We felt we needed to get duplicate / 2nd passports for 3 reasons:
1) in case our main passports are stolen
2) to send back to the UK for visas – if we can’t get them locally
3) in case we travel through conflicting countries (eg Israel / Egypt)
The process was pretty painless. We phoned the UK Passport Office and explained our plans. We filled in the standard form and sent a covering letter explaining our requirements. They couldn’t have been more helpful and we had 2nd passports delivered within 2 weeks (although we have heard some horror stories -maybe we were just lucky).
Since then, we’ve had our main passports ruined when we got stuck in Chobe River (subsequently replaced), our original documents expire, and been able to get additional visas for a couple of countries while travelling on our backup documents.
Second passports are highly recommended for all long-term travellers.
The Carnet de Passage (CDP) is effectively a passport for the car and a guarantee that you will not dispose of the vehicle while travelling.
You will be required to put up a Bond, Insurance-backed Guarantee or cash-on-deposit in advance of travelling.
The cost of the Carnet is calculated based upon the value of the car (eg 8x the value if going into Egypt, 2x for most of the rest of Africa). You are only charged based upon the highest sum that would be incurred during the 12-month validity of the CDP: not per country.
In the UK (up to the end of 2015) a Carnet could only be issued by The RAC.
Despite some personnel changes at the RAC, in our experience they were always pleasant, helpful and (although they never take your call) always returned voicemails within a couple of hours.
Since the end of 2015, the RAC have withdrawn from the Carnet-issuing market. They will still honour current Carnets and will refund the relevant deposits if the document is returned to them in proper order.
We had an original CDP and a 12-month extension with the RAC. Both documents were subsequently returned to the RAC and the proper deposits returned to us.
Subsequently we have obtained Carnets from the ADAC in Germany. They seem prepared to issue CDPs for any European registered vehicles. In our dealings with the ADAC we have found them to be quick to respond, friendly, very professional and very well priced.
The only possible downside is that insurance-backed Carnets are not possible. Either a hefty deposit (in Euros) must be sent to them or a Bank Guarantee must be provided to cover the deposit. On the upside they will issue new Carnets to replace those issued by the RAC; they will post-date Carnets so that the time spent sending them to you is not deducted from the document’s validity; and the cost is only 30% of what we previously paid through the RAC!
International Diving Permit:
All advice before we left was that the UK / EU driving licence would not be widely accepted in Africa, and that an International Driving Permit would be required.
We took an IDP with us. They are easy to get from The AA, national Motoring Organisations or The Post Office and they are cheap. However, they only last for 1 year so, since we weren’t able to get home to renew it, we just changed the date on the front with a marker-pen.
Our licences have often been inspected 3-5 times a day when driving in Zimbabwe, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Kenya, etc. On almost every occasion I have given the Police Officer my UK plastic photo-card license.
In fact, I’m very reluctant to ever hand over my original Licence and usually give them either an old licence that expired 2 years ago, or give them a copy that I had made up before we left and then had laminated into a plastic wallet.
My advice is to get at least 2 copies made in case you are forced to leave one with Border Control officers, hotels or local Police (who may not hand it back until they receive a ‘gift’).
In three years of travelling, having handed over my licence at least 150 times, only 2 police officers have ever noticed that it was either out of date or a copy!
Visas for UK citizens are required for most East & West African countries.
They can range from $40-$100 per person, per country.
Requirements change frequently and arranging them prior to travel will mean most will expire on the road – before they can be used – and will also severely limit your flexibility.
We decided to pick ours up on the road at border crossings and in capital cities of neighbouring countries. This has proved to be relatively painless for every country we have visited so far. the main exception has been Angola (almost impossible at any time) and Ethiopia (no visas being issued for any road travellers from Kenya at the time of our visit).
Websites such as The HUBB are valuable sources of current visa information.
We have been posting updates on our Blog / Home page (see our ‘Documents‘ category).
Paperwork / Dropbox:
We would strongly recommend scanning all important documents (passports, insurances, Vehicle Registration docs, etc) then emailing them to yourself so they can be accessed on the road.
Also, save copies in a free programme like ‘Dropbox’ so they can be stored, edited and downloaded online.