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Personal Documents

Make sure your passport expires at least 6 months after the date you expect to return to the UK. Also make sure that you have enough pages - many countries like to only stamp visas on the right hand page. Also if you have valuable items, some border posts will stamp a list in your passport so that when you leave this can be checked. Vehicles can sometimes be included so avoiding the dreaded Carnet de Passage or Customs Carnet.

Take lots of passport size photos for any documentation that may be needed en route.

These are best obtained before you leave. This is not always possible as some countries place limits on the time between issue and entry. Take copies of your visa application forms.

UK Driving Licence
Take this as well

International Driving Permit
This can be obtained from the AA or RAC and is valid for a year. A photo is required. The IDP in effect provides a multilingual translation of the UK driving licence. It costs about 4.00.

Letter of Authority
If you do not own the van you are driving then you need to take a clear letter from the person named in the registration document permitting you to drive in the countries you are visiting.

Start getting your vaccinations sooner rather than later as some courses last several months to become fully effective. Get advice from your GP - many vaccinations are free. Also get a vaccination card showing everything you have had.

Form E111
An application form for this can be obtained at most Post Offices. It entitles you to more or less free medical treatment in many (mostly European) countries.

Travellers Insurance Documents
Get insurance for worldwide annual medical and baggage cover. Take care that the annual insurance is not of the multitrip variety with a limit of 3 months any one trip. Take the documents with you and keep a note (or photocopy of the document) of the contact phone numbers and policy number in a safe place on your person

Other Personal Documents
Employers letter
Diving card
Birth Certificate
Marriage Certificate
Naturalisation Certificate
Address book/home address stickers

Other paperwork

Take photocopies of everything - passports including visa pages, carnet, application forms, insurance documents, driving licences, travellers cheques etc. Leave a complete set at home with your contact. Take another set with you in the van and a further set of essentials to carry with you. Have several copies of your equipment list for customs.

Take several passports photos for use if necessary.

Address list - friends, contacts, emergency helplines, who to contact for lost cards and travellers cheques. Include phone nos, fax nos, and e-mail addresses. Try and get all this on an A4 sheet or even photocopied and reduced to A5 to carry with you.

Expedition file (I think of it as an expedition) - this file is created during the preparation for the trip - take copies of any useful paper work.

Ferry tickets - essential

Log book - on such a trip a log book is very useful for vehicle maintenance records and navigation notes etc and it can also double as a diary.

Written by Clive Barker in preparation for UK to China and back.


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