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Simpler customs procedures at UAE border crossings for motorists and truck operators

Move to curb unofficial international driving permits as part of new UAE law

Image Credit: Aftab Kazmi/Gulf news archives
Vehicles at Buraimi border
Gulf News

Dubai: Motorists crossing UAE borders by land will soon benefit from simpler and quicker customs procedures, as officials move to implement UAE’s Land Transport Law.

Unofficial documents such as international driving permits that can cause such problems as rendering insurance invalid in the event of accidents abroad will also be a thing of the past.

As the first step towards the implementation of the law, issued in 2011, the National Transport Authority (NTA) yesterday signed an agreement with the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE), authorising the club to issue three important documents — namely, Carnet de Passage en Douane (CPD) or “trip tickets” for motorists, International Driving Permits (IDP) and TIR Carnets, for truck operators.

CPDs — commonly known as carnets or trip tickets — simplify customs formalities for tourists. When these are presented along with the Certificate of Tourism, vehicles will be allowed to be driven across borders to destinations beyond the GCC. Trip tickets guarantee the payment of any customs duties and import taxes chargeable in the event that vehicles are not re-exported.

Commenting about the Land Transport Law, Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Chairman of the National Transport Authority, said: “This is a law of vital importance as it sets out to regulate the land transport sector, which has a key part to play in the growth of the national economy, and supports the UAE’s role as a link among the neighbouring countries.”

Until now trip tickets and international driving permits were issued by travel agents and some clubs, which often served only as unofficial papers, Dr Nadhem Bin Taher, executive director of the service centres sector at NTA, said at the signing ceremony.

“In recent years, many UAE travellers carrying unofficial trip tickets have been refused entry to countries like Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt. The implementation of the law will prevent such instances from happening,” he said, adding that it is important because about 50,000 CPDs and IDPs each are issued annually.

The ATCUAE has been a supplier of legitimate trip tickets and international driving permits since 1965 and for several years has been working with government authorities to counter the presence in the market of unofficial versions, noted Dr Mohammad Bin Sulayem, President of the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE.

The cost of obtaining these documents will remain the same, he said. The charges of International Driving Permits were higher in Abu Dhabi as compared to Dubai by about Dh50 and this was brought down recently to standardise the rates.

Issuance of TIR Carnets will only commence within the next six months. TIR stands for Transports Internationaux Routiers (International Road Transport, which is an international harmonised system of customs control that facilitates trade and transport while effectively protecting the revenue of each country through which goods are carried.

“We hope to introduce the TIR system in the country soon. It can cut the time trucks spend at the borders from three to five days at present to three to four hours,” he said, adding that the benefits in terms of efficiency and cost saved are significant.

It minimises formalities and delays through the use of standardised and reduced controls and simplified documentation. Customs authorities too like the system because it means duties and taxes at risk are guaranteed, and the need for physical inspection of goods in transit is greatly reduced.

It also helps boost security as the government will be able to track which countries the trucks enter and exit, Bin Sulayem said.