Crossing the Persian Gulf (Sharjah to Bandar Abbas)

The very first step from our journey was crossing the waters of the Persian Gulf. Since our trip was starting from Dubai we didn’t have another option because we didn’t want to take the risk to drive through Iraq or Syria. When looking online majority of the information was pre Covid and outdated, so we hope the details below help anyone following in our footsteps. 

In our case, we are traveling in a bus with 2 cats so we had to plan the trip for us, the bus and the cats.

  • The Bus

First things first, you need to make sure you have all the right documents for exporting you vehicle to Iran. The documents required are the following: Carnet de Passages en Douane (or CDP for short – issued by the Automobile & Touring Club for UAE), online RTA Tourism Certificate (link here) and an online RTA Clearance Certificate (link here).

Regardless of where you are traveling to, if you are exporting a UAE registered vehicle, the CDP is mandatory. You can find information about the CDP here

The first step to obtaining it is to head to their office and get the latest information (location map here). We attempted calling multiple times but unfortunately no one picked up and there is limited information online. Once at the office, you will receive an information booklet which includes the requirements for the CDP and prices depending on the region you will travel to. The second piece of paper you will get is the application form, which you will have to fill out. Once you have done that, you have to pay the deposit and the fees (which have to be paid in cash) and you will receive your CDP on the spot. Just a heads up, there are no ATMs near by, however if you come prepared you can have it done within an hour.

  • Cargo Ferry

The next step is organizing the cargo ferry. We shipped our bus with Al Hili Marine Services because they were the only ones we could find online and we didn’t have time to go to the Sharjah port and do more research. The communication with these guys was pretty straight forward and we pre booked our departure date over the phone. 

Pre Covid, there used to be a more regular timetable as well as ferries that transported vehicles and people at the same time, however at the moment that option is unavailable. You will have to send your vehicle separately, usually 1-2 days before your departure depending on the space availability. When it comes to actually booking the vehicle shipping date, the company will organize a slot and contact you, so you can proceed with the payment (in our case they called us 3 days prior to our departure). Just a warning, the passenger ferry timetable doesn’t always run as planned, for example we shipped our bus 1 day prior to our departure, booked our hotel for the day only to receive a phone call that the ferry we were meant to be on was delayed by 24h. (Make sure you had given all your correct details so that the ferry company can reach you in case of changes).

Once you get the actually shipping date from the company, you will have to drive down to their office in Sharjah to bring your original documents (Passport, RTA Tourism and Clearance Certificates, CDP and vehicle registration) as well as make the payment (which again has to be done in cash). Once all is done, Al Hili will give you a step by step guide to dropping off your vehicle at the port. We are not going to give you a detailed explanation of this because the information we got given and what happened on the day was different, however there are port authority personnel to help you out. The best time to drop your vehicle is 7-8 AM as you will beat the Sharjah traffic and the port charges over time rates after 12:30PM. The whole process shouldn’t take you longer than 2 hours.

  • Passanger Ferry

Booking the passenger ferry was easy, we had it done at the same time when we went to pay for the bus shipping. On the departure date, you have to arrive at the passenger terminal before 8am which is 2h before departure. Be prepared to stand around since boarding the ferry is a very very slow process. There are no assigned seats, so the earlier you get there, the earlier you get on board and select a good seat. This is quite important as the ac worked only in certain areas (we traveled in the middle of summer). It took about an hour and a half to check and drop off the luggage (each person has a 40kg allowance). If you are traveling light (as we were) be prepared to be asked multiple times by multiple people to take on some of their luggage since excess luggage was charged 8 AED per kilogram. We took a few bags from an older man that stood in line behind us. From the baggage drop off area, you proceed to the passport control and then a short bus drive to the ferry. The Ferry was meant to depart at 10AM however in reality we left at 12:30PM. On the day we traveled the ferry was absolutely packed and due to the full capacity it took longer than usual (expect anything between 6-8 hours). Once the ferry finally leaves you will get served a lunch and a beverage. On the day in question we got served a biryani, yogurt, apple and a Pepsi. (Drinking water is available on board). There is no shop or vending machine on board to purchase snacks so don’t be us and come prepared with more food as it is a long day. There are obviously toilets, however our advice is to do your business before you board 😂. Upon arrival, disembarking is a bit of a scramble, as everyone wants to get off at the same time. Once you push your way off the boat, head straight to the passport control, where you will have to fill out a paper with your personal details and then head over to the luggage area. Once your bags come out which also takes a long time, you are free to head out. 

  • The Cats

Surprisingly this was the easiest part even though we were stressing about it the most. While doing research every article said that the only way to import a pet into Iran is by air, through Tehran International Airport to be exact. We contacted a few pet relocation companies and they quoted us between 3 and 5 thousand dirhams without the cost of the actual flight, which is absolutely bonkers! From there we used the information they gave us and we got in touch with a customs clearance agent in Iran who informed us that it is possible to bring them by ferry, however we had to request permission from the ferry captain to be able to take them on board with us. The only thing we had to do in Dubai was to apply online for a veterinary health certificate for exporting live animals, through the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment website (or MOCCAE, link here). Once we got that, the girls had to be checked by the veterinarian at the cargo village, location map here. (The cats have to be microchipped, have a passport/ vaccination card and be up to date with their rabies vaccinations).

The process was easy, fast and extremely cheap (we paid 100 AED per kitty) so, if you are taking your kitties with you do the whole thing on your own to save all your money for your actual trip. Entering the departure lounge and customs we were expecting to be asked for their documents however no one seemed to care. Even when we arrived on the Iranian side, it was exactly the same and we didn’t have to do any paperwork or import documentation for them. 

Cost Breakdown

  • Vehicle Shipping Documents

Automobile and Touring Club Fees – 1207.5 AED

Carnet de Passages Deposit – 35,000 AED (The amount varies depending on the type of vehicle you are exporting)

Clearance Certificate – 120 AED

Tourism Certificate – 270 AED

  • Passenger and Cargo Ferry Cost

With Al Hili Marine Services – 5500 AED (originally it was meant to be 6000, however we asked for an EID discount and they gave us a 500 AED discount)

Sharjah Port Fees – 150 AED

Passenger Ferry – 1100 AED (550 AED per person)

  • Cats

Documents 400 AED (200 AED export application + 100 AED for health certificate per cat)

Ferry – FREE!

TOTAL PRICE: 43,747.5 AED (35,000 of which is a refundable deposit for the CDP)

If you have any more questions about the process or fees, feel free to drop a comment below and we will get back to you. Or hit one of the links below to stay up to date with our Asian adventure 😎

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