Travel Documents Required
TRAVEL DOCUMENTS REQUIRED
“Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”
Allow for 2 pages per visa, passports must be valid until at least 6 months after you intend to finish your travels. You may require Arabic translation of your passport information in your passport if going into some Arabic countries. Take at least 2 spare passport photos for each visa required. Make sure you write in the back of your passport you emergency contact information.
If you require a new passport on the road, Canadians are required to show their birth certificate or immigration papers to prove they are Canadians. Having an old passport is not sufficient!! Getting a new passport on the road is not that easy, depending on where you are it can take weeks. So don’t loose your passport and leave Canada with a passport with enough empty pages for all your visas etc.
Photocopy your passport and scan it in and email a copy to your self so you have the details readily on line
There is some confusion about what is meant by a visa. I am referring here to “difficult” visas that require an application, generally cost money, may need a passport photo or even a copy of your bank statements or have a letter of invite. They are applied for before you arrive at the country and in some situations you will even have to be interviewed before you get approved for a visa. These are not the visas they stamp into your passport at the border with no questions asked.
If you plan to be on the road for longer than 3 months and require a “difficult visa” you will need to obtain visas on route. Visas can be obtained at some borders but if possible it is best to obtain them prior getting to borders. Some consulates are better at issuing visas than others, so ask fellow overlanders where is the best place to apply for a visa. Not all foreign consulates offer visa services.
If you suspect you will need to reenter a country you will need to apply for a multi entry visa.
Generally visas take a full page of your passport and then the other page is for all their entry and exit stamps
To make passport photos for visas, scan in a passport photo and then print them off yourself before you leave. Some visas require up to 4 passport photos so take plenty.
It seems that visas are not much of an issue when traveling the Americas on a Canadian passport, but they are an issue in Africa for most passport holders regardless of nationality.
It is easier to get an expired visa renewed than apply for a new visa if you are not applying in your home country.
For the latest information on visa requirements visit the Foreign Affairs website of your country. For Canadians go to http://travel.gc.ca/
INTERNATIONAL DRIVER LICENSE (IDP)
An IDP is valid for only one year from the date of issue. A new application must be completed if another IDP is required.
An IDP is a special driving license for travelers it allows licensed motorists to drive in international traffic without further tests or applications. It is proof that the driver possesses a valid driving license, in his or her country of residence. However your country of residence driver license must be shown in certain countries together with your IDP.
The IDP also provides you with additional photo identification. We used it a lot as a form of identity rather than our passports. Many overlanders travel with 2 IDP so that if they do loose it or have their IDP confiscated they have a back up. Never hand over your original country driver’s license to anyone.
Make sure your country of residence drivers license is not due to expire while away
Driver Permit: Some countries still require that you get a driving permit before being allowed to drive in their country but you are not required to do any testing e.g. Sudan, Egypt, which is obtained at the border.
Yellow fever immunization within the past 10 years and an International Certificate of Vaccination is required for entry into sub Sahara Africa and tropical South America.
We were asked for our immunization documents when applying for a Nigerian visa.
LIST OF MEDICATIONS AND MEDICAL SUPPLIES
Take a list of all medications you intend taking across borders, with a letter from your doctor. Permission is required for transporting any medical supplies across a border.
We were required to prove we had medical insurance when applying for several visas e.g. Nigeria. It is advised that if traveling for a long period as a couple to get individual insurance and not as a couple even if it is cheaper. If one is required to return home in an emergency or you are unable to travel together your insurance may become invalid. Check with your insurance company. Read the fine print. Some medical insurance become invalid if you enter a country where there has been a travel advisory not to travel to the country.
Travel while young it gets more expensive once you get over 60 years. I can’t imagine why, Tom and I feel great!!
PHOTOGRAPHIC AND ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT
Write the serial numbers of all electronic equipment you are carrying with you in your passports. Carry proof of purchase as some overlanders have been asked for proof of purchase.
Have the your home country embassies and consulate contact information for each foreign country you plan to visit.
The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT) has a list of physicians who can be contacted while traveling in a country.
Put all your contacts into your phone before you leave.
EMERGENCY CONTACT PLAN
If you ever find yourself in an urgent situation you will need to have a well developed plan and readily available contact numbers. We had taped to our visor all emergency numbers, codes etc
The Canadian government offers international travelers a 24 hours a day, seven days a week emergency contact number. An experienced officer is always available to respond to emergency calls from anywhere in the world.
We had a list of emergency contact numbers taped to our visor.
When in Ethiopia we had an accident but knew exactly where the phone contact number was and within 10 minutes of contacting the emergency number we were put in contact with the Canadian Consulate in Addis Abba, Ethiopia, who assisted and advised us. We were extremely grateful for all their advice and assistance.
For more information go to
Canadian Government Emergency Contact
We have had to contact the Canadian emergency contacts twice and we have to say the service, support and advise we received from the consulate staff aboard was outstanding!!
RETURN AIRLINE TICKETS
If flying to or from Canada or the USA you will need return airline tickets even you do not intend using the return portion. You may not be allowed into a foreign county without a return ticket. It is proof that you do not intend to stay as a ‘foreign alien” in their country.
A fiche is a document required in West Africa that has all your family, passport and vehicle information, see below for the information required.
You will be asked for it by officials who need the information for all their forms. Simply type out all the information and give them a copy. We used over 30 fiches in West Africa so make lots of copies.
Fiche Information required
Family Name/Nom de famille
Date of Birth/Date de Naissance
Place of Birth/Lieu de Naissance
Marital Status/Situation de famille
Date Married/Date de mariage
Permanent Address/Adresse permanente
Father name/Nom du père
Mother Name/Nom de la mère
Passport Information/Détails du passeport
Date of issue/Délivré le
Date of Expiry/Valide jusqu’à
Place of Issue/Délivré à
Vehicle Information/ Information sur le véhicule
Registration Number/Numéro d’immatriculation
Issuing Office/Bureau délivrant
Chassis Number/Numéro de chassis
Engine Number/Numéro de moteur
Registered in/Enregistré au
Carnet Number/Numéro de Carnet
Purpose of Visit/But de la visite
We are Canadians tourists traveling from Morocco to South Africa. We are visiting your country as tourists only.
Nous sommes des touristes canadiens voyageant du Maroc vers l’Afrique du Sud. Nous visitions votre pays en tant que touristes.
Coming From/Venant de _____________________________
Going To/Allant à___________________________________
- Carnet de Passage
- Vehicle registration and license
- Vehicle insurance
- 3rd Party insurance, mandatory in some countries
Photocopies of all documents BUT in some countries they will not accept photocopies and want the original.
We travel with several originals of vehicle documents, licenses, insurances etc