Bring Your 4WD to Malaysia?


A carnet (pronounced car-nay) is a simple customs document, which acts as a passport for your motor vehicle when you take it overseas. It allows you to temporarily import your vehicle for a limited period of time without the need to pay cash at the border, equivalent to the customs duty and other excise taxes. It helps to save time and hassle when dealing with customs officers at international borders.

The vehicle, to which the carnet refers, once having been granted temporary importation status, must be removed from the country within the time limit imposed by that country. If it is not, the country will be paid all duties and taxes that would normally be required to permanently import the vehicle.

The use of a carnet is an alternative to leaving cash security deposits with foreign governments. Use of the carnet is restricted to the countries listed on the back cover and it is valid for one year from the date of issue. There are currently 85 countries worldwide accepting carnets including Malaysia. To find out the list of countries accepting ATA Carnets, please visit:


You must apply to a member of the AIT/FIA carnet network, which guarantees to Customs’ authorities around the world payment of customs duties on motor vehicles, temporarily imported for touring purposes.  Generally this means your local Automobile Association or in the case of American’s The US Council for International Business. You will be asked to fill in an application form and supply relevant information about your vehicle (along with proof, like a vehicle registration document). You will also need to pay an administration fee, the cost of the carnet and often a deposit, which will be refunded after the carnet is discharged. To find out who issues ATA Carnet in your respective countries, please visit:

With all this information the issuing organisation will then estimate the value your vehicle and calculate the highest level of duty payable in all of the countries you plan to visit. The level of duty payable varies considerably from country to country and is usually based on the value of the vehicle, plus a percentage. For example for  a USD10,000 value vehicle going to a destination country that requires 150% duties, the carnet bond will be USD15,000.

As a surety to the carnet bond, you will need to provide security to the Carnet issuing organisation which can be done is three ways.

  1. Leave the required bond deposited in a sealed bank account.
  2. Get your bank to cover the amount of bond against some kind of collateral (money, property or shares).
  3. Pay an insurance premium to underwrite the cost of the bond (usually between 3 to 5% of the bond). You will be required to fill in an application form and submit various documents.

When you have sufficiently covered your bond you will be issued with a carnet, which will be valid for one year from the date of issue.  The cost of your carnet will vary depending in which country you apply and also whether you choose to pay the full amount of the bond upfront or whether you choose to use an insurance company to underwrite the amount of the bond. Please consult your local ATA carnet issuing organisation in your respective countries for more information.


The carnet form consists of these parts:

  1. Front green cover – holder/user & country information. The front of the green cover includes the Holder (Owner of the goods) Information and lists all the ATA Carnet countries. It must not be altered or amended in any way.
  2. Back green cover – carnet General List of merchandise & equipment. This list cannot be amended but it is possible to travel with partial shipments.
  3. Yellow, white & blue certificate sets – counterfoils & vouchers. Counterfoils are the control documents of the holder and remain with the carnet. Vouchers are the control document of customs and are removed by customs.


International Driving Permit (IDP) – This permit is a multilingual booklet that is basically a translation of your driving licence into various common languages like French, Japanese and Arabic. Although it is rarely asked for, it is required in certain countries and as it contains your photograph it is quite useful as a further piece of documentation to show border officials. It is easily obtained, for a small fee, from your National Automobile Association.


When your vehicle arrives or enters Malaysia, you will need to:-

  1. Produce your ATA Carnet documents to the Malaysia Customs to process. Once accepted by the Malaysian customs, your vehicle will be exempted from Malaysian customs duties subject to the validity period of your ATA Carnet.
  2. Produce your International Driving Permit (IDP) so you could drive on Malaysian roads.
  3. Apply for your International Circulation Permit (ICP) issued by the Road Transport Authority of Malaysia where this document is a temporary permit for foreign registered vehicles for tourist wishing to drive in Malaysia. Each ICP is valid for 90 days only. Depending on the validity of your ATA carnet, you can renew your ICP for a further 90 days. To apply for your ICP, you will need an ATA carnet, your IDP, purchase local Malaysian Motor Insurance for the period of your stay and complete a declaration form.tum-icp

For a processing fee of RM150, the Automobile Association of Malaysia can assist you to process/renew your ATA Carnet upon arrivals usually within 1 business day. You could also purchase your Malaysian motor insurance from them. They can be contacted at:

Automobile Association of Malaysia
225 Block 4, No 7 Persiaran Sukan, Laman Seri Business Park
Section 13, 40100 Shah Alam, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia.
GPS Coordinate: 3.086179, 101.550544
Tel:        03-5511 1932 (General Line)
Fax:       03-5511 2519
E-mail:  Web:
Office Hours:    Mon-Fri: 9.00am – 5.30pm , Sat: 9.00am – 1.00pm, Sun/Public Holiday : Closed