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What documents do you need to survive Africa?
Assuming this is your first time, you will end up totally confused about what documents are necessary for this trip (from UK to Mali via Morocco and RIM).  The information here is based on what was actually necessary, officially and in practice for a UK and Norwegian citizen travelling with a UK registered car in December 2005.  Yes, you might get away with not having some of these, particularly if you are prepared to bribe your way through Africa, but...well it is Africa and it is up to you and your sense of adventure.!
Document Morocco Mauritania (RIM) Mali
Passport ü ü ü
Visa û Purchase at border. €20, no photo or other papers. Must obtain before entry.  In Europe from Mali Embassy in Brussels, but takes days.  Best, cheapest, simplest, quickest option is Mali Embassy in Nouakchott.  €30, plus form to complete, two passport photographs and copy of passport (two pages).  Takes 20 minutes (see itinerary for location).
Inoculation certificate û û Yellow fever mandatory.  We were never asked for it, but who would go without the jabs anyway?
Fiche ü probably the most useful bit of paper in saving time at check points.  Mainly in Southern Morocco and Western Sahara. ü probably the most useful bit of paper in saving time at check points.

In theory, I think you are meant to register with police where you stay overnight but we only did this in Oualata and no-one ever complained, they just ask where you are coming from and going to.

ü although we were rarely asked for it and we could have just spent half an hour writing it all down on a scrap of paper.
Photographs û û ü for visa you need two passport photos; we used computer printout so no issue about image quality!!
Photocopies of documents û not required, but not a bad idea in case you lose originals or in case you don't want to hand over originals to officials! û not required, but not a bad idea in case you lose originals or in case you don't want to hand over originals to officials! ü for visa you need a copy of the passport pages containing personal details (last two pages of EU passport)
Car registration document ü absolutely essential as you cannot get any of the other stuff without it.  The most commonly asked for document. ü absolutely essential as you cannot get any of the other stuff without it.  The most commonly asked for document. ü absolutely essential as you cannot get any of the other stuff without it.  The most commonly asked for document.
Third party car insurance ü you need to buy this at the border if not included in your green card (or UK insurance policy).  We did this entering from Spain, but not from RIM so were uninsured for return journey.  Nobody asked to see it. ü you need to buy this soon after entry into RIM.  We went to Nouadibhou and paid for one month for around €40.  You must have this as you will be asked for it frequently at checkpoints. ü maybe you do and maybe you don't need insurance in Mali.  Nobody ever asked for it and there was nowhere to buy it at the border.
Comprehensive car insurance car insurance û , but you can try back in the UK if you like.  Would they pay up anyway? We got  quote for £500 for one month, so decided to take our chances...and survived. û , but you can try back in the UK if you like.  Would they pay up anyway? We got  quote for £500 for one month, so decided to take our chances...and survived. û , but you can try back in the UK if you like.  Would they pay up anyway? We got  quote for £500 for one month, so decided to take our chances...and survived.
Money ATM in most significant towns, even through Western Sahara There is an ATM in Nouakchott, but only open when the bank is.

Take euros and change anywhere...on the streets, in the hotel...do not take £ as the rate is absolutely terrible (about €1 = £1!!).

Rumour has it that there may be an ATM in Mali, if only somebody could remember where they put it.

Take euros and change anywhere; the rate seems to be more or less the same regardless.  Many hotels will take euros in payment.

Fiche
The following fiche or form is invaluable to save time at police check points all through Western Sahara and Mauritania.  There are check points at the entry and exit to most towns and at arbitrary points in between, so you will need plenty, we got through 30!  I suggest printing double sided with this on one side and photocopy of passport (photo page) on the other.  If there are two of you it still all fits on one (legible) A4 sheet.

Click here to download Microsoft Word version

When asked for next destination we just gave the next obvious tourist town along the road, but contrary to the guide books, they don't seem to mind if you say you are camping, just a little concerned for your well-being.  They are often helpful if you want to confirm directions, availability of hotels, fuel etc.  No bribes or "cadeaux" were asked for or given in Morocco, although you may be asked to give a lift to one of their mates.  Mauritania, sometimes asked for small item, such as cigarettes, biro or something we had left on display.  Mali, mostly they did not even get up off their seats in the shade...well, would you?

We filled in the form accurately trying to be as honest and precise as possible; with hindsight that was a waste, as they generally have no idea what you are talking about.  As time went on, when questioned at road blocks, we tended to get more general, particularly about profession - "engineer,  manager..." rather than "customer relationship management systems business analyst"!  Having said that, I did overhear a conversation at the Morocco/RIM border with a Swiss chef who was being given the third degree because the immigration guy wanted him to explain why a chef knew naff all about sauces (he was a commis chef, but had not explained!).

First names

Prénoms

Surname

Nom

Sex

Sexe

Home address

Adresse

Country of residence

Pays de résidence

Home telephone number

Numéro de téléphone

Place of birth

Lieu de naissance

Date of birth

Date de naissance

Nationality

Nationalité

Passport number

Passeport no.

Place of issue

Endroit d'issue

Date of issue

Date de délivrance

Expiry date

Date d’expiration

Profession

Profession

Purpose of visit

Motif du voyage

Vehicle registration

Immatriculation du véhicule

Chassis number

Chassis

Vehicle type

Marque et type de véhicule

Temporary address

Adresse provisoire

Origin

Venant de

Destination

Allant a

 

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© Jeremy Harrison 2005-2013