Overland Travel Paperwork: Carnets & TIPs

Filed in Riding, Travel by on July 18, 2023 0 Comments

We all know that when we travel, we need a passport to exit and enter countries. But what happens if you want to take your vehicle with you too?!

In this guide, I will cover the 2 most important documents you need to know about; Carnet De Passage en Douane (CPD or just Carnet) and Temporary Import Permits (TIP)

So, what are they and why do we need them?

Before we get into the detail of each document, what we need to understand is that when we travel with a foreign registered vehicle, we are temporarily importing the vehicle into the country with a maximum duration allowed before it must be exported again (i.e. leave the country with the vehicle). Of course there are exceptions with extensions but that process will differ from nation to nation.

Why do countries insist we export them? Well, each country has its own import and customs duties that must be paid for legitimate imports (where allowed) so when you enter a country with a foreign vehicle, you better get it out of there in due course or pay the duties!

That’s where the paperwork comes into play.

Temporary Import Permit (TIP) – For many countries, this is as simple as filling out a form at the point of entry where the vehicles paperwork is checked against the vehicle (usually registration number, registered owner, VIN and engine number) and these details are recorded. The paperwork will be checked once again when you exit the country which you have hopefully done within the permitted time or you could be up for a tougher discussion.

A typical Eurasian Customs Temporary Import Permit

Tips for the TIP #1 – Make sure you check the duration your vehicle is permitted to stay in the country. Extensions can usually be obtained at customs office throughout cities along your route and is a whole lot better than getting to the exit border and having to deal with customs.

Tips for the TIP #2 – The countries of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus & Armenia all fall under the Eurasian Union and as such, are valid with a single TIP. This does mean that if you start in the far East in Vladivostok with a plan to ride to Central Asia, you will most likely need to renew your TIP somewhere like Osh, Kyrgyzstan before continuing on to Tajikistan or Uzbekistan. (note, a relatively quick visa run can be done from Osh into Uzbekistan and back within an afternoon)

Carnet De Passage En Douane (CPD) – This one a bit trickier. First of all, there are a number of countries that ONLY accept CPD and do not permit entry on a TIP (Iran, Pakistan, India, Australia to name a few). While the CPD is best obtained in your home country before departure, the fact that it’s initial validity is only 12 months means it may be necessary to obtain it in a 3rd country, while on the road. What makes thing even more complex is that the process and costs to obtain the CPD vary based on your country of origin and the country where you are applying. For the purposes of this post, I will refer to a CPD obtained in Australia for an Australian registered vehicle.

Front page of a CDP issued in Australia

The carnet acts as a guarantee from the issuing organisation that you will export the vehicle from the country it was temporarily imported OR forfeit an amount equivalent to the duty payable on the vehicle. This amount is calculated based on the country with the highest duty that you will visit.

Example: You have a vehicle worth $10,000 (value can be based on an appraisal from a licensed mechanic so find a friendly mechanic to write on up for you 😉 )

Front, inner page of the CDP with vehicle & parts value listed along with vehicle details. Note the Australian exit and entry stamps

You are visiting Iran, Pakistan and India along your route which require carnets for entry, however India has the highest duty at 300%. That means there needs to be a guarantee for $30,000 to be paid to Indian customs if they find out you haven’t exported your bike!

So, does that mean you need a huge sum of money on hand?! Well, maybe. In Australia, you pay a fee for 1 year (approx $1,000AUD) which acts as a premium with the Automobile Association guaranteeing the duty whilst other countries do require you do place a bond with them for the full amount, which is then refundable.

Other points to note with a carnet (specific to Australia, where noted)

  1. There is an $500 refundable fee once you return the document to the issuing authority.
  2. The carnet is issued for 12 months but can be extended for a further 12 months by contacting the issuing authority.
  3. The back of the carnet has a list of countries that get crossed out if you inform the issuing authority you are not visiting them. Do not cross any out! Why limit yourself, maybe your trip will turn out to be longer than expected! There is no benefit in excluding countries if you are already visiting high-duty countries.
  4. Add any equipment that you would intend to ship with the bike such as tools, spares and camping equipment to avoid any issues with duty on these. You will need to ensure these enter and exit with the bike as they will be tied to the paperwork.

Carnet rear page with participating countries listed

Carnet Housekeeping

  1. Protect this document as you would your passport!
  2. There are 3 sections to every carnet page; starting from the bottom; a section kept by the point of entry, the middle; a section kept by the point of exit and most importantly, the top stub that remains with you. It is imperative that your top stub have both the entry AND exit stamps for the country. Failure to have either of these could leave you stuck in limbo and possible liable to pay duties!
  3. Ensure the VIN and engine number for your vehicle match both your vehicles paper and the vehicle itself. It may sound simple but this is where I found out my bikes original papers had a typo with the engine number!! (A story for another time)

An unused page in the CDP, note all 3 sections are blank. These will be filled form the bottom up for each country

The final stub for the bike entering and exiting Pakistan

The final stub for the bike entering and exiting India

Rest assured that the carnet has more pages than you would enter countries, noting that yoÍu should opt to enter/exit on a TIP where possible and leave the carnet for the nations that do not accept an alternative as it is a lot more work to process a carnet.

I hope this has been useful and informative and am happy to answer any further questions you may have! Just message me on Instagram or Facebook (7Days1Shower) and hopefully I will make a video soon explaining these crucial documents too!

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I take GSXRs to inappropriate places