Car Care

How can I take my car overseas?

Every year, many of us venture overseas for a well-earned holiday. But have you ever wished you could elevate this experience by bringing along your pride and joy?

Wish no longer. All you need to do is get a Carnet de Passage en Douane (or ‘Carnet’ for short). A Carnet is the equivalent of a passport or visa for your vehicle that is issued by the NZ Automobile Association (NZAA) and affiliate motoring clubs. It essentially allows you to take your car, motorbike or campervan-with you duty free through most countries.

What is a Carnet?

A Carnet document allows you to travel to most countries without having to place a customs bond at each border you cross. These bonds are refundable on departure, but in some cases this may not happen immediately, and if you are crossing several borders those costs can accumulate quickly. Plus, it can be tiresome trying to reclaim money from foreign officials. Sorting out the paperwork prior to leaving New Zealand avoids a lot of this hassle.

The Carnet is accepted by many countries around the world, including in parts of South America, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Australasia. Australia is the most popular destination for Kiwi Carnet applications, with many Kiwis opting to take their classic cars, motorbikes and campervans across the ditch.

The NZAA can issue you with a Carnet for up to one year, and in some countries this timeframe can be extended so you could also do what some people have done and spend a year or more driving across the globe! There are a few rules to follow; all vehicles must hold a current vehicle registration in New Zealand no matter how long they are outside New Zealand, and a Carnet is for tourist purposes so you cannot be a resident of a country you are touring in.

Bonds and indemnities

In the past, different countries required varying levels of indemnity to cover your vehicle, either as a bond held by the NZAA, or a bank indemnity to cover a duty claim from the customs authority. Some countries required an indemnity as high as 600% of the value of the vehicle.

Fortunately, this old system was scrapped and is now far more streamlined. It’s now insurance-based, allowing you to pay a fixed cost and make the most out of your Carnet. Regardless of the countries you visit, the price of a Carnet now remains the same.

The application fee is $800 for AA Members and $850 for non-Members, plus you will need to pay $100 for 12 months indemnity insurance cover and a bond of $500 which will be refunded once you return to New Zealand with your vehicle.

Home sweet home

When your car has returned to New Zealand, you need return your completed Carnet back to the NZAA for discharge, which must include a discharge stamp from your last overseas port of call.

It’s important to have your Carnet stamped both when you enter a country and when you leave so your Carnet can be cancelled when you return home and you can receive your bond back. New Zealand Customs will stamp your Carnet upon re-entry into New Zealand and fill in your Certificate of Location.

So if you’d like to take your pride and joy – whether a motorbike or classic car – or perhaps a campervan for the whole family on your next overseas holiday, make sure you arrange a Carnet before you go – just visit the NZAA website for more information.

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