SMME Traders’ Connect Issue 1 (November 2022)

Welcome to the first edition of the SMME Traders Connect Newsletter. This will be a quarterly publication focusing on trader-related issues, to create awareness and share information related to your tax matters. We are excited to share this journey with you.

In line with our strategic objectives, the aim of this newsletter is to:

  • Provide clarity and certainty for taxpayers and traders of their obligations.
  • Make it easy for taxpayers and traders to comply with their obligations.
  • Work with and through stakeholders to improve the tax ecosystem.

We have noticed that some traders still struggle with understanding their Registration and/or Licensing requirements for various Customs and Excise products. Our focus on this edition is to raise awareness about an online system that is being implemented for registration and licensing of traders. This will eliminate the current manual process and replace it with an efficient online system. This is consistent with our vision of building a smart and modern SARS with unquestionable integrity, that is trusted and admired.

Where do you start

To understand the type of business you can choose and the taxation requirements, please refer to the Small Business Essential Guide Leaflet on the following link:

Customs and Excise registration

When you import or export goods across the borders of South Africa, or you manufacture certain controlled goods, you are classified as a Customs and Excise client, therefore you need to register or license (as applicable) under the Customs and Excise Act to be able to conduct such business.

Excise deals with certain locally produced or manufactured goods, whereas Customs deals with various imported or exported goods. Some client types need to be registered (i.e. importers and exporters), while others need to be licensed (such as clearing Agents, alcohol manufactures, etc.). The requirements are available on the registration/licensing application form, also called the DA 185 form. The guidelines to this form are available on our web page (see link on 2. below). 

There are two ways to register and/or get licensed as a Customs and Excise client:

  1. Online via eFiling on the RLA system- the types of clients allowed are expanded on the RLA web landing page.
  2. Manual completion of the DA185 form that is available on For clients such as Excise clients, who do not yet qualify for the online application, we explain the application process and requirements on our website. The DA185 is a form that can be used by traders when applying to register or license with SARS in order to conduct cross border transactions.

Please ensure you provide supporting documents. For both manual and online registration, you would need to complete the DA 185 form (available on our webpage) together with the relevant supporting annexure and documents, depending on what you are applying for.  For ease of reference, read the applicable policy  To stay up-to-date on licensing and registration requirements, as well as new developments, make sure to visit our website’s licensing and registration page on a regular basis. Registration, Licensing and Accreditation | South African Revenue Service (

Step by step guide to register on RLA

To register via eFiling, go to and follow these steps:

Step 1 – Set up an eFiling Profile  

Change your eFiling profile from Individual to Company by clicking “User” on the top left menu, then “Change Website Profile”. Click “my profile” then “Portfolio Management”.  Click on the three dots, select “Change Portfolio Type” then change to “Organisation” and Save.

Step 2 – Accessing RLA

Your eFiling administrator now has to allocate roles to the person who will be using RLA. Click on “User” on the top menu, then “User” again on the left menu, then “Change Details” to make a role selection. Once profile and roles are finalised, click on “Customs” and then “Registration, Licensing and Accreditation” to launch RLA.

Step 3 – Submission of RLA application

You should now see the Customs Trader Portal (CTP) dashboard. Click on RLA and select “New Application” from the pop-up. You will see options for client types.  Select “desired client type” and an application form will be generated. Complete all fields and select “Conclude”, then upload relevant supporting documents if requested. Lastly, click “Submit” and you will receive a case reference number and electronic notifications posted on the dashboard!

Important to note:  An existing trader must select the displayed Customs Code while a new trader must select the New Registration option.

Online registration system: Registration, Licensing and Accreditation (RLA) system

The RLA system was introduced on 20 April 2020 as part of SARS’ effort to build a smart and modern SARS, as well as World Customs Organisation’s (WCO) recommendations for modernising and simplifying trade facilitation processes.  The system is still relatively new, thus when it started only selected new clients were being electronically registered and licensed. Currently, selected existing/old clients are now being onboarded. In order not to overburden the system, new features are being introduced in a phased approach. At this stage, Excise clients are not being onboarded electronically, therefore they are still required to apply to register manually on the DA185 form. These clients will be informed once the system has been opened for their onboarding. SARS has been doing massive work to make sure that traders are aware of their licensing and registration compliance obligations.  

Benefits of the RLA system:

  • Easy and convenient
  • Cost saving
  • Quicker turnaround time
  • Ability to track your application and adherence to the Service Charter.

Trader education initiatives

In 2021 and 2022, SARS hosted two RLA webinars, which are available on the SARS TV YouTube channel (Registration, Licensing and Accreditation (RLA) – YouTube to watch at your convenience.

The SARS website has a small business page just for Customs & Excise SMME Traders and Travellers, where they can find useful information and updates. The link is included for your convenience

How do we help you?

We want to make sure that all our traders are aware of the law. Look out for announcements on the SARS website for our ongoing regional roadshows. We are reaching out and coming closer to help you register and get licensed, helping you onboard onto the RLA system, and showing you how to navigate the RLA eFiling system. For self-registration, follow this link  

If you need assistance with registering as a trader, you can email [email protected].

Table of Contents

Last Updated:

What is your experience of the website? Did you find what you were looking for?
Click here to answer our one-minute survey – Tell us what you think of the SARS website.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on print