A guide for the overseas self drive, self sufficient, vehicle dependent visitor in Africa

I have traveled more than anyone else, and I have noticed that even the angels speak English with an accent.

-Mark Twain

Crossing Borders

AA Travel - Cross Border Information- Specific to Africa

Carnet De Passage


South Africans and overseas visitors acquiring their vehicle in South Africa:


Note:  A SA registered vehicle does not need a carnet when traveling to SADC countries- In a nutshell,  countries south of Kenya, you can purchase a TIP (Temporary Import Permit)  at major border crossings.  Many minor crossing will not be able to facilitate requirements for vehicle entry, including processing a carnet, selling a TIP,  3rd party insurance, and your visa formalities.

The Automobile Association of South Africa (AASA)

Denis Paxton House
AA Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit
Allandale Road,
Kyalami, Midrand, 1685

      From my experience this is one of the most efficiently run offices in SA. Excluding  the funds to do this (non SA citizens can expect to pay deposit 100% of the value of the vehicle), it is the least painful, quick and easiest part of  the whole process. I suggest that if you are in Jozie at the time, go to their office to expedite and educate yourself. Odette is extremely knowledgeable and helpful. They also maintain a travelers board of sorts with current information reported by travelers when returning their carnets.

Application for carnet

Indemnity in favor of AA

Fees for carnet-

If any queries, contact Odette Pombo on +27 11 799-1042, email

Alternative sources for carnets:

RAC Carnets
RAC Motoring Services
Bristol, UK

Canadian Automobile Association (CAA)
Carnet Services
for Canadians, Mexicans and Americans only.

ADAC   residents of Germany only


TELEFAX:+254 020 4449676
TEL: 3753481/3743196,0726 829851,0733 745692

AA of Malawi     When acquiring within Malawi (2009)- A 6-month, 25-page carnet costs around MK60,000 including deposit, courier fees, handling charges etc.  It takes them a couple days to organise it.

Form DA65 Registration of Goods for Re-Importation  Although this form is directed to South Africansit might be a handy document to record your equipment that you may be required to declare at border crossings. Effective 3/2008 See Additional forms that maybe handy for more information.

Carnet for the purposes of vehicle temporary importation into Southern Africa

4x4 Insurance

SA insurers:


Absolutely Covered Brokers CC

Shane van Schalkwyk

Tel:       012 345 4101 Fax:      086 613 0075

Cell:     082 458 6 458 Email:


We are able to obtain cover from South Africa ’s leading short term insurers, who specialise in off-road insurance.  Cover for non-residents would be subject to certain requirements such as:

  • The driver must have a driver’s licence which is valid in South Africa e.g. an International drivers licence;
  • A physical / residential address in South Arica (i.e. where the vehicle is normally kept);
  • Premium payment would be via monthly debit order, so the insured must have a South African bank account.
  • Details of previous insurance and claims history (preferably in writing from the current insurers)
  • Details of any off-road or 4x4 courses completed (this may be used to negotiate a reduced premium)

Executive Advisory Services  Peter Norenuis, MD  coverage for non-residents.


Cara-Sure Underwriting Management  Candice Clark Operations Mgr.  possible to pay by month- handy to know if you will be selling later.


Motorhome Club of SA stick in an attached crapper and you can get insured


Direct Dial Insurance  SA


From Dial Direct:

We do insure 4x4’s registered in SA driven by non residents in South Africa only       

With regards to the insurance I will need more info such as

  1. What 4x4 is it?
  2. Will it be used for solely personal/ private use or business use?
  3. do you have an address where the vehicle will be parked at night 51% of the time etc etc

Restrictions – additional excess will apply if driven outside the borders of SA,

                       Jamie Naiker

While South African law does not normally require International driver’s licenses for stays of less than six months, insurance companies for both long-term residents and rental car customers often require proof of a South African or international drivers’ license in order to honor an insurance claim, even when such proof was not requested at the time the policy was secured.


Insurance from Europe

Campbell Irvine Insurance Brokers UK- they have a scheme designed for Overlanders-


Locton Insurance   Expatriates’ Car Insurance


The company below offers 3rd party liability insurance for all African countries.  Additionally they offer comprehensive and collision coverage for 4x4 vehicles and campers, subject to review by their underwriters.

Assurantiekantoor AlessieEliotplaats 174
3068 VL Rotterda
tel.: +3 (0) 10 4 555 946
fax: +1 (0) 10 4 555 948
alessie (at)

"Assurantiekantoor Alessie is specialized in temporary insurance for automobiles, campers and motorcycles.

Whether you are planning a world trip, traveling for pleasure, business, or staying in a foreign country as temporary resident or student, Assurantiekantoor Alessie has the right insurance for you


If anyone knows of other Insurance companies that will sell coverage to nonresident visitors, full or otherwise, within SA or otherwise, please pass that on to me.



COMESA Yellow Card is the third party liability insurance cover which has been extended to a number of COMESA countries. The scheme essentially allows vehicles travelling between member countries to subscribe to a single insurance scheme, rather than obtain cover using separate insurance contracts in each country. Third Party Insurance is compulsory for all countries in Africa, with the exception of a few. Countries like Egypt and Libya currently are not included. The COMESA is not valid in the country in which you buy it. Therefore you have to buy LOCAL 3rd party insurance first - then COMESA is an extension of this policy. You can't buy it in SA(except at any AA retail outlet and Travel Experience Store for Mosambique and Zimbabwe) and so if you start there, either buy in Zim or Zam. 3rd party insurance is in the price of fuel in SA. You must buy the COMESA Yellow Card from the same issuing company you bought the 3rd party from.


COMESA- Zambia sources

In Zambia you can purchase the yellow card from the following companies. A couple of these have offices near border crossings:

Nico ( Zambia ) Ltd:

Madison Insurance Company:

Professional Insurance CorporationEmail

        Finsbury House, Kabwe Round-about, Lusaka, , Zambia
        260 21 122 7509, 260 21 122 2151 fax,

Zambia State Insurance, Premium House Building, Independence Avenue, Gr. Flr, Lusaka, Tel no. +260 1 229343 (in Lusaka) – contact person is Crispin Sakala

Cavmont & Capital Insurance company:

Goldman Insurance Company:

Madison General
Perinrenyatwa Road 21/22 Perinrenyatwa Road 21/22
Chipata, Zambia 
Tel.: +260 06 223404 Tel: +260 06 223404
On the T4, coming from the west, turn left at the traffic lights, The Madison is the last building on the right side.

COMESA - sources outside of Zambia

Jupitor Insurance - Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

Nico General - The Group’s corporate strategy is to expand representation and operations in the COMESA region. Currently the Group has short-term insurance companies in four countries of Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.


Zimnat Insurance Company - PO Box CY1155, Cnr Third & Nelson Mandela Ave, Causeway, Harare, Tel no. +263 4 701176, contact person Mr. Sakiya.




Ethiopian Insurance Corporation - PO Box 2545, Addis Ababa



TELEFAX:+254 020 4449676
TEL: 3753481/3743196,0726 829851,0733 745692


The only way to get smarter is to by playing a smarter opponent

                                  Rules of Chess




The inability to find insurance in the past was one of the primary reasons I have always acquired inexpensive series landrovers in SA. If you can find an inexpensive Toyota, go for it (one caveat- some toy 2nd hand import parts are not available, so check that out).

Other reasons:         

Holds resale value- you're bottom feeding already, so it can't get much cheaper

Resale is generally quick in this price range for overland vehicles- depending on the time of year, there are usually a few overseas buyers like you out there.

This is one case where accessories add to value. Just don't get greedy. The longer you hold out for a few more Rand, the more $$ you lose hanging around SA.

If you hit something or it hits you, this only enhances and adds to the character of your vehicle. Imagine the tales you can weave.

The older vehicles without the electrics, gadgets, turbos and such are easier to repair and maintain. Be sure you have a good mechanic go over it thoroughly prior to starting your safari.

There are spare (dead landys) lying around all over Africa. There are also spares more readily available for them and land cruisers then other makes.

Bush mechanics cut their teeth on these beasts,

If shit happens, you are not so financially wrapped up in it that you can't walk away. For the emotionally weak, get a grip. I've had 5 series landies, travelled in remote regions and each one has taken me home. Preventive Maintainance, the right tools, manual, spares and a positive attitude. This is where the bush mechanics step in-- you really don't think I'm going to get greasy.

You won't be getting many speeding tickets.

Which leads to the fact, you won't be driving too fast to miss all that wonderful African scenery.

Then there is the Romance of ......... who am I kidding? That ship sailed after the 1st two series landrovers.

Definitely, a lower probability of theft. I once parked inbetween two lekker overlanders well kitted out. A landrover and landcruiser. Thieves broke into both of them and left mine in peace.

You make friends quickly wherever you go. People come out of the woodwork to look over your landrover. Tell you about the one Dad had or the one they'll get someday, or some escapism nonsense that happens when SWAMBO has put him on the road to fantasy.

****BYOB-- these jalopies aren't babe magnets.

The alternative is to ship your own vehicle to Africa. Be aware that duties can be prohibitive in most African countries and shipping it home at the end of your safari may make more financial sense then selling in Africa. For Western Europeans and yanks, your steering wheel is on the wrong side for much of Africa. You do stand a better chance of getting good insurance coverage, a carnet, if buying for this trip- a better price most times for overland vehicles, kitted out the way you want it, ready to go once off the boat and through customs. Rough idea of shipping costs- SA - UK

                      There is nothing worse than a brilliant image of a fuzzy concept

                                                                                     Ansel Adams

You and your vehicle at border crossings

Border crossings are one of the most feared aspects of international travel. Most first timers are filled with visions of fly infested shacks, with sweating, beady eyed bureaucrats shaking their heads no, empty palms outstretched, while the room echoes with the ceaseless click, click, click of a nervous teenaged guard fingering the safety on and off of his AK47 assault rifle. Although versions of that is possible at some border crossing, with wads of cash being passed along with a stack of passports that are merely waved at before being passed back, most border crossings are pretty simple and usually fairly efficient and perfunctory. The most important things at border crossings are to have all of your necessary documentation prepared, current and available; to be patient; to be friendly, but not overly so; and to keep smiling.

Before you attempt to cross a border, prepare your documentation. Make sure you have, ready and available:

  • Passport (current and valid for at least six months after the date you are attempting entry)
  • Current and valid visa for the country you are departing
  • Current and valid entry visa for the country you are entering
  • No visas that would preclude your entry into the country you are entering  
  • Valid drivers license (from your country) 
  • Valid international drivers license - Necessary if your Drivers License is not in English
  • Valid and current international immunization record
  • Title to your vehicle ( never present the original. Use a two sided color copy. Carry 2 of these at all times.)
  • Current vehicle registration (Many places will be satisfied with this and not ask for the title)
  • Current vehicle Carnet valid for the country you are exiting and the country you are entering or purchase a TIP
  • Vehicle VIN number (write this on the inside back cover of your passport to save time)
  • Vehicle engine number (write this on the inside back cover of your passport to save time)
  • Some local currency of the country you are exiting (used to pay exit taxes, fees, etc.)
  • Some local currency of the country you are entering, if possible to obtain prior to entry (used to pay entry fees, insurance costs, taxes, fees, etc.)(almost every border will have a small currency exchange to obtain local currency)
  • $100 in U.S. Dollars (USD) in $10s or $20s (some countries require payment in USD)(used for paying entry fees, insurance costs, taxes, fees, etc.)(total cost usually ranges from $2 to $40)

Don't wait until you get to the entry gate or the first processing station to dig out the documents. Get them out and organized the morning of your entry and make sure they are in a convenient and accessible place.


You will usually need to present your passport at the first entry gate, prior to entering the exit processing area. Keep your passport in a handy pocket, as you will need to present it several times during the border crossing process. Once the guard checks your passport, which is usually perfunctory at best, you will be waved into the processing area. Watch for guards or inspectors to direct you into a specific area for inspection or parking.


Exiting: On exiting a country, you will pass through a processing area entry gate where you will need to show your passport. After passing through the entry gate, you will park in the inspection area or the parking area. Watch for directions on where to park. If no one is providing direction, park in a safe place where other private vehicles are parked. Commercial vehicles such as taxis, busses and trucks usually have special segregated areas. If you are exiting a country, you will usually only need to visit Immigration for an exit Visa stamp and Customs for Carnet/TIP processing. It is VERY IMPORTANT to get your exit stamp on your Carnet. You will forfeit your Carnet bond if you cannot prove you have removed your vehicle from every country you visit. Pictures of the vehicle in front of your house back home are not considered proof. Only the exit stamp is. You may need to visit the vendors to pay exit fees, but this is fairly rare. Once you have your Passport and Carnet/TIP processed, you are ready to present yourself to the inspector, if one exists. If you are missing any stamps or clearances, he will direct you back to Immigration or Customs. Once you clear inspection, you are ready to proceed to the exit gate and cross No Mans Land to the next country's entry processing area.

Entering: On entering a country, you will pass an entry gate where you will need to show your passport. Next, watch for directions on where to park. If no one is providing direction, park in a safe place where other private vehicles are parked. Commercial vehicles such as taxis, busses and trucks usually have special segregated areas. Usually, the first building you enter is the Immigration processing, where your Passport and Visa will be processed. Once finished with Immigration, you will proceed to the Customs building where you will need to present your Carnet(purchase a TIP), if applicable, or your vehicle title/registration. It is important to get your entry stamp on your Carnet. It can make for awkward moments on exit if you don't have a stamp proving that you brought the vehicle into the country legally through a formal border. If a Carnet is not required, you will usually always need your vehicle VIN and sometimes your engine number. In some developing nations these numbers and your information (name, passport number, etc.) are recorded in a giant ledger book that looks like it has been in use since the 1800s. Often you will be required to purchase the local country's insurance or to pay a specific tax, etc. This is often done in a separate area or building housing money changers, insurance salesmen, etc. You may need to make several trips between Immigration, Customs and the Vendors collecting various stamps, receipts, papers, etc. Eventually, you will have all the stamps and clearances required and you will be ready to present yourself to the inspector, if one is used at this border. If you are missing anything, he will route you back to the vendors, Immigration or Customs. Once cleared, you will proceed to the exit gate, where the guards will usually want to see your passport and any applicable special vehicle paperwork such as proof of insurance. Once past the exit gate, you are in the new country and free to explore for as long as your entry visa is valid for.


The border crossing processes and facilities described above will vary for each border crossing and each country at each border. Some will be much simpler, with two officials in one shack and a gate that hasn't been lowered in years. Others will be highly secure, with manned guard towers, searchlights and multiple gate crossings. In any case, the steps remain basically the same and the required paperwork is similar everywhere.


Best practices for border crossings:

  • Don't take pictures. Countries can be very sensitive about their border crossings and facilities. Ask a uniformed officer for permission before taking any photos, and obtain clear and undisputable permission before pulling your camera out.
  • Avoid paying bribes. If one is requested, and you don't feel you need to pay a fee, then ask for a formal receipt with an official stamp. That will usually preclude an illegal bribe. If, however, you are stuck at a border, and it doesn't look like you or your vehicle are going to be admitted into the country for some real or fabricated semi-official reason, then tactfully ask if there is some way you can "pay a fee" or "pay a fine" to enable the processing of the paperwork.
  • Stay patient and keep smiling. The Western World runs on a very fast clock compared to Africa. We are used to very quick and competent service in most aspects of our lives. Other countries run on slower clocks when it comes to processing border paperwork. Public displays of frustration, anger and especially shouting are extremely rude in most other cultures, and shouting is almost grounds for arrest in some. In just about every situation, getting angry is the worst possible thing to do. Remain endlessly patient and endlessly understanding, but maintain constant, gentle pressure and you will usually come out OK.
  • Be Prepared. Have your paperwork current, organized and available. Keep the documents usually required for border crossings together in a Ziplock bag or other waterproof document case. The last person you want to frustrate or make angry is the border official who holds your fate in his hands.
  • Have your entry visa in advance. Do not expect to be able to obtain a visa at a border. If you exit country A on a single entry visa and cannot enter country B because you do not have a valid entry visa, you are stuck in No Mans Land. You cannot go back to country A, because you have used up your visa. You can't enter country B because you don't have a valid entry visa. Welcome to Hell. Be prepared and have all of your visas in advance.
  • Know the operating hours and holidays. Check in advance to ensure the border crossing will be open for business when you arrive. Arrive with plenty of time to cross through both processing centers before they close or you could end up sleeping in No Mans Land until the next border opens in the morning. Some borders will be closed for national and/or religious holidays. One country's border may be open while the other is closed. Check in advance and confirm the border will be open and available.
  • Remember that you are a guest. You are entering and exiting a country as a guest. Act like it. Be cordial, friendly and polite. Do not make comments of any kind regarding the state of repair of the border station, the level of competence of the border agents or the relative state of development of either country you are entering or exiting. Do not be drawn into political or religious discussions and do not initiate them. Respectfully observe all local social and religious customs and demonstrate respect to the civil servants and military officers at the border processing facilities.

Land Rover Club- Crossing Borders

Zambia Border Crossing

Unofficial Clearing Agents


It has been brought to our attention that there are individuals masquerading as ‘agents’ who claim they can facilitate border formalities for ‘self drive’ tourists to enter and exit Zambia.  Please do not encourage tourists to use their services simply because gaining the necessary paperwork to enter/exit Zambia is free.

Customs have also ‘computerised’ CIP (Customs Import Permits) so only the person authorised to drive the vehicle can apply for one at the Customs desk.  They will not facilitate any so called agents trying to do the same.  Zambia State Insurance also has an outlet at the border post which offers One month and more insurance policies for those requiring such cover. Again 3 or more month policies tend to be sold to unsuspecting tourists whereas a cheaper One Month policy will suffice if they are within Zambia for only 30 days.


Just outside the fenced area is also a Bureau de Change which can facilitate the changing of money for those charges which are expressed in Kwacha .

Kindly note that all transaction with the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) are to be in the local currency – Kwacha


The border has in the recent months experienced an increase in the traffic volumes and ZRA management seeks to encourage positive cooperation from stakeholders for easy trade facility. 


The Kazungula Customs management has agreed to support and assist all those that request their services. Kindly feel free to inquire or seek help from them whenever it is required.


We hope all operators will brief their driver/guides to co-operate with the Customs Officials so that we can do all that we can to facilitate a smooth entry and exit of our tourists.


Yours sincerely,

Christopher Tett

Vice Chairman

Livingstone Tourism Association.    posted June 30th 2008                     

-- Kazungulu Border Crossing-----

Upon leaving South Africa ask customs for a DA65 form which is a “re-import permit” for vehicles and personal possessions.
being part of SACCU ( Southern African Common Custom Union) is happy to accept SA driver’s licenses as valid, which gets checked regularly, and no international ones are required. Likewise are the SA vehicle and trailer registration certificates accepted.

On the Botswana side they do ask you for a “Token” valid for one calendar year besides Toll per vehicle and trailer.
An “In transit” may be asked to be competed at times but not always. It is better to ask what their present requirements are.

Fuel is cheaper in Botswana and at Pandamantenga, 100km before the border, there is fuel most of the time which is not the case at Kazungula and Kasane.
When you get to Kazungula there may or may not be a long line of lorries waiting to take the ferry. Just ignore them and drive past them to the Botswana custom and Immigration building.

To exit Botswana into Zambia you are leaving SACCU. A temporary export permit is to be completed at the point of exit for vehicles and trailers which oddly enough request odometer readings !? You are required to prove that you are the owner of the vehicles or have certified permission from the owner, e.g. bank of finance company, to take the vehicles out of SACCU.
Entering Zambia is a simple and tedious procedure. Estimate two hours and any shorter is a bonus.
Paper work needed:
1) TIP and sometimes called a CIP
2) Municipal road levy
3) Third party insurance
4) Ferry receipt
5) stamped passport
6) Carbon tax receipt

There are no signs on the Zambian side nor any signpost as to what little building hosts what.
There are three little buildings on the right on the Zambian side as seen arriving by ferry across the Zambezi.
The first is to pay for the ferry where they need your registration and for some peculiar reason destination point. Just for the fun I always tell them Cairo as Livingstone is on the way. The fee for the ferry depends on the size of the vehicle. Receipt issued.
The second little building is the Zambian Police post. In there you are required, sometimes, to fill in your vehicle details. Also there is the little man requiring municipal toll payment for use of the road. Receipt issued.
The third little building is both for immigration and customs. Immigration, on the first counter stamps passports, all passport holders to be present in person, and tourist visas are issued to SA citizens free of charge for the period requested. ( always ask for longer in case of a breakdown)
The next counter is a book which needs to be completed with your vehicle details.
The next counter is the custom official who is being badgered and bothered by many people shoving papers into his face and who is therefore fairly hassled and unco-operative. It is from this official you are to attempt to get a TIP ( Temporary Import Permit) Once again all vehicle and trailer details are filled in a book and some forms may be shoved at you to be completed with the same details.
Should you be lucky enough to find a flat undisturbed surface to complete the form, in duplicate with nice old fashioned carbon paper, it would be a quiet day. Your friends and relatives are by now agitated in the hot sun outside wondering what you are up to. You could have told them to take it easy, read a book or make a cup of tea. Alternatively, you could have asked any of the locals to buy you some cold drinks or beers from outside. Your family and friends will have noticed a number of SA registered dusty vehicles standing about. These are either confiscated stolen or dubious.
By now you have the various receipts and stamped passports and start looking around for the Third party insurance sales person, who could be a man or woman and be anywhere. Just ask some slow walking person who will point you in the direction.
By now you frustratingly have:
The ferry receipt
Your stamped passports
Your carbon tax receipt
Your TIP
Your Council toll receipt (Municipal)
Your third party insurance.
And are ready to enter the real Africa through the gate with which they lock up the country every night!!!

But wait, do you further have the following…?
Two danger triangles per vehicle and per trailer.
Reflective white strips on the front and red reflective strips on the rear of vehicle and trailer.
A “T” on the rear of the trailer. Done with sticky or reflective tape or even painted on and any colour will do.
A sense of humour and driving skill because of cows, elephant and other animals just wandering onto the road.
From the SA 4X4 Community Forum 09-07-08