For the Landy
- A Carnet is essential paperwork for the landy (think of it as the car’s passport), allowing us to temporarily import the car into each country without paying any fees. In theory, this is great, however there are several West African countries where they don’t accept the Carnet and instead have their own temporary import document (passavant) that you have to buy at the border (Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal, Mali). Always try to use your carnet first to save you the extra paperwork and money.
- We had some issues with RAC before we left, as they wouldn’t issue us a Carnet that listed all of the countries we were planning on visiting. Their reasoning was that we ‘probably wouldn’t need it in all the countries we were visiting’ … our argument back was ‘that might be true, but how was that going to help us when we get stopped at a border where the country is not listed?’
- I strongly recommend getting EVERY country you are going to be visiting listed on the back page of your Carnet, just in case. In Africa, there’s usually a way around things, but you can save yourself a lot of time and effort.
International Certificate for Motor Vehicle (Grey Card or Carte Grise)
- We have never been asked for this, but got it from AA in the UK just in case.
- We didn’t get any insurance before we left, instead either picking it up at border crossings or within specific countries.
- In Senegal we were able to buy a Carte Brune (Brown Card), which covered us for all the West African Countries until Nigeria. From there we played it by ear and bought it as we needed. Some of the police checks asked for insurance documents, but not all.
Copies of Relevant Car Documents
- I made a couple of laminated colour copies of our v5 certificate, just as a protection for the original, which really came in handy for the border crossings and police checks as they always ask for the original car paperwork.
- We also took numerous copies of the Carnet, UK insurance and MOT certificate (even though these expire during the trip) and Grey Card.
- Generally with visa applications you need to submit 1-2 copies of your passport, so it’s worth taking quite a few with you. Also refer to the Fiche information below.
- We took our home DL with us, but also made a few copies (double sided/colour/laminated), which really came in handy with all the police checks along the way. We usually hand out the fake DL and have only came across one clever policeman in Ghana who asked for the real one.
- So far we haven’t had any real issues, but the thinking was that if we ran into problems and they wanted to keep our license then we wouldn’t mind losing the fake and leaving it with them.
International Drivers License
- This was asked for in a few countries, so it is worth getting one before you leave.
Medical / Travel Insurance
- There are not too many insurers that will cover such a long journey, so shop around before leaving and make sure that your insurance will cover you for the essentials during the whole trip. We went with Navigator Travel Insurance.
Paperwork for Visas
- Passport photos – I made about 60 colour photocopies on light cardboard of our existing passport photos for all of the visa applications. Every Embassy asks for between 1-4 passport photos per visa application so save yourself some money and take a lot with you.
- Copies of passport details, yellow fever certificates, driver’s licenses and international drivers licenses.
- Copies of recent bank statements
- Copies of travel health insurance
- Copies of a letter from your employer stating that you will be returning to work (this you can do yourself, just make it look official)
- A trip itinerary outlining your entire journey with estimated dates
- Letter of invitation from a resident of the country you wish to visit
- Letter from yourself to the Embassy/Consulate explaining your reasons for needing a visa
- Hotel reservations (use a website that has free cancellation)
- Photocopies of the entry stamp and visa for the country you are applying for the visa in.
*The list above was not required for every visa application. Refer to our Visa page for more detailed information.
*If you don’t want to take a lot of copies with you, it’s very easy to make photocopies throughout West Africa, particularly around the Embassy areas.
Personal Information Copies (Fiche De Renseignement)
- Some of the West African Countries require copies of your personal information (in French) to be handed out at roadblocks, mainly to save them the time of writing it all down. It can also be a huge time saver at border crossings. We found that the best way was to have a photocopy of our passport at the top of a page and then write the rest of the information below.
- Keep an original copy in French and also one in English so that you can make more copies along the way – you will go through a LOT!
|Surname||Nom de famille|
|DOB||Date de naissance|
|Place of Birth||Lieu de naissance|
|Passport Number||Numéro de passeport|
|Date of Issue||Date d’émission|
|Date of Expiry||Date d’expiration|
|Place of Issue||Lieu de délivrance|
|Purpose of Visit||But de la visite|
|Married / Not Married||Marie / Célibataire|
|Number of Children||Nombre d’enfants|
|Father’s Name||Nom du père|
|Mother’s Name||Nom de la mère|
|Vehicle Make||Marque de véhicule|
|Registration Number||Numéro d’immatriculation|
|Drivers License Number||
Numéro de permis de conduire
Other Useful Information
- We took some cash in both $US and Euros. The Euros were much more useful in all of the West African former French colonies and had a better exchange rate. Large notes are better to exchange, while €5 notes are more useful on the streets if you run out of local currency or want to negotiate.
- You will always be able to find someone willing to change money on the black market, just make sure you know the rates beforehand.
- The $US were needed to pay for our Angolan Visas (cash deposit into the Angolan Government bank account was $160US and had to be in cash).
- Throughout Angola, $US notes are so desperately needed that locals are willing to pay 1.5 times the exchange rate. So if you want to make the most of it, take a lot of high value ($50 or $20), good quality $USD notes.
- The rest of our money we took out at ATMs along the way (using VISA cards). We only had a few instances where this was an issue, but normally it was because the ATM was empty (usually Fridays), or it had a lower daily limit than we wanted. We got to know which of the African banks accepted our cards in each country and tried to stick with them.
- Always check the exchange rate ahead of time before you cross borders and want/need to exchange money – just a bit of common sense so that you don’t get ripped off.
- Although the West African Franc and the Central African Franc have the same value, the currencies are different and are not interchangeable. Make sure you get rid of all your WAF before you leave Benin (heading south), or CAF before you leave Cameroon (heading north).