How to Turkey / Iran border.

Following on from other guides on facebook and previous rally teams, this is the Alpha Squad how-to on getting across the Turkish-Iranian border at Dogubayazit, without a Carnet de Passage pre-purchased, and as British Citizens.

  1. Arrive at the Turkish side of the border and drive passed all the lorries on the right hand lanes – cars are dealt with separately through a different gate.
  2. Keep driving passed the lorries- there’s a lot of them, we estimated a 3km queue and roughly 800 lorries parked up in total.
  3. Arrive at the car lane and gate, you’ll be waved through when the gate opens and into the first holding cell. This is where (if you choose to start the Iranian processing first thing in the morning) you can camp overnight, without any hassle from the guards or security patrols. Watch out for the stray dogs – they will try to sneak up grab any food you have. There is a café and duty free shop in the building to the left of the roadway (facing the Iranian gate). If you head around the outer edge and turn right, you’ll see it. They serve Turkish great tost (toasties) and a selection of snacks and drinks. Worth keeping some Turkish Lira with you for this if you’re staying a while.
  4. Passengers should enter into the main building at the entrance you stop beside to have their passports stamped for Turkish exit. Drivers should take their V5 or car documentation to the office on the right side of the road. Leave the V5 with the security guard and join your team members in the min building to have your passport stamped.
  5. Return to the car and collect your V5 from the security guard – make sure he says its ok to exit, and ask about stamping your passport – he should confirm this is fine and usher you up to the Iranian gate.
  6. Passengers can walk through a fenced walkway into Iran from the Turkish side – they will be directed through to a reception area in the main Iranian customs building. This is a large office with large photos of buildings and areas of natural beauty in Iran.
  7. Drivers should now be ushered through the Iranian gate. 2 Soldiers will ask for your passport and simple details – who you are, where you’re going and so on. They shouldn’t be hostile to you in anyway; we were greeted with smiles and handshakes, and directed to the customs office where the passengers waited.
  8. In this first office you will then be processed in and your details checked. Contact details and your fingerprints will also be taken (note – British citizens). You are then asked to hand your passport across to the guard in the next office- a small windowed kiosk with red and silver seats outside. He may take a little while to check your passport. This is then handed back to you and you are pointed towards the next room – a large hall with luggage scales and baggage searching tables. Don’t worry – they’re not for you.
  9. Congratulations, you (human) can now enter Iran. Your car cannot. There is a small shop at the end of the hallway selling snacks and drinks – buy yourself some mango juice and celebrate the easy bit – the hard part begins.
  10. Fixers will now approach you for 2 things – Carnets and money exchange, from either USD, Turkish Lira or Euros. It’s entirely up to you how you go about the money exchange – it’s worth giving yourself a small amount of buying power for the immediate area, and seeking beter exchange rates when you drive to larger towns, or Tabriz. You won’t get a good rate at the boarder- the fixers are there to make money, and they don’t care that you’re the nicest well-meaning westerner.
  11. The Carnet fixers represent private car clearance and insurance companies. They tend to work in a pack, so as to avoid being caught out by a knowledgeable tourist. NOTE WELL – if a rally car has gone ahead of you at a higher price, or had pre-purchased at a higher price than you intend on paying, the fixers will cling onto this point for hours – they will not budge, knowing that the same car type and similar engine size got through, regardless of what you think is the right price. Time your haggling well, and early to avoid disappointment.
  12. Start at a low price and work up slowly and do not give in. Fixers will be determined to wear you out and simply leave you cooking in the sun. Work hard for the price you want, and make sure you insist on 1 currency the whole time. Continually repeat said currency as well, or they will at the last moment switch if it provides them a greater profit.
  13. After several hours you should have a settled price – accept it and wait for the paperwork to proceed – the Carnet executive – another man you would not yet have met – will need your passport and V5/car documentation to write up the insurance and Carnet. This process will take 3 hours give or take.
  14. Relax – the hard work is done. If you have a tour guide meeting you, he should be at the gate ahead of you, if not already introducing him/herself. Take the 3 hours to be patient with any guards around you and other ralliers. Some guards may ask in broken English who you are and where you’re going. They may also open the car doors or inspect around the vehicle in curiosity – leave them me but keep a watchful eye on your belongings.
  15. Your Carnet should arrive completed – you will need to sign off a small form and have your right index finger print taken for verification. Your chosen Carnet issuer will then drive down to the next gate. Follow them in your car – the road goes downhill passed a cement works and gravel pit. At this final gate, the Carnet is photocopied and handed to you with a half piece of A4 paper attached.
  16. DO NOT LOSE THIS, OR THE CARNET. This is your car’s passport and without it you cannot exit Iran with your car.
  17. Congratulations! You can now drive into Iran.


  • Total time on the Iranian side of the border: 8 hours.
  • Total time on complete border crossing (0.5km): 21 hours.
  • Total cost: $420 (€400) for the carnet (haggled from €500).
Posted in How-To.

Leave a Reply