Inspections for Travellers

Customs officers who in the course of their duties are required to conduct an inspection of baggage, premises, vehicles or ships. This is according to Section 15 that states that any person entering or leaving South Africa shall, in such a manner as the Commissioner may determine, unreservedly declare all goods (including goods of another person) upon his/her person or in his/her possession (including accompanied or unaccompanied baggage) which: 

  • Were purchased or otherwise acquired abroad or on any ship, vehicle or in any shop selling goods on which duty has not been paid;
  • Were remodelled, processed or repaired abroad;
  • Are prohibited, restricted or controlled under any law; or
  • Were required to be declared before leaving South Africa as contemplated below.

Before leaving, all goods which you proposes taking with you beyond the borders of South Africa, including goods which are:  

  • Carried on behalf of another person;
  • Intended for remodel, process or repair abroad;
  • Prohibited, restricted or controlled under any law; or
  • Goods which a person who temporarily entered South Africa was required to declare upon entering South Africa.

As a traveller, you must answer fully and truthfully all questions put to you by a customs officer and, if required by such officer to do so, produce and open such goods for inspection. You must pay the duty assessed by the customs officer, if any, to the controller / branch manager.  

A customs officer may stop, detain and examine any accompanied or unaccompanied baggage while under customs control in order to determine whether the provisions of the Customs and Excise Act or any other law have been complied with, in respect of such baggage.   

The customs officer may at any time, break any lock attached to your baggage if the keys thereof are not produced on demand. No person shall 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 inspect the unaccompanied baggage in the absence of the transport representative or his / her agent if all reasonable efforts to ascertain the whereabouts of such transport representative or his / her agent was unsuccessful. 


Clients need to adhere to the provisions of the Act for inspection, and if they failed to do so, it is considered an offence. Offences may result in: 

  • Monetary penalties;
  • Criminal prosecution; and/or
  • Suspension/cancelation of registration/license/accreditation. 

For more information on inspection for travellers, you may refer to the SC-PA-01-11 – Traveller Processing – External Policy.  

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