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Mozambique border blues

edited October 2008 in - Southern Africa
Last week we entered Mozambique via the Kozi Bay - Ponta do Ouro border post, and much to our dismay we were charged what we believed to be an exorbitant amount of import duty on our groceries. In what turned out to be an acrimonious encounter we were castigated for not supporting the local vendors, instructed to produce an invoice for the food we were bringing in (it was a self catering venue), and then subsequently charged about 40% of the total invoice (approximately R1800.00). The total duty payable was around R750.00.

According to various websites there seems to be no limitation on groceries, however, there is the category “Other” with a duty free amount of US$50. Assuming that groceries could be classified as “Other”, we would in any event be eligible for approximately R500 duty free imports per person (there were 5 of us in the group).

I am of the opinion that we were unjustly and unfairly treated. Has anyone had a similar experience? Is there any recourse available to us?


  • edited 11:27AM
    Sounds like you were ripped off Ratel. Sorry to hear about that. Did you get a receipt or any documentation? If not, it was a de facto bribe; if you did, take it your nearest Mozambique consulate and let them know.
  • edited 11:27AM
    Thanks for the reponse, DavidF, I did indeed get a receipt. I'll take your advice and have a chat with the local consulate. Even if I don't get my money back, at least I'll know what the law is and what my rights are, so that next time I won't get a nasty surprise. If there is a next time.

    I've crossed many Southern African borders with nary a hitch, and yet Mozambique always seems to spring an unpleasant surprise. Komatipoort is absolute chaos, with so-called "agents" harrassing you with promises of assistance. The one and only time I went through Komatipoort the agent blatantly suggested that he could "arrange" that my vehicle not be searched - for a fee, of course.

    It's often the little things that really bite. R17 to stamp your passport - no receipt - why? R10 for a customs form - no receipt - why? No other border post that I've been through charges fees for processing documentation. And where there are fees and levies to be paid, you are given a receipt.

    Something is amiss.

    Mozambique is a beautiful country, but until corruption is eradicated they will continue to lose tourist business. Or maybe it isn't corruption. Maybe it's just the way Mozambique does business. If that's the case, well, I'll go sit on a beach someplace else then.
  • edited 11:27AM
    Hi Ratel, for some of these guys bribes is their main salary, but for most I reckon its just greed and easy pickings. The trouble is that if you stand up to it at the border post you can get chucked in the slammer and your triop ruined. Just not worth it. Be careful of a petty man with a gun and just enough authority to mess with your life!

    Let us know how it goes with the consulate! If they get enough complaints, who knows, they might take action one day!
  • edited 11:27AM
    hmmm... how´s border crossing to Mozambique in general. Is it more pleasant to cross from Tanzania or can it be a surprise anyways? Is ist better to have visa already before flying?

    Did anybody do the following trip? Fly in to Dar Es Salam, cross to Mozambique, travel down the whole coast, cross to South Africa and fly back from Johannesburg? Is it easily possible within 4 weeks? Including to stay in really nice places for a few days once in a while...
  • edited 11:27AM
    A severe warning to all SA motorists/foreign motorists travelling in Maputo

    Sat 18th April - Myself and 4 other people arrived by car at the South African/Mozambique Komartipoort border. We passed through both immigration and customs borders with all the relevant documents and papers (passport / 3rd party and car papers ) which were inspected and stamped at both borders. We then travelled to Maputo and stayed night in Maputo at the casa Da Sol Hotel.

    On the following Sunday morning of 19th April 2009 we dropped off friends at ferry crossing to to Bela Vista and we were scheduled to meet later that afternoon at the Komatipoort border post.

    I left the harbour and was travelling in the vicinity of the catholic cathedral / Pestana Hotel. I was then stopped by a policeman (one of three at the side of the road). On doing this I was asked for my drivers license and passport which I duly handed over. He then asked for the car papers which I then also gave to him. I was then told that the papers were incorrect to which I showed him the stamps of both the SA and Mozambique border posts. I was told again that these were incorrect. I told them that if the car papers were incorrect I would not have been allowed out of South Africa and into Mozambique.

    The police officer then asked me where I was going and how much money I was carrying. I showed him that I had R260 and $150 and I was on route to the border to meet the friends and go on to South Africa. He then asked me again if I had more money and said I have to go to the police station and they would keep me for a week before I could get my documents back (he had my drivers license and passport in his hand) and have to pay a fine of R5000. He then asked me again if I had more money to which I replied no. He then asked me to open the passenger door and got in the car. Also told me to open the back doors and the other two policemen sat in the back. He then said we were now to go to the police station where I would be locked up for a week and have to pay the R5000. I was told to drive, supposedly to the police station and did so for about 15min. Then I was suddenly told to pull over and asked for my wallet. He took out all the money and also looked in the car and took some small change from the ashtray - +/- R15. They then got out the car and told me to get out of the country.

    As I am the editor of an in-flight airline magazine and have colleagues involved in travel, will send this warning of intimidation and harassment to as many people, future tourists to Mozambique, tour operators in South Africa, the SA tourist board and institutions alike. I will contact TV shows such as Carte Blanche, 3rd Degree, newspapers, other travel publications eg; Getaway magazine to make the general public aware of the level of corruption etc, hopefully to dissuade them to avoid Maputo.

    I have since heard of similar incidents and will be asking people to come forward with any like experiences with the view to a possible website to warn prospective travellers to Mozambique and Maputo.
  • edited 11:27AM
    Hi MikeNewton,

    Sorry to hear about your experience, although I'm not at all surprised. I hope this gets massive exposure.
  • edited 11:27AM
    Mike, sounds like a terrible experience, and totally unacceptable. Did you consider reporting the matter to the senior officer of the police station, and taking down his details? The corrupt cops seemed unwilling to go to the station, possibly because then their actions take on an official quality - and that makes them accountable.
  • edited 11:27AM
    Was planning a trio to Mozambique during July, would choose another destination now, after having read the above!
  • edited 11:27AM
    I was hoping to get more info on travelling to Mozambique, if anyone can help. I am planning to travel from Namibia, down to SA, then via Nelspruit to Mozambique.

    I wanna do this on a backpackers-base, i.e., not with a group of people, but rather on my own. Is is advisable? Would u suggest I use my own car, or do a very basic trip (by foot and public transport).

    What documentation will I need? Except for yellow fever what other vaccinations should I get??
  • edited 11:27AM
    We are off to Ngwenya Lodge for a few nights next week and intended crossing the border at Komatiepoort to visit Maputo for the day or spend the night at the Pestana Hotel. After reading what goes on there, I'm afraid Maputo wont see us ever.

    I cannot believe that tourists can be harassed this way and they are trying to stimulatye their economy. What a joke!!
  • edited 11:27AM
    Guys - please remember this is an isolated incident and not the norm for everyone... There is no reason not to visit Mozambique because of a few ars*holes at the border!
  • edited September 2009
    Initially planning to travel into Mozambique by bus from South Africa we changed plans on the short run. Not because of the border blues, but we want to skip Maputo enterirely now and concentrate more on the central an northern art of the country. We´re planning to fly in to Mozambique from JNB. Is it true, that at any international airport you can easily get visa on arrival? We want to fly in to Pemba, Beira or Vinakulo (maybe Inhambane).

    Thanks in advance for information on that!
  • edited 11:27AM
    Why are they asking 750 rands for a visa In Nelpsruit when i understand it is only 175 rands at the border. Is corruption the problem at the embassy in Nelspruit. I am a British citizen enjoying retirement in South Africa
  • edited 11:27AM
    The official cost of the visa for UK/EU and US citizens is R750 from any consulate in South Africa. They are not supposed to give you a visa at the border if you are a citizen of any of these countries. They will do it however for a price and a lot of hassle. I recommend avoiding such trouble and just paying for the visa at the consulate.
  • edited September 2009
    Recently travelled to Mozambique with my church and had a great time. We had a driver and interpreter with us all the time and I'm sure that helped with the police stops and such. We did cross the border in SA and it took forever coming back but only had to pay 3 US dollars. It is very chaotic, and not friendly.
    I wouldn't recommend travelling alone, though. We got hounded every time we were in a public place for money. Staying with the guides was a great help.
  • edited 11:27AM
    We are a group of 7 students travelling to Mozambique between the dates of the 27th November 2009 to 5th December 2009. We will be flying to Maputo International. However, we have secured accommodation in Bilene. We are struggling to obtain transport from the airport both upon our arrival and departure. As we will not require a car for the duration of our stay, renting a car for a 10 day period is not an attractive option. We are desperately in need of any assistance in this regard. We require transportation both from the the airport as well as back to the airport upon our departure.

    Is it possible that there is any service available which we can make use of? Or are there any affordable options available to us? Any assitance, including numbers of people I could contact would be very appreciated.

    Thank you!
  • edited 11:27AM
    As a UK passport holder - do I pay in Rands for my Visa at Ressano Garcia Border post?
  • edited 11:27AM
    I have been to Mozambique 3 times as a tourist from Hungary, EU. We got the visa at the border, paid in rands, no problem

    1st in 2007 10 days holiday in Chidenguele and Inhambane
    2 nd Ponta Do Ouro in 2008 march
    3 rd Tofo, Vilankulo 2009 january

    once problem with the police - february 2007. fake police man stopped us and said that we did not indicate on the straight road etc... wanted to rip us of but we gave him
    20 USD and drove away. 2 hrs later an other police man wanted to stop us, we did not bother to stop
    We met with other tourists in TOFO and many of them had the same problem

    we did not have any problems in 2008 or 2009, maybe police has changed

    if you behave nicely and HIDE MOST OF YOUR MONEY in the car, you wont have problems!
  • edited 11:27AM
    Does anyone know if it is still possible to get a visa upon arrival at the airport in Maputo?

    About the changes in visa costs, yes for US and British citizens I have heard it is way more expensive these days. But for Scandinavians the prices have actually dropped quite a bit since they changed the fees.
    My passport is Norwegian and I think I paid about 200-250 ZAR at the consulate in Neilspruit to get a visa over the day in 2006 (similar fee was paid by my swedish friend). So the cost of visa varies a lot depending on your nationality.
  • edited 11:27AM
    Hello, friends and myself are all travelling Mozambique as a prelude to the world cup. They're border crossing and I'm flying into Maputo. I am then making my way to Tofo. 2 questions for anyone that help: 1. Obtaining a visa Maputo Airport is ok, right? and 2. What is the best way in getting to Tofo?

    Any help would be so great. Thanks
  • edited 11:27AM
    is it possile to take a dog of the border... if you are plannning to stay in mozam for a while
    any help will be appreciated
  • edited 11:27AM
    Hi there,

    Does anyone know if I can take my Jack Russel across the border? And what the procedure is.


  • edited 11:27AM
    Hi I am visiting my family in SA in December (from Scotland) and then travelling with them by car to Mozambique for a 10 day holiday. Can anyone tell me 1) can I buy a Visa at border and how much would it cost or 2) would I be better getting Visa from Embassy in London before I leave the UK (cost approx £40) or 3) can I get one in SA? I would be most grateful for any helpful advice. Thanks Ray
  • edited 11:27AM
    My fiancé recently moved to Inhambane Mozambique, and I'm going up sometime next year. We have a boerbull that I want to take with me, but i'm not sure if i have to pay, or if he needs to get shots or go into quarrantine or if he needs any papers. Is there anyone that knows the in's and out's of getting a dog across the Mozie border??? Please let me know: [email protected]
  • edited 11:27AM
    The cost of a single entry visa for U.K./U.S. Citizens is £40 payable in any currency,If you ask for a "favour" they will negotiate down from that point,(In my case to £7.50) BUT! Once they know that you are willing to "bribe" then everyone gets into it instantly looking for something.Fuel duty...Food Duty...Alcohol with Forms etc..etc..

  • edited 11:27AM
    we're british nationals visiting SA & wanting to drive over to Moz via Kruger at Pafuri border.
    We have no time to get an advance visa.
    Is it possible for Brits to get an entry visa for Moz at the Pafuri border crossing?
    Any comments/experience of the formalities of entering Moz at Pafuri would be welcomel
  • edited 11:27AM
    @J - I don't have personal experience of Pafuri border post, but as a UK citizen you do not need an advance visa to enter Mozambique, can obtain 30 visa at the point of entry.
  • edited 11:27AM
    thanks david - someone else has confirmed this today too - so we'll give Pafuri a go!
  • edited 11:27AM
    how much wil it cost me from tanzania 2 mozambique using road? N how many days?
  • edited 11:27AM
    I would also like to enquire about taking my dog across the border. we are South African and are planning to drive to Mozam to stay a while and want to take our Basset with us, what are the procedures?
  • edited 11:27AM
    Hi guys,

    I entered Moz through Maputo airport in Jan 2010, got a visa at the airport without any hassle what so ever.
    I then went to SA and re-entered at the Komatiiport border. Paid 170 ZAR for visa, took less than 30 minutes.
    (I hold a Norwegian passport). Smile, be nice and friendly, it never hurts!
    I managed to overstay my visa by one day and had to pay a small fine of approx 200 zar, but it wasn't any real problem.

    Can't guarantee that the above still holds but I haven't heard any different stories since then.
  • edited 11:27AM
    Hi Guys

    I am currently residing in South Africa and my friend resently went to Mozambique on business. He left on Wednesday the 26th Oct 2011 with the plan of coming back on Friday.He entered Mozambique with no issues but the problem started Friday at the border when he needs to comeback to SA.Apparently they found problems with his papers and he could not understand as he never had any problems when entering. How come these issues were not picked up the very first day when he entered that country?As we speek he got a fine of R50000 and 30days in prison.This is so not cool,that place is think that I was even planning to go to Mount Kilimanjaro this festive, no thanks.Why take a vacation to a country that will give you hassels at the end of the day?
  • Mozambique has recently launched a campaign against false documents in Mozambique - do you think this may be one?image
    Visit for destination advice
  • To the guest two posts above:

    Keep in mind that Mount Kilimanjaro is in Tanzania, not Mozambique!
  • Personally, I will never go to Mozam ever again.So many South Africans keep going there only to get completely ripped off and/or threatened. Why the hell would i want to go and spend my hard earned money in a country that treats me like dirt! I feel sorry for the hard working locals, because at the end of the day they are the ones that will suffer. They can keep their country and do not come cry to me when you are all starving to death. Oh, and I hope they enjoy my bakkie that was stolen last night and tracked crossing the border into Mozambique.

  • WendyR:

    Sorry to hear you had a bad experience... I've been to Mozambique several times and have only wonderful memories!
  • edited May 2016
    I thought I'd share this email below, that I got from my brother, which gives some insight to travelling in rural Africa, and the challenges of crossing the border between Tanzania and Mozambique!

    Hello my family….

    Had quite an eventful day yesterday…. woke in Dar es Salaam at 4pm, off to Dar airport, then the flight to Mtwara. In Mtwara met by Hungry and Thirsty… very rough taxi with broken windscreen, appalling road mostly washed away by the rains. Arrived at a shack, doubling up as the Tanzanian border post. Passports stamped and then into half an hour of no man’s land, passing small holder rice plots. Arrived on the bank of the Rovuma river, dozens of boat captains trying to sell us their boat for the crossing. Thank God I was with other people, as I would have been fleeced.. The ferry was there but only runs at high tide because of the sand banks. We choose our boat – a very basic motorised dhow. First they had to bail out all the water. I was pretty convinced it would sink. And then we were on our way, meandering through the sand banks. Very beautiful scenery, completely untouched Africa. After ten minutes we ran aground and all the crew had to jump out onto the sandbanks to push. Hungry’s weight no doubt unhelpful. After fifteen minutes we arrived at the other side. We were met by a few dozen men who grabbed our luggage and headed off into the bush (never thought I would see it again..). Finally met our Mozambique driver and started the journey to the Mozambique border post. Again we were in no man’s land – lawless and Mad Max country. We had to negotiate our way through several unofficial toll gates, logs placed across the road. Angry looking men wanting their fee – private enterprise at work. Heavy negotiation at each one, blazing rows with our driver and the local mafia. After some time reach the Mozambican border. They were quite surprised to see a tourist, particularly a white one. No ability to issue a visa, so after some haggling the immigration officer allowed me through. I am now an illegal immigrant (and rather unlikely that I will get out easily tomorrow). Various policemen who took the opportunity to re-examine my passport and solicit little bribes, called refresco (a soft drink) locally! The road to Palma not much better, mostly washed away by the rains, incredibly rough. Not great for my already crippled back. Rather relieving to arrive at Palma – which is a tiny place but feel like civilisation. A very welcome late breakfast and some delicious coffee at our hotel there. Then down to the harbour, through the fisherman and local traders. Drying (and rotting) fish everywhere and the general stench of human ablutions - we were told to avoid looking too closely at the ground. Onto the speed boat and away. A very bumpy journey navigating high waves. Never really liked boat journeys. Beautiful to travel through the islands and seeing shoals of flying fish. After an hour or so, we could see the outline of the islands on the horizon. Arrived on the beach in time for lunch.. Reverse journey tomorrow…..

    Not sure that Mum would enjoy it…
    Visit for destination advice
  • Wow, quite the adventure! I have never done that particular border crossing, and have only very fond memories of Mozambique myself, but I travelled there years ago and I have since been told of the highway blockades and widespread demands for bribery by many people. Apparently the highway between South Africa and southern Mozambique (very popular with tourists) is also now strewn with these unofficial check points, which can be very stressful. Sad.
  • Great post mathieu, thanks!

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