Note 1: This information is for people who are traveling with their private, motorized vehicle (not a rented or borrowed vehicle; additional paperwork may be required and I don’t have that information).
Note 2: Your car papers have nothing to do with your visa, and vice versa. You can get one month for your visa and three for your car, for example. Each country has its own office to deal with either visa (Immigration) or temporary import document issues (Customs) and one may hardly know the other exists.
Carnet de Passage vs. Temporary Import Document
As overlanders you’ll have to deal with either the one or the other to get your vehicle into a country:
- Carnet de Passage = an internationally used document, but not all countries use it. Here you can read all about the Carnet de Passage.
- Temporary Import Document (TID) = what many countries use instead of a Carnet de Passage.
The validity of a Temporary Import Document (TID)
How long your vehicle can stay in the country depends on the country’s law, and sometimes the border official’s mood. You will find specifics about this in our country overland travel guides or overland budget reports.
In December 2019 I know for sure that the following countries use Temporary Import Documents:
- All countries in South America.
- All countries in Northern Asia: Russia, Mongolia, Central Asia (‘Stan’ countries).
- South Korea
Note: There is debate on what paperwork you need for Japan. When you ferry to Japan, it is clear that a Temporary Import Document is all that is required. However, it appears that when shipping your vehicle by container, you do need a Carnet (opinions/experiences differ).
Not only opinions or experiences sometimes differ, but also situations change. Facebook Overlanding groups are good places to get the latest information, e.g.:
- South America – Pan-American travelers
- Northern Asia – Overland Experience (Russia, Central Asia, China, Mongolia)
- Asia in general – Overland to Asia
- Africa – African Overlanders
Extension of the Temporary Import Document (TID)
Depending on the country, you can’t extend at all or only once (if very lucky, twice).
Read More: Overland Travel Guides
What Do You Need to Bring
Bring the following when entering a country or asking for an extension:
- Passport of the registered owner of the vehicle.
- Driver’s license (International driver’s license facilitates bureaucracies; note that for Brazil you need a specific one).
- Car papers.
- Third-party insurance papers.
- We’ve been advised often by other travelers to bring copies of papers but thus far we have never had to hand over one single copy.
- We believe it never harms to get a shave and dress properly before hitting the border.
- Some borders add another level of red tape in the form of Sanitation Police and Laws, notably Chile.
Tip: Be patient (bring a book), be polite, bring a smile and make friends. Most border crossings are easy going.
Tips, Suggestions, Feedback?
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 September 2019
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