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May 20, 2024

Saudi Arabia joins the international ATA Carnet guarantee system

  • Saudi Arabia has joined the international ATA Carnet guarantee system that allows the duty-free import of goods brought into the country on a temporary basis for exhibitions and events in Saudi Arabia.
  • The ATA Carnet replaces customs declarations and acts like a passport for imported and exported goods.
  • The Federation of Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry will implement the ATA Carnet guarantee system for goods.

Executive summary

In April 2024, the Federation of Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Saudi Chambers) announced that Saudi Arabia has joined the international Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission (ATA) Carnet international guarantee system (System). The details of the announcement have been published in the Saudi Gazette. Effective 1 June 2024, the Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority (ZATCA) will permit the entry of goods under the System for events such as exhibitions and meetings. The System provides a guarantee mechanism for customs duties and taxes as outlined in Annex B.1. of the Convention on Temporary Admission (Istanbul, 26 June 1990). The Saudi Chambers will issue the ATA Carnet (an international customs document).

Goods transported into Saudi Arabia using the System may remain in the country for a period of up to six months. Goods exported from Saudi Arabia to other countries under the System will be afforded the same privileges in the receiving jurisdictions, with the Saudi Chambers serving as the national guarantor.

Detailed discussion


Saudi Arabia joined the System as part of its efforts to foster an appealing investment climate and improve tourism infrastructure. This strategic move aims to position Saudi Arabia as an emerging regional hub for a variety of international events and exhibitions. Traditionally, goods transported for exhibitions, fairs or events had to be placed under a temporary admission regime, which necessitated a bank or cash guarantee from the importer. This guarantee was equivalent to the potential customs duties and taxes payable on the imported goods.

Highlights of the System

The System is a guaranteeing mechanism administered by the International Chamber of Commerce World Chambers Federation, to which the national customs authorities appoint their respective National Guaranteeing Associations (NGAs). The System ensures the secure payment and reimbursement among NGAs for import duties and taxes in the event of noncompliance with local customs and trade regulations. In Saudi Arabia, the Saudi Chambers serves as the national guarantor.

The primary difference between temporary admission and the admission of goods under the System is the nature of the guarantee provided. Under temporary admission, importers must directly provide a bank guarantee to the national customs authorities (to the ZATCA in Saudi Arabia), while the System delegates this responsibility to NGAs.

In Saudi Arabia, the administrative requirements of temporary admission regimes include a stringent six-month period for importers to seek reimbursement of their guarantee following the re-exportation of goods. If the importer fails to meet this deadline or fails to submit an extension request, the guarantee becomes nonrefundable. The implementation of the System addresses this issue, as the NGA secures the guarantee.

ZATCA procedures

Under the System, the ZATCA will release shipments imported through Saudi ports of entry within 24 hours (inspections based on established risk criteria). The System does not cover certain categories of goods, such as perishables and consumable items. Re-export within six months is mandatory, and failure to re-export or sell goods that have been temporarily admitted under the System may result in penalties.


Businesses should consider the significant benefits the System offers, including potential cost reductions resulting from simplified customs procedures and increased trade opportunities.

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Contact Information

For additional information concerning this Alert, please contact:

EY Consulting LLC, Dubai

Ernst & Young LLP (United States), Middle East Tax Desk, New York

Published by NTD’s Tax Technical Knowledge Services group; Carolyn Wright, legal editor