Wes writes: One of our last tasks was selling our car. I decided to check out the process.
Day 1: I drive with the buyer to the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle License Authority). The nearest office is in downtown Accra, an hour’s drive through heavy traffic.
- The DVLA is a compound with multiple buildings. They are named for letters of the alphabet and not function, so first we need to find out which building we need to go to. After being directed to the correct building, we need to find the correct door. We are sent to the door labeled Banking Centre.
- The Banking Center offices have about a dozen people waiting behind glass. Most of the windows are not labeled, but there’s one named “Transfers” so we head there.
- Fortunately the person who is buying my car has grey hair, so he simply moves confidently to the front of any “line”, or gathering of people wanting services. No one objects to this.
- Now we find out what kind of letter of request we need. Many things in Ghana require official letters of request. Everyone simply assumes this and everyone (but me) knows how to write one. I am led to the many stalls outside the compound who cater to those unprepared. We find a woman who is sitting at a manual typewriter, give her our information, and she types an official-looking letter. We pay her 2 cedis (roughly 50 cents).
- We go back to the Transfer window. After some discussion and waiting, we are directed to take the car to the inspection station, which is also on the compound. It is now 2 o’clock and the inspection station has closed, so we drive back home.
Day 2: We return (another hour of fighting traffic).
- We go through the inspection, which consists of an official writing down the serial number of the car (presumably to make sure that it matches the documents, although I never saw anyone actually check).
- Back at the Transfer window, we are told we need a photocopy of my resident identification card, so it’s back outside the compound to another business that has a photocopier.
- And – back at the Transfer window, we are told that there will be a short delay so they can get the records for the car. The DVLA is in the process of computerization, but it is not yet finished.
- After some waiting, we go back to the window where a helpful person admits that document retrieval is unlikely to happen before the office closes. So we drive home.
Day 3: After the weekend, we drive back to the DVLA. Monday morning traffic is worse.
- Back at the Transfer window, we again use elder privilege to get past the 6 or more people crowded around. We are told to go across the compound to the office that provides the bill for our transfer. There is not a single standard fee, so each vehicle gets its own bill. There is further waiting, but it’s shortened for grey hair.
- Once we get the bill, we pay at the Banking window in the banking center.
- Back at the Transfer window, we finally get the official forms for transfer of ownership. These need to be typed, so we go back outside the compound to the woman with the typewriter and she types both forms. We also submit two passport-style pictures for each of us. This time the fee is 4 cedis ($1).
- Back inside the compound, we need to get this document stamped at the inspection station.
- Back at the Transfer window, we are asked to wait our turn for the documents that have been retrieved.
- After a brief wait, the documents arrive and are stapled, signed, recorded, etc.
- We move down a few windows to the final place, where a new inspection sticker is issued. Every car in Ghana has a sticker on the window with an inspection certificate with QR code, plus a certificate of insurance.
- Drive home.
When I purchased the car at a used car lot, I simply gave the salesman 200 cedis and two passport pictures and he took care of all this. That would have been much simpler.