This isn't going to be a definitive list -
there's bound to be something like a marriage certificate or something that
you need but I don't... but here's what I suggest....
Carnet de Passage
Reckon on one and a half pages per country - that's a full page for the visa
and half a page for entry and exit visas; you may also get a few
vue-en-passage stamps as you pass through towns.
Make sure it has enough pages for
your journey, or plan to get a replacement, which means contacting the
consulate you wish to use and asking how long they take, and what it costs.
Make sure it expires at least six months after
you end you trip - allow for getting stuck for a month or two, etc.
Carry a copy with you as well as the original.
Never give your passport to anybody except an immigration official or a
uniformed policeman, but then only if they insist - be stubborn about
handing it over.
Absolutely (but politely) refuse
to show it to individuals in plain clothes with official IDs. Ask to go to a
police station if they insist; there are a lot of fake IDs and con artists
who start by taking your passport, and then use it to drag you off to
wherever they intend to rob you....
Don't be afraid about asking for
stamps to be placed carefully - most immigration officers are sensible but
in some tin-pot dictatorships like, say, the US they will place a single
stamp diagonally in the middle of a blank page.
If you are running short of blank pages for
visas stick post-it notes over the remaining pages to pre-empt the
Ask for a
receipt for all visas - especially stamped ones. Ditto for any cross border
charges. Receipts should be numbered originals and if they are photocopies
refuse them if possible or at the very least report the incident to the
anti-corruption body in-country.
Most visas require two photos, some four, and
border visas usually none, though they may cost more. If you have access to
a digital camera or scanner make up an A4 sheet of about 50 photos of
yourself and save a few quid.
If you're going to get wet and you are
carrying it around with you then put in a plastic bag - common sense I know
but there are some people....
You know what this is, right?
It's only available for the RAC in the UK. You need to organise a bank guarantee or insurance through R.L. Davison & Co
Ltd. (The RAC will send you all the appropriate forms to arrange this on
your behalf.) Sue Collins of the RAC is the official Carnet Angel in the UK,
and the following excerpt is reproduced by their kind permission:
of the Carnet
of Temporary Import
A Carnet de Passages en Douanes is an internationally recognised
Customs document entitling the holder to TEMPORARILY import a vehicle
duty-free into countries which normally require a deposit against import
charges for such vehicles (generally countries outside Europe).
The Carnet is issued under the auspices of two international touring
organisations – the AIT and the FIA. A large number of automobile and
touring clubs throughout the world are affiliated to one or both of these
organisations and issue the Carnet on their behalf. RAC Motoring Services
is affiliated to the FIA. Each Carnet is valid for a maximum of one year.
A Carnet holder whose journey goes beyond one year may, in exceptional
circumstances, obtain a second Carnet or an extension, by contacting the
local motoring organisation and seeking further advice from the RAC.
The Carnet is a booklet made up of either 5, 10 or 25 pages. A 5 page
Carnet allows the holder to temporarily import into 5 countries or on 5
different occasions. A 10 or 25 age Carnet covers the temporary
importation procedure up to 10 or 25 times. Each page is divided into
three sections; the lower section is removed by Customs on entry into a
country; the middle section is removed on exit; the top, counter-foil
section, is stamped once on entry and once on exit. A country re-visited
during the return journey will require a new page to be stamped. It is
vital that the holder gets these endorsements as they prove that a vehicle
has complied with temporary import conditions and discharge responsibility
for any possible future import charges. Countries not covered by a
particular Carnet are noted in a list of exclusions.
On issuing a Carnet, a motoring organisation becomes directly
responsible for the payment of customs duties and taxes if the regulations
concerning temporary import are infringed.
In order to take on this responsibility, RAC requires the applicant to
meet a number of conditions: they must be able to give a UK address and,
in most cases, details of passport and vehicle registration document. The
applicant must also provide a security, which can take a number of
- A bank guarantee, signed by a bank in the UK
- An insurance
indemnity with the company R L Davison
- A cash deposit
The amount required by RAC depends on the
rates of customs duty and taxes in the countries visited – but is always a
multiple of the value of the vehicle, varying from 100% (when shipping
direct to New Zealand), 200% (overland journeys through Africa), to 500%
(Egypt, Iran, Pakistan and India). Additional charges required by RAC are:
Carnet de Passage en Douane:
- 5 pages = £60 RAC members, £75 non members
- 10 pages = £65 RAC members, £75 non members
- 25 pages = £75 RAC members, £90 non members
RAC Refundable Deposit £250 (Applicable to R L Davison
Bank Guarantee Administration fee £35 (Unlimited
Bank Guarantee Administration fee £45 (Limited liability)
Letter of Authority (per item) £10
R L Davison Insurance Premium – you will be advised by RAC
on receipt of completed application form.
+ Insurance Premium Tax @ 5%
A reasonable period of notification would be appreciated, with a
minimum of one week to allow for issue of the Carnets. Once RAC receives
the completed Carnet application, with details of the countries involved
in the journey, a quotation can be provided, without obligation.
Discharge of the Carnet
On completion of a journey the Carnet-holder must return the Carnet
booklet to RAC in Bristol. The issuing department, having validated that
it has been stamped in and out of each country visited and that no further
claims can be made by foreign Customs, will discharge the Carnet and
release the security as appropriate.
If for any reason the last page used does not bear an exit stamp, the
Certificate of Location contained on the last page of the Carnet must be
completed and witnessed by proper authorities either in the UK or the
country of final import. Failure to do this will almost certainly result
in the Carnet holder being held liable for import charges and the deposit
left with RAC being forfeited.
If a vehicle is stolen or written-off during the journey, a police
report and Customs acknowledgement must be obtained as soon as possible.
Failure to do this will almost certainly result in the Carnet holder being
held liable for impart charges and the deposit left with RAC being
Conditions of Temporary Import
The Carnet is a legal document allowing temporary importation only and,
as such, penalties for its misuse are severe. Conditions of issue,
including the general regulation regarding temporary importation, are
shown on the reverse of the Carnet. The main conditions are:
A temporarily imported vehicle cannot be sold, loaned, abandoned, hire,
or otherwise disposed of without the prior agreement of the local Customs
authority and the local motoring organisation.
The Carnet can only be extended with the prior agreement of the local
Customs authority and the local motoring organisation.
The Carnet holder is responsible for ensuring the Carnet is properly
endorsed at each border crossing.
The Carnet cannot be used in any country where the holder is normally
resident, nor in any country specifically excluded from that Carnet/
THIS INFORMATION HAS BEEN COMPILED AS A GUIDE ONLY
Prepared by Travel Research Unit, RAC, Great Park Road, Bradley Stoke,
Bristol, BS32 4QN. Tel. 01454 208000
Reproduced by kind permission of the RAC.
information contact Sue Collins or
Paul Gowen on 01454 208000 or e-mail Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org
or Sue at
Many of the countries you travel through
require a Yellow Fever vaccination; in practice you are rarely asked to show
this, and if you are it may well be a preclude to an attempt to extort
a bribe. Make sure you have a certificate anyway (available from your GP or
an organisation like Trailfinders). Usually it comes as part of a little
book where you can record your other shots (see the
Occasionally an official may claim that a
cholera vaccination certificate is required - this will almost certainly be
an attempt to extort money as cholera vaccinations are not required anywhere
as far as I know. An easy way of avoiding this is to make up (and hide) a
stamp and create your own certificate every six months (that's how long they
are valid for); there should be a blank certificate next to your yellow
Most countries will sell you insurance
policies at or near the border when you enter. This is generally third party
insurance and is of no actual benefit to you at all, but it is a legal
requirement in most countries, and is regularly checked in most.
AFAIK The exceptions are:
- Morocco: You may be able to get this
included on your green card
- Namibia: Insurance is included in the
- South Africa: Ditto Namibia
let me know if you know different.
In South Africa it is apparently possible to
buy a policy that covers you as far north a Kenya, but I couldn't track it
You can pick up a multi-country policy for
the following CIMA member countries:
- Burkina Faso
- Cameroon (where I found it at Cameroon
Insurance SA in Youndé)
- Cote d'Ivoire
- Equatorial Guinea
- Senegal (At AXA Assurances at the
Diama border post)
You can also buy a Dutch policy, one that
is accepted in most of the countries; see
britishexpeditionvehicle for details
You might think about knocking up an
official looking all-Africa policy of your own using a colour inkjet
printer and your rubber stamp kit in case you are caught between the
border and the nearest insurance agent, but I couldn't possible condone
Use a copy of this wherever possible - a colour copy might be even
There is also something called the ICMV; It’s an
internationally recognised registration document, a multi-lingual version of
the V5. The ICMV is available from the
RAC for £4.00. Though
this is not a compulsory document it can ease you way through borders.
Most roadside checks accept a standard European license, but some
countries require an International Driving
Permit (IDP) which is available
from the AA or
RAC, (take along your driving license
and photos and a four quid apiece). The IDP is valid for 12 months from
date of issue. An IDP cannot be issued more than three months in advance and
cannot be issued retrospectively.
Nigeria requires an older format of the
International license than other countries, so if you plan on going
there you'll need two.
Also think about asking for a the post-dated
if you are travelling for more than a year as you can't obtain these in
other countries except for your own (I assume they'll do this for
you...). If you are travelling for more than 15 months then basicaly you
Think about colour
photocopies to give to policemen as they usually use them to extort
money for your 'offences', especially in Senegal.
This is essential
because of the medical cover it requires. For once you are actually going to
have to read the policy small-print. Make sure your policy covers the whole
period of continuous travel (many policies lapse if you don't return every
three months. make sure it covers you off-road (some amazingly don't.
You should also look for evacuation by air, as
this is pretty standard in East Africa; this is different to evacuation home
which may be excluded as it usually depends on you buying a return air
Most policies have low
limits so figure out how much cover you are getting on your camera, laptop
and stuff. Trailfinders seem to do the best policies in the UK, and i did a
lot of shopping around, but it still falls short in a few areas
Well, it's almost documentation.
No good for shopping with but the only option North of Namibia for ATMs.
most capital cities have an ATM, and there are ever growing numbers of them
in many countries - even Addis is supposed to have one. Think about keeping
a spare card in the safe (you do have a safe?) so you don't get stuck
if you lose one. Amex have their much vaunted card replacement service but
based on my personal experiences with them I would rather make my bitch work
the streets than rely on them for money. MasterCard is strictly a wallet
ornament outside of SA, unless you use it to open doors.
A pain in the butt. You get screwed on the exchange rate, they want to see
the receipt, and usually they don't take them anyway. If you must take them
use Amex US$ in 50s
Good for West Africa and the ex-French colonies generally - you exchange
at a fixed rate with the two flavours of CFA (see
Good for everywhere else. The preferred currency for purchasing visas too.
take mixed denominations so that you can make up exact amounts such as the
$63 Ethiopia visa, but change fifties and hundreds as the rates for smaller
notes are usually less. Avoid old notes (with the small heads) and torn or
worn notes as the money changers are very fussy
You usually get a poor rate at borders, but that doesn't mean you can't
haggle up to a better one provided you arrive forewarned of the rates.
Think about where you want to keep you
money. A safe it useful, but also obvious. Another hiding place is
equally useful if you want to split you money.
When you are carrying cash on you get into
a routine that suits you. I have a decoy wallet which I top up from a
buttoned thigh pocket, but then I'm a 6' 8" ex-marine and weigh 100 Kg,
so that may not suit you.
Changing on the Street
Get advice from locals about whether it's
a good idea - sometimes it's cool, sometimes they just try to rip you
off (Like in Livingstone)
Make sure it's legal, and if it is then do
it in the open in a public place (I like to change outside banks where
there's an armed guard). Never let the changer choose the place for the
exchange. Take a friend. Here's how should work:
- Find your changer and ask his rate; tell
him how much you are changing, haggle.
- Show what you are changing, and if you
feel comfortable let them check the notes themselves.
- Next take them back and pocket them
(with buttons or zip)
- Notice that you are now being crowded by
other people who seem eager to brush against your pockets. Get them to
piss off. Repeat as necessary until you reach step 10.
- Once the rate is agreed (it may vary if
he sees you have small notes etc.) Let him count out the notes, then give
them to you.
- Now count them again in front of him.
- Go back to item 3. above and repeat
until the amount you count out is the same as the amount he counts out
(funny how that happens).
- Pocket the money in a different pocket.
Button/zip it up
- Oh Yes. Give him your money as blood is
terribly difficult to wash out of your clothes
- Now go into the bank and move the money
to a new pocket. Walk home watching your back.