Hossein's Carnet Service for Iran
I guess this is more of a ride tale, but as it has to do with CDPs i thought it should go here. My friend and I did a hell of a lot of research for this and that plus our subsequent exprience may come in handy for someone in the future. I apologise in advance for the length :)
Quick intro: The two of us are Australian's (and EU dual nationals) and we purchased bikes in Germany which we registered and insured there. Our plan was to ride them from Berlin to Tehran via the Caucasus then back again via Kurdistan and Turkey. No hassles, except that we needed a CDP for Iran and given that we were on a pretty tight budget (and couldn't afford the bond) we needed to find an alternative.
Enter the HUBB! After some searching here we happened upon a gentleman called Hossein, a tour agent based in Iran who could organise a CDP at the border for a somewhat reasonable fee. We got in contact with him and he told us the fee was €400 per bike. We decided that while this was quite pricey it was nothing compared to what we would be charged by a CDP insurer (for the fee and the bond) so we went for it.
Our initial fears of it being a scam were quite quickly put at ease and over the next few weeks we were in constant contact with him via email. He assured us that it would be no problem. A couple of weeks out though he informed us that the fee would in fact be €500 per bike as he had to drive from his home town in Astara to Norduz where we were crossing. While we were a little annoyed at this, we had come this far and we were not going to miss Iran! We arrived at the Meghri-Norduz border crossing on the morning of the 20th of October and this is where the fun really started.
We went through the usual passport checks and waited for Hossein to turn up. When he did he took our documentation, passports and money and asked us what our plans were for Iran. We told him what we planned to see and that we were thinking of leaving via Kurdistan. Concerned he asked "can you get into Iraq and then into Turkey?" to which we replied "we think so". He said "Thinking is not knowing" then disappeared into the customs hall. We decided that maybe we should just give Kurdistan a miss and head into Turkey instead.
After a while he reemerged and told us that it would take about an hour to complete things and in the mean time we should have some tea and look at a map so he can show us some good things to see in Iran. For this he was amazing. Hossein is a very knowledgeable (and eccentric!) guy with a very good grasp of English, and his advice was invaluable. For anyone visiting Iran I would suggest getting in contact with him to get some advice on things to see.
After the "Iranian" hour (5 hours in the real world!) had passed and we had our documents in hand, we were able to leave. Hooray! As we were about to part ways he informed us that these "carnets" would only be valid for 4 days (!) and if we wanted to stay longer we had to pay an extra USD$20 per bike per day. Ouch. As well as this we needed to contact his "associate" once we got to the border with Kurdistan who would also cost USD$20 per bike as a service fee. At this point we had no choice and were stuck with this arrangement. We asked if the guy could meet us at one of the Turkish borders because we weren't sure if we wanted to leave via Kurdistan and he told us that it would be "impossible". We had said that we were leaving via Kurdistan and that we had no option other than to cancel the Carnet at the Kurdish border and get a new one issued to leave via Turkey (at a cost of €400!).
After some initial panicking then some lengthy internet research we decided that going via Kurdistan actually wasn't a bad idea and we would stick with our initial plan. We spent a total of 11 days in the country and headed for Piranshahr and Kurdistan. Here the fun started all over again!
We arrived on the 29th at around lunch time (we had pre-arranged that this is when we would meet the guy there) and waited for a while. We called Hossein who informed us that the border was closed at midday for the day (which later we were sure was a way to get more money from us) and that we would have to come back the next day. Disappointed to headed back to Piranshahr and got a hotel. We were on the border bright and early the next day looking for the guy and after some waiting around we were approached by another fellow who offered to help us. He ended up being our knight in shining armour! Over the next 5 hours he cursed, haggled, argued and negotiated for us amidst a strike by the customs officials and managed to get us out for only USD$5 a day. a fee which he insisted was the official rate.
Just as we were about to get on our bikes (literally) these two young guys in cheap suits came up and started arguing with our guy. He told us that they were the guys meant to help us out and that they were demanding their fee otherwise they were going to cause big troubles for us. Only 5 hours late fellas! A call to Hossein confirmed this and he informed us that we had to pay them USD$80 for their "trouble". While we were pissed off we didn't have many options. Our guy told us that they would definitely create a problem with the already cranky customs officials and that we should just pay and "leave Iran and never come back". Begrudgingly we did and just as were were motoring towards passport control our friend came up and said "those bastards offered me some of your money for doing their job. I told them to f**k off". What a legend. Not only that but they said to him "why didn't you charge them more per day? We were going to charge them $25 per bike each day"! An amount which we probably would've paid given we had little other choice.
Long story short, Hossein offers a service, but at a price. Be well aware that the border you select at entry is what you are locked into, and that on exit, the dodgy buggers handling things will more than likely try to extort large amounts of money from you.
|All times are GMT +1. The time now is 23:06.|