What is a Carnet de Passage?

Ever wondered what that French sounding document everyone keeps going on about is actually for? Here’s what you need to know about the Carnet de Passage.

The Carnet de Passage en Douane (commonly known as Carnet or CDP) is an internationally-recognised customs document, which allows you to temporarily import your vehicle into a country without having to leave a cash deposit at the border.

It acts as an international guarantee to the country you’re entering, promising that your Carnet’s issuer will cover any taxes or duties owed if you don’t export your vehicle.

To get the Carnet in the first place, you have to leave a security deposit or guarantee (how much depends on the value of your bike and the countries you’re visiting) with the issuer.

To put it simply, if you don’t export and the country complains, your Carnet issuer will give them your security money to calm them down.

Temporary Import

To enter a foreign country with your vehicle, you will need to go through Customs first and temporarily import your vehicle. Each country has their own rules on this import process. For some countries you must have a CDP, for others you can use a Temporary Import Declaration instead. Of course, avoiding Carnet countries will make your trip easier and cheaper, but if you’re on a round-the-world epic and want to visit all continents, then you’re probably going to need a Carnet at some point.

Carnet Countries

 A Carnet is not required for Europe, North America, South America, West Asia, Central Asia and East Asia. It is required for many countries in Africa, South East Asia, South Asia, the Middle East as well as Australia and New Zealand.

The Overlanding Association has a nifty map with info on Carnet countries. Check it out here.

Commonly Asked CDP Questions 

How long does a CDP last and can I renew it?

The CDP lasts one year. You can apply for a new CDP once your current one has expired, even if you are out of your home country. Your old CDP must be sent back to the issuer in your home country.  

Does it affect how long I can stay in the country?  

No. Each country has its own rules for how long you can stay. The CDP lasts 12 months, but that doesn’t mean you can stay in the country for 12 months.

What paperwork do I need to get a CDP?

A copy of your passport, driver’s licence, vehicle registration document and a completed Carnet application form.

How do I use a CDP?

You’ll get a little booklet (you can pay extra for more pages). Each page in the booklet is split into three parts. Upon entering a country, a customs official will stamp you in on the top part of the page and keep the lower section. 

When exiting, a customs official will stamp you out on the top of the page and keep the middle part of the page. It’s important you get your vehicle stamped in and out correctly, as this proves you have temporarily imported and exported the vehicle.

Once you’ve finished your trip, or used your CDP up, you must return it to your CDP issuer. Before doing so, you will need to fill out the final page and have it witnessed by a customs official in the UK or your final importation country. If you’re overseas, then take clear, detailed pictures of each page before posting, and post it securely.

How much is a Carnet?

In the UK, a 5-page CDP is £215, 10-page is £230, 25-page is £255. You must also provide the CDP issuer with an insurance indemnity or a part-refundable deposit on top of the CDP cost. The amount of each depends on the value of your vehicle. When you make an application, your CDP issuer will let you know the prices for both options.  

What happens if my motorbike is stolen?

Get a police report and speak to customs in that country to confirm that your CDP is discharged and nothing else is owed.

Where do I get a Carnet from?

In the UK, the company CARS is the only CDP supplier. 

To find out who your country’s Carnet supplier is, visit the official Carnet de Passage website here www.carnetdepassage.org

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2 thoughts on “What is a Carnet de Passage?”

  1. Hi….I am an Englishman living in Russia at the moment. I own a Harley Davidson Road King and I’m planning to ride it home to England this summer. Do I need a CDP even though the chart says no? I can purchase insurance here in Russia to cover me through Europe and the UK.
    Any advice on my proposed trip will be great … thanks 👍.

    • Hi Johnnie, sounds like a great trip you have planned!
      A Carnet is country dependent, so for example, you need it to ride in India but not Tajikistan.
      So, that means it’s completely depends on your route and which countries you’re going through.
      However, as you said you’re in Russia and riding home to England, you’d have to go exceptionally far out of your way to hit a Carnet country – so unless you’re planning on going China/India/Pakistan/Iran you won’t need one.
      Hope this helps,


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