If you end up reading this post at some point after my trip is over it will be most likely because just like us, you were looking for details about how long does it take to clear a car or a motorbike when you arrive with one on the ferry from Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates to Bandar Abbas in Iran. Well, the answer is fairly confusing.
Before embarking on this trip I had read many stories about people who did the clearing in a few hours and people who were stuck there for 2-3 days. On the UAE side the process is actually pretty simple – once you bought your ferry tickets from Al Hili Marine Services in Sharjah the guys there will give you a few papers which you have to take with you in the morning of the day you are taking the ferry. You take your car to the Sharjah port, go into the building to the left of the port gate to do the custom clearance, you obtain a gate pass and then you proceed to drop your car at Shed No 6. The guys there will load your car onto the ferry and all you have to do is show up about 3 hours before the ferry leaves (we had to be there about 5 hours ahead because of the Ramadan timings).
Once in Bandar Abbas, your first trip will be to the clearing agency (Hoopad Darya), which is about 5 minutes by taxi before the port as you are coming from the city center. Here the process is fairly easy – one trip to the second floor to see Mr. Zakari and then Mr. Kamala on the ground floor and a couple of different counters where you need to get a few different papers and then a quick trip outside the building to the bank where you have to pay a fee. We had a really friendly lady helping us through the whole process – thank you Nisrine! From this step you will obtain a delivery note (header image is the actual building).
With this delivery note, you proceed to the customs building (right next to the port where you have arrived) and this is where the fun starts. Here you need your carnet for the car and the delivery note. The people here were super-slow and fairly unhelpful. A grumpy gentleman will give you the run around asking you to make copies of just about every document you have. Come prepared with lots of passport copies and carnet copies – you will need them! Also, at the same time, go to the right of the main entrance, all the way to the last door (there’s a blue sign above on the building) to obtain your gate pass. They will keep your passport so make sure your passport copies are already done before doing this.
Once they finally finish in the customs building (which in our case took about 3 hours and a visit to about 4 different counters) the same grumpy man will come with you inside the port to check your car. Once he has done that, he will tell you you’re done – do not believe him! Before you get your car keys from the port guys, you still have to go to warehouse 4 all the way at the back of the port (try and catch a ride with one of the guys working in the port as it’s a bit of a walk). There a very nice gentleman will organize some more papers for you, which you will need to again take out of the port to the import-export section of the customs – different building right between the port and the main customs building. Here you will be given your final bit of paperwork which you take back to the warehouse 4. From there you get a paper which will allow you to take the car out of the port.
Although at this stage you are super-happy because you are finally driving the car, there are still a couple more steps. Right at the exit from the customs – port complex you get stopped and sent to 3 more offices where some friendly men will right something in the computer based on your paperwork and your carnet and then finally allow you to leave!
In total it took us from 8am to 2.30pm to clear the car – the process was pretty much the same for bike clearance as we met a Portuguese couple who were on the same ferry and we did the paperwork together. This really helped as we were able to split certain tasks.
I hope this helps – I have to do it all over again when I’m back towards Dubai in October.