Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

What is it?

EDI, or electronic data interchange, is essentially a “paperless” trading system. It involves the electronic transfer of data, by established message standards, from one computer application to another.

Growth in world trade means businesses are increasingly developing better ways of managing the movement of raw materials, stock and finished goods. EDI organises the flow of information from one end of the supply chain to the other.
The benefits of using EDI:
  • It is a fully automated process that needs little or no intervention by either party
  • Declarations can be accepted round-the-clock
  • Quicker retrieval of cargo through the reduction of clearance times
  • A reduction in manual administrative processes resulting in fewer errors and no duplication
  • Harmonised business relationships with other bodies such as Transnet Port Terminals, Transnet Rail Terminals, airlines and container depots.
In terms of Government Notice R814 dated 31 July 2009, SARS is legally mandated to enforce the use of EDI for the submission of certain cargo and goods declarations and reports.
Any carrier(s) or operator(s) (e.g. depot, container terminal or wharf operator) must for the purpose of submitting, receiving and processing cargo reports on the Manifest Processing (MPR) system [previously named the Manifest Acquittal System (MAS)] register with SARS if he / she: 
  • Transports goods or travellers into or out of South Africa on board a vessel, aircraft, railway carriage or vehicle; or
  • Loadon board a vessel, aircraft, railway carriage or vehicle any goods that are not in free circulation at any place in South Africa and then transports those goods to another place in South Africa or through South Africa. South African carriers removing goods in bond must first license with Customs in terms of Section 64D (see SC-TR-01-05).

Foreign carriers must appoint a registered agent in South Africa as his / her representative. The foreign carrier must submit a letter of appointment and DA 185 D with his / her application for registration.

A person managing or operating a Container terminal must first license with the National Ports authority (TRANSNET). Once a licence has been issued to such person, he / she must register with Customs as a cargo reporter for the submission of reports that relate to:

  • Loading of containers onto vessels and off-loading of containers from vessels;
  • Transhipment of containers;
  • The storage of containers;
  • The stacking and unstacking of containers;
  • The receipt for shipment and the delivery of containers;
  • The transfer of containers within the terminal; and
  • The transfer of containers between terminals, if requested, including container or cargo transfers for Customs inspection purposes.
All registered Importers and / Exporters, registered agents or licensed customs clearing agents must also register as an EDI user for the purpose of submitting CCD electronically to customs, except if he / she submits less than ten (10) CCD per calendar month that do not exceed ten (10) lines.
Comprehensive details regarding customs EDI process can be found in the SARS EDI Manual. The latest versions of the UN/EDIFACT Message Implementation Guidelines (MIG) and other technical resources can be found below.
For automation of Provisional Payments for Customs Imports Declaration and Activation of Preferential Codes, click here.

How does EDI Registration work?

SARS is legally mandated to enforce electronic communication. The following client types are required to register as an EDI user in terms of Section 101A to submit reports and declarations electronically to Customs.

The following client types are required to register with Customs to submit reports electronically via the Manifest Processing System (MPR):

  • Airport authority;
  • Carriers;
  • Courier;
  • Operators of: Groupage, Container Terminal, Wharf, Container and Degrouping Depot, Transit Shed;
  • Railway authority; and
  • Road Haulier.
The following client types are required to register with Custom to submit declaration electronically to Customs:
  • Importer and / Exporter; and
  • Accredited and non-accredited agents.

If you are a first-time EDI applicant or if you are an existing EDI client who wishes to use the Internet to transfer data, read the following document: PKI application procedure – Client.

Which forms are required to register as an EDI user?

Before completing any forms, you need to contact a service provider to obtain the necessary software. Once that is completed, the following application forms need to be filled in.

EDI applicants using an Internet sender address must present themselves with their ID book, application forms and relevant supporting documents to the nearest Customs Office or SARS Head Office to:

The EDI Business Administrator (Emelia Holtzhausen / Annamarie de la Rey)
Head Office
299 Bronkhorst Street
Lehae La SARS
Nieuw Muckleneuk

Emelia Holtzhausen
Cell: +27 83 555 3506
Annamarie de la Rey
Cell: +27 71 673 6072

Turnaround time

The turnaround time for EDI registrations is approximately seven (7) working days.

SARS Customs and EDI technical resources 

Sent to SARS:
Related resources:         
    • Cargo Processing System 
Sent to SARS:
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