Background Information.

This page contains some background information (in no particular order) that may be useful for anybody planning a trip like PanAm 2006.

Vehicle.

At least the following vehicle related documents are needed for a trip like PanAm 2006.

As well as the UK V5C Registration Document you also need an International Certificate for Motor Vehicles (ICMV) obtainable from the RAC. It may not be essential but a Carnet de Passages is highly recommended. You may have to deposit three times the stated value of your vehicle to get this document. Each driver will need her UK driving licence as well as both versions of the International Driving Permit (the 1926 version has both a Spanish and a Portuguese translation, the 1949 version does not). It is reported that Suriname requires a valid (in date) road-worthiness certificate (e.g. a UK MOT certificate).

Third party insurance is required in some countries, and highly recommended in others. In many Central and South American countries very few people have insurance. Some countries sell compulsory insurance at the border. The only company that seems willing to provide "liability insurance" to UK drivers of UK vehicles for most of Central and South America (everywhere except Mexico, Belize,, Nicaragua and Columbia) is AIG. They charge about $750 USA for one year. The policy document is only in English and may not be acceptable in many places. Insurance (nearly compulsory) for Mexico is available from Mexican Insurance.

At one point were intending to ship our vehicles via the USA. One reason for not doing this (no not that reason) was that getting insurance to drive a UK registered vehicle in the USA on a UK driving licence is difficult. Indeed many US insurance companies insist that you re-register your vehicle in the USA. A typical response being:

"We have an insurance program for RV owners with international driver licenses, but US registration is still required on each vehicle".

Or the even more extreme:

"While we do provide insurance for individuals with foreign driver's licenses and it is quite common for clients to travel to the USA and tour in their RV's, in order to legally be insured in the United States the various underwriters require your motorhome to be registered in the USA. .... The most common avenue for clients in your situation is to form a Montana LLC (Limited Liability Company). This will allow you to register your unit in Montana under the LLc's name and will also provide a resident address for the LLC and allow you to purchase insurance through the LLC our of the state of Montana".

We did however find one helpful USA company prepared to issue USA insurance without re-registration, Explorer RV

We have since learnt that theThum Insurance Agency also provide insurance for UK registered motorhomes in the USA, Canada and Mexico. In 2007 contact andrea@thuminsurance.com.

Main Office Phone: 1-800-866-077 8AM -6PM EST
New York Office: 1-800-968-8486
Fax: 1-607-844-4800
International Call: 001-607-844-4797
International Fax: 001-607-844-4800

Because, on PanAm 2006, we may be out of the UK for more than one year there are some potential problems with vehicle registration. The DVLA insist that if you intend to take your vehicle out of the UK for more than one year then you must complete section 11 of the V5C form and declare the vehicle permanently exported. They insist you do this even if you have every intention of returning the vehicle to the UK in month 13! However, in order to drive your vehicle abroad on an ICMV most countries require that it remains registered and "legal" in your home country. There does not appear to be an entirely satisfactory solution to this problem.


Shipping.

We are shipping our vehicles from the UK (Southampton) to Mexico with K-Line, booked thru the ever helpful Phoenix Aircargo (talk to Emma Pittaway about vehicle contents etc.).

The cost of shipping each vehicle is between £2000 and £3000 (UKP) depending on vehicle volume.

Because other members of the club (not using Phoenix Aircargo) have had their vehicles broken into en-route to South America it is well worth securing the back of your van and selecting a route that involves the minimum number of stops between the UK and your destination.

If possible avoid West African ports, where dock-side security is minimal.


Visas.

Unlike China 2002 and Siberia 2004 this trip requires very few visas for UK citizens. Indeed the only two countries that require visas are Suriname and Venezuela. In the case of Venezuela a visa is required because we are entering the country overland (i.e. not via an airport). Luckily Venezuelan visas are valid for one year and can be obtained in London for the cost of two visits and about £20 (UKP) per person.


Medical.

If you enter the full details of the PanAm 2006 route into the "Travel Brief" section on the MASTA web site you will be recommended a number of immunisations (what is recommended will depend on your exact route and timing). We were recommended, with varying degrees of insistence: Yellow fever, Hepatitis A, Typhoid Fever, Tetanus, Hepatitis B, Rabies, Cholera, T B and Diphtheria.

Malaria prophylaxis on a route like PanAm 2006 seems to raise a number of problems depending whom you ask. Some advise a single prophylactic for the entire trip, others recommend a switch of drugs between Central and South America. The cost of anti-malaria drugs can be considerable on a trip of this length (up to £400 UKP per person). The cheapest source of prescription anti-malaria drugs seems to be Tesco Pharmacy. A good source of anti-mosquito clothing and equipment can be found at Safariquip.

Excellent first-aid kits, on-line (via e-mail) consultancy and on-line prescriptions can be purchased from E-Med.


Medical Insurance.

It is difficult to get travel, repatriation and medical insurance for a trip as long as this one. Most so called annual travel insurance has a single trip limit of 30 or 60 days. The best company we have found is World Nomads. Of course you never know how good insurance is till you claim! Check their rates carefully, it may be cheaper to get six months and then top it up rather than buy twelve months from the start. Their FAQ makes interesting reading.

"Am I covered if... ? If you are wildlife-watching in the extremes of Alaska and are attacked by a polar bear, are you covered? It depends. You see, if the bear attacks you while you were watching them as a part of a wildlife safari or trekking, then YES we would cover you (assuming the bear didn't catch you of course), but if you were chasing the bear having had a beer too many the night before and you thought it would be a laugh... err... then NO, we wouldn't."


Stephen Stewart. I wish you a Happy New 2,453,736.5 Julian Day.

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