What is the VAT refund mechanism?
The current standard rate of VAT in South Africa is 15%. The standard rate is applicable to almost all goods or services supplied in the economy and is ultimately born by the end consumer.
South Africa has a VAT refund mechanism to refund the amount of VAT paid on the acquisition of goods by persons visiting South Africa. The person must submit a claim for a VAT refund at the time of departure or the time the goods are exported from South Africa, subject to certain conditions and requirements listed in Part One of the Export Regulation.
The VAT refund only applies to the acquisition of goods and not the acquisition of services for example VAT paid on the supply of transport services. For more info on the process for VAT refunds claims, see the Guide on the Vat refunds in terms of Part 1 of the Vat Export Regulation no. 316 and the actual Regulation R316 in terms of the definition of ‘Exported’ in the VAT Act as in GG 37580.
Special rules apply for the refund of VAT paid on the acquisition of registrable goods and second-hand goods, for more information please refer to Part One of the Export Regulation. See the Guide on the Vat refunds in terms of Part 1 of the Vat Export Regulation no. 316 and the actual Regulation R316 in terms of the definition of ‘Exported’ in the VAT Act as in GG 37580.
Who may claim a VAT refund?
The Export Regulation defines a person who qualifies for the VAT refund mechanism to mean a “qualifying purchaser” and include a –
- foreign diplomat;
- foreign enterprise;
- non-resident of the Republic;
There are other requirements to be met for purposes of the definition of “qualifying purchaser” for more information, see the Guide on the Vat refunds in terms of Part 1 of the Vat Export Regulation no. 316 and the actual Regulation R316 in terms of the definition of ‘Exported’ in the VAT Act as in GG 37580.
How do I claim a VAT refund?
A qualifying purchaser, may claim a refund of VAT paid on the acquisition of goods by submitting such claim to the VAT Refund Administrator (the VRA).
The qualifying purchaser must, amongst others, present himself, together with the goods to a customs official at one of the listed designated commercial ports from where the qualifying purchaser will departure from South Africa. The tax invoice for goods that are not kept as hand luggage must be endorsed by the customs official and a VRA official, if the VRA has a physical presence at the commercial port. If the VRA does not have a physical presence, you must apply in writing to the VRA. See the list of commercial ports further down.
For more information, see the Guide on the Vat refunds in terms of Part 1 of the Vat Export Regulation no. 316 and the actual Regulation R316 in terms of the definition of ‘Exported’ in the VAT Act as in GG 37580.
When will a VAT refund be considered?
A VAT refund will be considered if the following requirements, amongst others, are met:
- The purchaser must be a qualifying purchaser as defined in the Export Regulation.
- The goods must be exported within 90 days from the date of the tax invoice subject to certain exceptions listed in Part One to the Export Regulation
- The VAT inclusive total of all movable goods purchased during a particular visit to South Africa and exported at the end of that visit by the qualifying purchaser must exceed the minimum of R250 per qualifying purchaser.
- The request for a refund, together with the relevant documentation, must be received by the VRA within 90 days of date of export.
- The goods must be exported through one of the 43 designated commercial ports by the qualifying purchaser or the qualifying purchaser’s cartage contractor.
- The qualifying purchaser must submit all the relevant original documentary proof as contemplated in Part One of the Export Regulations in order to prove that the movable goods were exported by road, sea, air or rail.
The 43 designated commercial ports are:
|Land Border Posts|
King Shaka (Durban)
OR Tambo (Johannesburg)
How do I contact the VRA?
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