Border Crossing: Syria

Date of Border Crossing June 2006
Point of Entry Dera(Syria) from Jordan (Ar Ramtha)
Passport and Visa Passport has to be valid for at least another 6 months and you need a visa to enter Syria. Don't even think about showing up on the border without a visa! It is easiest to get the Syrian Visa in your home country before you leave. Syrian embassies are very reluctant to issue visas to 'non-residents'.
The Syrian embassy in Jordan will under no circumstance issue a visa to non-residents, neither will the Syrian embassy in Cairo (Egypt) or Tunis (Tunisia). The embassy in Tripoli (Libya) will issue a visa to non-residents but only if you have a letter of recommendation from your own embassy. Alternatively you can send your passport per courier back to the Syrian embassy in your home country to get a visa. Contact the Syrian embassy in your home country first though and advise then of your plan.
Insurance At the border you will have to buy insurance for your vehicle. You can only pay for this insurance in 'hard' currency, meaning you have to hand over either US Dollars or Euros. We paid 40 USD per bike.
Drivers Licence Did not get checked, but I am sure that officially you are required to have one.
Motorcycle papers You need a Carnet de Passage to bring a vehicle into Syria.
Licence plates Own licence plates are sufficient.
How it went

After the problems we had had getting the visa, the border crossing was kind of anti-climactic. No hassle at all and pretty straightforward really.
We had heard that it is best to change the left over Jordan money into Syrian currency before the border, since the exchange rate is supposed to be much better. We needn't have bothered, as the exchange rate was about the same in Damascus. Also keep in mind that you will have to pay 5 JD per person and 5 JD per vehicle departure tax on the Jordanian border, so don't get rid of all your JD's!
This border crossing is very quite and so no stress was involved. First we stopped at the immigration office. We each had to fill out two entry/exit cards. On these forms they ask you how long you intend to stay in Syria. If you put down more than 15 days, the officer will remind you, that you have to register with the authorities once the initial 15 days are over. The passport and the entry/exit cards get stamped. You get to keep one entry/exit card, don't loose it you will need it when leaving the country.
Next stop is customs. First we had to take the carnet to a customs officer sitting beside a booth on the road. He basically checks the information in the carnet and asks the one very important question: petrol or diesel? If you say diesel you get hit with a very hefty (100 USD) diesel tax for every 10 days you are in the country. This "tax", is payable twice (entry and exit). Luckily with the bikes it's petrol, which means we only paid 7 USD tax per bike.
Now it was on to the insurance and tax office. There you have to buy the receipts for the insurance and the tax from the bank in the same office. As mentioned earlier you have to pay in 'hard' currency. With the receipts from the bank you can then proceed first to the insurance office and then to the tax office, where your Carnet will get stamped and registered. That's it you are free to go and are welcomed into Syria.

Point of Exit Kassab (Syria) to Karadagi (Turkey)
How it went Very quite border crossing. Very relaxed. Immigration officer stamped our passport and collected 50 Syrian pounds departure tax. He also sold us the exit stamps for the bikes for another 50 Syrian pounds. With the receipts from the exit stamps we got sent to the customs office, where the carnets got stamped. That was it. Took less than 15 minutes!
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