Going on holiday to explore a neighbouring country is an exciting expedition, but crossing the border into another country can be daunting, especially if you are not prepared with the right documentation.
Below is a guide to crossing South Africa’s border – 6 things you need to know to avoid unexpected delays or even worse, not being allowed to cross the border:
- Ensure you have a valid passport, with a minimum of 3 blank pages. South African passport holders do not require a visa to visit our neighbouring countries, but should you be travelling further into Africa, check the country-specific visa requirements and ensure you give yourself a minimum of 4 weeks before travelling for the visa application.
- A valid driver’s licence is critical not only for the border crossing but also for driving in other countries should you be stopped in a roadblock. Most neighbouring countries accept the South African driver’s licence, however, an international driver’s permit is recommended.
- You will be asked to present your vehicle registration or licence papers at the border. Certified copies are usually accepted. If the vehicle is still financed through a bank, or you are not the registered owner of the vehicle, you will need to get an authorisation letter from the bank or owner giving you permission to take the vehicle over the border. The exact dates of travel must be indicated clearly. If it is a rental car you will need to have a letter from the rental company giving you permission to take the vehicle out of the country. Some countries also require a police clearance certificate, so be sure to check if this is needed.
- Notify your insurance company if travelling in your own vehicle. Should something happen to the vehicle during your travels, you want to make sure that your insurance will cover accidental damage or loss. It is also important to check with your vehicle recovery service provider what their conditions are for your vehicle crossing the border. Most, like Beame, only recover vehicles stolen or hijacked within the borders of South Africa.
- In some countries, particular stickers and reflective tape on the bumpers are required, especially if you are travelling with a caravan or trailer. It is critical to check what is required by the country you will be driving in to ensure you adhere to these requirements. This will prevent any unnecessary delays or issues with traffic officials during the trip.
- Remember to have cash on hand to pay for any border crossing charges. While card machines are usually available, should they be offline, it is advisable to have cash on hand. Extra pens are also handy to speed up the paperwork.
Make sure you keep all your important documentation together, remember to be patient and make sure have the right dates – don’t overstay as this will lead to problems on the way back. Happy exploring!