Custom Clearance Procedure in South Africa

For foreign exporters as well as for importers, South Africa offers a wide range of opportunities. Since it is a large country with a population of around 55 million people, there are many goods in demand. Everything, whether it is exported or imported into South Africa, has to be cleared through customs and excise, also known as South African Revenue Services (SARS). Here are details of the custom clearance procedure in South Africa.

Documents for Custom Clearance

  • Customs Declaration Form (SAD 500)
  • Customs Entry document as part of the South African customs
  • Legal Undertaking (LUT) – only needed to obtain import benefits from African government
  • Purchase order or Letter of Credit between South Africa importer and overseas supplier of goods
  • Bill of Lading for sea imports or Airway Bill for air imports
    Certificate of Origin – issued by the country of origin of the goods you are importing
  • Commercial Invoice
  • Insurance Certificate
  • Import Permit and Licences if required
  • Insurance Certificate if applicable
  • ATA CARNET, used as a temporary shipment certificate if needed. It depends on the shipping method that you choose. Goods with an ATA Carnet are exempt from duty fees and VAT.
  • Certificate of Free Sale for goods that are not imported for sale
  • Letter of credit
  • Form NEP (no foreign exchange proceeds)
  • Form E (repatriation of foreign exchange earnings)
  • Export permit for export

Procedure of Custom Clearance in South Africa

  1. Visit SARS website and register online.
  2. By the end of the registration process, you will be given a unique code that allows you to import whenever you need. This code will also be used by SARS to pay attention to your goods and declarations.
  3. Fill in SAD form, the multi-purpose goods declaration form
  4. Check if your goods are restricted. They may require Import license obtainable from the Director of Import and Export Control at the Department of Trade and Industry.
  5. Submit all documents, invoices, bills of lading, permits if required
  6. Custom officer checks the goods declaration against the documents produced
  7. Goods are examined to ensure that they are not prohibited or restricted or a quarantine risk.
  8. Pay duty taxes and charges as required
  9. Customs may require additional information, samples and may also detain goods for other Government departments.

Custom Charges

Three kinds of duties are levied on imported goods:

  • Customs duties (including additional ad valorem duties on certain luxury or non-essential items)
  • Anti-dumping and countervailing duties
  • VAT (which is also collected on goods imported and cleared for home consumption).

Import goods with a value up to 500 ZAR are exempted of duty and VAT. The VAT rate in South Africa is currently 15%. Average Customs Duty is 5.8% excluding agricultural products. Method used is Ad Valorem on the FOB price in the country of export, in accordance with the GATT Customs Valuation Code.

Method of Payment 

Customs duties and taxes are payable in South African Rand. Payment can be made in cash, by credit card or by means of traveller’s cheques. FNB, ABSA, Standard Bank and Nedbank are the banks through which payments can be made. Refer to South African Revenue Service for more details.

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