Border Crossings

Border crossing - Botswana to Namibia.

Border crossing - Botswana to Namibia

Have you crossed a tricky border lately?

Submit YOUR Border Crossing Information in the NEW system!

Let us and everyone else know all about it here! Easy, 5 minute form. Thanks!

This new system is just released on our new site, and may change in the in the next month or two. Any information you enter in the new system will NOT be lost, so go ahead and add it in!

OLD system information below (all will be available in the new system soon):

Border Crossing information (supplied by travellers):

Lots of border crossings here. (One large document)

OR: In Excel Spreadsheet format.

Central America - by many

Mexico - by Douglas Hackney - LOADs of great tips on general border crossings

South America

Peru to Ecuador - by Rene Cormier


North and East Africa - by Ted Simon


Central Asia - by Kyril Dambuleff
Japan to Russia - by Rob and Dafne deJong
Georgia & Azerbaijan - by Manou Emringer
Mongolia to Russia - by Herbert Roelandt
Malaysia to Indonesia - by Ken and Carol Duval


Eastern Europe - by Kyril Dambuleff
Estonia to Russia - by Herbert Roelandt
Poland to Belarus - by Herbert Roelandt

I'm often asked about border crossings and how to deal with the aggravation, hassle, lies and ripoffs.

There's a ton of info on the technical aspects of that on this and other related pages, so I'm just going to give you a basic, simple "philosophy" to get through it with your head intact.

You have two choices at any border crossing (or for that matter many points in life, and on your travels)

  1. 1: Go in convinced you're going to get ripped off, screwed around, experience ridiculous delays and you're going to get thoroughly pissed off, and it's going to be a really shitty day, and guess what - it will be.

  2. 2: Go in thinking "This is going to be INTERESTING! What weird and wonderful ways of doing things am I going to see today?" Go in with a smile and shake their hand and generally have a fun and pleasant manner, and you'll be amazed at how well it goes. And if it doesn't, a positive manner will certainly make it a lot more fun and you'll have some great stories to tell!

I think that # 2 is the way to go. How about you?


Border Crossing Tips

These look like they're "specific" but they are more "general concepts" on crossing borders. Read them all and learn! Then check out the more specific border crossing information in the links above,

Ferry from Melaka, Malaysia to Dumai, Indonesia (by Linda, October 17, 2006)

My advice is not to go via the ferry from Melaka to Dumai. For a start you can only do it if your bike is less than 30 inches as it has to fit the door to the passenger department. Also the ferry company may not accept you after the hassles I had, as the Indonesian police blamed them for letting me in.

On arrival at cutoms they refused to stamp the carnet, phoned the police and I was escorted to the police station and my bike impounded. They said I had to have permission from Jakarta before I could ride it. After lengthy discussions, and the weekend, I had to take a bus to the main police station at Pakenburu, 200kms by bus (5 hours+). There, I spoke to Mr Aswin Siregar who took copies of all my papers and finally gave me written permission. The carnet then had to be stamped in back at Dumai and a copy sent via the police there back to Aswin. Ph, no 0761 29031 Jln. Senapelan no 10, Pakenburu My advice is to try and go via Penang to Bulawan as it may not be such a problem there. The province of Riah (Dumai) is the one with the smuggling probs where they are more vigilant. Also it is better to ride up north on the Malaysian side as the roads and traffic are bad in Indonesia.

If you want to try and get permission from Jakarta before hand try asking at the Embassy in KL and INSIST that you need it. They said they didn't know anything when I asked but the police said they have told the embassy about this. I'm sorry I can't find the address that Aswin gave me at presnt, but ask for traffic police headquarters in Jakarta.

West Africa / Sahara border crossings basics (by Danek, posted on February 15, 2006)

In virtually all West African countries there are three border offices, not necessarily at the same place: customs; police; and gendarmerie.

Customs - Responsible for your goods, but rarely they care of your luggage rather than the vehicle. "Carnet de Passage" is the best solution, not only for vehicles older than 5 years. It "shuts the mouth", no bribe is required or insisted. Look then for the proper stamps and written entry. If necessary, point by finger what and where should be written or stampped.

Police - Checks your visa and identity (but nobody should present itself face to face, it is enough and even better when one person brings all passports to the "office"). If there is no any odd requirements of you (lack of visa, lack of entry stamp, etc.) it is easy and straight forward.

Gendarmerie - Looks for statistics and the "Fiche de reignsenement", the document your should prepare yourself before entering Africa. Stating: name, date of birth, pass number, its expiry date, profession (best use professions easy to understand: electricien, chauffeur, musicien etc., absolutly not journalist! Of course all written in French!), vehicle reg. number, make of the car. There are a few exceptions you should fill according to local officer suggestion, date of entry, visa details etc. They are satisfied to get such "document" for their files or just the best base to retype it in official notebook (take more time).

Enter the three offices yourself, do not follow anybody who ask you for anything. Best solution is not to understand French, cheaters usually give up with persons they can not follow. Just start procedure yourself and go to the proper offices and process your documents. Refuse and ignore all civils who want: to stop you, to help you, to explain anything, to gather all documents and process them, to interact with you in any other way, just ignore everyone and be confident not asking about anything. If you are wrong in your procedure the border officer shall tell you the right way.

Rosso is famous for their hustlers. However, just do not stampede, be self-confident and cross the last 1 km before the border not stopping even for a while. The border barrier is your target. Just jump the queue of locals, other vehicles if such exists. Insist for gate opening, park your car inside and start the procedure. Otherwise you may choose Diama, smaller and better defined (~10 EUR for each of the procedures) border leading you straighforward to St. Louis on all improved road with new asphalt ! If you want to know the shortcut to Diama from N2 road heading to Rosso, but avoiding this place please

West Africa / Sahara border crossings basics (by "Enzo")

Our carnet was only used in Kenya. Temporary import permits (TIPs) were issued by the customs of all the countries we passed through but we came unstuck at Kenya. South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland are members of the Southern African Common Customs Area (Zimbabwe is not a member). Once in the area, vehicles registered in any of these countries can move freely between without paperwork formalities. Haven't heard that the same thing applies to all OAU countries.

August 2000 - by Erwin Thoma

Erwin travelled from March to August 2000 with a BMW R1100GS through Central America (from Mexico to Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and than to Columbia) without a Carnet de Passage. The bike was registered in Germany and he is a German citizen.

General tips for border crossings

Avoid weekends and public holidays, sometimes it takes longer (more clients, less officers), extra fees will be charged and it is harder to get photocopies at the borders.

Arrive at the early morning or shortly after lunch break. So you avoid waiting during the lunch break. Or show up shortly before they close the border (Check your guidebook concerning the working time of the borderpost).

Dress nicely to avoid to be asked for sufficient funds. Mostly people will treat you better, if you look nice.

Be polite, even if you think the officer is an asshole or you know that he is one. You do not know the laws, bureaucracy all over the world is not based on logical thinking and finally the officer has all the power, you have none just the wish to enter the country.

Always visit first the migration office before the customs office.

Try to park the bike so, that at least you can see it after doing some steps.

I needed nobody to help me. At most of the borders are guides. May be it is helpful and a little bit faster if you ask them for help. Clarify the costs before you ask them for help.

Be patient. It took me mostly about 45 minutes to 1 hour to cross the border, but sometimes computers are out of order, the officer is visiting his girlfriend or...

If you are told that something you ask for is not possible try to find out why and if there is a good reason, try to talk to the supervisor. It could be helpful when you meet the chief of the borderpost or customs office. Sometimes they can allow an exception.

Never offer money without being asked for. If you are asked for money, ask for a receipt and the reason why you have to pay. Keep all receipts as long as you stay in the country. If you have to bribe someone, remember the date, the time, the amount of money and if possible the name of the officer and write a mail to the embassy of the country and the tourist office.

Try to have some money of the country you are heading for with you. US $ in small bills are also important. Change with other travelers. At least try to know the exchange rate before you arrive at the border and try to knew how the bills look like. There are moneychangers (bargain) or banks at every border crossing.

I have always been asked for my driving license, the title of the motorcycle and my passport. I had an international driving license with me. At most of the borders you will need photocopies of the aforementioned documents. Even if you are not asked for it is wise to have copies of all important documents.

I mostly leave the originals in the hotel safe or in a belt which I wear on my trousers. At all borders are photocopy shops available, but I recommend to do the copies in advance. Photocopy shops are easy to find in all countries.

I never queue up with a motorcycle. I always pass the waiting line of cars, busses and trucks.

All borders are easy to cross.

Susan Johnson adds:

Generally, it's not a good idea to take pictures at border crossings, it tends to be regarded as 'spying' in many countries.

But I couldn't resist the following shot of the customs area, taken at the border of Egypt (with Libya):


From my French fellowtravellers who are now about a week in front of me I got the following news:

The ambassy of Mauretania à Bamako did not want to deliver visa!!!!!! You can get them directly at the border of Cogui. Visa 55€, passe avant for your bike = free ! 

We never needed a carte de douane and passage, in west africa not usefull and not necessary at all! À Cogui its peacefull and friendly, no hassle.

If you have to change money (cfa or €)  do it here, good rates and in Ayoun and Kiffa they don't change! 

Attention: fill up your gas because there are few gasstations in the area.

security/scam: don't go off your bike when you are controlled by the army, they are often not real!! They ask you to come in their tent and present themselves as 'General of the gendarmerie national' they ask you for money!! It is only in  the part between Gogui and Kiffa!

 I will ride and check this soon, 

Edwin de Graaf

No need to go to any ambassy to get your visa for SL, you can get it strait away at the border. So traveling N to S no need to go to the Conakrey area! 

They try to scam you and the are unfriendly, but they suggested 150€! Woh, a lot of money, L replied that the ambassy of SL informed me that it shout cost 100 american dollars. The guy insisted as I did. After a while he accepted the 100 dollars ( take them with you, they don't now what to do with euros!!

very strange: for the passavant / laissez passer I went behind a motorbike of an officer back to Guinée and there was an SL officer to whom I had to pay 100.000 francs guinéen to get it easily, and it is real and valuable.

Back to SL I needed verification of everything and a stamp. I offered 100000 Leons = 12,50 € and they really became friendly. Than 100 m further, rousblock, contrôle of everything and they bag for money. I got nearly angry and explained that I was happy one our ago to enter their beautifull country but now not anymore because of the scam and bagging for money! ´can you imagine this is a very very negative entry in your country? And they let me go!

100 meters again: roadtax! I said I wanted to see his official accreditation and documents becaus it all is a big scam of tourists. And one after another was paying 100.000 Leons for that tax (all africans). The officer dressed hisself in his ´tenue officiellle' vry nice by the way and could prove everything, so I had to pay again!

Than 100 m further down control : papers, scam, I laughed and wished them a nice day and told them to be ashamed to ask me for money again. That was my easy experience of about 1.5 hours!

Edwin de Graaf

Thanks for the info Edwin, please keep us posted!

I am actually in Sierra Leone and am looking for a way out in the east to Guinee. At the border they told me this exists and here in Freetown everybody swears me that there are only two ways out: the roaod to Conakry and the road to Liberia, anybody has experience? 

I want to go to Bamaco.


Edwin de Graaf

I travelled several days ago from Kankan in Guinée to Bamako in Mali. 

Exit of Guinée: There was a douanier who was regarding all my papers and finally found an omission! I forgot to sign my international driving licence ( permis international ). He sad it was very bad of me because I didn't accept all the statements in this permit. So in fact I was driving without licence bla bla bla! Finally he gave me a pen and let sign me.

Entering of Mali: no special problems but I asked a laisser passer. It was not necessary for motorbikes, they never ever gave such a paper and told him not to leave before I obtained such a document. I showed them of Senegal and Guinée and than he doubted. I asked him to call his chef, as he did. The chef sad to create one but they didn't have a model! So they used the text of the Guinéan version on Malien official paper. Putted several stamps and signatures and I had to pay 15 ooo cfa with quittance!

only 30 kms further down to Bamako the Douane stopped me and asked for the laisser passer. I explained them the story and they said ´without this document I have to sent you back or you have to pay the import duties' this document is strictly necessary! 

So let it be a Lesson for all the overlanders: allways ask for this document or let stamp your carnet de passage de douane when you travel with this document. 

Only once time they asked me for the carnet de passage in West Africa, but a laisser passer is cheap and easy and is enough in west africa! 

Bye the way: the roads are in exellent condition in Mali!

It'is the bordercrossing when you ride on the N 3 from Québo to Kandiafara- Dabiss and further down to Boké.

warning: this is not a road but a track and even a path there are parts even with a big bike it is very difficult to pass because of the very lilited width (about 1.10 meters!!). It is a very nice horsetrail to make it more visible! Do not use the very small bridges, they wont support 300 kg plus all the power of your bike! Never ever go there in the rainseason, it is impossible to pass ! 

After probably 20 km there is a douane post, logically you go straight but you have to turn left! The track is not really visible because it goes around several houses / hutte. Therafter it will be a bit visible and all of a sudden the road is blocked by a cord of the police / douane. 

The problem was that they did not have a stamp to stamp me out. A little boy was sent be bike to search the stamp at the post fore mentioned! It took an our. Very frienly people but you need to speek french - as I do-.

I could continue, but had to ask for the track, it was not visible!! In fact they rain washed out the track and it was not anymore!!

The unpaved track to Boké is about 120 km long and took me a full day and a lot of energy!!


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