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Can I take a hire car across the border from South Africa?

Lynda
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News & Tips

We’re often asked if you can take a rental car from South Africa to neighbouring countries. And, what, if any restrictions or costs are associated with this? The simple answer is yes, you can take a rental car from South Africa across the border into some countries, but not all.

We’ve checked all the leading car rental agents in South Africa to outline the restrictions and charges related to this (2019). It’s essential when planning to pick up a rental car in South Africa to cross the border into neighbouring countries. To notify the rental agent WHEN YOU BOOK to arrange the necessary paperwork and documentation. 

If you only request the service when you arrive at the desk and, you may experience a delay in processing your rental, while the paperwork is arranged.

Woodford and Firefly are the only car rental agents in South Africa who do not allow cross border travel to any country. While restrictions and charges apply from all other rental agents to permitted countries.

FAQs about cross border car rental from South Africa

(This photo is the old Swazi border post at Lavumisa (Golela) which has now been replaced by a modern, airconditioned and super-efficient building.)

Can you take a rental car from South Africa to Zimbabwe?

The only rental agents that permit cross border car hire from South Africa to Zimbabwe are Europcar, Keddy (via Europcar) and Sixt. All of whom will charge R3,000 at the rental desk, which covers additional insurances and documentation required at the border. Some car groups are not allowed across the border at all, so please check with your car hire company.

Can you take a rental car from South Africa to Botswana?

Taking a rental car from South Africa to Botswana is only prohibited by Firefly and Woodford. All other rental agents permit cross border car hire from South Africa to Botswana with charges ranging from R1250 with Europcar and Keddy up to R1800 from First Car Rental and Sixt.

The above picture is the old Swazi border post at Lavumisa (Golela)

Can you take a rental car from South Africa to eSwatini (Swaziland)?

Only Firefly and Woodford prohibit cross border car rental from South Africa to eSwatini. In contrast, all other rental agents permit the border crossing. Avis and Budget have the lowest price of just R550 cross border charge, while Tempest is the most expensive at R1705.

What sort of vehicle should I choose if I am going to visit eSwatini’s Royal Jozini Private Game Reserve? Well, an SUV in wintertime (May to August) will give you good ground clearance on all the roads. In the summertime, a 4×4 is best when the roads can be wet.

Warning: if you see wet black mud on the road inside Royal Jozini, find another route! This is cloying clay and will suck you down! The only potholes inside Royal Jozini are those huge indentations made by elephant feet when the ground is soft and wet!

All Eswatini roads are tar – just watch for humps (often not well marked) near schools and villages. When you arrive at Royal Jozini (we are just 9kms from the Golela/Lavumisa border) any hire vehicle will get you from the reserve gate to each lodge. So if you have booked a reliable family saloon car, you can always book a game drive with a ranger to go exploring the other parts of the reserve. (It is highly recommended to do anyway!)

Can you take a rental car from South Africa to Mozambique?

Avis, Bidvest, Budget, Firefly and Woodford prohibit cross border travel from South Africa to Mozambique. At the same time, Europcar, Keddy and Sixt charge R3000. Hertz is the cheapest cross border car rental company to Mozambique, costing just R1600.

Can you take a rental car from South Africa to Zambia?

Europcar, Hertz and Keddy are the only rental agents who permit cross border travel from South Africa to Zambia. With Europcar and Keddy both charging R3000, while Hertz charge only R1600. All other rental agents prohibit travel to Zambia.

Can you take a rental car from South Africa to Namibia?

The cheaper cross border charge for car hire from South Africa to Namibia is just R1250, offered from both Europcar and Keddy. The most expensive being R1800 from First Car Rental. Firefly and Woodford both prohibit cross border travel from South Africa to Namibia.

Can you take a rental car from South Africa to Lesotho?

You can take a rental car from South Africa to Lesotho with all rental agents, except Firefly and Woodford. Rates start from R550 from both Avis and Budget, up to R1705 with Tempest.

Can you take a rental car from South Africa to Angola or Malawi?

At present, no rental agents permit cross border travel to Angola or Malawi as two border crossings are required.

Wherever you are planning to go, the main thing is “GO!” Enjoy the travel, adventure and exploration!

Acknowledgement: Phil Partridge, writer and avid traveller and www.rhinocarhire.com

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