Long story short: I don't want to sell my bike; I don't want to sell my car. As there is evidently a process for exporting motor vehicles (why else would export plates exist?), I want to export my vehicles from Qatar to the UAE.
International transfer of motor vehicles is always exciting. For some reason, there has to be a massive pile of paperwork. Some of this relates to ensuring that a car manufactured for one market is acceptable for use in a different market. There are certain fundamentals such as where the steering wheel is, and whether the rear indicators are orange or red and combined with the brake lights.
Updating this post on 5th June, inserted below are my latest findings. Look for the italics.
I did this once before, and have learned my lesson. "Hi, Mr DHL. Here's my motorbike and a big wad of cash. Please deliver it to me in Qatar." appears simple enough, but in practice required that I constantly monitored progress and poked DHL at regular intervals to get the process moving again.
This time, I'm going the other way: Qatar to UAE. It occurred to me that if I put the bike on a trailer and towed it to Dubai behind the car, I could move house with a minimum of fuss. It's not as if a 700km drive is any big deal, after all. But between here and there lies the magic Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Obviously I have to de-register the car and bike and get them on export plates. These are valid for ten days. Then I need a transit visa so that I'm allowed to enter the KSA, which I'm only allowed to do provided I promise to leave again. No problem.
I suspected that the procedure would be fraught with obstacles, so I started to ask for information. There are many, many people and organisations in Qatar whose job is to arrange import and export, so one might have imagined that someone would know how to do what is fundamentally a very simple process.
"Trailers not permitted." So the money I've spent getting a towbar fitted is a waste. Bugger. I guess I'll not be lashing out thousands of riyals on a bike trailer. In any case, this 'no trailers' thing is surely patent nonsense; I know several rally teams who successfully move cars and bikes between Qatar and the UAE by road, and they use trailers.
You have to go through an authorised agent to get a Saudi visa. Mine told me that there was absolutely no problem with towing a trailer. The small matter of the trailer cropped up after I'd spoken to a helpful gentleman in the Saudi embassy consular section about why my transit by motorcycle had been refused. After I'd told the agent his response to me, the agent called me back and advised that when I'd been told, "Motorbike? No problem," what I should have been told was, "Motorbike? Impossible."
"Cannot own a vehicle in UAE unless you have a residence visa." This is more of a poser, but luckily I have a Beloved Wife who can own vehicles, and she's resident in Dubai.
There remains some debate about importing more than one vehicle, but as it's a car and a bike and not two cars, this is - at least today - not a problem.
"Your wife must come to Qatar and bring a letter of No Objection stamped by the Embassy." What a lot of rot. If you don't know, why do you insist on making stuff up?
It seems that in order to transport her vehicles over land, a Power of Attorney letter from Beloved Wife is required. This is obtained from a Qatar court, or a UAE court, or I can do it on the basis of Beloved Wife's written No Objection to her husband handling matters. Which version is true depends on who's spouting it.
"Cannot transfer ownership in Qatar unless both parties have Qatar residence." A more senior Captain over at the Traffic Police said that this was nonsense, and having a copy of the purchaser's passport and visa would be sufficient.
"Cannot drive without permission of the owner." Well I'd better get a letter of permission, then. Duh.
As above. Power of Attorney letter is required - in Arabic - for land transportation. It's not required for transport by sea, because then Saudi isn't involved.
"Cannot enter UAE without visa." Visa on arrival.
"Cannot leave Qatar by road because your exit permit is only valid for leaving by air." Well I guess I'll have to get a 'Leaving Qatar by Road' exit permit.
There is no difference. It's an exit permit. Period.
"Cannot register bike unless you have UAE residence and a motorbike licence." So it'll have to wait until I've got UAE residence then. I can't get that until after my Qatar residence has been cancelled, and I can't cancel Qatar until after dealing with all of the business.
Having asked about a dozen different professionals in the export business and got nearly a score of different answers, here is what I believe to be the definitive list of Things To Do. It is based on getting the same story from senior people in several different offices:-
- Letter from Beloved Wife confirming permission to driver her motorbike.
- Copy of Beloved Wife's passport and UAE residence visa.
- Go to Traffic Police in Doha and get export plates and transit insurance for the bike.
- Ensure export certificate is in Beloved Wife's name.
- Go to Doha Port with original sales invoice, original import paperwork that proves that import duty was paid when the bike first entered a Gulf country, Certificate of Origin, export certificate. All vehicles more than two years old are subject to 5% tax based on current assessed value.
- Obtain Bayat Al Maqasa, a certificate stating that all taxes are paid. But this is a worthless document if the vehicle is more than two years old.
- Take export certificate and passport to company Public Relations Officer.
- Obtain company No Objection to my riding Beloved Wife's bike from Qatar to UAE through KSA. (Essentially this is an Arabic translation of Beloved Wife's letter).
- Obtain one-use KSA transit visa. No. Motorbike forbidden.
- Obtain exit permit for overland travel. Cancelled.
- Load personal effects on to the bike, and travel. Cancelled.
All futile. Can't get Arabic Power of Attorney letter because nobody will say which version is acceptable, and thus overland transport is out of the question. So it looks like Mr Hobson is going to put everything in 20-ft box and float it over to Jebel Ali at phenomenal expense.
When all this is over, I'll post the actual procedure in the naive hope that someone else trying to pull the same stunt will be confronted with the same hurdles.