The pros and cons of importing personal goods to South Africa Immigration

Import of personal goods to South Africa

Importing personal goods into South Africa is expected to be subject to a number of rules and regulations. This is standard worldwide when goods are transported from one country to another.

However, we’ve made things easier for you by bringing all the important information together in one place. Just read on to learn what’s allowed and what’s not, and what forms are required.

1. The rules and regulations

Immigrants, returning SA residents, temporary residents and diplomats are allowed to import household and personal items into South Africa.

You are allowed to import once. To do a second import you need to get permission from SA customs.

The difference between personal and household items:

“Personal items” are items of a personal nature, while “household items” are items that are less personal in nature.

Examples of personal items are clothing, shoes, books, videos, and exercise equipment, while household items can include furniture, carpets, household appliances, and dishes.

The required forms are:

  • Inventory.
  • Form DA 304 – item 407.06 of Appendix No. 4 of the Customs and Excise Tax Act.
  • Form P1.160 Declaration Regarding Unaccompanied Obvious Household Items.
  • Certified copy of the passport.
  • Certified copy of the residence permit (if applicable). The passport must have the entry stamp to South Africa. This must also be certified.

The fine print:

  • Returning residents must have been outside of South Africa for at least 6 consecutive months to qualify for duty-free entry.
  • Temporary residents may only be imported duty-free if they have a valid temporary work permit. This must be valid for at least six months.
  • Diplomats are required to provide a diplomatic clearance certificate.

2. Importing new or used cars

Should you import your car when moving to South Africa, you will have to pay import duties and taxes. The documents you will need to import your car are:

  • Import permit. You must obtain this authorization before shipping the vehicle to South Africa.
  • Power of attorney. You must request this letter from the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS).

Please note: It is generally forbidden to import left-hand drive vehicles if the vehicle was registered on or after January 1, 2000 in the name of an importer, unless this has been approved by SABS.

Required Documents

To import your car to South Africa you must have:

  • Your PR certificate for permanent residents.
  • Proof of emigration from South Africa, proof of permanent residence abroad and proof that such permanent residence has been withdrawn. This applies to returning South Africans.
  • Completed DA 304 A form.
  • Buy documents.
  • Registration certificate / permission.
  • Proof of the date the vehicle was delivered.
  • Proof of the date the vehicle was handed over to SA for delivery.
  • An import permit for used vehicles.
  • An original power of attorney.

3. Import of vehicles when changing permanent residence to South Africa

In relation to the Customs and Excise Tax Act:

  • Immigrants and
  • South African residents who originally emigrated from the republic were given permanent residency status abroad and then returned.

As a natural person, after a permanent stay in South Africa or after a permanent return to South Africa, you can import one car per family with full customs duty:

(i) provided that the imported vehicle is the personal property of the importer and has been used by him personally

(a) for a period of at least 12 months prior to his departure for the Republic; or

b) for a period of less than 12 months prior to departure for the Republic; or

(ii) in the case of approved Intended Residents arriving from an African country, owned and used for as short a period as the Commissioner may decide in exceptional circumstances; and

(iii) provided the vehicle is not offered, advertised, loaned, rented, leased, pledged, given away, exchanged, sold or otherwise disposed of within a period of 20 months from the date of entry.

If you owned and used the vehicle for less than 12 months prior to your departure to South Africa, the customs discount will be reduced proportionally.

4. Restricted and Prohibited Articles

SA Customs restricts and prohibits a number of items when importing personal goods into South Africa:

Restricted Articles:

You can import the following items into South Africa, but must first obtain a license and / or import permit:

  • Fire arms. Please note that firearms are subject to customs control. You should therefore pack all firearms separately and ensure that these items are easily accessible.
  • Alcohol. Alcohol is dutiable, which means you need to make a full list of imported alcohol, including the alcohol percentage, label names and values.
  • Plants, seeds and bulbs.

Prohibited Articles:

You are not allowed to import the following items:

  • Ammunition and explosives.
  • Narcotics.
  • Pornographic material.
  • Agricultural products.
  • Uncooked meat and poultry.
  • Honey, beeswax, bees, bee eggs or larvae and used beehive tools.
  • Uncut diamonds.
  • Raw gold.

5. Customs clearance

You must be in South Africa before customs clearance can take place. It is possible to clear your belongings in your absence, but customs may require you to see your passport.

If you are not available to show your passport, customs will place your goods in Bond. Customs will only release your belongings once they have received your passport and the documents requested.

Please note:

  • Customs clearance takes an average of 7 to 10 working days from the date the documents are presented.
  • SA Customs may, at its own discretion, designate each shipment for inspection. You can expect to pay an exam fee for this.

One final note on importing personal goods into South Africa

We have done our best to provide you with the latest update information. However, it is advisable to contact them as well South African Revenue Service before moving to South Africa. SARS is the governing body for all matters related to imports.

You can see our sources Here, Here and Here.

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