This is the route we drove in Turkey. If you are interested, you can click on this image below and it will take you to the actual Google Map online. You can then zoom in (or out) to have a more detailed look.
Border crossing Iran into Turkey (Sero)
We arrived at the Iranian side at 2.15pm. There are lots and lots of white vans parked, it looks like they are all waiting to get into the border area, but we are waved through and are allowed to drive straight to the gate. They leave a driving lane open, very organised.
The guy at the gate wants to see our passports and the car registration paper. He briefly went inside but emerged soon with all the papers again and told us to drive to the main building. Inside is again a long line of white vans, but again we are waved past and park right next to the building. There are a few persistent money changers around, but we weren’t interested and went straight inside.
Once inside there is an office on your left, that’s customs. We showed our carnet de passage and were told to go to his boss who was standing a bit further, chatting. We walked over and handed him the paperwork. He came back to his desk, wrote something on a bit of paper and passed it on to another guy. The bit of paper turned out to be another ‘car customs control form’ where stamps are added and signatures placed when you complete a step in the process. At the exit gate they collect this bit of paper and make sure you have passed all the necessary steps by checking if you have all the stamps and signatures.
One guy walked outside with the carnet, the ‘car customs control form’ and Jon’s passport. We followed. He looked at the car for half a second and that was that. Customs inspection done. Back inside he added another signature and told us we were done. Our carnet had been stamped and dated, a signature added and they kept the export part.
With all our car paperwork finished, we were now told to drive to the immigration booth. We expertly blocked the road for everybody else and walked over to the booth which is sort of a drive-through immigration post.
The guy was very friendly and chatty and took a few minutes to complete the entry into a computer and stamping process. But 5 minutes later we had our passports back with another exit stamp. Whilst we were doing this, a guy came to us to collect the ‘car customs control form’ and then we were all done. No actual gate here. The only gate is the entry gate of Turkey a few meters further, no no-men’s land here.
As it is a small gate and a lot of traffic goes through, two army people are actually directing traffic which seems to work.
At the Turkish entry gate we were told to stop and park. We got out, and a guy in normal civilian clothes asked for our passports. We asked him first if he was an official as it wasn’t entirely clear. He was, so we gave him the passports and he disappeared into a small gatehouse on the left. A few minutes later he emerged again and another civilian-dressed guy told us to follow him.
We drove past the main building, which is on your right when you come from Iran, onto a huge parking lot. Lots of white vans and a few trucks and buses were parked here, but we were told to drive to a derelict looking building on the far side. Windows are broken and it looks dodgy, but it’s where customs want to have a look at the car it turns out. When we drive inside we spot the inspection pit. We are told to park over the top and get out.
The first guy on the scene seems pretty relaxed, but unfortunately a second soon joined him and he wanted to look everywhere. They were knocking on things to look for hidden things, checking the depth of places and wanted to look in the pods and the roof top box. And then they also wanted to have a quick look where we keep the spare parts… bugger. That meant taking out the whole red box. Not a huge job, but definitely the most laborious of all in our car. But once the red box was out, they didn’t want to look at all the parts luckily (that’s quite a puzzle to put back together as it is so tightly packed).
We had put 3 of our extra jerrycans with diesel in the roof top box and wondered if they were going to confiscate them, but they barely blinked at them. He did ask about our carpet and first told us it wasn’t legal to bring it into Turkey. We insisted it was legal, that we had a certificate (which we had, but he never asked for it) and that it wasn’t an antique. After a few minutes he gave up and said it was ok.
They also checked the engine bay, underneath the car and in most drawers (not all). It was the most thorough look we have had so far.
When it was finished we parked the car in the huge area next to some buses and went inside with our passports.
We were first directed to immigration (in the middle of the building), but when he saw we didn’t have a visa he called somebody and then walked us over to another office. This office was in the far corner, next to the stairs (on the side of the inspection pit building). We handed over our passports, he looked up our nationality and told us the price for the visa: USD20 each.
Jon went to get the money whilst Jude stayed in the office where he enters our details onto a form in the computer. That gets printed and signed. One half is given to us and somebody else takes us to the bank where we pay. It’s no problem to pay in dollars and get Turkish Lire back. Handy, as we now have some Lire as well.
He stamps the form and we take that back to the office we just came from. Our escort had been waiting for us and walked us back. Back in the office copied are made of the form and we get the originals back. In the mean time he has been adding our visas into our passports which we left with him.
Jude’s done first and is escorted back to immigration. For some reason we get a different visa then when we arrived by plane even though we see the same stickers here too. Apparently it is because we have arrived by car. It’s a stamp and we are given 90 days.
Jon’s visa is finished not long after and he too gets his stamp. Then we search for the location where we need to do our temporary import of the car. Unlike Iran, they don’t use the carnet de passage here.
We find an office open in one of the places with lots of waiting lines in front. Luckily there is no queue and we hand over our passports, registration form and green card (he asks for it so make sure you have a copy printed).
We get it all back and the only thing that has been added is another small stamp with a date (the black one) to Jon’s passport. Apparently that is all the import ‘paperwork’ we get. We are free to go.
We drive towards the exit gate where another load of 6 vans is pushing in. We let them out, the gate is closed behind them and we stop in front of the gate house. Here they checked the passports, as usual, to make sure we have a stamp in them and we’re in Turkey!
Probably one of the longest border crossings for us: 3 hours and 15 minutes. Still not too bad. As we loose 1.5 hours again it is now 4pm instead of 5.30pm and it is already getting dark! We quickly find a place to camp after the border which was easy as it is a pretty deserted mountainous area.
Australia: Ordinary and official passport holders are required to have a visa to enter Turkey. Ordinary passport holders can obtain three month-multiple entry visas at the Turkish border gates.
Netherlands: Ordinary passport holders are required to have a visa to enter Turkey. They can obtain three month-multiple entry visas at the Turkish border gates.
This applies for any way you can get into Turkey, any border crossing will be able to give you a visa for USD60, no passport photos required, just a valid passport.