Battles With Bureaucracy ATA behind the scenes

There’s this one piece of paper that everybody has told us to be a necessity. The Carnet du Passage en duane is basically a temporary import-export document for motor vehicles over land crossings, and without it we would have to pay import taxes on half of the border crossings, and still not be guaranteed to move on.

The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile FIA, states that the Carnet du Passage CDP, is made to help people travel. In reality it’s just like most of bureaucracy, making simple things complicated. The national automobile associations of each country grant CDP’s usually, except that the Finnish automobile association doesn’t. Sweden does it for Finland, but they said we must get it from Thailand. And of course the Thai automobile association doesn’t issue it either.

West India was our first choice after Finland and Thailand, and they answered positively already in January. They asked us to send all the documents once the registration is done and it’s a done deal. If you have followed our blog, you know that it took some time to get the registration because of Bangkok Shutdown.

Once we finally got the registration in March, we sent all the necessary documents for them. We heard nothing for two weeks and finally we got a message that they will not do it.

In the end we contacted 6 automobile association, Sweden, Germany, Malaysia, West India, East India and Pakistan. Some replied with a cannot, and other didn’t reply.

Back to square one. Luckily at the same time we had the red light, “wait for three weeks so we can finish partying”, message from Myanmar so we had time to figure out what to do.

We did what we have always done when in doubt, started asking around. We threw some nets around to see if some good idea would snatch. We dared not smuggle ourselves through, but we did try too see if we could buy a big boat and sail our Tuk tuk to India. We even read a little about the local wind and weather behaviour.

After a while we heard about the ATA-Carnet, which is a temporary importation document for stuff, any stuff, as long as it can be guaranteed to be re-exported within one year, in the same condition as importing. This too, of course, has it’s own strict limitations, and it’s all done bureaucratically through the Chamber of Commerce.

Last week we came to Bangkok to have a meeting with the Myanmar Embassy, and the Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC). The Myanmar Embassy backed us up, but the TCC said they cannot issue us the ATA-Carnet.

So we went to try our luck at the Myanmar border again, to see if we could get through during the Songkran buzz. They said no, and better that way. Without the Carnet we would’ve been deep in troubles at the Myanmar-India border crossing and we probably would have had to smuggle our way through there as well. Instead we joint the party with the immigration officers and went back to Mae Moei to check the nets.

We found that in theory, the TCC can Issue an ATA Carnet for us. We contacted them again and they gave us a green light. We thought to save our little angel from extra beating and decided to take a bus.

On Wednesday we walked into the Thai Chamber of Commerce, and had a cheering welcome, as if everybody knew who we were. On friday, with the magnificent support of the TCC staff, we finally got the ATA Carnet and by god it feels good.

Photo: Pyry Kääriä

Photo: Pyry Kääriä


There’s always a BUT with bureaucracy. The ATA-Carnet is not a Carnet du Passage, but it’s as close as we could get. The First restriction it brings is that India only accepts the ATA in Ports.

On friday we contacted loads of shipping companies with Mr. Pong, took a night bus to Mae Sot, and rallied back to Bangkok for saturday evening. It was a journey in itself. The heat took its toll on the engine and us also. It was over 40 degrees celsius even after sunset.




We had to stop and fix the tuk tuk 3 times because there were some problems with either the carburettor, or then maybe in the fuel line somewhere. We checked everything we could, and drove it all the way to the Bangkok shop for it’s third and final checkup.

We have now made a decision, that most likely will not change tomorrow.

Our king of the seas will sail by the end of this week, and we will have two to three weeks to find our way through Myanmar and North East India. We will go by foot, or other means of land transport to greet our pirate vessel at the Port of Kolkata.

Photo: Juho Sarno

Photo: Juho Sarno
Graffiti: Pakorn

We had to use all the bureaucrobatics we have learned to gather 13 pieces of a map, that in the bureaucratic world are called documents.

It’s time for the adventure.


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