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-   -   Vehicle Registration Senegal or USA? (http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/sahara-travel-forum/vehicle-registration-senegal-or-usa-26758)

alexgeorgianna 22 Apr 2007 18:01

Vehicle Registration Senegal or USA?
I am an American living temporarily in Dakar, Senegal. I expect to be here for about 6 months. I want to purchase a used Jeep Wrangler (less than 5 years old) and use it to explore both Saharan Africa (e.g. Morroco, Western Sahara, Mauritania and Mali) and then later I plan to drive through Western Africa at least as far as Nigeria.

I think I have only two choices:
  1. Have the car registered, titled and insured in my home state of Massachusetts and then secure a carnet and international insurance before shipping the vehicle to Dakar, or
  2. Have the car shipped to Dakar and then register and insure the vehicle here.
I realize that Senegal is one of the more difficult countries in Africa and that the import duty may be as high as 40%. However I suspect that once I've registered in Senegal, I'm pretty good for the rest of the continent. I'm also concerned that, because I intend to be here for several months, a carnet may not suffice for such a long stay in Dakar.

Can anyone advise me whether I should:
  1. Register the car in the US (and pay US sales tax of about 6%) and travel in Africa with or without a carnet (remember, I have to ship the car to Dakar), or
  2. Register and insure the car in Dakar (while paying the duty, but not paying the US sales tax) and travel in Africa without a carnet.

nickt 22 Apr 2007 20:02

What about option 3) Buying locally (though probably not a Jeep Wrangler)?


alexgeorgianna 22 Apr 2007 21:19

Buying Locally
Thanks for your response. I did think about buying locally. While the choice of cars here is a bit limited, I do see a fair number of Toyota Landcruisers (L73 model) but I think the math works out as follows:

10-year old Toyota with 150K kilometers
price $15K
tax $6K
Total $21K

3-year-old Jeep with 20K miles
price $14K
freight $1K
tax $6K
Total $21K

While the gasoline aspect of the Jeep may be a drag when compared with the diesel Toyota, I've got more faith in the mechanical soundness of the Jeep (only because I'll have a trusted mechanic check-out the Jeep before it goes on the boat). I'm happy to wait a month or so for the vehicle to arrive in Dakar (by the way, Grimaldi lines now have roro service direct from North America to Western Africa).

I think a carnat potentially saves me the import tax on the Jeep, but only if I then ship it back to America of course. However, since I intend to spend a substantial amount of time in Senegal, I'm concerned that a carnet may not be usefull.

I'm new to this, but I'll be surprised if I can have a US registered vehicle in Senegal or throughout West Africa for an extended period of time even with valid African insurance.

If anyone has any knowledge, I'll be very grateful.

Quintin 23 Apr 2007 09:22

I would point out that if you do intend to travel about a bit that you'd be far better getting a diesel engined vehicle because of fuel availability. The other thing is that any local mechanic will know Landcruisers and Nissan Patrols inside out whereas a Jeep may well be a new experience. More importantly though, you'll find it far easier to get spares for Nissans and Toyotas than for Jeeps. Can't remember ever seeing a Jeep to be honest.


kaspars 23 Apr 2007 12:31

Quintin has a point. Choose something known locally, especially, if you plan to travel to other W African countries. The Jeep might be in good order in the states, but a minor electronic failure can allways happen and then there is noone to help. And dont worry about age of a Landcruiser - those wehicles are built to last.

alexgeorgianna 23 Apr 2007 12:57

What About the Registration, Insurance, Etc.
Thanks for the information vis-a-vis vehicle selection. I think the points about the Toyota Landcruiser are very good.

However, I really want to get information about where to register the vehicle. I can:
  1. buy it in the US, have it registered there and shipped here with or without a carnet, or
  2. I can buy it locally and pay the tax, etc.
Either way of course the car would have to be insured for Africa. Does anyone have information pertaining to this decision? Which is better from a cost standpoint and which is better from a border-crossing standpoint?



Roman 23 Apr 2007 13:59

Hi Alex,

I think you should get your priorities right. Others have tried to nudge you in the direction of the right answer, but you seem to have missed it.

- If your priority is travel in Africa, forget the j33p.
- If your priority is driving a j33p, forget travel in Africa.

Hope it's more clear now.

alexgeorgianna 23 Apr 2007 14:39

Registration Question Only
Thanks to all who have replied. I am in favor of a Toyota Landrover L73. That is no longer the question. My only question now is should I buy one in America and travel in Africa with an American registration, carnet, etc. or should I buy the Toyota locally and have it registered, etc. in Senegal?

Thanks Again,

Richard K 23 Apr 2007 17:23


Originally Posted by alexgeorgianna (Post 134193)
Thanks to all who have replied. I am in favor of a Toyota Landrover L73. That is no longer the question.
Thanks Again,

I'd avoid that particular model, it tends to pull in opposite directions...

It depends where you aim to finish your tour and presumably sell the car (and also how much time you have to deal with unforeseen importation hassles), but my guess is that buying a locally registered car would be the quickest and simplest option, if not the best value.

Quintin 23 Apr 2007 17:41

Hi Alex

This is question of cost versus convenience. You need to ask yourself a number of questions
a) Are you intending to keep the vehicle long term?
b) How much are you prepared to spend?
In Africa you don't want complex all electric, all singing and dancing vehicle with every mod con. All that will happen is that something will break and no one will be able to fix it. Also you won't probably be able to get, or else afford, insurance to cover the cost of damage to your vehicle. All of these consideratons would favour getting a local vehicle rather than bringing one in. Added to all that is the following:
1) you save on the carnet/shipping/import taxes.
2) Having a locally registered vehicle is likely to attract less Police 'interest'-a significant factor in Senegal and at borders.

My view would be buy local.


Roman 23 Apr 2007 19:55


Originally Posted by Richard K (Post 134215)
I'd avoid that particular model, it tends to pull in opposite directions...

Nice one, Richard!

kaspars 24 Apr 2007 15:39


as per your questions - If you are in Senegal, ask someone locally, there will be plenty of 'fixers' around. I have heard importing anything thru ports is pain in the ass, and also to the vallet:). I think local buy will be easier option.
NB. My knowledge is based my Gambian experience of car importing and exporting. As getting thru Senegal has allways been more difficult, I'd expect quite a hassle...

Have fun,

Kevin 26 Apr 2007 20:07

If you decide to get a carnet on a US car then you can keep it in senegal for the whole 12onths duration of the carnet. They may ask you to pay customs if they view you as a resident, i.e. are you working there or what?

Ask any transiteur agency about how much the customs for the jeep are, work it from there. You don't need a "fixer" if you intend doing all above board. There are plenty of good agencies, just ask some friends.

There are also plenty of good 4X4's for sale in Dakar, new, a few years old, and quite old, both from dealers (good and bad) and private sellers. Try the TamTam free ads paper, the small ads placed in the supermarkets e.g. Score in the centre of town) or just move around a few dealers, either on the route de rufisque or on the way to the airport. if you have time you should be able to pick up a bargain. Look around also for European registered vehicles being driven by holidaymakers, some are going back to europe in them, some might be prepared to sell.

Camelman 3 May 2007 22:14

I have just returned from those countries in my Uk registered 10year Landrover. I found that carnets were not neccessary for Morrocco (Western Sahara) where you fill in relevant forms for the customs officals at the border at no costs.
I did not have a visa for Mauritania but again no problem fill in forms at the border and pay 10 euro (approx $14) for importing vehicle.
Senegal however is a bitch and they wouldn't let us in without a carnet if vehicle is more than 5 years old.
As far as I'm aware the visa for yourself will run out before you have to worry about getting the car out. Uk citizens only allowed 90 day stay in Morrocco.
I had major breakdown in Western Sahara which was promptly fixed by local machanics. So I also recommend that you stay away from any vehicle with lots of electrics and ECU's. Their are some good machanics out their but you need to keep it simple. They haven't got the kit to deal with newer vehicles.
Diesel is probably best as it's more widely available and cheap.

Insurance can also be bought at border crossings. Can't remember how much for Mauritania but Morocco cost me £50 ($100) for 1 month.

Enjoy your trip it's a great place.


Travelling with our Camel Trophy | One Life, Live It

Cedric Vandermeulen 10 May 2007 14:57


I arrived in Senegal 3 months ago and just went through the process of importing and licencing a new Toyota Landcruiser 105.

You will definetely not be in a position to import a car older then 5 years. The points raised above concerning Jeeps are very valid : there are none here.

For getting the car through customs and registering it here in Senegal, I used a very competent transit and handling agent who charged me 300 USD to do the whole process, hassle-free. I paid him happily and you'll understand me when you see how Senegales customs and registration officials work.

Second hand vehicles can be sourced at ExpatDakar but are ridiculsously expensive - it might be cheaper to buy a new one then a second hand one from that site.

It will be difficult to find a decent, well maintained, correctly priced vehicle here on the second hand market. It might be cheaper to buy in the US, import and register here. I advice to register locally, which will allow you to sell the vehicle afterwards (in Senegal). Import duty is around 60 %.

Get in touch with me on cedric.vandermeulen@echoce.org if you need additional information such as the phone number of my handling agent.



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