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Vehicle Documents

Registration document (V5) or Log book
This provides details of the registered keeper, the type of vehicle, the engine number and chassis number or VIN number. Make sure you know where the numbers are located on the vehicle as these may need to be inspected. Make sure all the details in the V5 agree with what is on the van.

International certificate for motor vehicles (ICMV)
This is a multilingual version of the V5 and is mandatory in some countries including Iran and Pakistan. It also provides a way of stamping the van in out of a country. It can be obtained from the AA or RAC.

Road tax and MOT Certificate
While a vehicle is abroad it is required to comply with British legislation unless it is permanently exported. As the journey abroad will last for some months, make sure your Road Tax and MOT are valid to cover your return home. Take the MOT certificate with you.

Customs Carnet (Carnet de Passage or Triptyque) - Read our carnet article

The purpose of the Customs Carnet is to ensure that if you sell or otherwise dispose of your vehicle in foreign country then the local customs duties are paid. These can amount to a considerable sum. It is routinely 150% of the value of the vehicle and can reach 400%. There are several ways to establish a bona fide temporary import.

Stamp the vehicle on your Passport Stamp the vehicle on the ICMV Deposit the tax at the border and recover when you leave (which could take months) Obtain a Customs Carnet

The Carnet can be obtained from the AA or RAC International Services. It costs about 65, takes 3 or 4 weeks to arrange and is valid for a year. The Carnet has one page for each country for each transit. Each page of the Carnet is in 3 parts. One part (the inner section) is retained by the owner. On entry the owner's section is stamped and the entry section is also stamped and removed. On exit the owner's section is again stamped and the exit portion stamped and removed. Getting the Carnet stamped is the owner's responsibility and is proof that the vehicle has legally entered and left the country. Not all border guards seem to know what to do with these documents. It is essential you return the completed Carnet to the issuer.

The AA or RAC will tell you the maximum amount of Customs Duty that you are liable for if the vehicle does not leave the countries visited. Before the document is issued the AA or RAC will need to be satisfied you can pay relevant customs duty. There are several ways this can be done.

Deposit the cash with the motoring organisation (in a non interest bearing account) Obtain a Bank guarantee - the bank will need the cash deposited (in an interest bearing account) or they may well accept other security (eg on property) Obtain a Carnet indemnity. These are available from Campbell Irvine or R L Davison in London. Expect to pay a premium of at least 5% of the duty + tax. This will clearly be several hundreds if not thousands of pounds.

It is important to note that the indemnity does not relieve you from the obligation to pay the duty. It just defers the need to pay until you are liable.

If the risk is too great for you (eg if your van is worth 10,000 and there's 200% duty then you will be liable to pay 20,000 duty plus the indemnity cost) then you may be able to arrange a double indemnity. This is in effect an insurance for the payment of customs duty in the event of the loss of the vehicle. This costs almost as much as the indemnity with the total representing a non recoverable cost of as much as 25% of the value of the van.

Vehicle Insurance
Almost all vans will be covered under the Green Card system while in Europe. For much of Western Europe the actual Green card is no longer required. However in some countries (such as Turkey) you may need a Green Card for the insurance cover to be valid. Take your normal insurance documents with you.

Cover outside Europe is a problem. British insurers are unlikely to provide cover elsewhere. Some specialists might be able to provide some cover at a cost. Insurance, such as it is, can be categorised as follows

Third party insurance is usually compulsory and is purchased on the border of each country. However I do know of at least one expedition to Australia that recently made it all the way without any insurance!

Own vehicle damage insurance from home insurers is next to impossible to find.

Buying vehicle damage insurance overseas is horrifically expensive and usually requires a stay in a major city. This needs to be repeated for each country visited.

Accordingly drive with extreme care at all times and keep out of trouble.

Vehicle manuals
Take the owners manual - this contains details of lots of things you may need and hope you won't. If you can take a maintenance or workshop manual this will be even more help. A Manufacturers list of official dealers world wide may also come in handy.


Written by Clive Barker in preparation for UK to China and back.


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