Traveling Outside South Africa And The Admin Required For A Smooth Trip

South African Passport, yellow fever vaccine card and COVID-19 vaccine certificate

Is living in different cities doable? I don’t quite know, but I intend to find out. For me, making this decision was very easy because I have nothing to lose. I am on a journey to experience life in different parts of Africa. What will come off it is a mystery even to me. It’s been a few weeks in Tanzania. But to get here I had to do a lot of travel admin.

The idea of traveling and planning for the trip is so much fun, but you have to also do the boring stuff in order to have a smooth trip. When I was planning to start traveling, the first thing I did was check my passport. It was valid for another 5 months so I called the High Commission of Tanzania in South Africa and I was advised to rather get a new passport because I was at risk of being denied entry

So on a Monday morning, I set out to go get a passport at the Edenvale Home Affairs Office. I arrived at 6 am to a very long queue. But that is to be expected at any government office.  They opened at 8:00 am but by 8:30 am the system was supposedly offline. At about 10:00 am, a lot of people lost hope and started leaving. Before I left home I had committed the entire day for this task so I stayed in line. A quick tip; if you get to a government office and the system suddenly goes offline, especially in the morning. DO NOT leave. The employees do that so they can reduce the number of people because others become despondent and leave.

I finally got closer to the front of the queue at around 13:00 hours and we were handed numbered papers that required our details and the type of service that we needed.  These papers are then collected while we are still standing outside and the department employee takes them back inside. After some time you get called by your names and you go inside. Inside your numbers are called via the PA system and you get your photo taken. Once a satisfactory photo is taken, you are required to place your fingers on a fingerprint reader.  Then you go to a consultant who processes your application and verifies your identity. You produce your ID or old passport. Because my passport was still valid I had to show it to the consultant for verification. My fingerprints were verified again.  You then proceed to the cashier for payment. My maxi passport (48 pages) cost me R600 but a regular passport (32 pages) costs R400.

If we didn’t have to spend countless hours queuing outside before we get in; the whole process takes about 30-40 minutes. A week later I received a text message. My passport was ready for collection, so I had it within 8 days.

Once I had my passport I was able to start preparing for the journey. It is better to book your flight in advance, that gives you room to make sure you do everything before you leave. If you are traveling to East Africa and other regions you are going to need to get some vaccinations administered. And that includes the COVID-19 vaccine unless you don’t mind testing every time you leave South Africa. The most important vaccine after the COVID-19 vaccine is the yellow fever vaccine. They ask for it right after the COVID-19 vaccine.  The yellow fever vaccine lasts for 10 years. Mine is good until 2025. Other vaccines that are recommended are typhoid valid for 5 years, meningitis valid for 5 years, tetanus valid for 5 years, and the Hepatitis A&B valid for 10 years.

Booked my flight with Travelstart. I always seem to get some good flight deals from there. Flights from South Africa to East Africa via the East African airlines usually involved at least one stop. For instance, I flew with RwandAir and I had to have a five-hour layover in Kigali. That would have been the same had I flown with Ethiopian Airlines or Kenya Airways.  Before you leave you need to find out if you need a visa for the country that you will be visiting. For Tanzania, as a South African, I don’t need a visa because Tanzania is part of the SADC. South African passport holders get to spend 90 days visa-free. South Africans get 30 days visa-free in Kenya but need visas for the other East African nations.

If your travel itinerary includes going to visit, Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda, I recommend that you get the East African Tourist Visa that costs $100 and allows you 90 days to move between the three countries. It’s better than getting a separate visa for Uganda and another one for Rwanda. That is definitely is definitely the visa that I will get once I am about to leave Tanzania.

If you are going to drive, then you need to make sure that your driver’s licence is valid for the duration of your trip. A South African driver’s licence is valid in all the SADC member states. But if you are going to drive to other parts then I recommend getting an international driving permit from the Automobile Association of South Africa. It costs less than R300.

Before you leave South Africa, you should consider registering your travel itinerary with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation(DIRCO).  For any inquiries, you can email rosahelp@dirco.gov.za . When you arrive in a new country, notify the local embassy via email so that you can get help during an emergency. The local embassies and consulate of details are available on the DIRCO website.

Another important thing to do before you leave SA, is to contact your bank so they can activate your bank card for use outside of South Africa. If you have a banking App you can change it yourself. What I did was login to my Standard Bank App and set my card to work in the countries that I would be visiting. You can input the dates of when you will be out of South Africa and enter all the countries that you will visit. Standard bank gives you a maximum of 9 countries. It is important to note that using your card for withdrawals and purchases outside SA, you will incur charges much higher than the local bank charges. I tried to find out from Standard Bank what my charges would be, but there was no clarity provided. Alternatively you could withdraw the cash you think you will need and head to your bank’s foreign exchange department and change the Rands to the currencies that you need.

I enjoy moving through different countries using public transport. I have used buses to move from Tanzania to Kenya and Uganda. The bus tickets are affordable and comfortable enough. This time around I am still going to do the road trips between these East African countries using public transport. Buses, matatus/ dala dala, and my personal favourite boda boda. I will explain why I love boda boda in a separate blog post.

Once the admin is taken care of, you can have a safe journey and enjoy your trip. I have been in the Arusha Region of Tanzania for the past three week and I have been having lots of fun. The transport system is so easy to use.

Look out for more blog posts as I explore the different regions of Tanzania. Also follow me on Twitter @VuyisoT for quick updates on my day to day activities

Published by Afrikan Princess

I don't have limits but I have principles. Vuyiso Tshabalala is a 20 something old woman with an insatiable desire to travel and acquire knowledge. An African ambassador in her own right and dubbed the "Afrikan Princess"because of her undying love for Africa and the strong passion to develop the continent and keep the African Dream alive. An entrepreneur in her own right and a serial promoter of other people's projects.

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