IMPORTANT THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT A CARNET DE PASSAGE.

Before we can even get deep in to the important things about the Carnet de Passage, let us first understand what this is.

The Carnet de Passage mostly referred to as the CPD, is an international customs document which covers the temporary admission of motor vehicles (private and commercial road motor vehicles) in countries where it is required. A Carnet de Passages is like a passport for a vehicle to enter multiple countries for temporary importation without having to pay the duty and taxes. It serves as a customs declaration identifying the vehicle to be imported and also constitutes an international guarantee for the Customs authorities of the payment of any customs duties and import taxes chargeable should the vehicles not be re-exported. Now, having known and understood that, let us look into the most important things you should know about this document.

IT IS ONLY ISSUED BY ONE ORGANISATION

Carnet de passage is only issued by the National Automobile Association (AA) in your respective country or an authorised motoring club. In Kenya, it is issued by Automobile Association of Kenya. The other most important services offered by Automobile Association of Kenya is issuance of the International Driving Licence.

  • Issuing of International Driving Licence. They are the only ones who can issue this document. The reason you need a CDP is because you will be traveling abroad with your vehicle. You therefore need to have the International Driving License. The International driving license is issued against your valid local driving license. You therefore cannot have an international driving license if you do not have a local valid driving license. The validity of the international driving license is also pegged on the validity of your local driving license. If you will be traveling for a long time, it is better to renew your local license before applying for the international driving license. The longest validity of Kenyan driving license is 3 years. You must also travel with both your local and international driving license. Another important thing to take note of is the regulation of driving with a foreign license in the countries you intend to travel to. Some countries may require you to have a test even if you have the international driving license, other countries have a limit of how long you can use the international driving license after which you must convert to the said country’s driving licence. No country will allow you to apply for the international driving license in their country. This is because they are not able to verify your principal license from your country of Nationality. So incase you fly into a country and decide to change your mode of travel from flying or public transport to self drive, you will not be able to get the international driving licence. Make sure you check all these regulations and requirements while planning and before starting off.
  • Other services offered by Automobile Association include; training, vehicle valuation, insurance, towing and recovery, driving school, fleet management among others.

CDP COMES AT A COST

The two main purpose of a Carnet de Passages is, to serve as a passport for a vehicle to enter multiple countries for temporary importation without having to pay the duty and taxes. It is also the international guarantee for the Customs authorities of the payment of any customs duties and import taxes chargeable should the vehicles not be re-exported out of a foreign country.

One therefore has to put in a guarantee for their vehicle which is valued at the current value of the vehicle at the time of leaving its registered country. This value can increase depending on the countries that this vehicle will be entering. Some countries demand guarantee as high as 400% of the value of the vehicle. The Carnet de passage value is therefore calculated using the highest percentage from the list of the countries one will be traveling to. If the highest is 400%, then that will be the percentage that will be used to calculate the value of the the guarantee that you need to bank with Automobile Association. There is an option of using an insurance premium to cover this guarantee but it is not an available option to everyone and requires the approval of the company.

IT COSTS DIFFERENT FOR DIFFERENT COUNTRIES.

The cost varies from country to country both on how much guarantee you should put in the bank as well as how you will be charged for other countries. For example, someone with an European vehicle may be charged a different percentage from someone with an American vehicle. Other immigration terms between different countries are likely to affect your Carnet de passage terms in that country.

Crossing from Bolivia into Peru – photo taken at the Peruvian border.

NOT ALL COUNTRIES REQUIRE YOU TO HAVE A CARNET DE PASSAGE.

We learned this from our travels, although that was not the available information when we checked with Automobile Association. The information available was that we required a Carnet de passage to travel through South America with Kenyan registered motorcycles. On arrival, we were informed that it was NOT a requirement. In fact, a Carnet de’ Passage is a not a requirement for any country in South, Central and Latin America. It is however a requirement for the USA and Canada. In these countries, you do the documentation with the customs after you have completed with immigration and have been accepted into the country. You vehicle can only be in those countries for the same period as your visa validity.

If you plan to travel for a long time without returning to your mother country, it is advisable to get the Carnet de passage from your home country before departure.

IT IS ONLY VALID FOR ONE YEAR

The carnet de passage is valid for one year after which it must be renewed. A list of the countries you will be traveling through is required with every renewal. The countries are listed on the CDP therefore you cannot change your route as that may call for amending the CDP and if your are far away from home, it can be quite challenging, expensive and time consuming exercise.

IT IS ONLY ISSUED BY YOUR HOME COUNTRY WHERE THE VEHICLE IS REGISTERED.

A carnet de passage is only issued by your home country, country of vehicle registration, or country of residency. Diplomats and people with residency can get a carnet de passage in their host countries.

THE VEHICLE HAS TO GO THROUGH A VALUATION BEFORE THE CARNET DE PASSAGE IS ISSUED.

Before a carnet de passage is issued, the vehicle has to be valued. This valuation is only done by Automobile Association or the issuing organisation. If you will be traveling for a long time, every renewal will be based on the initial value of the vehicle. Depreciation is not applicable if the vehicle is not available for a revaluation.

ENTRY AND EXIT STAMPS OF THE COUNTRIES TRAVELED TO MUST BE THERE WITH CUSTOMS OFFICERS SIGNATURE AND STAMP.

Our experience was that not all custom officials in different countries understood the carnet de passage rules and requirements. In some countries, we had to guide them as we made sure that we got the correct stamps in the correct places. It is important to countercheck your CDP before leaving the border and ensure you have all your entry and exit stamps and signatures from the custom authorities.

Lack of one of the stamps (entry or exit) could have your vehicle end up in the list of illegal entry or over stay in a country and these omissions are considered as crimes and come with a hefty penalty including a jail term in some countries.

You can also watch the video on crossing international borders here.

THE CARNET DE PASSAGE BELONGS TO THE ISSUING OFFICE/AUTHORITY.

Once you have completed your travel or even if just renewing the carnet de passage, you must submit the original document to the issuing authority. Failure to return the original document could be interrupted as having not returned the vehicle to the country of its origin and verification of the same in the absence of the original carnet is a tedious legal process involving paper trail in countries of travel and the police.

YOUR GUARANTEE CAN ONLY BE RELEASED ONCE YOU RETURN THE VEHICLE BACK IN THE COUNTRY AND SUBMIT THE ORIGINAL CARNET DE PASSAGE DOCUMENT TO THE ISSUING OFFICE.

You can only call the guarantee once you have returned the vehicle in the country of registration, cleared with the local customs and attained the stamp and finally submitting the original document back to Automobile Association.

I hope this information has been of value to your upcoming inter borders travels. Incase you have any question, kindly send it to me and we shall respond.

A video regarding the same is also available on my YouTube channel.

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