What is an importer?

Any person (local or foreign) who import goods into South Africa must register as an importer including the importation of continuous transmission commodities (CTC).

Any foreigner importer (e.g. individual or juristic person) who wishes to import goods into South Africa must register as an importer and nominate a registered agent located in South Africa before such foreign importer will be registered to import goods into South Africa.

Such nominated ‘registered agent’ must assume full liability for the acts of a foreign principal in relation to any business activity with Customs. To see information on how imports work, click here.   If the applicant is a foreign entity:

  • He / she must nominate a registered agent using a DA 185 D;
  • Not represented by a registered agent located in South Africa, the application must be suspended until an approved registered agent is nominated by the foreign entity; and
  • Which is a juristic entity, a certified copy of the founding document or any certificate issued in terms of the laws of the country where the foreign licensee or registered person is incorporated, registered or recognised certifying such incorporation must be submitted at time of application.

Foreign entities clearing cargo for international transit through South Africa are not required to register with Customs.

No security is required at time of registration. However, Customs reserves the right to impose a security based on the risk status of the applicant.

A Registered Agent nominated by a foreign principal must assume full liability for the acts of a foreign principal in relation to any business activity with Customs.

Registered importers and / or must also register as an EDI user if he / she will be submitting his / her own CCD to Customs. If he/she makes use of a licensed Customs Clearing agent or Registered Agent, an importer or exporter does not need to register as an EDI user. 

What is the procedure to register as an importer?

If you are a prospective importer you must complete forms DA185 and DA185.4A1 and forward them to the relevant Customs Offices where a Customs and Excise client code will be allocated to you. The documents that must accompany the application are:

  • Proof of address i.e. your municipal water and electricity account. 
  • Certified copy of your identity document.

From the Registrar of Companies a certified copy of either of the following:

  • Close Corporation registration;
  • Company registration.

Certified copies of the following documents:

  • VAT, IT, PAYE, SDL, UIF letters from SARS to confirm revenue registration details;
  • Resolution/consent or other authority as applicable; 
  • Telkom and/or cellphone account not older than 3 months to confirm contact details.

One of the following to prove bank details:

  • A document confirming the banking details of the bank account, which can be:

    • A bank certified original bank statement or a legible bank certified copy of an original bank statement;

    • a bank certified auto bank statement; or

    • an original letter from the bank on an official bank letterhead.

Account number and branch code:

  • An original letter from the bank on a letterhead; or 
  • An original auto bank statement.

You must be older than 18 years and have a permanent address in the RSA.

If your application is for licensing for a warehouse, clearing agent or remover of goods the following applies:

  • Fees applicable for application; and
  • Where a warehouse is involved, plan of proposed warehouse.

How to register as a Local Importer

How to register as a Foreign Importer

Foreign importers/exporters and removers of bonded cargo by road, referred to as ‘foreign principals’, are required to register or license, as applicable, directly with SARS as a ‘foreign principal’. Simultaneously, they must nominate a ‘registered agent’ located in South Africa. Foreign importers and exporters must be represented by a South African ‘registered agent’ who assumes full liability for the acts of a foreign principal in relation to any business activity with Customs. When approaching SA‐based registered agents, they should present documents to verify their identity and appropriate trade documentation.

Which forms and documents are required for registering as a Foreign Importer?

Where are the importer registration forms available?

Application forms are available below or from any Customs office.

Where to submit the forms?

Application forms must be submitted to the nearest Customs office.  
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