inspection

What is it?

 A Customs Inspector may, for the purposes of the Act, stop, detain and examine any goods while under Customs control in order to determine compliance with the Act or any other law in respect of such goods. The Customs Inspector may question with respect to any matter dealt with in the Act, anyone found, or on reasonable grounds believed to be employed, on any premises entered for search purposes; and on reasonable grounds believed to be or to have been in possession, custody or control of anything in respect of which any provision of the Act is applicable.

Documentary inspection

If the inspection is a paper / documentary inspection, you can refer to clearance declaration. A documentary inspection may result in a physical inspection. 

Physical inspection

Physical inspection encompasses investigating, searching or examining goods, clearance documentation and means, areas and modes of transport in an effort to pursue a specific objective in validating compliance with the Act, and may be the result of a documentary inspection or Customs enforcement duties. These inspections may be non-intrusive or intrusive, and may include the deployment of handlers and dogs of the Detector Dog Unit (DDU) within SARS.
 
A Customs Inspector may on reasonable grounds search premises and any person found, or on reasonable grounds believed to be employed, on any premises entered for search purposes; and on reasonable grounds believed to be or to have been in possession, custody or control of anything in respect of which any provision of the Act is applicable.
SARS may also inspect premises as part of licensing and registration process. 

How does Scanning work?

Owners of goods selected for scanning must report at the scanner site for non-intrusive inspection. The decision for further Customs intervention is based on the outcome of the scan image. Where no anomalies are found, the container is released.
 
Where anomalies are identified on the image, such a container may be directed for physical inspection by the Customs team responsible for such inspections.
 
Further actions may result from such inspections which may include payment of penalties for the specific offence or in extreme cases seizure of the container or transport to establish forfeiture to the state.

How will I know that my goods will be inspected?

All goods must be declared on importation or exportation thereof.  Once in the declaration system and the goods are selected for physical inspection, a case will be created on the SARS Service Manager System (SSM) which links the declaration made on the cargo with a physical inspection due.  A Customs response message (CUSRES code 2) will be generated, which indicates that cargo has been identified for physical inspection. EDI registered Clients will receive an electronic message and Clients who are not EDI registered will be verbally informed once enquiry is made about their goods. The Client must make a booking for the physical inspection at a dedicated email address which will be communicated to the Client. The Client will receive electronic confirmation of a booked physical inspection. 
 
The client or his/her representative is entitled to be present during the inspection. However, this right to observe the inspection ceases if the person impedes the inspection.
 
Packages may also be opened and examined in the absence of the client at the risk and expense of the client. Reasonable efforts will first be made to locate the client and afford the client the opportunity of opening the package(s) in question.

Non-intrusive inspections

Owners of goods selected for scanning must report at the scanner site for non-intrusive inspection. The decision for further Customs intervention is based on the outcome of the scan image.  Where no anomalies are found, the container is released.
 
Where anomalies are identified on the image, such container may be directed for physical inspection by the Customs team responsible for such inspections. Further actions may result from such inspections which may include a full unpack of the consignment, payment of penalties for the specific offence or in extreme cases seizure of the container or transport to establish forfeiture to the state.

Physical inspection of premises

Any premises may be searched on the strength of a warrant issued by a Magistrate or a Judge. However, the following premises may be inspected without a warrant, as these are premises of the Government or SARS clients with a minimal expectation of privacy due to participation in a regulated environment where it can be assumed that inspections aimed at compliance with the Act must be tolerated: 
  • Premises managed or operated by the State or a public entity as part of a port, airport, railway station or land port and on which an activity to which the Act applies is carried out or allowed;
  • Premises licensed or registered in terms of the Act; and
  • Premises occupied by a person licensed or registered and used for purposes of the business for which that person is licensed or registered, e.g.
    • Premises leased as a warehouse by a licenced or registered client and used for the specific business purposes; or
    • The part of a house used as office of a licensed or registered client.

Client requested physical inspection services

Attendance required by the Commissioner or a Controller/Branch Manager (SSM generated inspections) is exempted from special or extra attendance charges, but there are various circumstances where Clients may request physical inspections for which the Client will have to make payment for the service rendered, e,g, Examinations without Prejudice (EWP) and Embargo releases as part of the declaration process.
 
The rendering of such special or extra attendance will be at specific charges. Refer to: Special and Extra Attendance External Policy for reference of attendance fees which may be charged for specific physical inspections. You can also refer to Customs Endorsement Documents Requirements.

Embargo inspections

In certain instances it becomes necessary to release goods which have been detained or stopped for inspection. This is termed as “release under embargo” and is usually allowed where consignments are too bulky to handle; where consignments are considered fragile or dangerous and special handling by experts in the field is required; in the handling of household effects; books, periodicals and other printed matter packed and palletised in FCL containers; and for goods requiring immediate refrigeration.  You can refer to Clearance and Declaration External Standard.

Examinations without prejudice (EWP)

Examinations without prejudice (EWP) are conducted where goods are released and have left the control of Customs, and where the client requests such examination; e.g. where goods are packed or repacked at an exporter’s premises or any other premises as requested by the exporter; where goods are destructed under Customs supervision, and / or for purposes of substantiating refund claims on duties paid.
 
Clients may request that goods be sighted for their information, i.e. examination is effected by the client so that they may be in a position to make proper entry of the goods. Such goods are entered on a sight bill of entry (DA 22). You can refer to Clearance and Declaration External Standard.
 
 
 
 
 
Last Updated: 05/06/2018 12:03 PM     print this page
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