Carnet de Passage – What Is It? Where do You Need It?

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Note that this information is for people who are traveling with their private vehicle (not a rented or borrowed vehicle; additional paperwork may be required but I don’t have that information).

What is a Carnet de Passage

To put it simply: the Carnet de Passage is a passport for your car/motorcycle. It entitles you to enter countries by car without paying import taxes.

You can’t use it as an import document (e.g. when bringing your car in case of emigrating); the Carnet de Passage is specifically designed for travelers, like a transit/temporary import document.

Important: Geneva vs Vienna Convention

By the way, whether you can take your car to a country also depends on the nationality of the car’s license plate.

Most countries have signed the Geneva Convention. However, a couple of other countries such as Germany and Brazil signed the Vienna Convention. The latter prohibits them from taking their vehicles to South Korea and may cause problems in a couple of other countries too.

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How Does a Carnet de Passage Work?

It’s simple:

  1. You go to your Automobile Association (AA) and apply for the Carnet de Passage.
  2. Depending on your vehicle (size/value) and the countries you want to visit, the AA calculates a deposit (which may vary from 1,000 to 10,000 US dollars). The AA keeps the deposit for the duration of your journey. Some AAs work with a bank guarantee as well.
  3. Each entry into a country uses one page. On entering and exiting the customs sign and stamp the document. It is your own responsibility to collect these stamps. Some customs have never seen this document before and you’ll have to guide them through the procedure.
  4. When you return to your country with your car and Carnet de Carnet with all stamps, the AA will return your deposit. It is as simple as that and as far as we are concerned the system works just fine.

Validity and Fees

  • The Carnet de Passage is valid for 1 year, and depending on your AA it can be used for either 10 or 25 countries.
  • If you are still traveling a year later, you will have to buy a new Carnet de Passage.
  • The fee for the Carnet de Passage depends per country (per AA).

The Automobile Association

The Automobile Association in Germany (ADAC) has lots of info in English on the Carnet de Passage. The ADAC gives a different vision on the need of Carnet for South American countries than I present in this blog (see below). You could say that:

  • The ADAC supplies the official regulations on the subject.
  • In this blog post we are sharing our experiences.

China & Thailand

An important exception is China. Thus far it has not been possible to enter China with a vehicle independently. You need a travel agency to organize this for you in advance and expect to pay a lot of money.

Think about at least 150-200 US dollars per day (yes, per day!), just to obtain the proper papers to enter China.

Late 2016 or early 2017, Thailand has sharpened its rules for foreign vehicles. The official version is that, here too, you need to get a guide to overland travel in Thailand with your own vehicle – you better check the status on this before arriving on the border!

Also Thailand these days has strict regulations, although experiences still vary much per person.

Sources for additional information on China Travel:

  • Facebook pages such as Overland to Asia.
  • Overlandsite has a lowdown on their trip to China and the post includes an overview with costs charged by different companies (2018).

Carnet de Passage for Europe to Asia (2003-2006)

What we experienced during our 3,5-year Europe-Southeast Asia journey:

  • Iran, Pakistan, India, Singapore demanded a Carnet de Passage. Don’t be fooled by stories that you can enter India without this Carnet de Passage; you can’t.
  • In other countries such as Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam our Carnet de Passage facilitated the border procedures but the Carnet was not required.

Carnet de Passage for South America (2007-2106)

During our 9-year travel on the continent, we didn’t need a Carnet in any of South America’s 13 countries. See more about the Temporary Import Document, which you do need in all of them and will get at the border.

The exception is French Guiana for owners of a European car. Because French Guiana is Europe, no papers required at all.

Carnet de Passage for Far East (2016- today)

  • Japan (Nov. ’16): You don’t need a Carnet when you ferry from South Korea; you’ll get the TID on arrival. Read about the procedure here. We understand that you do need a Carnet when you ship your vehicle to Japan in a container or RoRo. In other words, if you are not traveling with the vehicle. More on shipping and paperwork for Japan here.
  • Japan (Edited to Add Jul ’19): As mentioned earlier, German license cars fall under the Vienna convention. As such the story was that they couldn’t enter Japan. This blog post tells a different story (doesn’t mean it works for everybody, it may depend on the port or official but this is definitely worth looking into).
  • South Korea (Sep ’17): You don’t need a Carnet de Passage; you will get a Temporary Import Document (TID) on arrival. Read about the shipping and paper procedures here. Germany and Brazil signed the Geneva Convention (they signed the Vienna Convention) and, as a result, these vehicles are not allowed to drive in South Korea. To check if anything has changed, contact Wendy Choi (more on her below; wendychoi2 [at] Gmail [dot] com).
  • Russia (March ’18): You don’t need a Carnet but get a TID on arrival.
  • Mongolia (June ’18): You don’t need a Carnet but get a TID on arrival.
  • Kazakhstan/Kyrgyzstan/Tajikistan/Uzbekistan (July ’20): You don’t need a Carnet but get a TID on arrival.

We haven’t used a Carnet de Passage in ages, and things change all the time. There are a couple of places where you can find the latest status and updates:

Carnet de Passage – Interactive Map (@overlanding association)

This information may be outdated. What are your experiences? Please share them with us in the comments below so other travelers can benefit from them. Thanks.

Originally published in 2012 / updated in July 2020

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31 thoughts on “Carnet de Passage – What Is It? Where do You Need It?”

  1. No need for a carnet in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela (as questioned above)… only the vehicle title and a passport is required to get the temporary vehicle import papers at the border.

    Reply
  2. hi everyone, i m daniel, from italy, but i live now in australia!! i want buy a new bike in thailand, and i will start from there my new trip in the world!! i will go out the thai, i need the carnet de passage with my bike from thai? if yes, how much cost? and with which one agency? thanks

    Reply
  3. I want to travel via motorcycle from cape town to cairo, in order to receive my deposit back from AA, would i need to ride all the way back to cape town to get it? or is there another way to do this?
    Thankyou

    Reply
    • Where do you plan on going after Cairo? You will need to get it stamped out of Egypt in any case. And every AA works differently. We could stamp out of Argentina for example and drive into Uruguay and not use the Carnet but enter via the Temporary Import Document system. We then send foto’s of the stamped Carnet back to the ADAC and got our deposit back. I would suggest you contact your AA and ask them about it.

      Reply
      • Depending on finances, i’d like to sell the motorbike or ship it back to Australia. I am just trying to wrap my head around this so correct me if i’m wrong. When i buy the motorcycle in South Africa, I will also buy the Carnet de Passage along with registration and insurance and from there, I can use those documents to travel freely up towards Cairo (also entry & exit costs for each country), but what will happen to my deposit that I gave the AA in South Africa if I hope to fly back to Australia from Cairo? Will i need to sell the bike and send photos/receipts to AA so they can transfer it and give me my money back?

        Thank you

        Reply
        • Roughly it boils down to this: the Carnet exists because vehicles needed to visit/transit countries, without the hassle of officially importing them. The general idea is that the vehicle returns to its original country. If you do not return to the original country, you will either need proof of importing it and paying taxes, or scrapping it and you will likely get your deposit back. The deposit works like a security. If you stamp into a country and not out (always remember to collect both in and out stamps at the borders), you will likely loose your deposit and that country will claim it in order to recuperate its loses of importation tax, as you have maybe sold it without proper importing it. But again, every AA works differently, so please contact the South African AA from whom you will get your Carnet, and ask them how they handle things.

          Reply
          • Ok i just emailed them. Thanks so much for your help, its given me a better understanding now. Take care!

    • Hi Joe
      the only countries requiring a carnet are kenya and Egypt as far as i am concerned.
      Whilst technically you cant get a tip in Kenya in reality i know people who have recently for $200 for three months.

      Reply
  4. My self and 4 others wish to drive our motorbikes from Bangkok to UK, a ‘Carnet du passage’ is required for India but we can’t find how to get it for Thai registered bikes.
    Do you have any information on how we can get the CDP for our bikes.
    Thanks.
    andy

    Reply
    • As far as we knew you’ll have to get information from the Thai Automobile Association, as normally the Carnet de Passage is issued by the country in which the vehicle is registered. If not, then they should know where you are able to get a Carnet de Passage. Hope that helps. Best of luck!

      Reply
  5. Great info! Thanks very much! So if i get you right, of i dont go to countries that require a carnet de passage, i would be able to keep my car out of its country of origin as long as i change country before the TID expires,which would mean I could travel for years with no additional paperwork, is that correct? Is it to assume that if a country doesnt require the carnet de passage it would issue a TID? Thanks so much!

    Reply
    • I can’t answer that for you. That depends on the rules and laws in your own country (e.g. related to tax, mandatory annual technical tests, etc). Best check with your local automobile association to verify this.
      But when it comes to the use of Carnet vs TID, you’re correct. Either a country requires a carnet or you’ll get a TID at the border.

      Reply
  6. Hi,
    I am planning a road trip which will start from Islamabad, Pakistan and ends in Manchester, UK. I will buy an old FJ40 landcruiser from Islamabad as they are completely rust free there and also right hand drive and take it to the UK.
    I need help in understanding how the CPD carnet will work for me as I do not intend taking this vehicle back to Pakistan and will pay the required taxes in the UK and register it there.
    Also I am a little confused over which company I should trust for issuing the carnet in Pakistan. Is this an authentic website http://www.carnetdepassage.org for issuing the CPD carnet?

    Reply
    • Hi Mohammed, your plan brings smiles to our faces! That will be a cool trip. As for the CDP, the site you mention is strictly an information source. They will not issue you a CDP. If you read it correctly it will ask you to contact the Automobile Association of Pakistan via the presented form, or telephone, email or fax. This would also be the right place to explain your plan, and ask them how and when you will get you deposit back. Good luck and do keep us updated on your epic trip.

      Reply
  7. Greetings from Riyadh – Saudi Arabia!
    I just saw some peoples are trying to travel from Pakistan to UK.

    I am thinking from Riyadh to Lahore by my private Chevy Trailblazer 2006 4.2L
    If anyone have recent experience? how this could possible and what is recommended
    How long this journey can take as google Maps Shows Riyadh – Kuwait – Iraq- Iran – Pakistan 3500 km up to 55hours!
    Please share your ideas
    Greetings!

    Reply
    • Heya Maqsood, that sounds like a very nice roadtrip indeed. I’m guessing you are a Saudi national? We would love to drive Saudi at some time. Contact your Automobile Club and ask them about the local permits and rules about crossing those countries.

      Reply
  8. I have been longing to make a Motorcycle Trip to Bangkok from Thimphu, Bhutan on road. For this i need to cross India and Myanmar to reach till Bangkok, Thailand. Been looking in the google map regarding Asian Highway. I want to do this adventure in my own Motorbike (Bhutan registered bike).

    Please advice me on the possibilities of obtaining the Carnet passenger de for my bike.

    Regards.

    Shekhar Chhetri

    Reply
    • Hey there, best check with your local automobile association. That normally is the organization that supplies the carnet. If they don’t, they can tell you in which country you can (maybe India?).
      All the best and have a great trip.

      Reply
  9. Hey there,
    Im planing on a road trip from India to Germany this year and I’m not so sure about the route right now, do you know if you can change the route after thr application for the carnet de passage?

    Cheers Laura

    Reply
    • Heya Laura, If I am not mistaken, you are looking into a CdP that covers India and Iran, right. Depending on the supplier of your CdP, you can choose only 3 options, and you are choosing the only option that includes India and Iran. That same option is valid for all other countries. So you can change your route without problems.

      Look up the Fees tables in this pdf:
      https://www.adac.de/_mmm/pdf/complete%20follow-up_326265.pdf

      I hope this helps?
      Coen

      Reply
  10. Hi there
    I am planing to have a road trip from Hong Kong to Malaysia counties I need to cross is China, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Malaysia and return back to Hong Kong by road or fly back depend on my experience gained reaching there, so I want to know is it possible? If yes do i need a carnet or what’s else document I need to prepare
    Thanks
    Saman

    Reply
    • Hey there, It’s been too long ago since we were in Southeast Asia and we haven’t driven across China so we can’t help you here. Best check on Facebook pages Overlanding Asia or Overland to Asia. You’ll find overlanders there with current information. Hope that helps. Enjoy the trip!

      Reply
  11. Hi, we are just planning to go to Cambodia via Myanmar and Thailand from India by road by our own car. So what is the procedure to enter and return Thailand and Myanmar to India And need necessary required documents and other information…

    Reply
  12. Hi
    To the forum

    I am planning, in June 2020, in Final Exit – Saudi Arabia (Contract Complete)
    to drive from Ryadh to Portugal, in my private car purchased in Riyadh.
    I will definitely go and do not intend to return (Work Finished).

    After reading some articles in the forum,
    I realized that it is important to have Carnet de Passage (only for Jordan and Israel) after being in Israel I send the car to Italy by Ferry.

    The car arriving in Italy,
    I immediately go to Portugal.

    Questions:
    1. How do I get Carnet here in Saudi Arabia
    2. Without return to the origin is possible request the refund in Portugal
    (after legalizing the car).
    3. How to have car insurance to make this trip
    4. The car to leave Saudi Arabia definitely is necessary to acquire some special document
    5.The license plates of the car will have to be changed

    Note:
    I need help from someone had the same experience or have contacts of companies or institutions to be able to organize everything in advance.

    Thank you

    Sergio Bento

    Reply
    • Heya Sergio, sorry for the late reply.

      I will try and answer your questions as best as I can.

      1]
      There are a number of things to consider. The CdP is mostly used as a means of transporting expensive items (not only cars) across borders without having to pay import duties, but always with the intention of getting back to the original location. For example if a TV camera crew or a rock band is bringing expensive camera / music equipment into a foreign country that don’t have a free movement of goods agreement, the CdP comes into play.

      In your case you don’t want to return the car to Saudi Arabia. Which makes a CdP, not the right solution for you. If you will use the CdP, I think you will loose your deposit bond for sure. But we can speculate all we want, the only person or entity that can answer your questions for sure is the issuing CdP party.

      I did some searching and I found that two parties will issue a “CPD – Triptik” or “Customs Transit Book (Altrepettik)”. Check these two:
      Saudi Automobile Federation
      Saudi Automobile and Touring Association

      2]
      Contact the organisations above and ask how to get the CdP and how much your deposit will be and if they will refund you your deposit if you for example land in a country where you don’t need the CdP to enter. We for example stamped out of the last country that needed a CdP to enter and entered the next country without the CdP. Our issuing agent accepted our case with sufficient documents and copies from our side and made a refund of our deposit without question.

      3]
      Each country you visit will have some sort of temporary insurance available. Often at the border, or at the next convenient option from the border at the next town.

      4]
      We don’t live in Saudi Arabia, so it’s best to contact the local government or organisation who is responsible for car registrations in Saudi Arabia.

      5]
      You mean in Portugal? You will have to import the vehicle into Portugal. Contact the Portugese organisation who are responsible for car registrations and see what issues you will likely have to solve.

      We have no experience in these special situations. Google will be your best friend. Or contact a Expat forum or online community. There must have been other people wanting to do exactly the same thing as you want to do.

      Please let us know if you succeeded and how your experience was.
      Good luck and if you have more specific questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

      Reply

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