How to cross into Zambia by car from Namibia

It should be easy…crossing a border in the year 2022… Well, you have never attempted to cross into Zambia by car. In this blog post I’ll run you through the 10 step process of making one of the worst border crossings in southern Africa (my opinion). This is how you cross into Zambia by car.

The Zambian side of the Katima Mulilo border post.

Where did I cross?

I crossed into Zambia in early May at the Katima Mulilo border post in North-Eastern Namibia. In reverse, that would be South-Western Zambia. The crossing was done with my trusted overlanding vehicle, a 2000 Toyota Hilux DC 4×4 petrol, aka frank the tank. Yes, this information is important as you will be required to pay a carbon tax based on your vehicle age and engine size.

The Katima Mulilo border between Namibia and Zambia

Namibian Exit Procedure

Being a Namibian passport holder leaving my home country is a straight forward process. Stamp out at immigration using your passport (of course) and then proceed to the final boom gate. Here they have a 144 page JD 356 A4 Croxley notebook where you enter your name and vehicle details including your engine and chassis no. Sometimes they’ll ask for a police clearance which will be referenced to your vehicle. Sometimes they dont. But you will need this document on the Zambian side, so make sure you have one. In total 2 steps…

The Zambian Entry Nightmare

Describing the process as a nightmare is unfair towards all nightmares around the world. The process is far more tedious, frustrating and unnecessary. The requirement for such a confusing and elaborate border crossing procedure in the year 2022 is beyond my comprehension. But such is Africa, the continent I call home and hold dear to my heart. So we queue, pay and dont complain.

Compulsory Documentation Required

Hereafter, (sense the sarcasm) follows a list (due to sudden, continuous and unnecessary changes in regulation might not be exhaustive) of compulsory documentation and other items required to cross into Zambia by car:

  • Drivers Licence (International if its not in English)
  • Passport & Visa (if you require one)
  • Covid Vaccination card (this is current as at June 2022)
  • Vehicle registration papers in your name (a letter from the bank if still financed)
  • Police clearance
  • About US$50 in small brand new notes
  • About KMZ1000

What You Need to Get at the Border

  • Temporary Import Permit (TIP) free
  • 3rd party Insurance
  • Carbon Tax paperwork
  • Road Tax paperwork
  • Receipt that you paid Council Tax (only pay this at the border, nowhere else in the country)

10 Steps to get into Zambia by Car

Based on my vehicles specifications, this was my experience:

Step 1

Port health. Check your vaccination certificate and complete a health arrival form for you.

Step 2

You, the health arrival form and passport proceed to immigration. Where they stamp both your passport and your health form. I am eligible for 90days at a time, but border officials are only allowed to authorise a 30 day stay. Entry permits need to be extended inside the country if you intend on staying longer.

Step 3

Return the stamped health form to the lady at port health desk. No need to queue again, go straight to the front and hand it to her.

Step 4

Proceed to Interpol desk. I waited an hour and 10mins for this person to rock up, and hand them your passport, vehicle registration paperwork and police clearance (done in your home country). First they compare the documentation against one another and then against your actual engine and chassis no on the vehicle. If they are happy, they stamp your police clearance, and you write in their book. You cannot proceed without the stamp.

Step 5

Proceed to customs (this is the only office outside the main building) for your TIP. Nothing to do here. Hand in all the documents you have collected thus far and submit. Wait about 10mins, go and check the vehicle again as per your paperwork and all good. The TIP is only valid for 30days. No payments.

Step 6

Buy 3rd party insurance for your intended period of stay. I paid K522 for 3 months. You receive a disc that goes onto your windscreen. The lady even cuts it out for you, but it feels like I was overcharged according to the research I did beforehand. TIP: you can pre buy 3rd party insurance online from Phoenix Insurance Zambia.

Step 7

Proceed to a different customs desk a few cubicles away. Hand in all documentation. Provide name, email, telephone no and size of motor vehicle engine. They calculate your carbon tax dues. I paid K240 for my 2000 2.7i Toyota Hilux DC 4×4.

Step 8

Proceed to Road Tax cubicle. They want to know how long you will be here and how far you intend to go. I think it is a flat rate…so not sure why they asked. I told them Ill be visiting all parts of Zambia and this is actually indicated on the paperwork. My total was US$38 and can only be paid in this currency. No credit card machines. This is where I became impatient. The US$ I had was a bit used/worn and they refused to accept it. Not torn and taped back together, but normal wear and tear.

This is a very important. Keep it safe and nearby. It will be checked and stamped when passing through toll stations in the country. The toll charge is currently KWZ20 for a normal vehicle.

Step 9

Proceed to the exit gate. Before you reach it. Pay the local council tax KWZ50. I believe this allows me to use the local roads. Judging from the size of the potholes, it is obviously not used to maintain the roads ( a continuation of the afore mentioned sarcasm) Keep your receipt, there is a roadblocks few kilometers up the road.

Step 10

The final exit gate. Submit all your paperwork, the guard checks that your disc is on your windscreen. It’s a quick verification that everything was completed. Then you are free to explore Zambia.

The entire process took 2.5hours. Just remember to renew your immigration permit and TIP before 30 days.

Welcome to Zambia!!! Hopefully, this helps you cross into Zambia by car… I also made a Youtube video if you are interested.

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