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carnets for the third world?

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carnets for the third world?
on Dec 28, 2006 at 12:33:24 pm

Hey there,

a question for the camera guys that travel internationally. I am based in the UK am heading out to India and Uganda in January to film the work of some childrens charities in both places for an internal production ie non-broadcast.

In the past i have travelled to these places with small DV cameras (pdx10, pd150 etc) without a problem. for this next trip i am planning to take the JVC GY HD200, which is a much more pro looking camera. Does anyone have any experience firstly with carnets and then secondly with carnets in the developing world?

Ideally I would like to not have to bother with a carnet as in the past, but as the camera "looks" pro i wonder if i will encounter problems.

advice appreciated thanks

G5 DP 2.0 (Power PC)
4.0G RAM
OS 10.4.8
QT 7.1.3
FCP 5.1.2
BMD Decklink Extreme 5.7.2
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Re: carnets for the third world?
on Jan 21, 2007 at 3:47:53 am

We have traveled both ways fm the US and suprisingly the real problem occurred when we wer bringing gear back into the US.

Each individual country has their own rules and proceedures probably be best to visit the consulate/embassey of the country you are proposing to visit. For instance we traveled in Africa with only an equipment list signed by US customs but in New Zealand were required to have a carne.

All the best on your travels


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john sharaf
Re: carnets for the third world?
on Jan 21, 2007 at 4:22:45 am


There are really two issues as regards importing and exporting camera gear for productions. The gear starts in your home country, so you'll need to document that for when you return; otherwise you'll be subject to import duty which was already paid. In the states that's done by bringing a complete list (commercial invoice) stating the items, serial numbers, country of origin and values and attaching a customs form and upon inspection by the agent stamping the documents to make it official.

The second issue comes upon entry to each country you visit; that country wants to be assured that either you'll export all the gear upon completion of your production or you'll pay the import duty as if you were importing it permanently or for sale there. In lieu of a CARNET which essentially guarantees the former, you can post a bond, but this should be arranged in advance too; both options are expensive.

If you're only bring in a small amount or equipment, or small prosumer cameras, none of this may apply, but of course you cannot be sure without checking in advance with the consulate and/or hiring a custom's broker who's familiar with the situation.

I did get a CARNET for a recent trip to London, because I had been warned that the UK was very particular about this sort of thing and I found that the cost was outrageous; almost $2500 for the CARNET and the requisite insurance (for a three day trip for two Varicams and a few lights). I had a major shouting match with the CARNET people because they also wanted a $7000 deposit that they would keep for one year because my credit was not satisfactory (although I have great credit, a D&B rating and have been in business for more than thirty years!) For some jobs/clients this amount of extra money could be a deal breaker!

Suffice it to say that I have traveled to many countries (China, Jamaica, Norway, New Zealand, Japan, Mexico and Canada) without a CARNET, although I've been careful each time to make a detailed "commercial invoice" as described above which was properly stamped by US Customs, which looked official enough to get by, especially in the third world. I did have to leave my press pass with Mexican customs as collateral that I would export everything I brought in, and I did get it back!

I'm sure others have some hair-raising stories along this line, but really the CARNET game is like everything else in this business; it's about the money, and how much you have to spend to make your life easier and more predictable.


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Re: carnets for the third world?
on Feb 8, 2007 at 11:50:26 am

Yes, in the past the American crews I've worked with have had more hassles getting back into the States with gear than countries in Africa (with the exception of Kenya). I did a shoot in Uganda last year and there was no problem for 13 flight cases including 2 high end HD cameras. We did have to get permits to shoot in National Parks, but that was it. I think you need to check on media permits for the country you're going to. We got screwed in Egypt, and as I said above the Kenyans at Kenyatta will work you over brutally in a really polite way.

Most of the time in East Africa, if your gear is below a certain value, they let you go, on one occasion we payed $6000.00 temporary import permit in Nairobi, they tell you its not refundable though, but it is.

If I have a smaller camera I take everything to pieces and pack them apart.

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Dick Lague
Re: carnets for the third world?
on Mar 4, 2007 at 3:23:54 pm

Carnet.....those things are messy. Make sure customs are open and available before you leave the USA.

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Dick Lague
Re: carnets for the third world?
on Mar 4, 2007 at 3:35:48 pm

I went the full route on Carnets for a trip to Poland. Everything listed and accounted for. Paid big money for Carnet and insurance.

Carnet people gave me some bum advice. We had an early flight out of LAX and customs people were not avaialable in our terminal to inspect goods an d sign carnet until after our flight left. We had no time to go to the international terminal and handle. I had asked all these questions of the carnet people and got the wrong answers. We had a connection in Detroit, so I took my carnet paperwork to US Customs their to see what could be done. First guy almost got violent with me for asking simple questions. They ended up sigining for what we were carrying.

When i got to Poland we never showed the carnet. I felt the incomplete inventory would raise more questions.

So we wasted lots of time and money on carnet.

Since then we travel with HDV gear and each shooter has a camera backpack. Each kit is carry-on. We have a big Pelican case for on-board equipment and extra audio gear. We make an inventory of evrything we are carrying and have customs check and sign before we leave the USA.

Shootera all but sleep with their gear in countries with high theft rates....

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