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Customs is responsible for protecting South African borders so that all travellers as well as crew members with their legitimate goods can pass freely. We do this by using world-class risk management technology and customs checks carried out by our officers at sea, land and airports.
 After passing through the Department of Home Affairs, all travellers as well as crew members pass through Customs where they can declare goods that may be liable for payment of duties in the event that they have anything to declare. Travellers must pay the duty assessed by the Customs Officer, if any, to the Controller / Branch Manager.

Any person must complete a Traveller Card (TC-01):

On arrival into South Africa, the person must declare any goods: 
  • Purchased or acquired abroad on which no duty has not been paid;
  • Remodelled processed or repaired abroad;
  • Prohibited or restricted or controlled under any law;
  • Re-importation by returning resident of South Africa who registered such goods at time of leaving South Africa; or
  • Temporary imported by Non-resident of South Africa into South Africa with the intention to be re-export in the same state when leaving South Africa.
Any person leaving South Africa must declare any goods that he / she will be taking with him / her beyond the border of South Africa before leaving South Africa, this includes goods:
  • Carried on behalf of another person;
  • Intended for remodel, process or repair abroad;
  • Prohibited or restricted or controlled under any law;
  • Temporary imported by non-resident of South Africa for use during his / her stay in South Africa.
Any person who has in his / her possession must enter the Red channel and declare:
  • Any prohibited and / or restricted goods;
  • Any goods intended for trade purposes; or
  • Any foreign, Kruger Rand coins or South African bank notes that exceeds the exchange control regulations,
    • Any goods in excess of his / her duty Free Allowance (DFA);
  • Any valuable goods that need to be registered for temporary importation into or exportation from South Africa.
A person may proceed through the GREEN channel if he / she:
  • Has nothing to declare;
  • Is in possession of goods that fall within his / her Duty Free Allowances; or
  • Is not in possession of any prohibited, restricted or controlled goods, gifts carried on behalf of others (e.g. those sent by a person overseas to another person in South Africa), or commercial goods (for trade purposes).
Customs may stop and examine a person or his / her baggage in these channels to determine whether a person complies with the provision of Section 15 the Customs and Excise Act. Customs Officers may at any time, break any lock attached to the baggage if the keys thereof are not produced on demand.  A person will not be entitled to any compensation for any loss or damage arising out of any bona fide action of a Customs Officer.
Any unaccompanied baggage under Customs control may be physically inspected The Customs Officer may inspect unaccompanied baggage in the absence of the transport representative or his / her agent if all reasonable efforts to ascertain the whereabouts of such transport representative or his / her agent were unsuccessful.
 examine in order to determine whether the provisions of the Customs and Excise Act or any other law have been complied with, in respect of such baggage.
When a person has failed to declare any goods in his / her possession or is found to be incorrectly declared a Customs Officer, take appropriate measure for non-compliance e.g. detain the goods or impose a penalty. Any prohibited or restricted goods or excess currency detained by Customs will be handed over to the relevant Government Agency. Persons are urged to answer fully and truthfully all questions put to him / her by a Customs Officer and, if required by such officer to do so, produce and open such goods for inspection. 


The payments of any duties, taxes, deposits or penalties due to Customs can be made in cash, by credit card or by means of traveller’s cheques.
A person has two (2) options to make a payment to Customs:
a) Pay Now Option; or
b) Pay Later Option. When the person selects this option, the goods in question will be detained by Customs pending proof of payment within thirty (30) days.  

Excess Currency

Excess currency is any amount in excess of R25 000 or any foreign currency which is convertible to Rand in excess of R25 000. Travellers must obtain written permission from the National Treasury before entering/leaving South Africa with excess currency and must, upon arrival/departure, declare such excess currency on a Traveller Card (TC-01).  The cash to be declared is South African bank notes and foreign currency, as well as South African bank notes, securities, gold and foreign currency upon departure. Further information on the traveller declaration is on Traveller Processing Policy External Directive.

Migrant labourers returning to neighbouring countries are permitted to take with them reasonable amounts in the form of Rand notes representing their earnings in South Africa.

The excess currency regulation is applicable to persons entering or leaving the Common Monetary area. Botswana does not form part of the CMA, therefore Exchange Control requirements of non-CMA travellers entering or leaving South Africa apply.

For more information about tax and immigration you can refer to this link Tax and emigration.
Last Updated: 07/06/2018 2:40 PM     print this page
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