Air Freight: International Roadshow And Exhibition Logistics

International Air Freight Consultant

When you plan your own exhibition in a foreign country, you know, you cannot avoid planning the logistical side to it. Here is how you go about it.

Host country

  1. Does your host country accept ATA Carnet as customs document for entry and exit?
  2. Do you have a commercial invoice as a back up (ATA Carnet does not need one, yet it is safe to have one signed in blue ink and stamped. Date? Letterhead?)
  3. Using a commercial invoice? Please include the country of origin of your items
  4. Does the exhibition venue have a storage facility?
  5. Is the storage facility safe (locks, security personnel)?
  6. Has the venue facility got logistic equipment such as pallet jacks, fork-lift etc?
  7. Is the storage facility close enough for you to move your equipment into the hall?
  8. Flooring: you will need padding to use pallet jacks to move equipment, if the floor is polished or of marble or any other material that can suffer damage.
  9. Public holidays taken into consideration?
  10. Entry and exit time limits for lorries in the city?
  11. Road limitations: road width, turning radius etc
  12. ATA Carnet MUST list all items. A customs inspection is possible.
  13. If you use a commercial invoice, please keep it as short as possible. Customs Authorities do not have the time to sit back and read through a commercial invoice consisting of eight or ten pages.
  14. Sign your documents in BLUE ink, please.
  15. All documents in English, please!


  1. Is your packaging airworthy?
  2. If packaging materials (including dunnage) out of wood? If yes: do they carry IPPC logo, visible clearly, for inspection?
  3. Better use styrofoam blocks and sheets instead of chips
  4. Packaging on pallets for fork-lifts and pallet-jacks to move easily
  5. Number the pieces. Have a list of what items are in what. Keyword: Customs
  6. NO food items in packages!!
  7. Keep the height of the packages to below 160 cm if possible.


  1. Road conditions in the host country
  2. Loading equipment available? Advance booking or organising?
  3. Lorries with tail-lifts?
  4. Who will receive  goods at the venue?
  5. Does your freight forwarding agent have a secure warehouse facility?
  6. Can the freight forwarder in the host country transfer the goods after the customs clearance, into his own warehouse?
  7. Is the airline chosen a safe and trustworthy one?
  8. Even if expensive, ask for a dedicated transportation both haulage and air freight


  1. Has the venue facility got a loading ramp?
  2. Does the venue have a delivery/pick up time frame?
  3. Is the venue approachable, if articulated lorries are being used?


  1. socket adapters?
  2. Surge arrester?
  3. Power cut! Has the venue got a generator?
  4. Multimeter : voltage differences (especially for US exhibitors). Prevention is better than cure!

Equipment in general

  1. safe packaging to prevent shock resistance
  2. Serial numbers on equipment MUST be visible and very clear
  3. Items, which cannot be easily identified by customs must me photographed to show clearly their nature. Customs authorities can be difficult. It is their job to see what comes in and what goes out
  4. Does the host country have any List of Restricted Items?

Safety List

  1. Excellent copies of your travel documents.
  2. Excellent digital copies of your travel documents accessible via email or website.
  3. Emergency numbers: Police, Fire Force, ambulance, also numbers to call if your credit card gets lost.
  4. Excellent copies of your customs documents both as hard copies and as digital copies that you can get access to electronically.
  5. Contact number of your embassy or consulate.
  6. Contact number of your freight forwarding partner. Always a minimum of two.


Most important

Have you got enough time to manage everything: pick up, haulage, customs clearance, x-ray screening, delivery to the site, night transportation etc.

Remember: Customs Authorities are not concerned with your time schedule, their job is to check the legalities of your equipment, entry and exit.

Do NOT lose your customs document, especially the ATA Carnet!

Have you taken an insurance cover?


Last but not the least

If you feel dizzy reading all that, you know what to do: get in touch with me.

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