One important issue to consider is the mandatory liability car insurance. A regular liability car insurance covers your journey up to and including Morocco. After you declared your car off the road for export at your local motor tax office called RDW in Holland, you can insure the car with the ANWB (Royal Dutch Touring Club). For 140 euros, the car will have two weeks insurance coverage . A longer coverage is possible and will cost you a bit more. The MOT has to be valid during the insurance coverage time. Once at the ANWB office, you may also want to apply for a international driver licence (1 year valid). This will cost you about 20 euros and you need to bring a recent passport photo.
You can also use the service from GWK (Grens wissel kantoor) who offers a liability car insurance inclusive the white export plates. They will take care of declaring your car off the road for export. This service will cost you about 50 euros extra in comparison with the ANWB. Either way, you receive your original but stamped car documents back. Keep them in a safe place. At border crossings or police checks, you may be asked to show them.
Another possibility, to avoid registration and tax issues in Holland, is buying a car in Germany. After buying from a German owner, you go to the Bundesverkehrsambt. This is the German local motor tax office, to transfer ownership and to get a so-called ausführkenzeichen (German export plates). These official plates are white with a red bar on the right side that shows the end date of insurance coverage (see photo white minivan in part 1). You can find a wide choice of used cars at www.autoscout.de and www.mobile.de.
Before leaving to Germany, it could be a good idea to check the office hours from the Bundesverkehrsambt for transfer of ownership and export. If shut, you can not drive your new car back to Holland. In general, German cars have a better maintenance history (scheckheft) than their counterparts in Holland. As a Dutch national, you are not allowed to drive a foreign registered car on Dutch territory because of BPM legislation. Try to avoid driving in Holland as much as possible. The German car insurance covers your journey up to and including Morocco as well. I will discuss how to go ahead from the Mauritanian border until The Gambia later on.
I strongly advice to buy travel insurance, however it is not mandatory. Being admitted to a foreign hospital is not covered by your regular health insurance. Medical bills can be very high, not to mention repatriation back home!
In some countries you are going to visit, certain vaccinations are mandatory. For instance, in Senegal, a vaccination for yellow fever is required. So far, I have never been asked for at the border. Nevertheless, it is better to visit your local health centre, weeks before you leave.
Malaria in West-Africa
Warning! Malaria infection is common in Sub-Sahara Africa. Different drugs are available to protect you from malaria. You need to start taking them some time before leaving until a while after you returned from Africa. Visit your local health centre. Immediately consult a doctor if you feel feverish while in Africa. Check places where you sleep for mosquitos. Start wearing trousers, socks and long sleeves in the early evening. If possible, sleep under a mosquito net. Some forms of malaria are lethal within a few days!
To be continued…