Tips & Techniques to Handle Your Film Equipment

Bringing film equipment in and out of Brazil

Published on in Advice / Tips & Tricks

Organizing a shoot in a remote place? Whether it's for TV, film, commercial or a photo shoot, importing gear requires forward planning. Read our guide on how to minimize headaches when importing gear into and around Brazil.

ATA Carnet vs EBDV

There are two ways to go about bringing equipment into Brazil – ATA Carnet and EBDV.  The ATA Carnet system is a well-known international customs and temporary export-import document. Think of it as a passport for your equipment that can be used to clear customs without having to pay import taxes or duties on equipment, so long as the equipment leaves the country within a year. 

Applying for the ATA Carnet is done in your home country, and more than one country can be specified on the Carnet, meaning that a crew can travel from one country to another with equipment without having to go via the home country in between. 

The e-DBV (Declaração Eletrônica de Bens de Viajantes) is an “Electronic Declaration of Traveller’s Goods” and can be obtained via the Brazilian customs and tax authority website. It allows foreign crews to register each piece of equipment being brought to Brazil for a shoot. It’s a more bureaucratic option than the ATA Carnet and involves navigating the Brazilian Tax Authority website. For that reason, we generally recommend the ATA Carnet to our clients. Just one document can cover all the equipment needed for a shoot. 

Flying with equipment: Baggage restrictions

A foreign production company planning to send a crew to Brazil for a shoot might be contemplating just one return international flight, or a further domestic flight might be necessary. Each airline has its own policy when it comes to baggage allowances and unfortunately for pre-production logistics these policies can vary depending on the season and on the region.

Helping our clients find the most economical as well as practical solution for getting their equipment to where it needs to be in Brazil is all part of the pre-production support that we can provide. 

Getting your ATA Carnet stamped when flying out of Brazil

It’s the carnet holder’s responsibility to have their Carnet stamped when leaving as well as entering Brazil. When the shoot involves a domestic flight within Brazil, they need to take care to not check their equipment in at the domestic airport all the way back to their home country without getting the equipment checked and the carnet stamped at the international airport in Brazil that is their point of departure for the international flight home.

Flying with lithium batteries and lights

Airlines have been tightening up their rules for flying with lithium batteries in recent years, so check the specific restrictions of domestic flights as well as international flights on a shoot, although in general it's safe to assume that batteries with more than 100Wh or 12V power are banned. 

Some Brazilian airlines will allow lithium batteries of up to 100Wh to be carried on board, but generally only two per passenger, which is rarely enough when the crew to equipment ratio is high. Some airlines ignore their own rules, but it's not worth taking the risk, so we tend to hire batteries from local providers in the Amazon and can get a good price through our local fixers.

Flying with gas-powered lights

Most aviation authorities also prohibit any items which contain gases so it's worth remembering that this may apply to gas-discharge lamps such as HMIs and fluorescent lights. We've had problems before travelling on Brazilian domestic airlines with Diva-Lite Kino Flo type lamps, and again this is something that can be worked around by hiring from local providers. 

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About the Author

Story Productions
Story Productions
Story Productions is a full-service creative company based in Brazil, with production teams in São Paulo, Manaus, Rio de Janeiro and Porto Alegre. We are a network of multi-lingual, talented professionals, from researchers, writers, producers, directors, fixers, shooters and editors.

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