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Temporary Import / Carnet de Passage / Passe-avant ... WHAT?

Season 7 : Return to Africa

15 April 2023

Since I started my motorcycle journey around the world, I have crossed dozens of borders. More often than not, these border crossings are chaotic, confusing and filled with bureaucratic hoops to jump through. But my recent Mauritania-Senegal border crossing may have topped most of the ones I did before. Mostly because I had to visit two different borders to get all the paperwork complete. I've written a blog about border procedures before, but since it can still be a little confusing, I decided to dedicate some more time explaining what happened at the Mauritania-Senegal border. 

Documents required

Firstly, let's have a look at the documents you will always need to cross a land border with your motorcycle: 

  • Passport
  • Motorcycle Registration Documents: you will need to provide proof of ownership of your motorcycle. This can be the registration certificate, title or any other relevant document. In my case, it's the green registration card that you get for a European registered vehicle. 

Depending on the country you are trying to enter, you are sometimes asked for:

  • Driver’s license (your local driver’s license will suffice - International Driving Permit is commendable to have with you but is very rarely asked for)
  • Visa - depending on your nationality and the country you are entering, you might need a visa to enter. 

Temporary import permit

In many countries the customs office at the border will then issue you a temporary import permit. This means that they grant you a limited time to keep your motorcycle in the country. Usually, this will be the same time as you are allowed to stay visa-free in the country, or the same time as your visa. In a few countries, like Mexico for example, you'll need to pay a deposit which is returned to you upon leaving the country. In many other countries you'll pay a small customs fee, but in most countries in the Americas and Asia you won't have to pay at all. 

Crossing into Mauritania Crossing into Mauritania

Carnet de Passage

A Carnet de Passage on the other hand, is a document that serves as a temporary import/export permit for vehicles. You can see it as a passport for your vehicle. Each page in the booklet is meant for entering and leaving one country. The Carnet de Passage ensures that the vehicle will be re-exported at the end of the trip and provides a guarantee to customs that the vehicle doesn't stay in the country. 

To obtain a Carnet de Passage, you will need to contact the National Automobile Association in your country of residence. However, you can also contact the Automobile Association of the country where your vehicle is registered (like I did with my Indian registered motorcycle in Season 1). For European countries, you can also contact the German ADAC (Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club -, which is what I did for my Dutch registered motorcycle. 

A Carnet de Passage is not free. There is a fee as well as a security deposit. The amount of both the fee and the security deposit depends on the type of vehicle you are getting the Carnet for. I paid 400 euros for my Carnet de Passage and 3000 euros for the deposit. The deposit will be returned to me once I hand back the Carnet de Passage to the ADAC. They will then verify that all the necessary pages have been stamped and refund me my deposit. The Carnet de Passage is valid for one year, but it can be extended upon contacting the issuing authority.

When you enter a country with a Carnet, you will need to present your Carnet to customs officials, who will inspect your vehicle and stamp the appropriate pages. When you exit the country, you will need to show the Carnet again to the customs officials, who will usually check your engine number and stamp the Carnet again. 

A good source to check which countries require a Carnet de Passage is this:

Crossing into Senegal Crossing into Senegal


And then just when you thought you figured out how this all works, here comes Senegal. In Senegal you can do either a temporary import or you can use your Carnet de Passage but either way, you need to get a passe-avant first. 

This passe-avant is a paper you get (well, buy - they charge 5000 francs for it) at the land border with customs and it gives you 48 hours for your vehicle to be in Senegal. Within that time frame, you'll need to make it to Senegal's capital Dakar, and either have your Carnet stamped, or extend your temporary import permit. I have never experienced this type of process in any other country and it shows that bringing your motorcycle into a foreign country is never a generic process. 

So how do you know which rules apply in each country? I spend a lot of time googling, searching for information online, in overland communities such as the Overlanding Association, and the iOverlander app, or in Facebook groups such as Overlanding Asia or Overlanding Africa. Usually, one can piece together most of the needed information, and for the rest.. you'll just have to sort things out as you go! 


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HI Noraly, is it possible to ride motorbike around world with power of attorney letter?


Hi Noraly, hope you're enjoying your break. Can't wait to see your new episodes. Please don't think I don't care about you, I do! I have decided to shift my $ support of you over to Marc Travels. Poor guy, I want to help him out. I shift my support around from year to year so this time it's for him. He has a great channel as you are aware and is pioneering the electric bike and the travel that can be experienced on it.
cheers from Toronto, Les

Les47  | 

Niger borders are all closed at this time!
The Government has been overthrown, and the Generals are in charge!

Yengich  | 

I hope that you are taking some time to recover from the intensity of your hectic rides so far in Africa. Praying for your safety and success as you traverse the immensity of the countries you are to visit while in Africa. Always a fan!

LydiaMN  | 

Continuing great motorcycle cinema-verité, the details keep it real and with the right mixture of adventure, culture, sights and natural beauty. I anticipate that the tropical road ahead will offer something new and challenging to match the Sahara. I predict two-million subscribers before you leave Africa. Please continue, continuing…

KWB  | 

Hi Noraly,
I heard the Red Round Comb society or (RRC) wanted to apologize to you for one of its members leaving so abruptly. Apparently, she eloped with a brush and that was the only time they could get away. They are happy another member has joined you on your journey. :)
Love you and have a great break,

Jeff Roberts  | 

Wel..beste Noraly sinds je mijn commentaar op y.t hebt verwijdert alleen omdat ik niet overeen kwam
met jouw grootsheid als wereld reiziger en bovendien nog werd afgeblaft als een nul die maar zelf moet
gaan reizen om te zien dat het niet zo gevaarlijk is als ik dacht,ben ik tot de conclusie gekomen dat het
beter is om mijn account maar op te zeggen.

Er zijn meer dan genoeg mensen die je vertellen wat je wilt horen.
Bovendien heb je mijn maandelijkse bijdrage niet nodig want je hebt geld zat.
Dus..ik wens je het beste met je toekomstige avonturen waarvan ik nog steeds hoop dat je
niets overkomt in dat duistere continent.

mellowjelly  | 

Noraly, ONLY check coolant level after cooldown! & when riden' bike hot, check to see when riden', if cooling fans are workin' on bike!(located jes' behind radiators, right & Left!). They turn ON via coolant temp sensor, on engine!
j.seguine "Salut!!"

JfSeguineIII  | 

Noraly, Be sure to check your coolant system level, from time to time! If your overheat light(e.f.i./light?)comes on!
Can get a CHEAP & Sml. hydrometer($2.00?). to check current state of Anti-freeze/coolant! Always wise! Waterpump lasts MUCH longer with Anti-freeze/coolant vs. water, as it lubricates pump. Also Solar/rechargeable for phone/computer are cheap & keep you up an' runnin,! Is this what u use? Hope this is available to you! ,, (en francais) Avez vous quel que place pour louer? pour ce soir?= Do you have a place to rent, for the evening? HONDA won 1st(premier)place @ MOTO-GP Austin,TX. 4/16/23 & Ducati(charlie's bike took 4 out of top 10).
You're riden the winner! "Lead ,follow or get out o' the way!" You're WAY ahead of the curve! Bonne chance! toujours!
,, Avez vous d'assurance pour avendre ici? ou presque ici? You have insurance for sale here, or near here? OIL is de l'huile! (en francais.). ALWAYS get enuf' rest as you're the one on the trail!,, Is best to be clear thinkin' as possible!! Always entertaining, Luv videos! Ride on, It's a Hi-way song!! Au revoir(when i see u again)A' bientot!(see u later). Salut!(hello/goodbye). Merci beaucoup pour tous! Thanx for everything! Bienvenue= you're welcome! Le bonne Dieu benissez vous! (God bless you!). j.f.seguine Aus.TX.

JfSeguineIII  | 

Love the detailed explanation of the required border documents. Your willingness and ability to explain it so thoroughly is commendable. I continue to be mesmerized by every episode. Not just what I see, but what I imagine must go on during the other 1415 minutes of the day just to make that 25 minute video. So much gratefulness and respect for what you are doing. I have been enlightened by your educational content. My perspective has been changed on what I thought I knew about people in faraway lands. Your parents have to be so very proud of you and sometimes I wonder if they read the glowing comments. And among all your accolades, you remain so humble. Hope you and Alaska received a lot of TLC during the break. God bless you and God bless Mr. & Mrs. Schoenmaker. I pray for you every day. Love, Peace!

300Rally  | 
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