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There is lots of paperwork to put in place before we head out onto the road.

Paper trail



A lot of investigation and research is required for visa requirements. First steps first, though. We'll both ensure we have the fattest, emptiest passports we can manage before we start our adventure. We don't want to reach a point in the journey where our passports are full, and much travelling to be done. We intend to obtain "maxi" passports before our adventure starts.

Be warned - if you need to renew foreign passports in the UK, the process can be quite lengthy, so do check early.  For us, we were each subject to 4 month end to end processing for a new passport (for different reasons).

Visa requirements do have a tendency to change over time, so we'll be compiling a list of when and where to obtain visas in the months to come. As expected, there seems to be conflicting information about whether to obtain visas at borders, or rather at embassies on the way ... but we'll be finding out what we can as we go.

Passports & visas

Please feel free to download and use:

DVLA letter

Our research into visas

Travel Nation travel insurance

Natwest Bank Long Stay Cover

RAC vehicle carnet

Travel insurance

Surprisingly, there hasn't been very much discussion about travel insurance on other travellers' websites. We are investigating overland travel insurance for our trip - certainly a more specialist product. So far, it seems that the following 3 factors are important in our decision:

1.  Ensure that medical evacuation is included, in the event that we require it.

2.  Renewal on the road is important for us - in the event that we travel for more than a year.

3.  We'd like to understand whether we'd be covered in a country with FCO restrictions.

Surprisingly, there seem to be a reasonable number of insurers who offer gap year insurance or longer travel insurance.  Be warned though - prices are much steeper than your standard annual European travel insurance!

The first option we are considering is Travel Nation who specialise in round-the-world trips and insurance, and were more reasonably priced.  In addition, they come recommended by other travellers we have spoken to.  I have spoken to Travel Nation and found them to be very helpful. Medical evacuation is included.  Tick.  Renewal via email while on the road is possible should we travel for more than a year.  Tick.  In addition, the insurance covers countries with FCO restrictions, but only for incidents unrelated to the cause of the FCO restriction.  Perfect for us.

We are still deciding between Essential, Standard and Superior levels of cover.  Superior seems to include coverage that we won’t require (such as missed flight connections, or trip delays), so we’ll be considering the others.  It is worth noting that there is a 25% premium increase to include cycling in the coverage.

The second option is, surprisingly, Natwest Bank who offer Long Stay Cover.  Their coverage is very similar to Travel Nation.  The bonus is it is valid for 18 months (so we may not need to renew) and cycling / mountain biking is included in the premium already.  Medical evacuation included.  Renewal via email is possible should we need it.  The insurance also covers countries with FCO restrictions, but only for incident unrelated to the cause of the FCO restriction. Perfect.

We will also check how much coverage our current travel insurance gives us in Europe, and remember to take our EHIC cards along too.

Update: we decided on Travel Nation, as the agent we spoke to the second time said our cycling wouldn’t classify as “dangerous sport” so was included.

Vehicle carnet

This is arranged through the RAC.  The person to contact (in 2012) was Paul Gowen, who is very helpful.  I have used the freephone number of the website (08000 468 375) and left a message if no-one answered.  They have always been very good about ringing back within a day.

It is possible to arrange for the carnet to start from a preset date when you estimate you’ll enter the first country requiring one.  For us, this means we’ll set a date for when we estimate that we’ll enter Mauritania.  That gives us time explore Europe and Morocco before needing the carnet.  Our initial estimates are that we’ll need our carnet approximately 3.5 months from UK departure.

There is a lot of information on the RAC website, so please check there for up-to-date details.  Essentially, the costs are:

- cost of carnet itself

- RL Davidson Insurance premium (this is the option we are going for)

- RAC deposit

The insurance premium is based on the value of your vehicle, and the security risk table. For Africa, the security risk of 150% for all countries, except for Kenya (200%) and Egypt (800%).

The carnet and insurance premium are issued in the name of the registered vehicle.  We’ll be applying for ours about 2 months before departure - just to give RAC time to process!

In addition, we’ll be arranging International Driving Permits through RAC for both of us.

Road legal

Another challenge that has reared its head is keeping the vehicle legal while travelling out of the country.  There are particular legal requirements for UK registered vehicles that make is challenging for keeping a vehicle road legal especially when travelling for more than 12 months where the vehicle has not been permanently exported.  

1.  Road tax

2.  MOT

3.  Insurance

But, what happens when you have been out of the country for 12 months, your MOT has expired and so you cannot renew your road tax?

I have spoken to RAC about this (June 2012), who spoke to DVLA and provided me with the following information:

One needs to apply to the DVLA to have a Permanent Export Marker to be shown in the vehicle database for the vehicle, and request a confirmation of the request.

A draft lettter (see link on right) was provided to me.  It seems to me that it would be necessary to send this letter to DVLA before the first of 2 or 3 above is due to expire while you are out travelling, which would ultimately render it impossible to renew the road tax.

We believe that as long as you have taken reasonable steps to try to keep your vehicle legal, that should help in the case of any dispute.

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