What’s New?

  • 20 April 2021 – Changes to Duty and Tax Free shops

Transitional arrangements for inbound duty and tax free shops in addition to the already existing outbound duty and tax free shops, came into force on 5 June 2009. In this revision, the transitional arrangements are removed as they are no longer required. For more information, see the Inbound and Outbound Duty and Tax Free Shops – External Policy.

  • 20 April 2021 – Find useful information on the tax obligations relating to Small, Micro, and Medium Enterprises (SMMEs) Small Business:
  • 30 September 2020 – Opening of ports of entry for international movement of persons and goods

    The National Border Management Coordinating Committee issued a directive on 28 September 2020 to all its Ports of Entry Managers. The directive related to the announcement by the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, on 16 September 2020, that travel into and out of South Africa for business, leisure and other purposes will be allowed with effect from 1 October 2020.

    The directive stated that the movement of people through the ports must be subject to the protocols as guided by the relevant regulations.
  • 28 September 2020 – Banks are discontinuing cheques as a payment method on 31 December 2020. Please note that SARS will no longer accept cheque payments after 31 December 2020.

Customs is responsible for protecting South African borders so that all travellers as well as crew members with their legitimate goods can pass freely. We do this by using world-class risk management technology and customs checks carried out by our officers at sea, land and airports.   After passing through the Department of Home Affairs, all travellers as well as crew members pass through Customs where they can declare goods that may be liable for payment of duties in the event that they have anything to declare. Travellers must pay the duty assessed by the Customs Officer, if any, to the Controller / Branch Manager.

All persons must complete a Traveller Card (TC-01):

On arrival into South Africa, the person must declare any goods: 

  • Purchased or acquired abroad on which duty has not been paid;
  • Remodelled processed or repaired abroad;
  • Prohibited or restricted or controlled under any law;
  • Re-importation by returning resident of South Africa who registered such goods at time of leaving South Africa; or
  • Temporary imported by non-resident of South Africa into South Africa with the intention to be re-exported in the same state when leaving South Africa.

Any person leaving South Africa must declare any goods that he / she will be taking with him / her beyond the border of South Africa before leaving South Africa, this includes goods and vehicles:

  • Carried on behalf of another person;
  • Intended for remodel, process or repair abroad;
  • Prohibited or restricted or controlled under any law;
  • Temporary imported by non-resident of South Africa for use during his / her stay in South Africa.

Any person who has in his / her possession must enter the red channel and declare:

  • Any prohibited and / or restricted goods;
  • Any goods intended for trade purposes; or
  • Foreign currency, South African bank notes or Kruger Rand coins that exceeds the exchange control regulations;
  • Any goods in excess of his / her duty free allowance (DFA);
  • Any valuable goods that need to be registered for temporary importation into or exportation from South Africa.

A person may proceed through the GREEN channel if he / she:

  • Has nothing to declare;
  • Is in possession of goods that fall within his / her Duty Free Allowances; or
  • Is not in possession of any prohibited, restricted or controlled goods, gifts carried on behalf of others (e.g. those sent by a person overseas to another person in South Africa), or commercial goods (for trade purposes).

Customs may stop and examine a person or his / her baggage in these channels to determine whether a person complies with the provisions of Section 15 of the Customs and Excise Act, 1964 (the Act). Customs officers may at any time, break any lock attached to the baggage if the keys thereof are not produced on demand.  A person will not be entitled to any compensation for any loss or damage arising out of any bona fide action of a customs officer.   A Customs officer may physically inspect any unaccompanied baggage under Customs control in the absence of the traveller or transport representative or his / her agent in order to determine whether the provisions of the Act or any other law have been complied with provided all reasonable efforts were ascertained to track down the owner (traveller) of the unaccompanied baggage or the transport representative or his / her agent.

If a traveller or crew member failed to declare any goods in his / her possession or incorrectly declared goods during a routine or physical inspection, a customs officer may detain the goods for further intervention (e.g. evidence for the prosecution of an offence) or request the traveller or crew member to lodge a deposit for the possible contravention of the provisions of section 15 of the Act, e.g. failure to declare goods in his / her possession that exceeds his / her duty free allowance (DFA).

Any prohibited or restricted goods or excess currency detained by Customs will be handed over to the relevant Government Agency(ies) for further intervention.

Travellers or crew members are being urged to answer all questions asked by a Customs Officer fully and truthfully because if there are any reasonable grounds for suspecting that an offence is being committed in terms of the Act, an officer may in such instances request a traveller or crew member to produce and open his or her accompanied baggage to be searched or examined (e.g. using X-ray scanner or any other non-intrusive inspection methods).


The payments of any duties, taxes, deposits or penalties due to Customs can be made in cash, by debit or credit card: A person has two (2) options to make a payment to Customs: a) Pay Now Option; or b) Pay Later Option. When the person selects this option, the goods in question will be detained by Customs pending proof of payment within thirty (30) days.     The following restrictions apply regarding payments made at a Customs branch office:

  • Rules/limitations:
    • Payment must be made in South African Rand (R).
    • Payment can be made during office hours at any Customs branch office (8:00 to 15:00). Payments must be received no later than 15:00.
    • Where payments are received after 15:00, this will be deemed to have been received on the first following business day.
    • The number of coins that will be received at Customs branch offices are limited according to denominations:
      • A maximum amount of R50 in R5 coins;
      • A maximum amount of R20 in R2 coins;
      • A maximum amount of R20 in R1 coins;
      • A maximum amount of R5 in 10 cents – 50 cents coins;
      • A maximum amount of 50c in 5 cents coins; and
      • The amount of bank notes is limited to R2 000. 00 per transaction. This also applies to travellers.

                      Note: All cash payments are rounded off to the nearest 5 cents.

Excess Currency

Excess currency is any amount in excess of R25 000 or any foreign currency which is convertible to Rand in excess of R25 000. Travellers must obtain written permission from the National Treasury before entering/leaving South Africa with excess currency and must, upon arrival/departure, declare such excess currency on a Traveller Card (TC-01).  The cash to be declared is South African bank notes and foreign currency, as well as South African bank notes, securities, gold and foreign currency upon departure. For more information about Excess currency, see SC-PA-01-06 – Excess Currency – External Policy.
Migrant labourers returning to neighbouring countries are permitted to take with them reasonable amounts in the form of Rand notes representing their earnings in South Africa.

The excess currency regulation is applicable to persons entering or leaving the Common Monetary area. Botswana does not form part of the CMA, therefore Exchange Control requirements of non-CMA travellers entering or leaving South Africa apply.

For more information about tax and immigration you can refer to this link Tax and emigration.

Further information on the traveller declaration is in the SC-PA-01-11 – Traveller Processing – External Policy

To access this page in different languages click on the links below:

Related Documents

APT-02 – Air Passenger Tax – External Policy

APT101 – Agents application for registration cancellation or changing of registered particulars – External Form

APT102 – Operators application for registration cancellation or changing of registered particulars – External Form

APT201 – Return for Air Passenger Tax – External Form

Customs-BR001 – Traveller Leaflet Land borders – External Brochure

Customs-BR002 – Traveller Leaflet Land borders French – External Brochure

Customs-BR003 – Traveller Leaflet Airports harbours English – External Brochure

Customs-BR004 – Traveller Leaflet Airports harbours French – External Brochure

Customs-BR005 – Traveller Leaflet Land borders Portuguese – External Brochure

Customs-BR006 – Traveller Leaflet Land borders Afrikaans – External Brochure

Customs-BR007 – Traveller Leaflet Airports harbours Portuguese – External Brochure

Customs-BR008 – Traveller leaflet Airports harbours Afrikaans – External Brochure

Customs-G001 – Travellers Guide new – External Guide

DA 306 – Application for release of goods in terms of Section 38 1 a of the Customs and Excise Act Act 91 of 1964 – Externa

DA 306A – Export of goods ito section 38(3)(a) read with rule 38

SC-CW-01-07 – Inbound and Outbound Duty and Tax Free Shops – External Policy

SC-PA-01-03 – Guide on Duty Free Allowances for Travellers – External Guide

SC-PA-01-06 – Excess Currency – External Policy

SC-PA-01-09 – Completion of Traveller Card – External Manual

SC-PA-01-11 – Traveller Processing – External Policy

TC01 – Traveller Card – External Form

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