There's a lot of (sometimes contradictory) information to be found around the internet about a Carnet de Passage. The linked Wikipedia article, for instance says that

a Carnet de Passage is required in Burundi, Egypt, Kenya, Libya, Senegal (for vehicles older than 5 years), Southern African Customs Union (BW/NA/LS/SZ/ZA), Sudan, Uganda.

Well, last year, I've been doing some overland traveling with a friend and we drove a 15 year old car without Carnet de Passage (besides through Europe) through Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia. And I can tell for sure that the only country which was kind of problematic (but not even impossible) to enter without a Carnet was Egypt.

We had to actually buy a local Carnet which was only valid in Egypt and costed us around 500€. All in all it was much cheaper for us to travel without a Carnet as the cash bond of 5000€ (which is the minimum in Europe) was much higher than all the money we spend on the car, including the purchase and all temporary import taxes we had to pay at the different borders (we knew in advance we wouldn't bring the car back home).

From other overlanders we met, we heard that the only countries in the world that are kind of "problematic" concerning a Carnet de Passage are Egypt and Iran.

I've been thoroughly searching for this info before we left, and I could only conclude that the only possibility to know for sure was to just show up at the border and hope for the best.

With this question I would like to gather real-life, hands-on experiences with overlanding without a Carnet de Passage, with the ultimate intent to create a trustworthy reference so future overlanders don't have to hunt around the internet to only find contradictory information and in the end buy themselves a Carnet de Passage while it wasn't really necessary.

  • Could someone please help me with this travel.stackexchange.com/q/3424/1287
    – msk
    Commented Nov 12, 2011 at 0:43
  • where i can get carnet de passage in belgium and ahere i have to pay which is indeed 50% of the value of the car, but with a minimum of 5000€ (that minimum used to be 1250€,can sombody tel mee adres wher i can get that thanks
    – user2222
    Commented Apr 14, 2012 at 1:12
  • @kalantar - please raise this as a separate question, rather than tagging on to this one. Use the big 'Ask Question' link at the top right of this page. Then we'll be happy to help you out!
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Apr 14, 2012 at 19:41
  • I am from Italy and Wanted to travel to Africa with a carnet but for a 15 years old Land rover they asked me 25.000 euro deposit! so I decided to purchase a car in Tanzania. You never know if the car gets damaged or stolen you do not want to lose all that money! it seems ridicoluos. So now I am looking for info if it is possible to travel with Tanzanian car to other countries like Zambia, South Africa Botswana and Namibia
    – user27657
    Commented Mar 15, 2015 at 17:22
  • @Carlo: Mark Mayo's comment directly above yours applies to you too! Commented Mar 15, 2015 at 20:23

4 Answers 4


These are the costs (approximately) we had and the time it took at each individual border in the period october - december 2010 to get our car into that country:


  • ~$100 temporary import tax + insurance
  • ~$100 diesel tax (this is a per week cost)
  • quite smooth... less than 2 hours


  • ~50€ temporary import tax + insurance
  • very smooth, less than 1 hour


  • ~500€ temporary Carnet de Passage
  • ~100€ extra administrative costs
  • very problematic, as we didn't have a Carnet, it took a whole day (+10 hours) to get everything sorted administratively


  • $40 for everything (that's not including the cost to put your vehicle on a barge, which is necessary to travel from Egypt to Sudan)
  • quite easy, there was a very helpful guy who gave us some good tips: don't say you don't have a carnet, take a couple of copies of your certificate of conformity, staple them together and show them that when they ask for a carnet ==> this turned out to be no problem at all


  • $100 for everything (not official)
  • a couple of hours (but this was especially because we just arrived there as they were having their lunch, so we had to wait for that), so very smooth.
  • +1 good to know but you can't really compare bribes on the one hand and a deposit on the other hand. Considering only the countries where you did things legally, you effectively paid much more in taxes than the actual costs of a carnet de passage, when used properly.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 8:47
  • 1
    @Annoyed Most of these taxes you have to pay anyway, Carnet or not. We met a lot of fellow overlanders on our trip, and when we told them about our border crossings they were all very jealous as they mostly had to pay the same amount as we did, and they had the extra burden of keeping their car fit to go back, and never go in on the sometimes very nice deals you get from locals on your car (as in: usually a lot more money than you paid for it in Europe).
    – fretje
    Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 13:27
  • @frejte I understand you actually wanted to import the car permanently but official documents are quite clear about what a carnet de passage is: it's for temporary import for up to a year. And in the only country where it was actually required, you wrote yourself that you paid twice as much as it would have cost you in Belgium. I can see that providing a deposit might be a problem for some people but it's deeply misleading to call a temporary carnet “cheaper”.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 14:48

I drove across west Africa to Cameroon early last year (December 2009-January 2010) as part of a charity rally and many of the teams drove from Senegal all the way to Cameroon without using their carnets (we'd been advised to get them by the rally's organizers). The route they all took was Senegal - Mali - Burkina Faso - Togo (some went straight to Benin) - Benin - Nigeria - Cameroon.

There are a couple of caveats to this though:

  • Senegal was a special case as we'd shipped our cars in and we all had to show carnets for our vehicles to recover them from customs.
  • One of the pieces of documentation required by the Nigerian embassy in order to issue our visas was the carnet.

I can't give first hand experience of travelling through the area without using a carnet as we used ours on every border (in some cases refusing to give them money and insisting that they take it). We also travelled through Ghana where, I believe, a carnet is required if you're driving a car.

My personal advice would be to get one if you can as the border crossings (in most cases) become an easy job of getting all the bits stamped. No payments to dodgy officials and no having to turn around and find a more lenient crossing point or a way around the country.

The RAC in the UK gave us our carnet for about £200. If we'd had to pay the insurance option for the security payment it would have cost an extra £80 (10% of the security, which is 150% of the vehicle value (£500+insurance tax) plus a £350 deposit. I may have misunderstood this, but that seems pretty reasonable and becomes better value the more countries you drive through.

  • A Carnet here (Belgium, and also Germany, and I think most of our neighbor countries) also costs around 250€. I was talking about the deposit, which is indeed 50% of the value of the car, but with a minimum of 5000€ (that minimum used to be 1250€, but the prices have risen significantly since somewhere beginning 2010). That's an insane amount if you know you're not going to bring the car back!
    – fretje
    Commented Jun 23, 2011 at 7:56
  • @fretje But that's not a meaningful comparison! The whole point of a carnet de passage is to provide a guarantee that you will bring the car back, it's not a way to circumvent import taxes (and if you get rid of the car somewhere, you imported it). If you use it correctly, the deposit is not part of the costs…
    – Relaxed
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 10:45
  • 1
    @Annoyed Well, I don't know about you, but 5000 euro's is not something we just have laying around... Especially as we were starting a trip of at least three months... most people simply can't afford that, even if you know you get it back.
    – fretje
    Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 13:16
  • 1
    @Annoyed I don't really get your last comment. I know the purpose of a Carnet, and I'm sure - if you're going to return with your car and you have the money for the deposit available - that having one is easier and sometimes cheaper to get around. But those are 2 big if's which for us personally were both false.
    – fretje
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 15:20
  • 1
    @Annoyed I'm not asking which countries require a Carnet, I'm asking for real-life experiences while traveling without one. What I am claiming is that for us personally, our whole trip costed us less without a Carnet than when we would have got one. Granted, this includes the fact that we didn't bring the car back which means that we would have lost our deposit. I am sure (from personal experience) that there are a lot of overlanders who'd rather go without one, as selling the car over there can extend your trip (or lower its budget) substantially!
    – fretje
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 17:29

I recently (early 2013) took a Tanzanian registered vehicle through Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia with no Carnet de Passage. Results as follows:

Kenya/Uganda/Tanazia are all part of an East African union so the process was very simple. Think we paid $40US to customs at each point for up to 1 month. Free for less than 2 weeks.

Ethiopia we pleaded ignorance at not having a Carnet and got away with it, no cost! We did have to register our GPS capable devices, again no cost though just hassle.

We intended to travel up through Sudan and sell the vehicle in Egypt. After reading all the reports online and my experience when I got to Egypt yes it's possible but it was going to cost about $1000US including fare for the vehicle ferry. So.. we decided to sell in Khartoum until we found out about a new law forbidding importation of vehicles older than 2 years. Sudan authorities were tricky enough as I later found out so ditched plan B as well. We ended up selling in Addis Ababa for parts. To import legally was ridiculously expensive. i.e One of the import taxes is 100% of the NEW retail price of the vehicle!

Of course we could have sold it easily if we wanted to drive back down to Kenya/Uganda. Also vehicle was a complete dog held together seemingly by string. I would not recommend buying off a local. Buy off an ex-pat. Oh and to change ownership in Tanzania you have to become a tax resident. A lot of paper work and buerocracy but got it all done in a single day. Never again though!!

Hope this helps :)

  • That Tanzania bit is going in my travel trivia, that's gold!
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 7:49
  • +1 for sharing your experience but a carnet de passage is not a way to import and sell a car abroad.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 7:52
  • 1
    @Annoyed That's why he didn't have one, and that's what this whole question is about anyway: traveling without a Carnet ;-)
    – fretje
    Commented Feb 10, 2014 at 15:36

I have travelled to Africa via the Middle East with a carnet, though another overlander managed without too much trouble to get through to Ethiopia without a carnet where he sold his car. Egypt was more expensive but took no longer than the rest of us.

I continued to travel to the south finally leaving Mozambique with an expired carnet. I then entered Kenya Uganda and Tanzania without a carnet using a temporary import permit, which essentially is for East African vehicles only, though each border will readily issue this. This is $25 per month but can only be renewed for 3 months. My time is up though and it cannot be renewed within East Africa. One problem can be officious police checks or over zealous customs official that may seize the car beyond this period if you are unlucky.

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