries’ customs authorities.

Business West and EFM Global have been working closely with UKNATACO (UK National ATA Carnet Organisation), which oversees the operation of ATA Carnets in the UK, to ensure this ‘world first’ was a success.

James Monk, Commercial Director at Business West, said: “We have listened to our customers and are committed to improving the temporary export process. 

"We really needed to bring paper-based Carnets into the digital age, and this first complete journey shows that the process works, more countries will come on board and help aid the flow of temporary exports. 

"We are passionate about innovation, increasing levels of trade and making life easier for our clients. As a B Corp we also strive to reduce environmental impact wherever we can.”  

Mike Llewellyn, Group CEO at EFM Global, said: “The Digital Carnet is a massive step for international freight. It will make the system quicker, more efficient, and we were determined to be involved with the first, ground-breaking shipment using that technology.” 

Davor Mckinley, Head of ATA Carnets Procedures and Compliance, UKNATACO, said: “This is a fantastic achievement for Business West, being the world’s first-ever real-life Digital Carnet containing a complete set of home and foreign Customs endorsements. 

"I am delighted for Catherine Stephens (Head of International Trade Services, Business West) and her team as I know how hard they worked to bring the Digital Carnet functionality to their customers.”

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