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Old 3 Dec 2006
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Question Shipping Spare Parts to Africa

My husband and I are traveling through Africa in our Toyota Landcruiser and are currently in Cameroon. Unfortunately while we were driving through Nigeria our transfer case decided to pack up and go home, which left us with a difficult problem to sort out. We limped our way through Nigeria, made it through the very difficult "road" from the Cameroon border to Mamfe, then immediately went to Yaounde to the Toyota dealer. Here they told us that we need 6 new parts, among them the high gear, and that it would take 25 days for them to arrive. Not the best news to hear when your transmission is in pieces. We called Milner Off Road and they quickly ordered the parts for us and they are supposed to be here tomorrow (Monday). Unfortunately our visa has now expired and we were told that they will not grant an extension to a tourist visa, but will only give us a 7 day exit visa. So, that gives us until Monday, Dec 11 to leave the country. This leaves me with two very important questions:

1. We recently heard horror stories about other overlanders who shipped parts or other items to Africa and were never able to clear them from customs. Does anyone have any experience with clearing a shipment from customs and have any advice to give?

2. As a backup plan does anyone have any advice on shipping from Gabon or Cameroon to South Africa?

Thanks for any information or help you can provide. We don't have much time left and we're quickly trying to sort through the possible scenarios and options.
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Old 3 Dec 2006
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There is no reason why you would be unable to clear vehicle parts through customs, although they can try and charge you extortionate import tax which you need to negotiate very hard on - it is always negotiable in my experience. I have generally found that using DHL, although very expensive by weight, gives you the best chance of avoiding customs issues all together. They will also help you clear the items as well. Ensure that the value that the consignor puts on the package is as low as you dare to reduce the tax you will be liable for. They are very quick too - 3 or 4 days from UK to wherever you are in Africa normally.

As far as shipping to SA goes it is normally just a case of approaching a shipping agent, getting a price - a 20ft ISO container should so the trick, and away you go. Libreville to SA should be no problem as there are plenty of shippers working there, and I would expect plenty of boats going south too.

Good luck!
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Old 4 Dec 2006
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Thanks so much for your reply. In retrospect, I wish the package was sent via DHL however our supplier shipped using TNT. Do you know anything about them? I've been doing some research since your post and unfortunately it appears that they don't have a location in Yaounde, just an agent with a telephone number.

Thanks very much!
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Old 4 Dec 2006
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I have no experience of TNT I'm afraid. DHL will give you a reference number which you can type into their website and track your parcel down to its current location - TNT may do the same and the supplier who shipped it should have the relevant number.
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Old 11 Dec 2006
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Sorry I only logged in again today so may be a bit late. TNT is about the same as DHL so you should not have to many problems. There is an agency in Douala that I used before who were very good shipping materials out of Cameroun to South Africa. They are called Supermaritime. Unfortunately I do not have their contact details anymore but they are well known in Town.


Originally Posted by lee5500
I have no experience of TNT I'm afraid. DHL will give you a reference number which you can type into their website and track your parcel down to its current location - TNT may do the same and the supplier who shipped it should have the relevant number.
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