African border processes

This post is for anyone researching current costs and processes for crossing borders in Africa.

We are traveling on Australian passports however we also both have EU passports, so far it hasn’t mattered as all requirements are the same. We have a carnet for our motorcycle which has made life considerably easier. All prices are in USD.

South Africa 24/5/18 – we arrived by plane, visa on arrival, the bike cost $30

Beitbridge, Zimbabwe 4/6/18 – a slow process, about 3 hours, $30 for us and $40 for the bike

Livingstone, Zambia 7/6/18 – another slow process, $50 for us as we needed a double entry visa and $40 for the bike

Botswana 8/6/18 – free visa on arrival – we didn’t cross with the bike

Chipata, Malawi 16/6/18 – $75 for us, $60 for the bike ($20 to enter $40 for insurance) Slow process, about 2 hours

Songwe, Tanzania 24/6/18 – $50 for us, nothing for the bike. Enquired about paying TIP as we’d read this was required however were told we didn’t need to (maybe due to having a carnet?). Needed a photocopy of international driver’s licence. Organised CODESA insurance in town for Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan and Egypt for $55USD (after some haggling and refusing to pay more). Overall a easy, quick process, one hour max – we did this on a Sunday which may have helped the speed!

Lungalunga Kenya 7/7/18

Evisa organised in advance for $51 ( very quick and easy process.

2 of us were asked for yellow fever immunisation certificate, one of us wasn’t.

Customs was very slow. Unknown to us, we needed to apply for a foreign permit in advance (on the same website above) so someone had to do it for us and the service cost us $10.

If you’re traveling in Kenya for more than 2 weeks a permit costs you $20, if less it’s free. We took the free option however we may end up extending it. Overall process took 2 hours, being a Saturday the border was very quiet.

Applying for Ethiopia visa in Nairobi, Kenya 10/7/18:

We needed to supply a letter of introduction from the Australian embassy (we were charged $50 per letter 😳), passport copy, details of hotel booking, name of manager of hotel and phone number (booked on with free cancellation), passport photo and completed form.

We took our documents in at 10am. Our letters of introduction were taken and we were told to wait. At 12pm we were told to come back at 2.30pm. when we returned we were told to wait again, around 3.30pm we were told they were still waiting for the ambassador (?!) Finally we were asked for our application forms and told to wait some more. At 4.30pm we were ushered into an office where we had to wait. We were then given a bank account number and told to pay $40 into a CBA commercial bank and to come back the next day.

We did this and returned with our payment slips. We were then told to wait some more. We received our visas 45 minutes later. I think this process would have been a one day affair if the ambassador had turned up to work on time!

At the border, Moyale, Ethiopia…

After lots of stories of trouble at the border with recent shooting between tribes and 1000’s of displaced Somalians along the 200km main road to Addis, this was probably the easiest, quietest border we’ve crossed so far.

Exiting Kenya was simple however customs did inspect our bikes and the VIN number which was a first in Africa.

To enter Ethiopia, after an ebola temperature check we proceeded to immigration where we were asked the details of our hotel booking (name, address and phone number).

We had booked this when we applied for our visa however I cancelled it after we received it. Luckily our friend still had internet from Kenya so I was able to retrieve an old email with all the details. Once these details were supplied we were stamped in.

Customs was easy (with a carnet) no fee required, COMESA insurance accepted. 1 1/2 hours total.

Applying for Sudan tourist visa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 23/7.18

We wanted a transit visa but they are no longer available.

After hearing how hard it was to get a Sudanese visa we were prepared for the worse however this was the easiest visa to get so far.

We were told we needed two passport photos, passport photocopy, photocopy of Ethiopian visa and details of a hotel booking including the managers name.

We were served immediately, they completed the form for us and accepted an address and phone number of a hotel in Khartoum and the managers name (I got the details of a hotel on line – no booking made)

We paid $68 and were told to come back the next day at 2pm. They were there waiting for us!

At the border, Metema Sudan 28/7/18

Ethiopian exit, easy as always.

Entry to Sudan – passport and Sudan visa photocopy required as well as passport photos. Registration done here at the same time as immigration. Paid 620 Sudanese pounds per person.

Customs for bike – it was apparently a holiday for customs when we crossed so we had to wait a while for the man to come from his house to process us. Once he arrived it took a while as everything had to be translated into Arabic. He then had to go to his managers house to get a stamp. He returned and we were good to go with no money required (pay on exit)

Total time, about 3 hours

Wadi Halfa, Egypt 4/8/18 (the border crossing we’d been dreading!)

Arrived at the border at 8.30am, waited in immigration hall until they opened at 9am. Eventually processed customs to exit and were told to sit in another hall where they check any luggage you have on your person.

Exit for the bike – once a police officer lets you through the gates you have to complete customs.

We had to go to the traffic police office (there was no sign) they took 4 photocopies (carnet, license, ownership document, COMESA) this cost £sp30

Customs – stamped carnet (but only the header) and told us we were good to go.

We rode to the gate and they told us we had to get something else but nobody could tell us what, they just kept pointing to a fixer who wanted to charge us $50.

We tried to do it ourselves but everything was in Arabic and nobody wanted to help us, in the end we had no choice but to use someone. It cost £sp190 Sudanese in total

We decided to organise a fixer for Egypt – we’ve never done this before

In total, to exit Sudan, it took 4 hours

Egypt entry

We were stopped at the gate and directed to a window where we were told we needed to pay 100 per person in local money which we didn’t have.

We were taken to an office where they exchanged dollars or debited money off a credit card. Here we also had to pay $25USD for a visa.

We returned to the window and were told we had to pay £ep360 (£ep160 extra for the bike)

We had to then fill in a form and pay £ep30 per person – we got a receipt but have no idea what it was for.

We then went back to the bike and were allowed in the compound after they took our passports.

Then our fixer turned up

We then had to scan our bags, the fixer took our carnet, all the photocopies taken on the other side (license, bike document and passport)

We had to pay the fixer £ep1400, we were told that was for everything

He got our passports back and we lined up to get visa. We were then told to wait in a cafe for about an hour.

Eventually we were given back our passports and carnet then had to go to an office to get an egyptian licence and number plate, this took another hour – we received nothing at this stage.

We then had to go to another office and get our passport photocopied again.

Here, after half an hour we received our plates and license.

We paid our fixer £ep400(he told us how much he wanted) and he said we were good to go.

We were then stopped again at the gate for more passport photocopies and then we really could go…

Insurance wasn’t mentioned

Unfortunately a fixer was required as all forms were only in Arabic and there are no signs on any of the offices you have to go to

Time entering Egypt, 3 hours and $180 😳