Correct at July 2017.

Before I left the UK on 1st April 2017 I researched, on line, the need to get a Carnet to take my bike into countries beyond the EU. I found, conflicting, contradictory, confusing and largely obsolete information. Feeling the pressure with all the other things I wanted to do before leaving, which mostly included spending as much time as possible with friends and family, I gave up. Many previous motorcycle travellers have told me that at some point you just have to decide to go, ready or not. So that is what I did. Go, but without a Carnet. That proved to be the wrong decision.

My advice to everyone planning a trip, with a vehicle, is to get your Carnet BEFORE you leave your home country.

A Carnet de Passages en Douane is basically a legal promise that permits you to bring a vehicle in to a country, and take it out again within the agreed time. By making this promise you are permitted to not pay that country’s import duty and tax. If you fail to honour that promise then there is a stiff price to pay. More on that later.

The Carnet document is multi-part. One page per country; each page is divided in to three. The lower part is for the import process and is retained at the entry border with a reference number, stamp, date and signature. The top left part has the same details, but remains attached to the Carnet document. At the exit border the middle part, bearing the same reference, is retained and later matched to the import record. It’s a simple principle, but most importantly, it is the Carnet holder’s responsibility to make sure that the customs process is correctly followed. The top right part of each page is stamped and retained by you. Again, if at the end of the trip there is a rubber stamp or detail missing, then you are liable to the penalty unless you can prove otherwise. 

The governing body for countries who accept the Carnet procedure is the Federation International de l’ Automobile (FIA) 

On this page they list the countries who currently require a Carnet. But just look at the first few lines.

“This list may not be up to date due to changes in customs formalities or border procedures.  Certain countries may accept the CPD even though they fall outside the AIT/FIA customs documents network.  Countries may appear in this list but NOT on the CPD cover, notably those in which there is no AIT/FIA guarantor association.In certain countries of Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Central & South America, the CPD is not officially required, but is sometimes used to facilitate temporary importation.”

My big mistake was deciding to ignore this and work it out as I went along. Nearing Turkey’s border with Iran I learnt that I would definitely need a Carnet for Iran, but it was too late to get one sent from the UK. That cost me 28 hours and several hundred Euros to resolve. I had to buy a dedicated Iran Carnet at the border. Don’t try this: It is official (so the Chief of Police told me), but they don’t want to do it this way. My suspicion is that this option will soon be removed.

After Iran I was heading for Dubai where I would again need a Carnet.

In the UK, both the AA and RAC, who used to be the defacto source for Carnets, have withdrawn the service. They cite diminishing demand and diminishing return on capital employed. My pre-departure research uncovered that more and more countries are removing the need for a Carnet, preferring deregulation and adhocracy.

So I went back to the FIA website and followed the link to the Dubai information. I read all the way to the end to find that I must be a Dubai resident to use their service. Ditto India, my next destination.

That just leaves a company called CARS in the UK to turn to:

I am pleased to report that their service is fantastic. With cordial efficiency and a genuine desire to help me out of a tight spot, they completed my application promptly and despatched my Carnet to get to me as I reached Iran’s southern port, just in time for my passage to Dubai.

You can buy either a 5, 10 or 25 page Carnet depending on the number of countries you intend to visit, or expect to ask you for a Carnet. That’s not too expensive. However, the sting in the tail is the deposit. The system requires the value of your vehicle to be deposited in cash, through CARS. Gulp! If you fail to get the Carnet completed correctly, you risk losing this deposit. Alternatively you can pay an Insurer to deposit that bond for you. That’s the expensive part!

CARS will tell you more.


Correct at July 2017. Please feel free to share publicly as it might help other travellers.


Carnet de Passage en Douane