Documents, Passports, Visas etc……….


Before setting off into the wild blue yonder there are certain documents that you require. Our list is by no means exhaustive and it is suggested that you contact the AA before leaving on your trip.  They have the most up to date knowledge on the travel requirements of most countries and are very helpful! 


Carnet de Passages en Douane


A carnet is an international Customs document for motor vehicles.  The carnet allows you to transport your vehicle across borders without paying import duty as it guarantees that the vehicle will leave the country it is imported into or, if it does not, that the import duty to be paid on the vehicle is guaranteed.  Having a carnet really facilitated border crossings and is an absolute must when embarking on a trip like ours.


Without a carnet you will be required to obtain a temporary import permit to transport your car across international borders and you will often only be able to obtain such a permit if you pay a deposit on entering a country to cover the import duty on your vehicle should your vehicle not leave the country at the end of your stay.  Deposits often need to be lodged in cash and often they can be as much as between 50% and 100% of the value of the current market value of the car.  In some countries, like Egypt for instance such a deposit can be up two or three times the value of the vehicle.  An application for a refund of the deposit can only be made once the vehicle has been re-exported. 


You can obtain a carnet from the AA.  It takes about two weeks to get.  The carnet costs about R1300-00 but you will have to put down a cash deposit or provide the AA with a bank guarantee – in our case we provided the AA with a bank guarantee of R20 000-00.  Should you not export your vehicle from a country that it has been imported into and the AA are called upon to pay the import duty payable the AA will call up your bank guarantee to cover their costs.


The carnet can be used in various different countries and is in essence a book about 25 pages that are torn out by each custom’s authority on import or export of the vehicle.  A carnet is not required when importing your vehicle into Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique as these countries readily issue temporary import permits without requiring deposits.  In addition no carnet is required for transporting your vehicle into countries within the Common Customs Area – eg Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland.


It is important to check that the details on your carnet match the details on your vehicle registration papers and on the vehicle itself.


Vehicle Registration


You will need to carry proof of ownership of your vehicle.  In many cases you need the original but make sure you have a copy in case you lose it.


International Certificate for Motor Vehicles


The ICMV is a translation of your vehicle registration documents into various languages and although not always required is highly recommended when driving in to a foreign country.


International Driver’s License


An international driver’s license is issued by the AA to holders of SA driver’s licenses.  Carry this and your local permit with you at all times


Health Certificates


You will need the “yellow card” which indicates that you have been vaccinated against yellow fever and other diseases for entry into certain countries for instance Tanzania.  Make sure that you receive your yellow card when you are vaccinated by your doctor.


Police Clearance Certificate


If you intend to export your vehicle permanently you will need a police clearance certificate.  It is useful to get one before you leave as it can only be issued by the SAP in South Africa and cannot be obtained later should you need it.


International identification plate


A sticker for the back of your car indicating that your car is a foreign vehicle – for instance ZA plates indicating your vehicle is South African. Can be obtained at the AA.


Valid Passport


Make sure that you have a valid passport or equivalent travel document.  Also make sure that your passport is valid for 6 months after your return.  You may need a passport with additional pages if you intend to visit a lot of countries.




Find out about the visa requirements for each country.  Visas for Mozambique for instance must be obtained before departure.


Medical & Health Insurance


We opted for health and travel insurance through Europ Assist which is endorsed by the AA and by the South African Travel Clinics.


Vehicle Insurance


This is a tough one!  We were unable to find anyone who would insure our vehicle for the duration of our trip.  Our vehicle insurance covers us for Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique but further than that we have no cover.  Even specialist 4x4 insurers such as Quadrisure would not insure us as we would be out of the country for more than three months.


Third Party Insurance


You can purchase third party insurance for Zimbabwe at the border or through the AA prior to departure.  You cannot buy third party insurance for countries further north than Zimbabwe at the border so get the Yellow Card, which covers Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia ahead of time.  It can be obtained from Zimnat Insurance Co Ltd, Zimnat House, Third Street, Harare, Zimbabwe, Tel:  (092634) 737611