How To Obtain and Use a Carnet De Passage
A Carnet De Passage is basically a passport for a vehicle. It allows you to cross borders with a vehicle without posting a cash bond at the border, paying import or export duties, etc. The Carnet is an international document required by and recognized by various governments around the world.
It functions as a bond document guaranteeing that you will not sell the vehicle once you cross the border.
You obtain it by posting a cash or credit card bond based on the value of the vehicle and the countries you plan to travel to. When you return home and the vehicle clears US customs, you send the Carnet back and your bond is returned to you (or credited to your credit card if that's what you used to post the bond).
If you live in the U.S. or Canada, you obtain the Carnet from the Canadian Automobile Club. The contact there is:
International Documentation Specialist
Canadian Automobile Association (CAA)
1145 Hunt Club Road
Ottawa ON K1V 0Y3
Phone: 1 613 247 0117 ext 2025
Fax: 1 613 247 0118
Send Suzanne an email and tell her which countries you plan to travel to on the carnet. She will email or fax you a letter with the costs of a Carnet for your planned itinerary.
The Carnet costs are based on the various duties, etc. that the country would charge if you brought the vehicle into their country and sold it and the base value of the vehicle itself. Ours cost us around $6,000 USD for all the countries we visited. Costs are minimal for a single country. You get the bond back (less their documentation fee) once the bike returns to your home country.
The carnet consists of a front cover, listing the vehicle information and your information, interior coupon pages that are used by the customs agents at each border and a back cover that lists all the countries that the Carnet is applicable for (although not all customs agents even bother to look at it, ask me about a story in this regard from our trip in the Middle East). When you enter a country, the customs agent removes the first of the two coupons on a coupon page and stamps the entry area of the same coupon page. When you leave the country, the customs agent removes the second of the coupons and stamps the exit area of the same coupon page. It is critical that you get that exit stamp because it shows the bike has both entered and LEFT the country. The stamp/coupon process is repeated at each border.
It's a lot easier than it sounds and most customs agents are very used to working with a Carnet. In regions where all vehicles require them, such as the Middle East, the agents see hundreds of them a week. The agents at Tokyo Narita airport, even though they aren't used to seeing Carnets, have an excellent binder they pull out that has sample documents for every form they deal with, including a sample Carnet, that shows them exactly where they need to stamp, etc.
When the vehicle returns to your home country, you need to have the Carnet stamped and signed by a customs official to indicate that the vehicle has returned. Alternatively, you can have a court official, such as a notary public, sign and stamp the form. Once this validation is complete, return the Carnet to the originating organization (a courier service that provides tracking numbers is highly recommended) and your bond will be credited to your credit card account or returned to you via check.
If you have any doubt that a Carnet is required, check with with the destination country's customs department or an originating organization such as the CAA (see above) before you depart.
Sample Images of Carnet Pages