For many people, their holiday excitement starts months before they actually hit the road. Planning accommodation, routes and stopovers are part of the fun, but everything can come crashing to a halt if you’ve missed a crucial bit of paperwork such as a border letter.
“Even the best-made plans can be ruined if you’ve forgotten to get your border letter and certified copies of your vehicle registration,” says Rudolf Mahoney, Head of Brand and Communications at WesBank. “We’ve made the process of getting these letters as easy as possible, but sometimes motorists just aren’t aware of what is required by the officials at the border posts.”
Driving across the border is not as simple as having a valid passport and driver’s licence. The South African government has been actively enforcing laws that require motorists to present extensive documentation when leaving the country. These laws apply to all vehicles – those that are financed as well as those that are paid off – and are designed to crack down on stolen vehicles being taken out of the country.
Before planning a cross-border trip drivers should phone their insurance companies to establish that their comprehensive insurance policy covers cross-border travel. They may need to include details of the country they are travelling to. Some neighbouring countries may request that drivers have international insurance, travellers need to confirm whether their comprehensive insurance policy covers cross-border travel, if not international insurance can be purchased at the border post. Failure to do so puts drivers at risk should their vehicle get stolen or damaged outside South Africa’s borders. Additionally, laws in those countries might hold drivers financially liable for any damage caused.
Any driver who crosses the border in their car is required to have a certified copy of the vehicle’s registration (or license) papers. Drivers who own their cars can take their original registration documents to a Commissioner of Oaths to get these documents certified. Those whose vehicles are still financed can request a copy of the registration papers from their bank, and make arrangements to get this document certified.
Financed vehicles can only be taken out of the country with permission from the financing bank. WesBank has made the border letter and vehicle registration process easier through its online self-service portal. Here drivers can download copies of their vehicle registration papers as well as digitally request a border letter. Border letters will still need to be certified.
Drivers who are not the registered owner of the vehicle they’re using will need all of the above documentation, plus two additional documents: a police affidavit and a letter of authority from the registered owner, granting permission for the vehicle to cross the border for the agreed time frame. Drivers of rental vehicles must also obtain a letter from the rental company giving full consent for the vehicle to be taken out of the country.
“While not new, these requirements are now being strictly enforced at the borders. Although they might seem inconvenient, they are there to avoid cross-border theft,” said Mahoney. “Drivers who are uncertain of what they need can contact their financing bank for assistance.”