Carnet de Passage
A Carnet de Passage is a customs document that identifies a vehicle - it's easy to think of it just like a passport for your vehicle.
It is absolutely mandatory to enter some countries with a vehicle and must be prearranged. WikiOverland clearly identifies countries where a Carnet is mandatory for entry in the "Entering with a car or motorbike" section of each country.
The Canadian Automobile Association explains a Carnet de Passage as follows:
The Carnet can be thought of as a passport for your car. It offers a guarantee to a foreign government that the vehicle identified in the Carnet, if granted temporary importation status, will be removed from the country within the time limit imposed by the respective jurisdiction. In the event that the vehicle is not removed within the imposed timeframe, the country may claim from the issuing association all duties and taxes that would be required to permanently import the vehicle to that country. Using the Carnet is an alternative to leaving a cash security deposit with a foreign government to guarantee the vehicle leaves the country. It allows free movement and unencumbered access between foreign countries....
Where to get a Carnet de Passage
In almost all cases, a Carnet can be obtained from the motoring association in your home country. Ask there.
The United Kingdom
Paul Gowan Email: PKGowen@rac.co.uk
Sue Collins Email: email@example.com
Tel 01454 208000
Price of a Carnet de Passage
Each country requiring a Carnet for entry will require a certain value be placed in bond. This amount is usually stated as some number of times the estimated value of the vehicle.
For example, if your vehicle is valued at $20,000 and the particular country you want to visit requires a Carnet of 3 times the value of the vehicle, you will have to purchase a Carnet for $60,000 to enter that country.
NOTE: Different countries require different amounts. If you plan to visit multiple countries requiring a Carnet, you should spend the amount required by the most expensive country.
NOTE: The Canadian Automobile Association list of countries requiring a carnet or requiring "other written approval" (see here) are both very out of date and incorrect. Use the calculator as an estimate of costs only. Wikioverland is an up-to-date source for this information.
Do I get my money back?
Yes. When the vehicle comes back to it's original country, the Carnet is cancelled, and the original bond amount is refunded (usually minus some fees).
I don't have that much money...
Most Motoring Authorities that can issue Carnets now have an indemnity coverage option, which means you only pay a fraction of the full amount required and the remainder is covered by indemnity insurance. Inquire at your local motoring authority.
Countries that require a Carnet de Passage
Below is a list of all the countries where a Carnet is absolutely mandatory for entry with a vehicle.
The list is growing as more information is added to WikiOverland.
NOTE: No Country in North, Central or South America requires a Carnet for entry with a vehicle.
Countries that DO NOT require a Carnet de Passage
These countries are often thought to require a carnet, though they DO NOT.
These countries can be entered with a vehicle using a Temporary Import Permit (TIP), sometimes a deposit or payment is required, check each country for details.