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


Originally published in 2012 / updated in June 2018

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).

To put it simply: the Carnet de Passage is a passport for your car. It entitles you to enter countries (that signed this convention; German and Brazilian vehicles take note on South Korea at the bottom of this page) 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.

How Does a Carnet de Passage Work?

It’s simple:

  • You go to your Automobile Association (AA) and apply for the Carnet de Passage.
  • The Carnet de Passage is valid for 1 year, and depending on your AA it can be used for either 10 or 25 countries.
  • The fee for this Carnet depends per country (in 2003 we paid US $150-200).
  • Depending on your vehicle and the countries you want to visit, the AA calculates a deposit (which may vary from 1,000 to 10,000 US dollars) that the AA keeps for the duration of your journey. Some AAs work with a bank guarantee as well.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • If you are still traveling a year later, you will have to buy a new Carnet de Passage.

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.

There have been problems with some Automobile Associations, I believe in England, but I don’t know any details of it.

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. This Facebook pages may be a good resource for you: Overland to Asia.

Late 2016 or early 2017, Thailand has sharpened its rules for foreign vehicles. I don’t know the details, but again check the Facebook Asia Overland pages I just mentioned for updates on this.

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

What we experienced during our 3,5-year 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. 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.
  • 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.

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.

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19 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.

  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

  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?

    • 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.

      • 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

        • 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.

          • 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.

  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.

    • 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!

  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!

    • 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.

  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 for issuing the CPD carnet?

    • 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.

  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

    • 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.

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