What are Imports?
Goods arrive in the Republic by one of the following modes of transport: Air, Sea, Road, Rail, Post including transmission commodities like crude oil, natural gas and their derivatives and other liquids and gases transported through cross-border pipelines as well as electricity transmitted through cross-border transmission lines. In order for Customs to safeguard any revenue due to the State and ensure compliance with national legislation, the importer must declare to Customs what they have brought into the country and the mode of transport used. If goods arrive in the country via the post, a different process is followed.
The importation of a variety of goods is either totally prohibited or may be subject to inspection by other authorities. See the Consolidated list of Prohibited and Restricted Exports Imports. To see how to register as an Importer, click here.
Processes to import goods into the Republic?
Goods may enter the Republic and be cleared through one of these processes:
- home consumption i.e. direct entry into South African Customs Union (SACU) countries (duty is paid on importation or under rebate / relief from duties under specific circumstances / conditions);
- warehousing (pending payment of duty or re-export)
- transit / in bond movements within the country or through South Africa beyond the borders of SACU;
- temporary admission into SACU including inward processing (for manufacturing purposes and subsequent exportation).
What is the timeframe for due entry of goods?
National legislation gives an importer / agent seven days (an additional seven days in which to make due entry for loose or break bulk cargo, imported by sea, air or rail i.e. 14 days) or 28 days in the case of goods in a container depot, in which to clear goods from the time they have landed in the Republic.
What happens if goods are not declared on time?
These may be removed and detained in a State Warehouse. It must be noted that certain goods will require an import permit, which must be produced at the time of clearance. For more information, you can refer to Consolidated list of Prohibited and Restricted Exports and Imports. Permits for restricted goods can be obtained from the International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC).
What is the clearance process?
The clearance process includes accepting and checking the goods declaration against the documents produced (invoice, bill of lading, certificate of origin, permits, etc.), examination of the goods if necessary and the assessment and collection of duty and VAT. Customs may require additional information and may also request samples. Customs may also detain goods for other Government departments. The relevant Government department will then ensure compliance with their applicable laws, regulations and rules. Customs values are set by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) valuation code, which involves six valuation methods. You can refer to the SC-CF-55 – Clearance Declaration – External Policy document for more information. For more information on other customs processes related to clearance declaration you can access the links below: