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Religious Organizations

Tax Tip for 501(c)(3) Organizations: Know what foreign taxes, such as import duties, value-added or general services, you are subject to before you travel overseas with equipment or goods. Exemption from U.S. taxes does not guarantee exemption from foreign taxes such as customs duties, VAT or GST.

It can be more cost-effective to purchase an ATA Carnet to clear customs (and avoid import duty and tax) than to pay foreign customs duties and taxes upon arrival. ATA Carnet and VAT Refund Specialists can advise 501(c)(3) organizations on comparing costs for clearing customs.

Using an ATA Carnet May Save a 501(c)(3) Organization Foreign Duties and Import Taxes

Religious broadcasters, congregations and media that travel internationally can save the cost of import duties and taxes on temporarily imported equipment and goods.

Examples of items that can avoid import duty and tax are:

-cameras, lighting, sound boards, microphones, audio-visual equipment, special effects devices, video/film/editing equipment, computers, monitors, and production tools.

Carnets can also be used for:

-trade show exhibits, signage, musical instruments, staging equipment, uniforms, training materials, disaster recovery equipment, testing tools and service machinery.

Using a unified, internationally accepted customs document, the ATA Carnet, allows these items to be imported into 87 countries and territories without paying import duty or tax for up to 12 months and to do so at a pre-determined cost. (Mexico Now Accepting Carnets) The ATA Carnet also serves as the U.S. Registration of Goods so the items can be reimported into the U.S. without paying duty.

Here is a chart that illustrates the categories of goods that can and cannot benefit from using an ATA Carnet.

Note that these are guidelines. Shipment details should be discussed with a Carnet Specialist prior to including items on the General List that may not be allowed.

Carnet Categories of Goods for Religious Organizations
Categories of Goods Eligible for an ATA Carnet - Temporary Imports to be re-exported within up to 12 months Must be imported permanently - consumption entry
Altar objects  
Audio-visual equipment  
Books for distribution  
Clothing for donation  
Educational materials  
(unless re-exported)
Exhibition displays  
Household items for donation  
Loaned items  
Medical supplies  
Musical instruments  
Pamphlets for distribution  
Project equipment  
Repair equipment  
(unless permanently installed)
Sound boards  
Staging equipment  
Temporary installations  
Testing equipment  
Tools for building or repairs  
(unless not re-exported)
Video production equipment