Following on from the recent webinar with Beak discussing their EU tour and experiences with carnets, Kirsten Burrows who is the Tour Manager for 'And Also The Trees' contacted Carry On Touring to see if we would be interested in hearing about their recent mini tour in the EU.
Absolutely, any info and help we can get to put the message out there that it is possible with a little research to still play gigs and tour the EU.
Rather than have me change anything we've decided to post Kirsten's account as is.
So as promised, here are a few bullet points about our recent touring experience. I’ve written it out very step by step – so sorry if this comes across as pedantic but probably the easiest way to remember it all.
Just mini tour, 3 gigs – 2 in France and 1 in Belgium.
8 of us is a VW Crafter splitter. Make sure the van has a UK sticker on the back – the GB ones are no good now – just in case.
Dover to Calais same return.
The group is And Also The Trees – experienced European touring and remember using carnets previously so that was helpful.
Applied for ATA carnet – *listed 56 items.
Chamber of Commerce looked over it and checked for any anomalies so that was useful.
Paid £360 plus the extra insurance charge so about £500 for a year – ordered many more export / imports than we will probably need, but no additional charges for that.
Carnet back within a couple of days! Helpful at the London Chamber of Commerce.
Carnet was under the name of the band – as the entity / company applying for the carnet. The band address is the same as the signatory on the carnet (band’s guitarist) – I’ll come back to this later!
As it was only 3 gigs and an experiment I erred on the side of caution and took less than I normally would.
Applied for EORI. Needed a UTR, but simple process and got the EORI instantly.
Wanted to keep the merch under the UK threshold of UKP1500 in order to do make the simple online declaration:
Note that you can only do this simple online declaration in the 5 days before you leave with your commercial goods. Did a few dummy runs to understand what the process was – it asks ‘how much did you pay for the goods’ – there’s no indication as to whether this is with or without VAT. We’re not VAT registered so again I was cautious and put the full amount, but at least it’s the amount we paid rather than the retail price.
Note that the £1500 is the UK threshold – thanks to the Carry On Touring / Beak webinar I learned that the EU (or French) threshold is only Euro 1000, so I was very cautious and it shows how the system is not joined up.
Created a spreadsheet with inventory of merch to the tune of just under Euro 1000 and kept it with me.
Found all original invoices / receipts pertaining to the merch I was taking and made sure I had them with me.
Received the declaration straight away – just a one page with a reference number, date and ‘nothing to pay’ written on it. Instructions were then to go through the green channel as the declaration was already done (by the way, I had no sense of whether there may be anything else to pay in the EU – in Switzerland we’ve often had to declare at the border for any amount of merch, and pay a deposit, then on leaving let them know what we’ve sold and the deposit covers the tax on what we’ve sold – then of course you wait for the reminder, if any, to be refunded eventually, which it always had – I anticipated the same process potentially but didn’t know for sure).
Used the ‘attend an inland border facility app’ (IBF) to book an slot in advance, give registration number and stated the we needed a carnet stamped. Slots are of 6 hours or so. You need to specify which IBF you’re attending. We went to Sevington. Very weird place – hi vis jackets needed. Sevington does seem to recognise your registration and the app appointment was useful. It seemed more geared up for large freight, we were definitively the smallest vehicle. We allowed around 3 hours just in case, ahead of the ferry. It was quiet (9am, Wednesday). After visiting the office, they texted to say when the carnet was ready. Took just under an hour. By chance, stopped at Folkestone services (Stop 24) and realised that that is also a IBF! There are also many trucks but other vehicles, smaller scale and feels more appropriate to use for the ATA – and you can get coffee.
Arriving Calais (old Port)
Took a while driving around following the orange signage to find the ATA Carnet office. On arrival, about 6 people waiting. Brilliantly laconic guy looked over import pages and stamped carnet – all done in about 45 minutes. Left port. As we’d moved into the orange channel for the carnet, when we left the port there was no other red or green channel and we just drove out. So nothing to do with merchandise at all. We noted that the queues to leave Calais were huge with trucks which didn’t bode well for coming back.
Leaving Calais (new Port – had opened that day).
Lots of Covid related faffing which I won’t go into. HOWEVER, the queue for UK passport control (still in Calais) was a pain, took over an hour to get the gate and a bit longer for us as we have a EU national in the band. In the new port the ATA carnet office was in a new place – but is signposted and the Douane guy knew what we were talking about when asked and was polite. We were also stopped by Border Force but they just wanted to look in the back of the van – nothing to do with equipment and looked at me totally blankly when I waved the carnet at them.
Just drove out the port and headed for Stop 24 (Folkerstone Services). We made an appointment on the app, but this didn’t seem to work and we punched in our registration at the gate, (just for the truck park access). Queued up – very few people there, was seen in 10 minutes. Here we had a similar issue to the Beak guys in that the carnet is registered in the name of the band. The woman behind the desk was helpful and asked the back office guy if he would accept it. We provided passport of the band member who is the signatory (he was also with me there). They ran checks on his passport and accepted the carnet. The recommendation from the woman was that we should have a letter from the named carnet entity giving permission / authority for whoever to represent the carnet – even though the carnet clearly states ‘any authorised representative’. When I asked her who we get this authorisation letter from (thinking this might be a chamber of commerce thing) she said that we could write the letter (letter headed, as official as you can make it) on behalf of ourselves. She also agreed that it was all a bit of a nonsense – but was polite and helpful. Needless to say we’d also been extremely polite, thankful and calm about everything. The woman at the next window (who was importing a horse!) was having a similar problem as her name wasn’t on the carnet and ended up storming off extremely frustration as she’d reached an impasse. I don’t know if our link between our guitarists name and address and this being the same address on the carnet was useful here??
They are definitely strict about the ownership of the carnet, but confess that a piece of paper written by us, give us authorisation is acceptable. I hope the horse is ok.
After they accepted the carnet, we were told an hour to wait, it was in fact only 30 minutes.
Nothing about merchandise at all.
I think that’s it! Lessons are that being cautious and polite are obviously important. We did everything as much by the book as we possibly could (no smuggling in boxes of Tshirts for example). This helped with the piece of mind. Also, for carnet next year, we’ll get it under the guitarist’s name, not the name of the group, if we can. However chamber of commerce want the name of the company, so we’ll check that and in the meantime we’ll write our own authorisation letter.
Right now, it does generally feel as though there’s some making it up as you go along from the authorities. Us being well prepped seemed to reassure them somehow that we knew what we were doing (for example the French guy stamping the carnet on the way back ‘re-exportation’ showed me what he’d done and asked ME if it was correct)! It felt like the people who stamped the carnet were learning the ropes and were often in pairs discussing the process together.
However – big disclaimer – we may have just been lucky! Next time it could certainly be a different story so please don’t take this as an example for the future for everyone!
*Also we did have an idea for the listing of the gear on the carnet to provide some flexibility (not sure if this would work but may be useful to check out). As mentioned above we have items listed 1-56. If we were flying (so no drums or backline – particularly to the USA) or doing an acoustic tour for example in a van with less gear than the full listed, you could list a sub section of the full carnet for each journey. i.e. the main items could be listed 1-30 and the additional items 30-56. When you then complete the carnet pages you could only list 1-30 if that was appropriate for that tour or show, but the carnet would still cover full items 1-56 for future tours in that year. Something worth checking out maybe if this applies to you and you can be this organised.
I hope this is useful?
All best wishes,
Kirsten Burrows - TM - And Also The Trees
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