Customs values are set by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) valuation code, which involves six valuation methods.
The GATT Agreement on customs valuation has been accepted by all major trading countries.
The Valuation Agreement prescribes six methods of valuation which must be applied in strict hierarchical order. Thus, if the transaction value cannot be ascertained in terms of Article 1, Article 2 must be tried, and so on. The methods, in order of precedence, are:
- The transaction value of the goods, i.e. the price actually paid or payable
- The transaction value of identical goods
- The transaction value of similar goods
- The “deductive” method (where the customs value is derived from the selling price of the imported goods in the Republic)
- The “computed” method (where the value is derived from the built-up cost of the imported goods);
- The so-called “fall back” method, being one of the other five methods applied more flexibly.
However, the majority of goods are valued using method one, which is the actual price paid or payable by the buyer of the goods. The "free on board" price forms the basis for the value, but allows for certain deductions (such as interest charged on extended payment terms) and additions (such as certain royalties).
Customs officials pay particular attention to:
- The relationship between the buyer and seller
- Payments outside of the normal transactions (such as royalties and licence fees)
- Restrictions that have been placed on the buyer.
These factors can result in the price being increased for the purpose of determining customs value, directly affecting the duty payable.