What you need to travel across borders

2016-11-24 06:01
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For many people, their holiday excitement starts months before they actually hit the road. Planning accommodation, routes and stopovers, but everything can come to a halt if the crucial bit of paperwork such as a border letter is not done.

“Even the best-made plans can be ruined if you’ve forgotten to get your border letter and certified copies of your vehicle registration,” said Rudolf Mahoney, Head of Brand and Communications at WesBank.

Driving across the border is not as simple as having a valid passport and driver’s licence.

The South African government has been actively enforcing laws that require motorists to present extensive documentation when leaving the country.

Before planning a cross-border trip, drivers should phone their insurance companies to establish that their comprehensive insurance policy covers cross-border travel. They may need to include details of the country they are travelling to.

Some neighbouring countries may request that drivers have international insurance. Failure to do so puts drivers at risk should their vehicle get stolen or damaged outside South Africa’s borders.

Any driver who crosses the border in his or her car is required to have a certified copy of the vehicle’s registration papers. Financed vehicles can be taken out of the country only with permission from the financing bank.

WesBank has made the border letter and vehicle registration process easier through its online self-service portal.

Drivers who are not the registered owners of the vehicles they are using will need all of the above documentation, plus two additional documents: a police affidavit and a letter of authority from the registered owner, granting permission for the vehicle to cross the border for the agreed time frame.

What is needed to cross

a border:

  • The driver of the vehicle needs to have a valid driver’s licence and passport. Check the expiration dates before travelling.
  • Contact your insurance company to ensure that your comprehensive insurance policy includes cross-border travel.
  • A driver will be required to have a certified copy of the vehicle registration or the vehicle licence. If the vehicle is financed, get a letter from the bank giving authorisation to take the vehicle across the border.
  • Drivers of rental vehicles must have a letter from the rental company giving full consent to take the vehicle out of the country.
  • It is compulsory for any South African vehicle, caravan or trailer to have a ZA sign displayed when it crosses any of the borders.
  • Some countries require drivers to place the blue and yellow warning triangle or the T-sign on the caravan or the trailer towing a boat.
  • Other neighbouring countries require drivers to have a set of red warning triangles in his or her possession as well as reflective jackets.
  • Double-check what stickers, triangles or safety gear will be needed before departing.

Cross-border: What to pack and how to prepare

Before embarking on a long journey make sure that the car is in tip-top condition. If travelling across South Africa or into neighbouring borders it is a good idea to book a quick service to check that the brakes and shock absorbers are ready for the bumpy roads.

Most of the time breakdowns are caused by minor problems that could have been solved by having the right equipment in the car.


Never leave home without:

( A charged cellphone ( and charger) with road-side assistance numbers

( First aid kit

( Warning triangle and reflective jacket

( Tow rope

( A multi-tool

( Flashlight

( Jack and wheel spanner

( Jumper cables

( Tyre compressor & tyre puncture repair kit

( A large bottle of water, in case the engine overheats.

The day before the trip, ensure that the tank is filled up and tyre pressures (including spare wheel) are checked.

It is also a good idea to leave before the sun rises to take advantage of the cooler weather and quieter roads.

Drivers should give themselves enough time on the road to reach their destination without rushing, and allow for fuel stops and bathroom breaks.

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