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Crossing the Hatta border from the UAE into Oman
Wednesday, 09 April 2008
After nearly 60 days in the UAE we left for Muscat crossing the Al Wajajah border (Hatta) closest to Dubai. Temperatures were already on the rise and visiting Oman is definitely is a must see on the Arabian continent. Here you find a few bits and pieces about entering Oman with a foreign (non-UAE) vehicle. Although there are more difficult borders to cross, it’s still worth mentioning.

Hatta border crossing

The border crossing at Hatta is a little peculiar. Actually the road goes through Oman first without any border checks to end up in Hatta – UAE again. On this stretch street scenery has a few subtle changes which last for about 15 minutes.

The border between the UAE and Oman is stretched out over about 15-20 Km with three different stops. It took us about 3-4 hours, including lunchtime customs takes between 13 and 14:00, to appear at the other end in Oman.  

UAE and Oman Immigration and Customs

First stop is UAE immigration and customs. We got stamped out and went through customs which was tea in the A/C office – before we had to explain about our Carnet de Passage and where we needed the exit stamp for our vehicle. It was clear to us they don’t see this document too often. They probably don’t register entry and exit of foreign cars either like Iran or Turkey.

Second stop was Omani customs. We parked at the trucker area after being told to park there by the officials at the passenger car checkpost. First we had to get Indra - our dog - imported. Next we had a normal customs check of our truck, license plate, ownership, chassis number and check of the interior with only one question: “you have CD’s?”. Which we had, lots of them with many pictures and music. They didn’t even bother to look.

Vehicle Insurance for Oman

After this we were told by customs to get insurance. On the other side of the street there’s a porta-cabin with the Dhofar Insurance Company. (unmarked building). 3rd party insurance here comes in 3 flavours – 10 days, 3 months or 6 months. Without asking we got 10 days for a shocking 31 OR (€ 54) with the insurance paper already printed out. Unacceptable I said, this kind of money for so little time? What about 3 months? Again a lot of punching in numbers and the screen said – 36 OR (€ 64) for 3 months. Amazing – what a deal! Anyhow, after a discussion for 1 month coverage I got tired and sweaty for standing out in the blazing heat and settled for the 3 months flavor.

Apparently the computer system didn’t have a 1 month tick box in the entry screen. Strangely a payment receipt wasn’t part of the deal, which rang a few alarm bells. So I asked for a hand written receipt instead, signed and stamped by the Dhofar Insurrance Company including the name of the man behind the counter.  That didn’t come easy, so another argument about payment receipts. He caved in when I said I even get a payment receipt when I buy a bottle of water. Reluctantly he made a custom payment receipt and I left with the slight notion I paid a few RO’s too much.
Carnet de Passage in Oman
Next was Omani customs again, to get our vehicle stamped into Oman using our Carnet de Passage. Just like the UAE side, they don’t see this document very often.  We could have driven into Oman without it seems. After explanation of  the procedure I got my carnet back with a stamp in the right box. It seems there’s no log of foreign vehicles entering and exiting Oman – the usual big customs book to enter all details wasn’t there. And that usually takes my presence to get all vehicle details written down. But they tore of the CdP Import slip because I told them so. Well done so far. Next customs gave us a paper slip in Arabic with our license plate written on it and we were done. Next stop was Oman immigration another few Km’s down the road.

At immigration we got a 1 month tourist visa for 6 OR a piece, paid conveniently by credit card. The visa can be extended for another month. The paperslip we got from Omani customs immediately triggered the question for our vehicle insurance. In total we got asked 4 times for our vehicle insurance policy. It’s therefore a little weird getting 3rd party insurance is such a bumpy ride when there is so much emphasis on the vehicle insurance policy.

Carnet de Passage rules in Oman

Looking back at the CdP procedure, Oman customs does mention a regulation for importing/exporting vehicles under the protection of something like a CdP on their website. When I looked in December 2007 they allow a 3 month stay. It probably takes a more experienced customs officer to know about these details. Also the Oman Automobile Association is mentioned on the backside of the CdP.  Besides that with the low car prices in Oman and the UAE it doesn’t really make sense to enforce an importation tax rule. Unlike India with their heavy Wagah border customs squad there is no car industry to ruthlessly protect from illegal untaxed imports.

Anyhow we drove into Oman – and our world changed again. This country is different from the UAE, with our 30 day visa we decided to make the most of it. Besides that it was getting hot already so we couldn’t afford to stay too long in our truck without A/C.

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