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Accreditation for Preferred Traders

What’s new?

3 March 2020 PT/AEO update

What is it?

Accreditation is an advanced programme which forms a partnership between SARS and those clients who have an appropriate record of compliance, financial stability, and who maintain a high quality of internal operational processes and computer systems. In return, SARS Customs offers certain benefits to these clients.

The previous accreditation scheme was amended in the Rules to the Customs Act on 29 July 2011 and the programme was closed. Previous existing clients are now deemed to be on a level one Accreditation status and will maintain the benefits already awarded them until the implementation of the new Customs Acts, which then terminate all level one clients.   The introduction of a level two Accreditation programme, with effect from 1 August 2011 (also known as Preferred Trader) is in response to the need to further improve trade facilitation, whilst securing international supply chains and encouraging greater compliance.   For this purpose, the Rules on Accreditation now include a test of sufficient knowledge, provision for a Customs Relationship Manager, the appointment of a Customs Accreditation Review Committee and a compliance measurement programme.   The Preferred Trader programme is based on international standards as defined in the Revised Kyoto Convention and aims to enhance Customs to business partnerships. The SARS Preferred Trader Compliance programme has been designed to be equivalent to the European Union (EU) Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) Compliance model.

What are the scheme’s benefits?

SARS promises accredited clients specific benefits attached to level two status: 

  • The appointment of a Customs Relationship Manager tasked with facilitating the relationship between the client and Customs
  • Reduction of the amount of security required for compliance with a Customs procedure
  • Fewer routine documentary and physical inspections
  • Prioritising a request for tariff and valuation determinations
  • Prioritising access to non-intrusive inspection techniques when goods are stopped or detained for inspection.
  • Prioritising and expediting inspections
  • Permitting, on application, the inspection of goods at the clients premises, irrespective of the type of goods
  • Priority processing of declarations submitted electronically in terms of rule 101A.

Which client types can apply to be an accredited client?

Only a registered importer and/or exporter, including any importer and/or exporter deemed to be a level one accredited client in terms of Rule 64E.10 (a), may apply to partake in level two of the Accreditation programme. Further client types will be included at a later stage.

What are the requirements for Accreditation?

  • Clients must ensure that the applicants, the person having the management of the applicant and the employee responsible for Customs accreditation matters have not:
    • Been convicted of an offence involving fraud and dishonesty;
    • Been convicted of any offence in terms of the Act;
    • Incurred an administrative penalty over a period of three years immediately preceding the application in respect of any offence in terms of the Customs and Excise legislation, which are deemed serious offences involving dishonesty, intent or bribery.
  • Clients must ensure that they have not been convicted of any offence in terms of the Customs and Excise Act No. 91 of 1964 Act or any other tax law.

  • An appropriate accounting and logistical system is a requirement and the applicant must:
    • Communicate electronically by registering as a user in accordance with the provisions of Section 101A. This provision does not exclude the use of a Customs broker/ Clearing forwarding agent;
    • Maintain a full audit trail of all Customs activities;
    • Have a record of verifiable procedures for backup, recovery, archiving and retrieval of business records;
    • Have an effective record keeping and operational system consistent with generally accepted accounting principles.
  • Applicants must demonstrate sufficient knowledge of Customs. The applicant must designate an employee who will be responsible for Customs matters and the person must complete an assessment which will be administered by the SARS Institute of Learning.

  • Applicants must produce evidence of sufficient financial resources:
    • Audited financial statements of the business for the past three financial years;
    • Where no such statements are available, sufficient evidence to prove the viability of the business, which may include proof of available financial resources of whatever nature. 

What is the accreditation procedure for importers and exporters?

Applications are handed in at the relevant SARS Customs Branch Offices where there is a specific process to follow; thereafter they are sent to Head Office for the final decision. The offices are:

  • Cape Town Office – P166, Sanlam Building, 15th  Floor, 22 Hans Strydom, Cape Town;
  • Durban – Albany House, East Wing, 3rd Floor, 61/62 Margaret Mncadi Avenue, Durban;
  • Gauteng South  – SARS House, First Floor, 49 New quay Road, New Redruth, Alberton;
  • Gauteng North – OR Tambo International Airport,  New Agents Building;
  • Port Elizabeth – Sanlam Building, 3 Winston Ntshona Street, Port Elizabeth.

The application process involves the following:

  • Evaluating the information supplied in the application form;
  • Conducting an inspection (the client will be informed of the place of inspection and will be consulted about a date); and
  • Informing the applicant of the outcome and signing the agreement if approved.  

 Which forms to complete?

For more information, see the Guide for Accreditation SC-CF-07. It will assist you in the completion of the application and other provisions required for possible acceptance to level two accreditation status.  

Need more help?

For queries relating to Preferred Trader, kindly contact the SARS Contact Centre on 0800 00 7277.  

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