Carnet de Passages

Essentially a customs document that identifies our vehicle; the vehicle's passport. It gets stamped when we enter a particular country and stamped again on exit, thereby averting heavy importation charges.

We found information relating to the Carnet on various websites where people had shipped their own vehicle. But most information either related to Africa rather than South America, or was out of date. Also, a number of websites stated that in the UK you could get the Carnet from either the RAC or the AA. Although this used to be the case, at present it can only be purchased from the RAC. Rather annoying as we belong to the AA and it is more expensive for non-RAC members.
We phoned Sue Collins and Paul Gowen at the RAC (tel: +44 (0)1454 208000), who were very helpful, patiently talking through the details and answering our numerous questions.
The Carnet itself is valid for a maximum of one year and can be purchased with 5, 10 or 25 pages. You need one page per importation/exportation procedure. Each page is divided into three sections - one part is removed by customs on entry, one part is removed by customs on exit and the third part gets stamped on both entry and exit and remains in the booklet.
We chose 25 pages to be on the safe side as we would be undergoing the temporary importation/exportation procedure more than 10 times, especially when we reached Chile, Argentina and Patagonia (see Route section).
The Carnet takes approximately 3 weeks to organise. To purchase one, you need to provide the RAC with a security or bond. This is protection for them, as on issuing the Carnet, they are responsible for payment of customs duties/taxes if regulations were to be infringed (eg if we did not bring the vehicle back to the UK).
This security can take one of three forms:
1) A cash deposit provided to the RAC
2) An insurance indemnity - you pay an insurance premium to underwrite the cost of the bond. Currently (June 2003) this is 10% of the overall bond. You have no choice in the insurer - you have to use the one specified by the RAC (currently R L Davison). 50 % of this sum is refundable once the Carnet is discharged to the RAC upon your return to the UK.
3) A Bank Guarantee - you put the sum in a sealed bank account, whilst it accrues interest!

The security/bond is determined by the rates of customs duty and taxes in the countries visited. As of June 2003, the amount of security/bond required by the RAC for South America is 300% of the vehicle's value in the country of registration. So, for a vehicle valued at £5,000, you would need to provide security to the amount of £15,000!
There are various other charges depending on which of the above options you choose (eg £35 administration charge for the Bank Guarantee). The Carnet itself ranges from £60 to £75 (RAC members) or £75 to £90 (non-RAC members), depending on the number of pages you opt for.

On completion of the trip, you need to return the Carnet to the RAC in Bristol, and provided the necessary entry/exit stamps are all in order, the Carnet will be discharged and your security released. Otherwise you might be held liable for any possible import charges.

For the huge cost, let's hope it does save time and hassle at the border crossings!


UK Driving Licence

We decided to change our paper licences to the new photocard driving licence - useful as an additional photo ID if needed.


International Driving Permit

This is an essential document in most of the countries we are going to visit but more of a bargain than the Carnet at only £4!!
We phoned the AA and were informed that everywhere on our trip, apart from Brazil, accepted either our UK driving licence and/or the International Driving Permit; to drive in Brazil you needed to get a Brazilian driving licence. We were a bit perplexed by this advice, as all the guidebooks we had read, together with the tourist information on the Brazilian Consulate website, all clearly stated you only needed your UK driving licence and that the IDP was recommended. No mention of the requirement for a Brazilian licence. We shall see…..


International Certificate of Motor Vehicles

This too is recommended. It is basically a translation of our vehicle registration document. Again a bargain at only £4.


Car Insurance

We still need to arrange this and are currently gathering quotes, so watch this space………..


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