Goods arrive in the Republic by one of the following modes of transport: Air, Sea, Road, Rail or Post.  In order for Customs to safeguard any revenue due to the State and ensure compliance with national legislation, the importer must declare to Customs what they have brought into the country and the mode of transport used. If goods arrive in the country via the post, a different process is followed.
The importation of a variety of goods is either totally prohibited or may be subject to inspection by other authorities. See the Consolidated list of prohibited and restricted Imports.

Under what processes may goods be imported into the Republic?

Goods may enter the Republic and be declared through one of these processes:
  • home consumption i.e. direct entry into SACU countries (duty is paid on importation or under rebate / relief from duties under specific circumstances / conditions);
  • warehousing (pending payment of duty or re-export)
  • transit / in bond movements within the country or through South Africa beyond the borders of SACU;
  • temporary admission into SACU including inward processing (for manufacturing purposes and subsequent exportation).

How long will I be allowed to make a declaration? 

National legislation gives an importer / agent seven days (an additional seven days in which to make due entry for loose or break bulk cargo, imported by sea, air or rail i.e. 14 days) or 28 days in the case of goods in a container depot, in which to clear goods from the time they have landed in the Republic.

What happens if goods are not declared on time?

These may be removed and detained in a State Warehouse. It must be noted that certain goods will require an import permit, which must be produced at the time of clearance. Application for Import Permits must be made to The Department of Trade and Industry (Contact Telephone Number 012 - 428 7000).

What is the clearance process?

The clearance process includes accepting and checking the goods declaration against the documents produced (invoice, bill of lading, certificate of origin, permits, etc.), examination of the goods if necessary and the assessment and collection of duty and VAT. Customs may require additional information and may also request samples.
Customs may also detain goods for other Government departments. The relevant Government department will then ensure compliance with their applicable laws, regulations and rules.
Last Updated: 02/11/2016 2:22 PM     print this page
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 Top FAQs

Customs stopped the consignment, who do you think is going to pay for the inspection process, storage or demurrage charges?
The importer is responsible for all costs, charges and expenses resulting from a Customs inspection.

Diplomats - What does rebate item 406.00 cover?
Rebate item 406.00 covers goods for heads of state, diplomatic and other foreign representatives.The provisions of this Rebate Item may only be applied if the Director-General:

Donations - What goods are covered by rebate item 405.00?
The rebate item 405.00 covers The rebate item 405.00 covers goods for cultural, educational, charitable, welfare or youth organisations or purposes.

I want to import unpolished diamonds but I cannot wait for SADPMR to inspect the goods or the Kimberley Process Certificate. What can I do?
It is illegal to import rough diamonds without being accompanied by a KP Certificate. The regulator is mandated to verify and do the final inspection of all rough diamond import,

I wish to import unpolished diamonds which certificates or permits are required?
In terms of the Diamonds Act No. 56 of 1986, Regulations 6A and 6B, no unpolished diamond may be registered for export or import, unless the diamond is accompanied by a Kimberley Process Certificate.