Trying to work out in advance what the requirements are for different countries can be time consuming and all too often the information is out of date or contradictory. On this page we have provided information (current for 2010-2011) on what we have experienced at each border, we hope it helps!
France, Switzerland & Italy:
Visas not applicable for us as we are UK citizens, but obviously we made sure we had insurance that covered us within the EU & Switzerland.
Entry point: Dubrovnik (ferry port); Visa: Issued at border – no cost; Carnet: n/a; Insurance: They didn’t ask – we forgot to get it!; Time at border: 10 mins + cursory checking of luggage.
Montenegro from Croatia:
Border crossing: Near Plocice (on the E65); Visa: n/a; Carnet: n/a; Insurance: €10 per bike for 14 days - required before entry & bought at border; Time at border: 25 mins.
Albania from Montenegro:
Border crossing: Near Ulicnj; Visa: Issued at border – no cost; Carnet: n/a; Insurance: €12.40 per bike for 15 days - not requested but bought at small hut 50m from border; Time at border: 25 mins; Other: €1 each exit tax from Montenegro.
Macedonia from Albania:
Border crossing: Near Librazhd (Lake Orchid); Visa: n/a; Carnet: n/a; Insurance: €50 per bike for 15 days - required before entry & bought at small hut 50m from border; Time at border: 45 mins.
Bulgaria from Macedonia:
Border crossing: Nr. Kriva Palanka (E871);Visa: n/a; Carnet: n/a; Insurance: n/a; Time at border: 5 mins; Other: no vignette (highway tax) required for motorcycles.
Turkey from Bulgaria:
Border crossing: Malko Tarnovo; Visa: Issued at border – €15; Carnet: n/a; Insurance: €10 for 3 months; Time at border: 1 hr.
Georgia from Turkey:
Border crossing: Posof; Visa: Issued at border, no cost; Carnet: n/a; Insurance: They didn’t ask, we didn’t buy; Time taken: 40 minutes; Other: All very straight forward. Didn’t pay a penny for anything which was surprising. Customs had a good look through our bags.
Azerbaijan from Georgia:
Border crossing: Kirach-Muganlo, near Rustavi; Visa: US$101 each for 30 days, applied for & issued in Istanbul in 4 days (officially an LOI is required with visa application – we applied without one and had no problem); Carnet: n/a; Insurance: unsure what we were given; Time at border: 3 hours; Other: Prepare for lots of hassle at the border. We paid $30 for each bike and $10 each for something else; no idea what it was, but we got given some sort of document so maybe it was insurance. Unbelievably, Azerbaijan only gives your bike 72 hours in the country – we had to bomb across to Baku then leave the bikes in customs at the port over the weekend while we tried to sort out the ferry/picking up our Turkmen visa.
Turkmenistan from Azerbaijan (across the Caspian Sea):
Exit from Azerbaijan: Baku; Entry to Turkmenistan: Turkmenbashi; Visa: 5 day transit visa – applied for in Istanbul to pick up in Baku, required 3 weeks notice. Total fees paid at border was $340 for 2 people on 2 bikes; Carnet: n/a; Insurance: unknown (all paperwork in Turkmen); Time at border: 1 hour in Baku, 5.5 hours in Turkmenbashi; Other: Turkmenistan is the most bureaucratic country you can travel into. A transit visa is the only way you can travel in the country without having a govt ‘guide’ which costs several hundred US Dollars. Your route is agreed on arrival and you must stick to that route (one of the fees is based on the distance of your planned route).
Uzbekistan from Turkmenistan:
Border crossing: Farrap; Visa: US$80 each for 30 days, applied for & issued in Istanbul in 5 days (officially an LOI required but we managed without); Carnet: n/a; Insurance: n/a; Time at border: 1.5 hrs; Other: Don’t risk leaving Uzbekistan on the last day of your visa. Some borders are closed even though the authorities claim they are open. Outstaying your visa can result in big hassle and huge penalties (as we found out…)
Kazakhstan from Uzbekistan:
Border crossing: Chinoz; Visa: US$20 each for 30 days, applied for & issued in Tashkent (Uzbekistan) in two days; Carnet: n/a; Insurance: none; Time at border: 15 mins; Other; we tried two other border crossings into Kazakhstan before being let through at Chinoz (one was closed to vehicles, one was closed full stop!)
Kyrgyzstan from Kazakhstan:
Border crossing: Merke; Visa: US$80 each for 30 days, applied for & issued in Istanbul in 4 days (no LOI required); Carnet: n/a; Insurance: none; Time at border: 10 mins; Other: 30 day visa extension obtained in Bishkek in 24 hours – 1100 Som (approx $20).
China from Kyrgyzstan:
Border crossing: Torugart Pass (actual customs and immigration post about 80km into the country after several checkpoints); Visa: £215 for two 6 month visas (£90 each + £35fee) – applied for & issued in London in 4 days; Carnet: n/a; Insurance: n/a; Time at border: 1.5 hrs; Other: Riding your own vehicle in China is a major issue and you are required to hire a guide. There’s no way round this. We used Newland Travel (based in Kashgar). It’s an expensive service – we reduced the costs by teaming up with other overlanders looking to do the same crossing (found on Horizons Unlimited). Ideally, this needs to be organised at least six months before your arrival at the Chinese border.
Pakistan from China:
Border crossing: Khunjerab Pass (actual customs and immigration post is 80km into the country at Sost); Visa: £55 each for 30 days, applied for & issued in London in 5 days; Carnet: required; Insurance: n/a; Time at border: 4 hrs to exit China, 30 mins at entry to Pakistan in Sost; Other: When applying for a Pakistan visa at home, expect to jump through hoops. Take as much paper work as you can (itinerary for trip, bank statements etc) plus book a hotel for one night in Pakistan and have the hotel send you confirmation to show when applying. Nb. You CAN get a visa upon arrival at the customs post at Sost when entering via the Khunjerab – 30 day visa on arrival is $24.
India from Pakistan:
Border crossing: Wagah; Visa: Applied for in Islamabad, 4100 Pak Rupees (approx €40) each for 2 month single entry visa – requires 5 working days; Carnet: required; Insurance: none; Time at border: 1 hr to exit Pakistan, 1.5 hrs to enter India; Other: for the first time, our bike engine and chassis numbers were checked against our carnet.
Nepal from India:
Border crossing: Sonauli; Visa: obtained at border – $40 each for 30 day multiple entry; Carnet: required; Insurance: none; Time at border: 1 hr to exit India, 1.5 hrs to enter Nepal; Other: The border at Sonauli is ‘open’ and in middle of a very busy high street, as are immigration and customs, thus they are VERY easy to miss.
Thailand from Nepal (air shipment):
Entry point: Bangkok Airport; Visa: 30 day visa exemption issued on arrival at no cost (nb. you can only get a 7 day (1900bht) extension on an exemption waiver. Far better to acquire a 60 day multiple entry visa at a Thai embassy which saves you having to do a ‘visa run’); Carnet: n/a; Insurance: none; Time at border: 11 hrs at entry from arriving at cargo centre to riding away; Other: We shipped our bikes from Kathmandu to Bangkok using Eagle Exports (details on our links page). In Kathmandu, dismantling the bikes, crating them and getting them through customs took several hours so allow a day for this. Upon entry into Thailand, customs will give you a temporary import form for your vehicle, the validity of which is matched to your existing visa. Failure to leave the country with your vehicle by the expiry date results in a fine. If you extend your visa, you can visit any customs post to have your permit extended to match at no extra cost.
Visa-run Thailand to Laos and back again:
Border crossing: Nong Khai/Vientiene; Visa: $30 for 30 days, single entry obtained at Laos border; Carnet: required; Insurance: none ; Time at border: 1 hr to enter Laos, 3 hrs to exit; Other: This was just for a quick visa run – new multiple entry Thai visa obtained from embassy in Vientiane in 48 hours at no cost.
Laos from Thailand:
Border crossing: Chiang Khong/Houey Xai (across the Mekong); Visa: obtained on arrival, $36 each (including extra $1 for arriving after 4pm) for 30 day visa; Carnet: required; Insurance: required (less than $5 each) but never requested by police; Time at border: 30 minutes either side; Other: We were charged a 200 Baht exit fee each at Chiang Khong customs (on the main road). In Houey Xai, immigration and customs are not by the ‘ferry’ port. Customs is on the main road, immigration is down by the passenger boats. Insurance can be purchased in town.
Cambodia from Laos:
Border crossing: Dom Kralor (near Four Thousand Islands); Visa: obtained on arrival, $23 each for 30 day single entry visas; Carnet: required; Insurance: n/a; Time at border: 30 minutes; Other: Officials tried to charge us for the exit stamp from Laos claiming that everyone pays – we said we had no money and they didn’t pursue it! Then on entering Cambodia, officials tried to charge us small fee for ‘quarantine’ test and for stamping our visa. Didn’t pay for former but didn’t have a lot of choice with latter so paid $1 each…
Thailand from Cambodia:
Border crossing: Poi Pet; Visa: free 15 day visa waiver obtained on arrival (get a proper visa if you want to stay longer, especially as waivers can only be extended for 7 days); Carnet: not technically required for Thailand but ours were requested and stamped; Insurance: n/a; Time at border: 30 minutes exiting Cambodia, 1 hour entering Thailand; Other: They required two photocopies of our passports and two photocopies of our carnets.
Malaysia from Thailand:
Border crossing: Sadao; Visa: free 90 day visa obtained on arrival; Carnet: required; Insurance: n/a; Time at border: 15 minutes to exit Thailand, 10 minutes to enter Malaysia; Other: The most straight forward border crossing yet!
(While the bikes were being shipped from Kuala Lumpur to Vancouver, we visited Australia and then Singapore by air without the bikes. Australia required free electronic visa that you can apply for online, Singapore was visa on arrival.)
Canada from Malaysia (sea shipment):
Entry point: Vancouver airport; Visa: visa waiver issued on arrival at no cost; Carnet: n/a; Insurance: after ringing around a lot of different agencies in Canada and USA and getting nowhere, we finally got insurance with Fernet (US based) for about $130 each; Time at border: several days in Vancouver to sort paperwork (we did it independently rather than use a freight forwarder); Other: We shipped our bikes from Kuala Lumpur to Vancouver using Crown Relo (details on our links page). In Vancouver, we had to go to customs who are located Downtown and arrange a soil inspection of the bikes. Once that was completed, we had to go down again a few days later to complete the rest of the papers and pay for the soil inspection ($50 CAN). The bikes were then technically released and available to be picked up from the warehouse. We then had to go to the shipper’s office (ECU Line located in Richmond) to pay the dock fees/transport to the warehouse ($150 US) plus the warehouse fees for storage and opening the crates for the inspectors ($80 CAN). As we weren’t using an agent, it was our responsibility to get the crates picked up from the warehouse and taken to a location where they could be opened and the bikes reassembled (not allowed at the warehouse!) We were very lucky that Yamaha Canada sorted this process for us. Aside from taking time, it has been a relatively simple process to get the bikes cleared so we advise that an agent at the receiving end is not necessary.
USA from Canada:
Border crossing: Nr White Rock, BC; Visa: 10 year tourist visa (B2) obtained in Kuala Lumpur following lengthy application and interview $140 each (usually British citizens can enter on a visa-waiver but as we didn’t have proof of onward travel we needed to apply for a visa); Carnet: n/a; Insurance: 3rd party cover with Fernet; Time at border: 2.5 hours – no official process to leave Canada, straight to US border control. The guy didn’t know how to enter foreign plates on the computer (‘FP’ it turns out…) so we had to queue for 2 hours inside. Terrible service – rude and inefficient.