Shopping for a automotive in South Africa as a foreigner

So, the massive announcement has been made! We’re formally touring throughout Africa in Charlie, our latest addition to the World Pursuit household. Land Cruiser 1989 is wonderful!

It is a workhorse, a 4×4 Tonka trunk outfitted with a bush bar, roof rack, and pull-out drawers. Nevertheless, shopping for a automotive in South Africa just isn’t a straightforward process. That is our story.

Replace: We’ve got bought our automotive in Africa too! Try that story right here

**Please observe that we bought a automotive in South Africa as a foreigner in 2016. We’ve got tried to maintain this web page as updated as potential, however some particulars and guidelines might have modified.

Goodbye Cape TownGoodbye Cape Town

Like others, you are in all probability questioning how a lot a truck prices, so let’s discover out what it prices.

Charlie value us a whopping 60,000 ZAR or about $4,300 USD on the time of writing.

Do not care about the price, although. The issue right here was that we had been People making an attempt to purchase a automotive in South Africa. I simply wish to recall the entire course of.”An African bureaucratic nightmare.

That is the start of our battle to get our automotive.

We knew we wanted our personal automotive to journey throughout Africa the way in which we needed. We wish to journey to distant locations and camp within the African bush. We wish to see the villages and work together with the locals in a deeper manner than a conventional highway journey affords. We’re additionally planning to remain in some stunning lodges in uncharted central Africa.

Anvil bay camp beach mozambiqueAnvil bay camp beach mozambique
Anvil Bay – accessible solely by 4×4 or helicopter

Shopping for a automotive in South Africa

We set a funds, transferred cash to our financial institution accounts, and began on the lookout for a automotive. We rented a automotive week after week in Cape City, so we may go to all of the dealerships within the space. We searched the Web and contacted the professionals. After weeks of looking, we discovered a Land Cruiser that might allow us to cross Africa.

It was not marketed on-line and sat proper on the nook of Voortrekker Highway with an enormous signal saying “4×4”. Actually, we had been heading in the right direction on the proper time after we noticed him. We took the automotive for a check drive and determined it was the best automotive on the proper worth. It took us lower than an hour to understand that it was the best car for the job of transporting us throughout Africa.

Buying a used car in South AfricaBuying a used car in South Africa

However this was all kid’s play.

To ensure that a foreigner to register a automotive in South Africa and procure possession of the automotive, you could submit a kind Visitors registration quantityOTRN. An utility for a TRN have to be filed with the Division of Motor Autos and may take from in the future to 6 weeks to course of. While you apply for a TRN, you could deliver licensed copies (SAPS) of your passport, worldwide driving license and proof of everlasting tackle in South Africa. Sounds easy, proper?

Effectively, that is Africa, so we knew getting that tax registration quantity could be easy. We each have a sound US driver’s license, which for many who do not know, is taken into account a global driver’s license all over the world. We had a global driver’s license, used the Airbnb tackle we had been staying at in Cape City, and likewise had a 90-day vacationer visa for South Africa.

And right here was the issue – our vacationer visa. Beforehand, vacationers may solely receive a TRN with a stamped vacationer visa, however the guidelines are always altering and that is now not the case. Now foreigners want a extra vital visa – assume a pupil visa, a piece visa, or something longer than a 12 months.

Driving in the KalahariDriving in the Kalahari

We determined to strive our luck at getting the vacationer visa anyway as a result of the method of getting one other visa was a complete different deal in itself. We assumed that some luck and a really good, lenient individual on the Division of Motor Autos could be on our facet. The primary girl on the Civic Middle in Cape City shot us inside 30 seconds. “No visa, no TRN.We tried once more at a unique workplace a couple of days later, and Cameron satisfied the employees there that they need to settle for the request. They took it and stated the whole lot ought to be positive and requested us to return again in 4 days.

4 days later and no TRN. “Attempt tomorrow,” They stated. We had been working out of time; We needed to be out of South Africa in two weeks as a result of our vacationer visas had already expired. So the site visitors employees suggested us and we tried the following day.

Now they stated: “We will not discover your mannequin, strive tomorrow.” What on the planet? Now they declare they’ve misplaced the shape.

Our stress ranges had been skyrocketing. We had already discovered the proper automotive, put a down fee on it, and had the cash in hand. We needed this automotive! We needed to drive ourselves round Africa!

We’re starting to reevaluate our choices. Ought to we lease a automotive by means of South Africa? Ought to we simply resort to public transportation? Ought to we abandon the Africa hashtag? Ought to we transfer out of Africa and go to Southeast Asia the place journey is straightforward and low cost and the Web is plentiful?

no. We should accomplish this mission.

After 5 extra journeys again to the Visitors Division and lots of painful nights, the South African Visitors Division lastly rejected our utility and we misplaced all hope. The rejection was primarily based on the primary stamp on our passport which had an expiry date which is after we can apply for such issues. It’s inevitably our fault that we waited too lengthy to use for this TRN. Nevertheless, after we first landed in South Africa, we had no concept we needed to purchase a automotive within the nation. Even when we had utilized the primary day we arrived in South Africa, I doubt they’d have given us a Tax Registration Quantity (TRN) on a vacationer visa, however I’ve heard of it occurring.

We have gone over our choices for find out how to purchase this automotive. We’ve got gone by means of the conditions time and again and eventually got here to the conclusion that the reason being the automotive or public transportation. With all of the costly electronics we owned, we knew that public transportation throughout Africa could be an actual drawback and would severely prohibit us to solely touring within the main cities. We defined our drawback to some family and friends they usually requested us why not lease a automotive to journey by means of Africa.

Buying a car in South AfricaBuying a car in South Africa

So, why not lease a automotive for Africa?

Lots of people maintain asking this query, and I believe it is honest to ask this query if we’re solely in Africa for a month or two. Nevertheless, we had dreamed of touring Africa extensively and renting a automotive for this isn’t a viable choice.

Right here is why:

Apart from South Africa, nearly each nation on our route wants a 4×4. We witnessed first-hand how dangerous the roads had been in Mozambique when all we had was a 2×4. After a couple of weeks of touring throughout the nation in a Nissan bakkie, we had had sufficient. We knew we wanted a 4×4 to get throughout Africa.

Are you aware how a lot an SUV rental prices on common throughout Africa? $100 a day is on the very low finish. Wowza…meaning on our lengthy highway journey by means of Namibia that is solely a month lengthy, we’ll be taking a look at $3000 price of lease! This is only one nation we plan to go to! We plan to drive our Land Cruiser all over the place a minimum of One other six months.

Now, math is not my sturdy go well with, however by my calculations it could value us a minimum of $18,000. $14,000 greater than our wonderful Land Cruiser value us — and that does not embrace gasoline or the inevitable bumps and scratches the automotive would maintain.

Gas stationGas station

to not point out:

For each border you cross by land, you want a letter from the automotive proprietor stating you could drive throughout the border. Virtually all automotive rental firms cost between $50 to $150 per border crossing letter. That is an costly piece of paper.

Speaking about…

It’s fascinating to know that any rental automotive in Southern African nations usually doesn’t help you journey additional than Zimbabwe with a rental. We’ve got plans to go as far north as Ethiopia or Sudan, in order that’s not an choice for us.

Driving in NamibiaDriving in Namibia

Oh sure and…

I actually hate coping with automotive rental firms – particularly in Africa! I hate worrying about each little ding or scratch we would placed on the automotive. I hate to assume that crummy firms have our bank card to cost us no matter they need. I hate all their lies, deceit and little “extras” they attempt to provide on each reserving.

We rented three separate vehicles in South Africa, and each time we returned the automotive, the rental firm tried to cost us for one thing ridiculous. The primary was after we rented our buns for 2 months with Hertz all through Mozambique, Lesotho, South Africa and Swaziland. We obtained the automotive again utterly intact, however they nonetheless tried to cost us R300 to “clear sand out of the ground mats”. really?

We rented a second automotive in Cape City with a not so nice firm known as “Lease a Cheapie”. What we rented was actually… low cost. Once we returned the automotive to them, additionally they charged us R300 for a nail-sized scratch on the hubcap. I am satisfied that is how they make their cash.

The third automotive we rented in Cape City was with SiXT, an organization I often lease from all over the world. Once we returned the automotive after three weeks of driving, they signed the papers and stated we had been all good with the automotive. I checked my bank card assertion every week later they usually accused us of not having sufficient fuel within the automotive. This was incorrect, and even when we didn’t return it in the right amount, they’d already signed off as stuffed with fuel upon return. He instructed me I used to be making an attempt to deal with these costs utilizing my bank card in the course of the desert with poor connectivity.

If Charlie occurs to get a scratch? oh properly. Oops, we encountered a ditch or site visitors cone. Let’s not fear about that. I cherish the liberty of proudly owning our personal automotive.

With cheap rentWith cheap rent
With considered one of our very poor leases in Cape City


We’ve got been driving the automotive for one week and have already obtained two affords on the automotive. That is the Toyota Land Cruiser SUV in Africa. Or in different phrases, a very popular commodity. Once we purchased Charlie we seen it as an funding. We obtained an important deal on the automotive for $4300, and hope to promote the automotive once more for that quantity plus some (replace – we did). Assuming we do not utterly whole Charlie, we’ve got each hope that we’ll a minimum of break even on the acquisition on the finish of the journey. We might cry on the finish when we’ve got to present it up, however our pockets will smile once more.

Wild AfricaWild Africa
Fill in Uganda

Now, again to The story of an African bureaucratic nightmare

In order that they rejected our utility for a TRN, and we now had one week to get out of South Africa. We have taken our drawback on-line and despatched one final e mail that may make or break us.

We emailed the one individuals we may belief in Cape City, Hey and Angela – the beautiful house owners of Travessia Seaside Lodge in Mozambique (the place we stayed earlier this 12 months – extremely suggest!). We requested if they might register the automotive of their title and fortunately they fortunately agreed! This grew to become our solely choice for driving exterior of South Africa, however clearly that selection was solely out there with somebody from South Africa who we utterly trusted to not screw us.

Despite the fact that we paid for the automotive and purchased it, the registration remains to be and can stay of their title. To drive the automotive throughout the border, we solely wanted a letter from the “proprietor” giving us energy of lawyer over the automotive. So we may drive it wherever we needed in Africa (bear in mind the rental firms making an attempt to get $50 for that? You’ll be able to write it your self…)

Our energy of lawyer letter just about acknowledged that Cameron had full authority over the car and will drive it to each single state we listed on the shape. The message accommodates the car’s engine quantity, registration quantity, make and mannequin description. The letter was then signed and notarized by Hiei. We took the lamentation letter together with the automotive’s title and a replica of Hiei’s passport.

Mozambique beach lodge roomsMozambique beach lodge rooms
Travesia Seaside Lodge in Mozambique

So, after three days and months of stress, anxiousness, uncertainty, and analysis, we lastly have our personal wheels and hair good. Now it is time to get out of South Africa. We left Cape City feeling nice and had been on our manner north to Namibia with Charlie. We spent 87 days in South Africa on a 90-day vacationer visa – and though there was rather a lot to discover, we felt snug leaving. Till we reached the border.

“You’ve overstayed your visa, and you’re each not needed on this nation.” Customs officers stated.

What was alleged to be a fast exit grew to become an issue? I knew what she was referring to. She was referring to the date of the three months since we first entered South Africa. I attempted to clarify to her that we had traveled to Mozambique, Lesotho, Swaziland and been out and in of South Africa on three separate events. This did not matter, although, as we had 90 days in South Africa from the primary time we entered, and the clock wasn’t beginning and stopping each time you went out after which in once more.

Lesotho Drakensberg sheepherderLesotho Drakensberg sheepherder
Maletsonyane Falls in Lesotho

Being the perfectionist I’m in journey planning, I researched this earlier than this dilemma. There was little data on-line, even on the federal government web site. The one data I discovered was on the outdated Lonely Planet discussion board you could go out and in, and it does not rely towards the 90 days.

“However there is no such thing as a data anyplace in your authorities web site that claims what we did was prohibited,” she pleaded.

Her response was such a typical African response that I nonetheless cannot determine whether or not I hate it or find it irresistible. “Sure, I do know the data could be very imprecise, however that is how it’s.”

I’ve by no means overstayed my visa. Even by means of the Schengen space in Europe, I at all times ensure that to go away earlier than my 90 days are up. I do know that Cameron and I didn’t do our due diligence on this situation and broke the principles in South Africa, inadvertently or not. What now?

Cameron and I are actually categorised as “undesirables” in South Africa, and aren’t allowed again in till who is aware of when. I really feel a bit like Snowden within the US. Undesirable (and way more). Good factor we’ve got a lot of Africa to discover!

2023 replace!

We get many emails from individuals asking us find out how to journey round Southern Africa and do what we did. Please observe this publish was initially revealed in 2016, although we attempt to replace yearly. Sadly, we can't aid you purchase your individual Charlie, and should you e mail us we are going to direct you proper again to this weblog publish for additional data as we've got famous the whole lot that we all know right here. Listed here are a few of our commonest questions answered. 
  • insurance coverage: We get a number of questions on our automotive insurance coverage. We had an outdated 1989 Land Cruiser, so we selected to not cowl the automotive for harm. We paid for legal responsibility insurance coverage COMESA. A 3rd get together insurance coverage firm working in a number of African nations. You could buy this from an area insurance coverage firm and should do your analysis and due diligence to seek out the best firm. If you happen to don’t have COMESA third get together insurance coverage, you possibly can often buy it on the border of the nation you’re getting into. We purchased ours in Madison Normal In Lusaka about two months after we left South Africa.
  • We are sometimes requested if we’ve got any boundary points with our papers. We solely had two points with our papers in Africa. Considered one of them was on the Kariba/Siavonga border on the Zimbabwean facet. They acknowledged that we want a police clearance letter stating that the automotive was not stolen to get out of Zambia. You do not want this, and we knew that, so we caught to our spot for about half-hour till they lastly allow us to by means of. They had been really on the lookout for a bribe right here which you’d encounter time and again throughout Africa. The opposite was on the Kazungula ferry crossing after we had been leaving Botswana to go to Zambia. They insisted on a letter of clearance from the police to go away Botswana. They had been adamant at first so we gave up, and an hour later we tried once more and the official didn’t ask for it. All of it will depend on who you take care of in Africa. There are not any official guidelines! You probably have time and are apprehensive, there is no such thing as a hurt in going to the police station and getting this clearance letter earlier than leaving South Africa.
  • If you recognize you wish to purchase a automotive in South Africa Begin the method as quickly as potential. A lot of our state of affairs was demanding as a result of we waited so lengthy after arriving within the nation.
  • We’ve got obtained many “fines” whereas driving by means of Africa. All fines had been paid instantly and will vary from $4 to $30. Do not anticipate them to mail you the positive exterior South Africa. If you happen to don’t have cash to pay the positive, they are going to probably accompany you to an ATM or police station to pay it there. Except in fact woman luck is in your facet and is sweet-talking your manner out of paying.
  • We discovered probably the most crooked police Being in Tanzania.
  • You probably have extra questions the “Prairie in AfricaThe Fb group is a good useful resource.
  • We had been capable of return to South Africa. In 2019 we lastly returned to South Africa and it was nice to be again within the nation. We’ve got employed a lawyer to elevate the ban on us. Once we flew to Johannesburg in October 2019, we had been stopped by border officers. They knew we had overstayed and had been moved to a again room. We confirmed them the letter stating that we had been allowed to re-enter the nation and we left! We additionally returned once more in 2022, and entered the nation with out issues. What can we are saying? We love South Africa!
  • Above all, bear in mind…This has been our expertise shopping for a automotive in South Africa. Everybody’s troubles and joys will likely be completely different, and what labored for us might not give you the results you want. You will in all probability should do a number of trial and error like we did. It may well take a really very long time making an attempt to navigate the paperwork right here. A very powerful factor we should always take into accounts is that this That is Africa There are not any strict guidelines for something, however you can see out alongside the way in which.

If you need a extremely lengthy learn, this is an in depth account of our whole journey by means of Africa.

Instance of a cross-border message

Kazungula Ferry TerminalKazungula Ferry Terminal

We obtain a number of questions and emails about crossing the border and registering the automotive in somebody’s title. Critically, it is a minimum of a couple of emails and messages every week.

To reply everybody’s query. You create a authorized doc known as a “energy of lawyer” that provides you rights over the automotive, resembling driving it throughout borders or taking it to a mechanic. Sure, it requires attestation from the disposal officer or notary public.

You do not have to be current to do that, however whoever legally owns the automotive of their title does. I’ve hooked up a clean boundary letter that we created and used. It by no means introduced any issues, however use it as a pattern template at your individual discretion.

Plan your journey to Africa

  • Journey insurance coverage: We do not journey with out journey insurance coverage and also you should not both. You by no means know what may occur whereas touring, so it is best to be ready. Himundo Supplies wonderful quick and long run journey insurance coverage.
  • Journey water bottle: Once we are not sure about our water provide, we use our Grayl air purifier. It has turn out to be exceptionally helpful all through Africa.
  • Digital camera gear: You will probably want a digital camera to your journey to Africa. We just like the Sony RX100V for a pocket-sized digital camera and the Fujifilm XT-4 for knowledgeable digital camera. Try our favourite cameras for Africa.
  • Safari clothes: Light-weight, beige, moisture-wicking clothes is nice for touring to Africa. See our favourite safari outfits right here.
  • Safari Hat: An excellent hat is trendy and sensible.
  • Safari bag: The sturdy bag is ideal for touring round Africa.
  • Safari pants: We suggest carrying neutral-colored pants as a result of they’re nice at hiding grime and may match most shirt colours.
  • safari shirt: Shirts like these are light-weight and maintain bugs away!
  • the footwear: Though you need not put on sturdy footwear daily, a minimum of one pair of safari boots will make your journey even nicer!
  • Journey adapter: You have to a particular journey adapter to journey to Africa. Get one earlier than you get there so you do not pay a premium for the land.

Journey to South Africa

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