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Andrew Allan, of the chamber, says that Customs and Excise have changed the rules after becoming dissatisfied with efforts to improve the system and have decided to tighten up the old carnet system instead.

The regulations, which largely apply to art and antiques being temporarily exported for the purposes of showing them to potential buyers or for exhibitions, include filling out carnets, or forms giving clear descriptions of the items in question.

In 1998, Customs decided to allow the trade to use “letters of responsibility” to complement the carnets after it became clear that descriptions were not thorough enough. Now, however, Customs have decided to rescind that permission and are insisting on detailed descriptions in the carnets themselves.

Carnet holders for jewellery, for instance, must now include an actual or estimated carat weight for each item. Antique and secondhand jewellery must be described as such together with their individual carat weights. In these cases it is likely that the carat weight will be estimated. Carat weights must appear in column two of the form with the abbreviation est. for estimated weights. In all cases the overall weight in grammes should appear in column four.

Customs also recommend the use of colour photos to help identification. In these cases two sets must be provided with one set being retained by the relevant issuing chamber. Any queries may be directed to Mr Allan on 020 7203 1855 or by email at aallan@londonchamber.co.uk.