How to cross the border without problems

Crossing the border into one of our neighbouring states can be extremely frustrating and confusing to the casual traveller. In fact, many people are put off by the expectation of having to deal with border officials, a less-than-perfect bureaucracy and the many rules and regulations that are in place. However, it does not have to be this way if you understand the procedures and come prepared.

1. Passport and Visas
a. Ensure that your passport is valid and that there are at least two extra blank pages. In case you have any emergencies in the country you are travelling to and your return is delayed, it should not be due to expire a day or two after you intend to depart.
b. South African passport holders resident to South Africa do not require a visa to visit Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland.
However, should you be travelling with an emergency travel document, other than your South African passport, you will require a visa to enter Botswana. Visa applications can be made to the Botswana Consulate in Braamfontein: TEL +27(0) 11 403 3748
c. South Africa will be implementing new rules regarding children crossing borders, whereby any child under 18 has to carry an unabridged birth certificate and if travelling alone or with only one parent, a letter from the absent parent(s) giving permission for the child to cross the border. This will become effective in June 2015.

2. Driver’s License
The South African driver’s license is recognised in Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland.

3. International Driver’s Permit
Although not compulsory this is recommended for everyone driving in foreign countries.

4. ZA Sticker
If you’re travelling from South Africa across borders, vehicles should bear a ZA sticker which designates that they are foreign vehicles from South Africa. AA Accredited Sales Agent stores and outdoor retailers like Safari Centre will have them available for purchase. These are not a legal requirement for Swaziland.

5. White and Red Reflective Tape
In Zimbabwe – two small white rectangular size strips on the right and left hand side of the front bumper, as well as two small red square strips on the right and left hand side of the rear bumper is required. If towing a trailer, two small red square strips on the right and left hand side of the rear bumper are required.

6. Yellow and Blue Mozambique Warning Triangle
In Mozambique a set of two yellow and blue warning triangle stickers are required if towing a trailer; one in the front of the vehicle (on the bumper) and one on the rear of the trailer.

7. Vehicle Registration/Vehicle License Papers
A certified copy of vehicle registration/vehicle license papers is acceptable at the border posts. Must be accompanied with a letter from the bank giving you authorisation to take the vehicle across the border, and must indicate dates. Both the bank letter and license papers should be signed by a Commissioner of Oaths. If you are not the registered owner of the vehicle, please carry an affidavit from the police giving you authorisation from the financial institution/owner to take the vehicle abroad. When travelling to Swaziland, you are only required to complete temporary importation documents and so only need to take registration papers.

8. Police Clearance Certificate
A Police Clearance Certificate may be required if travelling through the Chirundu Border Post of Zimbabwe, both for vehicles and trailers.

9. Letter of authority
If you are travelling in a rented car or 4×4 across borders, you have to have a letter from the rental company giving you permission to take the vehicle out of the country. You do not need police clearance for this.

10. Yellow Fever
Yellow fever vaccination certificate required from all persons travelling from infected areas/countries – or if you have been there recently. Ensure that you carry your certificate with you to ensure that you can get back into South Africa!

Border posts can be daunting, confusing and may even frustrate you but follow these tips and you will sail on through with no problems.

  1. Make a folder for all your important documents to prevent unnecessary loss and stress.
  2. Get all your documents in order ready to hand in to the border official.
  3. Be patient and smile – always be polite and co-operate, this will help make the procedure go smoothly without annoying the person who has the power to give you access.
  4. Ask for the maximum amount of days possible – you could end up stuck in the middle of nowhere with a flat tyre and not be able to return in time.
  5. Don’t overstay your time; this will lead to problems at the border when trying to leave.
  6. Keep a few pens with you, there are never enough at the border posts, it will help you fill out the paperwork faster without having to wait.

Travel into Swaziland.
Sometimes border procedures change but as a tip, stop at any stop signs and only proceed if nobody appears to check your vehicle. Go to Immigration to get your passport stamped first, then proceed to Customs. Leaving South Africa, there are generally no forms to complete, but this can change from visit to visit.

On arrival in Swaziland:-

  1. Go to Immigration first, hand in your passport and advise the official how many people you are and your car registration. You will get a car pass stamped.
  2. Then proceed to Customs. Here you will fill in a form for the temporary importation of your vehicle and trailer (where applicable) and also declare the value of your groceries. (On departure from Swaziland, ensure to take this form back into Customs to have it stamped.)
  3. Ensure that your car pass is stamped at Customs.
  4. Purchase 3rd party insurance (currently R50 per vehicle)
  5. When you go through the exit barrier, hand the PINK copy of the 3rd party insurance slip, together with your car pass, to the official on duty.

Not a South African? Click on this link to find out if you will need a visa or not:-

Now, book yourself a holiday and enjoy your stay in another part of Africa!  And never miss the chance to visit friendly Swaziland- so contact us for where to cross the border, the best routes to take and which fabulous bush lodge home will suit you best.