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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8 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 👍.

    Reply
    • 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,
      Cheers,
      Andy

      Reply
  2. Hi Andy

    Thanks for the informative article. I have 2 questions

    1. Does Carnet has mention of the countries that I intend to travel to ? For eg. mentioning India raises the cost of Carnet significantly. Is it possible to not mention India but still able to enter India quoting there is a change of plan ?

    2. If the vehicle is formally imported at one of the Carnet country & duty being paid, will sending a proof from Customs dept to the Carnet issuing authority can get the deposit paid back ?

    Advance thanks for your answers.

    Reply
    • Hi Ashish,
      1. Yes, Carnets stipulate the countries you travel to as it makes a difference to the amount of deposit or insurance paid to the CDP company.
      2. This is a question for your carnet issuing company to be sure, but yes you will need proof it has been imported and to return the CDP to the company. But the exact procedure will be dependent on your carnet company – I would advise contacting them and ask what documents they need and if the CDP needs to be stamped out after import.
      Hope this helps,
      Cheers,
      Andy

      Reply
      • Thanks Andy for the reply. While I understand & agree on the price point, my question was more like – will Indian custom authorities not allow the vehicle to enter India if the CDP does not have mention of India on it ? Is this something that will vary from country/custom to country ?

        Reply
        • Hi Ashish,
          Sorry for my late reply, it’s a very good question and to be honest, not something i’m entirely sure of. I’ve asked a few people and am awaiting their replies hence the late reply. But so far, it’s uncertain. I’m not sure if that’s something customs will look out for on the CDP. I would assume it is and they’d want to make sure it’s valid for their country. The other issue is if anything happens to your bike there and customs tries to contact your issuer who will of course inform them that it wasn’t valid in the first place.
          My inkling is that customs will check for validity, to match the fact that Carnets cost more for certain countries, like Iran and Egypt etc. But let me get back to you on this.
          Cheers,
          Andy

          Reply
  3. Hi
    I am planing to goto Pakistan from UK, i am aware the charges for applying Carnet, but if i dont have security funds as a deposit then how much would be the insurance on average as a security holding. I would be happy if you assist me.
    Many thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Arsalan, sounds like a great trip riding to Pakistan!
      Okay, so firstly I’m going to assume you will be travelling on a UK registered bike and in that case you will be using Cars (https://www.carseurope.net/carnet-de-passage-en-douanes-cpd/) which are the UK based company that handle CDPs for UK registered vehicles.
      So, you will need to contact Suki from Cars and she will be able to advise you on what the deposit and security insurance amounts are.
      We can’t give you an estimation on this amount because it depends on what motorcycle you are using and its value. Get in touch with Suki, she’s very helpful and will be able to give you an accurate price.
      Hope this helps,
      Cheers,
      Andy

      Reply

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