Carnet problems in Namibia


On August 16th 2016 I had the pleasure of having to deal with Namibia Custums in Windhoek. I wanted to stamp out my old Carnet de passages and stamp in my new one. In my case, that is a normal procedure, because the Carnet is only valid for one year and cannot be extended. At that time, my vehicle has been in Namibia for 6 weeks, and I wanted to stay for another 6 weeks, what would have been the maximum time you are allowed to spend in Namibia per calendar year.

I was declined the stamp out / stamp in, because the South African Automobile Association had told the lady in charge at customs that the procedure was not legal. The "extension" has to be done in South Africa by the AA and costs 850 Rand per vehicle. It is amusing that a foreign (South African) company (the AA is not a government department) can tell Namibia government what to do, but that is another issue, and maybe it is not the real reason. My impression was that the lady in charge is on a personal crusade against the foreigners who have foreign registered cars in Namibia, and she wants them out (that is what she personally told me). She gave me a letter that said that the vehicle is allowed maximum of 30 days in the country, and the vehicle holder cannot leave the country whithout the vehicle. That makes border hopping to Zambia or Mozambique fruitless.

This stamping in / stamping out was done for decades until now, and a lot of tourists have cars parked in Southern Africa to be able to often visit the countries. I guess that in Namibia alone there are about 600 cars from travellers all over the world. If those "rules" are enforced, my guess it that most of the people will pull out their cars and leave.

So let´s do a calculation about what the South African AA and the lady on a crusade will cost Namibia in the next years. For my calculation, I will use the statistics of our own travels, and adjust them to normal travellers (as my rig uses a lot more fuel than normal cars).

The costs are listed in the order of how I paid them. They are for the first 44 days in Namibia, and are devided into one time costs (1) and recurring costs (r):

- (1) airline ticket with Air Nambia, 15.300 NAM$ for two persons with Air Namibia
- (1) rental car to drive from Windhuk to Walvis Bay (6400 NAM$ EUR)
- (r) SIM card and airtime for 6 weeks, lots of data packages 1.600 NAM$
- (1) harbour fees for getting the car from the ship etc 8.090 NAM$
- (r) road tax for the car and the quad for three months 1.400 NAM$- (r) restaurants 3.620 NAM$
- (r) food, water, drinks 9.429 NAM$
- (1) hotels during the time we were waiting for our car (12.500 NAM$)
- (r) fuel 29.900 NAM$ (as I said, it´s a big rig :-) )
- (r) entrance fees to national parks 1.700 NAM$
- (r) camping fees 10.024 NAM$
- (r) other costs (clothing, souvenirs, etc) 3.231 NAM$

- (r) not calculated are costs for vehicle repairs, import taxes for car parts that you can´t get in Namibia etc.
- (r) not calculated are costs for storing the vehicle in Namibia, which is about 30 - 50 NAM$ per month, depending on the type of vehicle
- (r) not calculated are costs for helping local people, like many travellers do when visiting remote places (Himba nomads etc.)

That makes 42.290 NAM$ one time costs and 60.904 NAM$ recurring costs, or 1.384 NAM$ per day. Other travellers spend a lot less, as 50% of our expenses are for fuel. So let´s say we had one time costs of 40.000 NAM$ and average costs of 1.290 NAM$ per day (using less fuel but more costs for food / camping when more than two people in the group). That matches with costs I heard from fellow travellers and publications in traveller blogs / magazines (between 1.500 EUR and 2.200 EUR per month).

The decision to not stamp in / out made us leave Namibia to travel to Mozambique, where we can legally stamp out the old carnet when leaving South Africa, and stamp in the new carnet when entering Mozambique. We did not spend another 6 weeks in Namibia, so we did not spend another 60.000 NAM$. Instead we will spend the money in South Africa and other contries.

Let´s assume, that 50% of the travellers with cars parked in Namibia will move the cars to other countries or stop travelling Namibia. That will result in a loss of income for Namibian companies (Air Namibia, petrol companies, supermarkets, NWR entrance fees, campgrounds) of 1.290 NAM$ per day * 60 days per year * 300 travellers = 23.220.000 NAM$, or 1.451.250 EUR per year.

If all the vehicles have to leave the country (because the owner cannot leave the country without the vehicle, or maximum stay is 30 days), just double that number and you will have 3.000.000 EUR per year in losses.

Congratulations to the customs lady in charge! You just threw away a lot of the money your country spends to get more tourists.

Congratulations to the SA AA, you found a way to earn a lot in fees for stamping out / in Carnets, thereby hurting Namibia.