We crossed the Georgia Azerbaijan border towards Azerbaijan at the Lagodekhi crossing on August 28th 2016. This is the smaller of the two border crossings between Georgia and Azerbaijan. We had Azerbaijan visa from the embassy in Tbilisi.
Border and customs clearance went smoothly. Could stay in the car. Friendly officers wished us a good onward journey. Did not take a look at the vehicle.
They issued a small piece of paper for our vehicle at the gate right behind the river. Then we drove down to the main buildings. We stopped the car in one of the two control lanes. An officer immediately took our passport and the vehicle documents. A customs officer checked the vehicle quickly. Then he told us to go to the border police window. Up to here very friendly.
A grumpy officer went through all the passports he got from his colleague. He called our names, we approached, a photo was taken and our visa stamped. So far so good.
We approached the window on the left side of the door because that is what everybody else was doing. We could see our vehicle documents on the desk. After finishing the man in front of us, the young officer takes a long look at our documents. He says that our vehicle cannot enter the country since it does not comply with Euro 4 exhaust gas norms. The only option is paying a deposit of US$ 10,000, which we refuse. He would not give us a 72 hour permit either, since this is only for transit purposes and we did not have an onward visa. We asked repeatedly if there was any other option. He denied. AT least corruption does not seem to be a problem here!
Leaving the vehicle behind
We decided to visit Azerbaijan without our Landcruiser, Willie. But they would not allow us to park it at the border building, instead we should park it back in Georgia. The problem was, that our visa were already stamped and they could not give us an exit stamp, as this would have made our visa invalid. They came up with the solution that one of us has to stay there and the other one should go to Georgia and park the car. So we packed our backpack and Heiner left for Georgia, where he parked Willie right beyond the Georgian checkpoint. There are residential buildings, a shop and a cafe on the opposite side of the street. It appeared to be safe. Entering Georgia was, once again, hassle free. So was entering Azerbaijan on foot. After 4 hours at the border, we finally arrived in Azerbaijan.
One week later
Crossing from the other side went smoothly. Willie was waiting for us unscathed.
We had heard of that ridiculous import rule, but we had also read contradictory statements whether it was still in place. At least at the Lagodekhi border, this rule is rigorously enforced. If you were lucky and they allowed you to enter with a less-than-Euro-4 vehicle on any border in Azerbaijan, please leave a comment!