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The Customs Modernisation Journey

Pre SARS Customs commenced with a modernisation journey between 1980 – 1997 with the introduction of the first automated clearance declaration and basic risk assessments together with the introduction of deferred payments

The second journey was called the Customs Transformation Programme between 1998 – 2000 and focussed on the reduction of border posts, implementation of VAT and the first EDI messaging capabilities.

Siyakha was introduced between 2001 – 2003 which saw the implementation of various programs like the risk based approach, cargo control, bonded movements, accreditation of clients, automated inventories, new export system, licensing of bonded removers, bond acquittal system, refund system, anti-smuggling teams and post Clearance Inspection teams (PCI)

Between 2003 – 2009 we moved Customs into the 21st Century by focussing on the Container Security Initiative (CSI), adoption of international conventions (RKC, SAFE Framework, Mutual Administrative Assistance (MAA)), Globally Network Customs (GNC), introduction of the Detector Dog Unit (DDU) and the Customs Border Control Unit (CBCU), cargo scanners and he introduction of the Customs green paper

The next journey between 2009 – 2014 focussed on the Integrated declaration system where 37 legacy systems had been replaced, introduction of the Customs Risk Engine (CRE), automated inspection process, automated workflows, automated stakeholder communication, mobile field devices, segmented client management and the electronic Road Manifests (eRFM).

The New Customs Act Programme called NCAP kicked off in 2015 up until 2021 and focussed on the redesign of the “old” Act, together with the relevant required ssystems, policy, process and people implications and design to allow for the implementation of the provisions of the newly drafted Customs Control and Duty Acts.  The focus was on reporting of conveyances and goods (RCG), registration, licensing and accreditation (RLA) together with the declaration processing system (DPS).

In 2021 the Customs Modernisation Journey took a shift to align with the SARS Vision 2024 with focus on nine (9) Strategic Objectives:

SO1     Provide Clarity & Certainty for Taxpayers & Traders of their obligations

SO2     Make it Easy for Taxpayers & Traders to Comply with their obligations

SO3     Detect Taxpayers & Traders who do not Comply, and make non-compliance Hard & Costly

SO4     Develop a High Performing, Diverse, Agile, Engaged and Evolved workforce

SO5     Increase and expand the use of Data within a comprehensive knowledge management framework to ensure integrity, drive insight and improve outcomes

SO6     Modernize our systems to provide Digital and Streamlined online services  

SO7     Demonstrate effective Resource Stewardship to ensure efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of quality outcomes and performance excellence

SO8     Work with and through Stakeholders to improve the tax ecosystem

SO9     Build Public Trust and Confidence in the tax administration system


The focussed initiatives under this modernisation project are on the following areas which are aligned to the above Strategic Objectives:

SO1 – Single Government Authorised Economic Operator (SGAEO) & Regional AEO

SO2 – SMART Borders, Single Window, Regional IT Connectivity and eCommerce

SO3 – Advance Import Payment (AIP) and the Valuation Database

SO4 – Customs Cadet Programme including the building of capabilities in core areas i.e. Audit, Data Science, Risk, etc.

SO5 – Predictive Analytics tools and increased 3rd Party data (SW)

SO6 – Focus and implementation of emerging technologies

SO7 – Process re-engineering, greater reliance on data & technology driven processes and resource optimisation

SO8 – Periodic clearance by AEO and account-based payments by AEO

The main drive for the “new” phase Customs Modernisation is to focus on initiatives that can be implemented quickly and have the greatest positive operational / fiscal / enforcement / technology impact.

This website has been set up to keep stakeholders informed of changes that take place under the Customs Modernisation Programme. 

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