Importing Personal Items


The import or export of personal effects takes various forms which are discussed further on this page.

The export of personal effects is not as burdensome on the shipper simply because there is no payment of duty implications although certain commodities may require additional paperwork such as prescriptions for medication and export permits for any restricted commodities. However, on import, the goods (excluding motor vehicles, cigarettes, and alcohol) that fall under this category are permitted to be imported into the RSA without the payment of customs duty and VAT in terms of rebate item 407.06 of Schedule No. 4 to the Customs and Excise Act, provided that you have been out of the Republic of South Africa for a period of 6 months or longer.

The following will be required for the importation of personal effects and household goods:
• Inventory of the goods:
• Inventory of the goods;
• Form P1.160 – Declaration in respect of unaccompanied manifested household effects
• Form DA 304 – Item 407.06 of Schedule No. 4 to the Customs and Excise Act ; and
• SAD 500 – Customs Declaration Form

Please keep in mind that an importer may only import personal effects once per a calendar year after which you will require special permission. If they don’t meet the criteria for the classifying their shipment as personal effects that they will require a 2nd goods import issued by IATC. If you wish to import more than 6 times, please click here for information how to apply for an ITAC permit. For the forms required to be completed please click here.

Customs inspect all items described as personal effects. Therefore delays in delivery must be expected for at least 3-7 working days which is beyond DHL’s control.

  • Goods imported by Diplomats, Heads of State, Consular Officials, Diplomatic Missions, etc.
    • Firstly, the country from which the diplomat hails must afford the same privileges to South African diplomats
    • The person is a listed in a register maintained by the Dept. of International Relation (hence the need for a Certificate A)
  • Goods imported by Returning Residents (407.06)
    • Certain goods are not permissible for example cigarettes and alcohol
    • Must be the bona-fide property of the importer
    • For returning residents, it must be after an absence of 6 months or more
    • Applicable to members of their family
    • Imported for own use
    • Cannot be sold within a period of 6 months from entry
  • In addition to the inventory (or packing list), a DA304 and P1.160 forms must be produced
  • Temporary residents will be allowed to import used household goods and personal effects duty-free if they are in possession of a valid temporary Work Permit and goods have been in their possession for at least one year prior to import and their work permit is valid for more than 6 months.

It is important to note that goods ‘left behind’ by travelers and subsequently imported at a later date are subject to the requirement for the DA304 and P1.160 documents.

  • Goods imported by tourists and residents returning after a holiday (407.01)
    • Residents returning an absence of less than 6 months must prove that the goods taken on departure are the same goods that they are arriving with
    • Excludes firearms
    • Once per person in a 30-day period but no less than after an absence of less than 48 hours
  • Dutiable / Restricted Items
  • Perfume and tobacco products
  • New items, including new furniture, are subject to duties and taxes
  • Alcohol is dutiable and taxable
  • Firearms require an Import Permit, Form SAP311 in addition to the DA304 and P1.160
  • A SAP312 will be issued by Customs allowing the importer 60 days to officially license the firearm with the South African police
  • Inherited goods may be imported duty-free provided the inheritor is in possession of a certified copy of the Last Will and Testament and a copy of the Death Certificate wherein the specific items are bequeathed
  • An Import Permit is also required
  • Antiques (Import Permit and Antique Dealers Certificate is required)

Prohibited Items

  • Drugs and narcotics
  • Pornographic or objectionable materials
  • Plants, seeds, bulbs, raw cotton
  • Uncooked meat/poultry
  • Honey, beeswax, bees and their larvae or eggs, used beehive appliances
  • Uncut diamonds
  • Unwrought gold
  • Ammunition