Click to return to home

Created by Level X Webdesign

Journeys Gallery Links Tips n'Infos The Challenge About us

Transport / Customs

This page is a high level overview over some issues that might come up when travelling. Please refer to the Country Specific section for the various countries and their details.


Transport of the vehicle can be done by ship on a RoRo-Ferry (roll-on/roll-off) or in a container. RoRo is less secure since it is easy to break in and steel stuff out of the truck. Containers are more secure but the size of vehicles transportable in closed containers is limited.
Some shipping companies only transport vehicles by RoRo or Open-Deck containers when they are empty, or when driver cab and camper are separate and if the camper is well protected against break-ins.

The transport insurance varies depending on the country they are bought e.g. with Crown: in Switzerland it is 2.6% and from Germany 1.3%.
Shipping from Germany it is more favourable, but the journey must be taken into account.


Before bringing a vehicle into a country ensure the vehicle can meet the transport authority safety requirements and you are able to obtain a permission to import the vehicle into that particular country.

Prior to making a decision take into account the costs involved in the process such as: freight, Customs duties and entry processing charges, steam cleaning for quarantine purposes, other wharf and transport charges and any costs.

Carnet de Passage

Carnet de Passages en Douane (CPD) is an international identification paper for a vehicle. A carnet is similar to a personal passport and contains all the relevant information about the vehicle - make, model, colour, engine capacity, seating capacity, registration number, owner and value. It is valid for 12 months from the date of issue.

A Carnet is essential for the temporary importation of vehicles into most African, Asian, Middle East countries, New Zealand and Australia.
A carnet is not required for motor cars, camper vans and motor cycles registered in Europe, to enter most other countries in Europe or the American Continent for touring purposes.

The Carnet is a customs document and consists of a set of 3-part vouchers and each time one enters a country customs remove the first part of a voucher and then remove the second part of a voucher on exit. The third part of the voucher is stamped on exit as exit confirmation for the carnet holder. It allows visitors to temporarily import their vehicles for a limited period of time with a minimum of formalities and without the need to make a cash deposit at the frontier in local currency, equivalent to the customs duty and other taxes. If the vehicle is not exported in time or is lost (e.g. theft) the authorities will claim the customs fees and GST. Due to this fact it is absolutely mandatory that one gets the required exit confirmation when leaving a country. Should the car get destroyed the carnet holder requires a valid confirmation of the destruction from the local police to avoid paying the due fees.

Carnets can normally be obtained from the local Automobile Clubs of the home country of the vehicle.

To receive a carnet a security in form of a cash deposit with a bank or an insurance policy must be undertaken. The amount of security required depends on the countries to be visited and the current market value and type of vehicle being used.
The security will be released when the carnet has been discharged by the overseas Customs authorities and when it has been returned to where it was obtained.

There are a number of conditions attached to the use of carnets:

  • The vehicle must be exported from the country prior to or on the expiry date of the carnet or a new carnet must be presented to customs.
  • It is a condition not to leave the vehicle that is covered by a carnet in the country as otherwise the security amount equivalent to the duty and taxes will be called up by customs.

These rules generate a few problems:
When the carnet expires before one leaves the country, a new valid carnet must be obtained and presented to customs before expiry so the active entry in the old carnet can be transferred to the new one. Some countries (e.g. Australia) don't allow the carnet to be valid longer than the owner's travel-visa. If the carnet expires before the visa expiry the carnets expiration date can be extended by customs.
When one has to leave the country to extend his travel-visa it gets very difficult, as one is not allowed to leave the country without the vehicle without breaching the carnets conditions.
Since customs is aware of the conflicting situation it is possible that customs allows to temporary exit of the country for the visa renewal if they are informed beforehand and if the vehicle is stored in a pre-defined place and not driven by anyone during this time.

License plate / Registration

Some countries will not allow a car to be brought into the country if its overseas registration has expired.

When going overseas Swiss licence plates can be deposited with the local "Strassenverkehrsamt" for a fee of CHF 25.-- for one year. This period can be extended by 1 year.
One has then to "organise" copies of the deposited licence plates and fix them to the vehicle.

A "personalised license plate" solves this issue in Australia since the license plate belongs to the owner and does not expire. Never the less, the car must be licensed at all times to be able to show a valid registration.

When the vehicle is overseas it is not important that it could not be legally driven in the home country since the road taxes and the necessary insurance fees have to be paid in the local country.

We don't know if one can get a Carnet de Passages en Douane for a vehicle without a "valid" licence plate.


Some countries (e.g. Australia, New Zealand) have very strict quarantine regulations.

All vehicles are inspected on arrival and are required to be properly cleaned. This is usually achieved by steam cleaning (including the underside) removing all soil and any other organic matter from the vehicle.

Quarantine regulations usually have to be followed prior to the vehicle's arrival in the country.

It is advisable to strictly follow the rules since the authorities have the power to reject a dirty vehicle which can result in the vehicle to be returned to the country it was shipped from!!

Left Hand Drive Vehicles

If the vehicle is left hand driven and the country has Left Hand Driving in some countries (e.g. Australia) a sign "Caution Left Hand Drive" will in have to be displayed on the rear of the vehicle.
The same could be the case for right hand driven cars in countries driving on the right (correct) side.

Right Hand Drive Vehicles

Some countries do not allow right-hand driven vehicles on their roads. Saudi Arabia is one of them.
There is currently (2013) also a problem to get the car into Chile because of a misinterpretation of an old law at the border.

We have not tried it so far.

Driving Licence

In some countries it may be compulsory to carry either a certified local language translation of the driving licence or an International Driving Permit.
The International Driving Permit is mainly required when renting a car of the ordinary category (3.5 or 4.5 t).
Driving licenses for other categories (i.e. truck licenses) are only valid in the issuing country. The only exception is the own, temporarily imported vehicle. In some countries driver and co-driver must be registered as valid drivers at the border and in the insurance documents.

In some countries it may be advisable to carry a few good quality copies of the original driver license as well as the main page of the passport so it can be handed out to "police officers" performing road side inspections.
The original documents are only presented at official police stations.


General information on countries and its rules are available on:




No liability for timeliness, integrity and correctness of this document is accepted.
Last updated: Thursday, 10.01.2019 5:33 PM

top - home