Carnet de Passage vs Temporary Import for Japan

You do not need a Carnet de Passage to take your vehicle to Japan! Scour the web and everything points towards the expensive document. But there is another way – the Temporary Import. Read on to find the differences and which option is best for you…

What is a carnet de passage (cdp)

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Carnet de Passage vs Temporary Import for foreign registered motorcycles in Japan 

There’s not a lot of information online for motorcycle travellers and overlanders planning to take their vehicles into Japan. We struggled when we first started researching, and assumed it was going to be a real pain once we arrived. But, it’s nowhere near as tricky or as difficult as we thought.

Japan is a stickler for the rules. Everything has a process and there is no bend, sway or movement in that process. You must follow everything to the letter and that’s final. So, as long as you know the procedure and follow their rules, it’ll all go swimmingly!

If you’re planning on motorcycling in Japan, we recommend you have a read of this packed guide first. 

READ MORE: Motorcycle Travel Guide: Japan

Carnet de Passage for Japan

As you are probably aware, the Carnet de Passage is type of vehicle passport. It acts as security for countries that you won’t sell or leave your vehicle in their country. That’s because, to get the document you need to leave a hefty deposit with the issuing company in your home country. You get your Carnet stamped in when you enter a country and get it stamped out when you leave. Easy.

But not every country requires a Carnet (thankfully).

However, according to every website we checked, Japan is one of those countries that does require it.

But that’s not strictly true. It should be, Japan accepts the Carnet, not that it requires it.

If you’re not sure on what a Carnet de Passage (CDP) is, have a read of this guide first. 

READ MORE: What is a Carnet?

Carnet procedure

Using a Carnet to enter and exit Japan is by far the easiest method. If you already have or need a carnet for elsewhere on your trip then this is a no-brainer. 

If you decide to enter Japan with a Carnet, you then have the option of leaving Japan by putting your vehicle on an airplane, cargo ferry or passenger ferry. Using your carnet is like with any other country that requires it. But there is a few hoops you need to jump through first.

Before you can leave the port of arrival, you first need to get authentication and a Japanese translation of your Carnet at the Japanese Automobile Federation (JAF). You will need to send your documents to the ferry company or shipping agent you’re using in advance and they will forward the documents onto JAF to prepare the paperwork.

But you still need to visit the office in person to complete the paperwork, as only the holder of the CDP with your original document can complete it, and it must be at the JAF office. 

Unfortunately, you can’t ride your motorcycle or drive your car until you have done this… and even worse, the closest JAF office to Sakaiminato port is in Matsue, about a 100USD and one hour taxi ride away. You can find more info on the JAF carnet here. But it of course depends on where and how you land in Japan. 

Temporary Import for Japan

However, you may not need a Carnet for any other country you plan on riding through on your trip. If this is the case it would be expensive to get one just for Japan, but don’t worry – you can enter Japan using the Temporary Import form C5014 if you are arriving by ferry from South Korea. 

If Japan grants you the import, you will be allowed to keep your vehicle in Japan for one year and will be exempted from import tax. If you go over one year, you will have to pay the import tax (which is 20%, so don’t go over!).

There used to be a catch with the Temporary Import, which was that you can only enter with a temporary import if you take your vehicle in and out of Japan by ferry.

But as of 2024 this is no longer the case. You can enter via ferry from South Korea and then ship your motorcycle out of the country to wherever you wish in the world with a temporary import. 

READ MORE: How to Catch the Ferry from Japan to South Korea

Temporary Import Procedure

You can only use the Temporary Import at international passenger ferry ports like Sakaiminato and Shimonoseki (which is most likely where you’ll be arriving anyway). A Temporary Import is not guaranteed, but you can check beforehand.

To Temporary Import your vehicle, you will use the C5014 form and will need to contact the ferry company you are using in advance. If you are arriving from South Korea, then this will most likely be with Camellia Lines.

When you leave Japan, you will need to visit the customs building (there will be one right next to whichever port you are leaving from) and have your document stamped out. It’s a simple procedure. They will check your vehicle documents against the numbers on your bike and stamp your form to prove you’ve left. 

2024 update on TIPs and how to do it

The below information was kindly sent to us by John. Check out his excellent report of using the ferry and getting a TIP here: jbstrails.com/south-korea-to-japan

If you enter via ferry from South Korea with a temporary import, you may be able to leave by air or sea.

However, the new catch is that you must have proof that you will exit Japan – for both you personally and your motorcycle. 

For you personally, you can do this with a flight ticket. For your bike it can be done by booking another ferry ticket (and cancel it later) or by booking air or ship cargo for your motorcycle out. 

Please note, John did have to work very hard to convince Camellia Line in South Korea to take the bike with a TIP. They initially rejected the idea and insisted on a Carnet.  He had to confirm with Japan Customs that a TIP was valid, then made contact with Camellia in Japan, and then waited another week for Camellia to consult with Japan Customs, and then they told Camellia Line in Korea to take him.  It still took another week for them to process the paperwork.  Hopefully, this will have broken the ice for future travellers and you won’t experience the same trouble.

Shipping a motorcycle to and from Japan

If you’re considering shipping your motorcycle or car into or out of Japan, then we have a recommended Japan shipping company. You’ll find all their contact details on our International Motorcycle Shipping Companies Finder page. Simply click the below link, click Japan and you’ll find their website and email. They will be able to help with bringing your bike in and shipping it out as well as current paperwork requirements. 

International Motorcycle Shipping Companies
Welcome to the Motorcycle Shipping Companies Finder. This page lists worldwide freight forwarders, companies, agents, fixers, ferry services and detailed guides. Click a country on the map to see what's on offer.
Read More

Read more on motorcycle travel in Japan

Thanks for checking out our Motorcycle Travel in Japan Guide. We hope you enjoyed it! Here’s a few more articles on motorcycling in Japan that we recommend you read next. 

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16 thoughts on “Carnet de Passage vs Temporary Import for Japan”

  1. May know the cost for temporary import documents?

    The carnet admin charges is not cheap not to mention you need deposit.

    Reply
    • Hi Dan, I don’t believe there was a charge for the temporary import document. If there is, it will be very minimal. Cheers, Andy

      Reply
    • Hi Sam, for that you’re better of speaking to the company that’ll be handling your shipping as they’ll know all up-to-date requirements.
      Visit out International Motorcycle Shipping Companies page and click on the country in Europe you’re planning on shipping to, in there you’ll find a list of great companies with contact details. I’d recommend getting in touch with them as they’re going to know specifics on emissions and can also help with the bike’s arrival etc.
      Hope this helps,
      Cheers,
      Andy

      Reply
  2. Hi,
    Who can I contact for the C5104 form? Tatiana no longer works for DBS Ferry and Yuri has not been able to help us.

    Thank you

    Reply
    • Hi Paolo, thanks for getting in touch. The C5104 form will be supplied and organised by whichever company you are using to ship your vehicle to Japan.
      How are you transporting your vehicle there?
      Cheers,
      Andy

      Reply
        • Brilliant! So no CDP, that’s great! Which company are you taking the ferry with from South Korea? Have you tried contacting them? If not, it will have to be arranged at customs at the port on arrival.
          Cheers,
          Andy

          Reply
          • Yes, we want to avoid to do the CDP because we will travel with our van and the CDP it’s quite expensive.
            We contacted Yuri to go from Vladivostok to South Korea but we don’t have any contact from South Korea to Japan yet.

            We only know that we need to take the Camellia Line because we travel with our dog and cat and we must enter through designated ports 😂

            Reply
  3. Hi, i plan on staying in japan for a couple of months and wanted to bring my bike over, but a lot the info i found online says i need japanese residency to be eligible for mandatory inspections and insurance, and as a result I can’t bring my bike as a tourist. Is that required for the methods you provided?

    Reply
    • Hi Danny, we had our bike in Japan for a very long time, way longer than a couple of months and we did not need to be a resident.
      How are you importing your bike to Japan? Via RoRo or shipping? If shipping it in, get in touch with Sanyo – you can find their details on the Japan Shipping Companies page (just tell them Andy from Mad or Nomad sent you and i’m sure they’ll help you out). They will be able to advise on the exact procedures.
      And in the meantime, please send me a link to where you found online that it says you need to have Japan residency.
      Cheers,
      Andy

      Reply
  4. This site was really helpful, thanks. I live in Busan and am planning to go on a little roadtrip in Japan for a month this winter with my car. Will get in touch with Camellia eventually and report back in January. Cheers – AD

    Reply
    • Hi AD, thanks for your comment. Glad to hear you’ve found our site helpful! 🙂
      Awesome to hear about your trip, and that would be fantastic if you could report back here. Thank you.
      Looking forward to hearing your update in January.
      Cheers,
      Andy

      Reply

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