South Africa

South Africa has some of the most advanced Customs and Regulatory controls on the continent. Understanding these before importing a shipment ensures you are empowered to receive your important shipment swiftly and easily. An overview of some of the most pertinent information is described in this article and other specific articles on your DHL Guide.

Importing into South Africa

General advice

All shipments arriving into South Africa should be accompanied by an original Commercial Invoice. This requirement differs from other countries in the region. Shipment arriving without a commercial invoice will be stopped and not released until a commercial invoice is supplied. Pro Forma invoices, Consignment Notes or hand written invoices are not suitable to clear a shipment through customs.

The person receiving the shipment who is stated on the Commercial Invoice and Airwaybill is considered the Importer of Record. The importer of record is responsible to ensure the statements on the paperwork are factual,  accurate and in accordance to the law. Any discrepancies on the paperwork (even though the sender completed the invoice) may result in penalties such as fines or even seizure of the shipment by customs. Please be aware to liaise with the sender of the item prior to sending to ensure a fully completed commercial invoice is sent with the shipment.

Individuals may import 6 shipments per calendar year into South Africa before registering as an importer. It is the responsibility of the importer to track the number of imports and register themselves before this limit is reached. More details about registering can be found here. Individuals may also receive gifts in limited quantities each year. We have put together a specific guide for receiving a gift from overseas.

Should a shipment be uncleared for 14 days after arrival into South Africa, DHL is legally bound to send the shipment to the Government States Warehouse where it is stored for a limited time before being destroyed or auctioned. Generally, rent is payable at a rate of R10.00 per day per consignment which the importer must pay should they wish to retrieve the shipment and pay the import duties.

DHL charges a fee of 2.5 % of the value of the shipment with a Minimum of ZAR 150.00 in order to process the clearance.

If a business traveler has to import trade tools to South Africa for meetings, training etc, they should apply in advance for an ATA Carnet from the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry if the import is temporary. For permanent imports, the business traveler may use a South African associates Importers Code or appoint a proxy and use their South Africa citizen ID.

For importers who do not have an account to pay duties, DHL has an industry leading clearance tool which, when the Commercial Invoice is correctly filled in with contact details, sends an SMS or email to an importer whilst the shipment is still in transit in order to pay the duties/taxes via a credit card or EFT payment. This allows shipments to clear customs before even arriving into the country!

Samples imported to South Africa are subject to strict controls which are explained here.

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