A carnet is basically a "passport" for your vehicle and is essential for everyone taking a vehicle through Africa. It basically allows you to temporarily import your vehicle into a country without paying customs duty. The booklet is made up of up to 25 pages and every page has 3 sections, which must be stamped on arrival and again on departure in each country. The carnet is issued by the RAC, whom become responsible for the payment of customs duty and tax should you break the rules, i.e. try and sell your vehicle illegally. Naturally, they expect some sort of security for these services. (usually around 200% of the value of the vehicle. Up to 800% for Egypt!) These consist of either:
Check out www.rac.co.uk for more info and to download application forms. Or call Paul Garren at the RAC on 01454 208000 for excellent and friendly advice. The carnet can only be issued in the country the vehicle was registered in and is valid for one year. It is important to list every possible country we will be visiting as customs officials check vigilantly.
Basically, a very expensive and precious document that should be well guarded.
Give any human being a uniform and a stamp and they become stamp happy so to cater for this means you will need as many free pages in your passport as possible. Visas can often take up a whole page, sometimes two. Make sure your passport is not gonna expire soon either as certain visas require that your passport needs to be valid for at least six months after your visit.
We are applying for new passports as the yachting industry has done its fair share in filling ours up with customs stamps. You can download the application forms from www.ukpa.gov.uk and hand them in at the post office.
We are facing an interesting challenge: they are no longer issuing the extra length 48-page passports!!! Perhaps we'll have to get extra pages added halfway through or just pop into the nearest consulate and get a new one. Be careful getting your passport photos done, as they are pretty strict about them. I was asked to remove my glasses. We both look dreadful in ours! Something to do with getting stuck in the lovely refreshing English rain beforehand while filling up the recycling centre's cardboard skip with the incredible amount of packaging we seem to keep accumulating with our deliveries of stuff for the trip!
You will also need at least 50 photos each for various visas and paperwork. Apparently it's quite cheap to get them done in Africa but we may come up with a cheap scan and print option here.
These are essential for driving in Africa. You can download the application form from www. rac.co.uk. It costs £5.50 per licence and takes about 10 days. Please note that you can only apply for this licence in the country where your licence was issued. Naturally, a small problem for Ally from South Africa but thanks to a very helpful Dad and lots of couriers, it should all be happening. However, she is now thinking of exchanging her SA Drivers Licence for a UK one, so will have to re-apply for a UK International one. Ugh ..yes ..nightmare!
ICMV (International Certificate of Motor Vehicle)
Also known as the "Carte Grise" (grey card, funny as it's actually white!) This is yet another essential piece of paperwork. Basically just a formal summary of your vehicle details including serial numbers. You will be asked for it at just about every border post. Available from motoring organisations and cost only a few pounds.
We have decided to go with a simple "Essentials" policy from Down Under Insurance, www.duinsure.com, which covers us for basic medical and repatriation. Tel: 0800 393908, ask for Mike, he was very helpful. They do have a special extension for contents of Campervans and Safari Vehicles for an additional £12 per month. We decided not to take it but have a look. It may be suit you.
All of the other policies seem to have so much unnecessary cover on them, which we would never need on a trip like this, so we felt it was just a waste. As far as covering personal effects, valuables and money goes, you never get much back for them unless you ask for special cover for them, which naturally pushes your premium up and is just way beyond our budget. We figured we have enough safes and bolted in strongboxes that we should be ok.
My only advice is to shop around and read the small print and don't get pick-pocketed!
What a nightmare? Very few companies are willing to take the risk of insuring your vehicle through Africa and those who do, charge a hefty sum, naturally way beyond our budget. Try Campbell Irvine in London on 020 79376981. We've decided to give it all a miss and have just fitted extra locks, alarms and steering locks.
You are also legally bound to purchase 3rd party insurance for each country at the border posts, although not many people have had successful claims from these. Hence, I have heard of some overlanders that have fake insurance documents made up to produce at border crossings. All you need is a rubber stamp!
You can buy single policies on route which cover a group of countries, for e.g. The Comesa Yellow Card. Check out the Bundu Bashers on www.www.elphick-pooley.co.uk and click on insurance for more info. Great site actually.
We also had a lot of problems insuring our Landy just for the UK due to all the modifications and the fact that Ally is still on a SA licence. Your best bet is to browse though the Landy magazines and just make your way through the adverts. We went with Snowball Insurance tel 0870 3667290 in the end and are going to try and add Ally as an extra driver later when her UK licence comes through.
A good idea to get a reference from your bank stating that you won't run out of funds as well as a personal one which might help in those sticky visa application situations. Get it translated into French if possible.
We have been recommended to get as many visas as possible before we leave but felt that it would restrict our plans too much so have decided to get them all on-route. Most visas can be applied for in a major town of a neighbouring country and we are expecting to be a little inconvenienced over this. Oh well, all part of the adventure!