Here you will find a list of Frequently Asked Questions.

Hand-written Clearing instructions are accepted.  Commercial invoices must usually be typed – hand written commercial invoices are accepted by customs but subject to potential delays.

Private Individual Shipments

All private individuals without an Importer / Exporter code are now allowed to :

  • Import or export any number of consignments up to an annual total combined threshold of R150 000
  • No individual shipment limitations apply provided total annual threshold is not exceeded
  • May be cleared using the 707070 importers code

All items that are cleared through Customs are determined by a tariff heading (classification of the item). Once this has been done the rate of duty applicable for the item will apply. This is usually a percentage of the Customs value.

Customers can pay by clicking on the Online Payment Portal link on the Shipment Arrival Notification sent by e-mail from DHL. In addition, a text message will be sent to the customer’s mobile phone number ( if the mobile phone number is supplied), containing the URL that would direct the customer to the Payment Portal.

You can register as a local Importer with SARS by clicking here.


You can register as a local Exporter with SARS by clinking here.


VAT is presently levied at the standard rate of 15%. To calculate VAT on imported goods, the Added Tax Value (ATV) needs to be determined first. This is done as follows :

(Customs Rand Value (On date of exchange) + 10% thereof + (any non-rebated duties levied on the goods) =  [ATV] x 15% ( VAT payable )

The 10% mark-up on the customs value in this calculation is applicable when goods are imported from a country outside the Customs Union. For goods from any of the BLNS countries (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia or Swaziland), the 10% will not be added to the calculation.

If you are a Cash Customer, this would have been attached on the physical shipment on delivery. To request another copy please call 0860 345 000.

If you are a DHL Account holder, please log into your “MyAccount” DHL link in order to retrieve all copies relating to your shipment.

For support on MyAccount please call +2711 921 3774

For Account customers, the incorrect details are usually as a result of incorrect data loaded onto the DHL Clearance system and/or amendments in the customer’s  company profiling that needed to be communicated to DHL by means of a DHL Clearing Instruction. This can be amended by completing the DHL Clearing Instruction Form and attach it to an e-mail requesting the amendment to za.account.queries@dhl.com

For Cash Customers  the Shipment Arrival Notification (SAN)  is the draft indicating Vat and Duties applicable before Customs Submission, this SAN has the option to allow verification of the draft details prior to Customs Clearance.

If changes need to be made post-clearance then a DHL Clearing Instruction form will need to be completed and e-mailed  to za.account.queries@dhl.com requesting an amendment. An amendment charge of ZAR 600.00 may apply.

The Shipment Arrival Notification is also a Pro-Forma Invoice which is issued because the charges listed are only an estimation. A final Tax Invoice is issued once the shipment is cleared and will be delivered to you either by hand (for Cash Customers) or electronically (for Account Customers).

Duties and taxes are most typically not included in the price of the goods you purchase online.

When purchasing goods online, some or all of these goods may not originate in the country you reside in.

When goods are not shipped domestically (within your country) or within a single customs union, such as the European Union, you are liable to pay any inbound duties and taxes which your local customs authority deems appropriate.

To ensure the DHL courier can deliver your goods in the shortest possible transit time when we enter your country, where duties and taxes liabilities (not the shipment value) is less than ZAR 5000 DHL will automatically clear the shipment and collect payment prior to delivery but after clearance.

DHL only releases the goods to you upon the full repayment of any duties and taxes that were paid on your behalf.

Yes, the limitation applies to both imports and exports combined, maximum declared value under ZAR 150 000 per shipment.

The Duty Free Concession only applies to accompanied baggage and relates to goods up to the value of R25000 with set limits for alcohol and tobacco carried by persons over 18 years of age. Goods imported which are not accompanied baggage are subject to a different customs regulation with a limit of R500 (subject to 3 such imports per calendar year) and no thresholds for alcohol and tobacco (although the latter are subject to other statutory requirements by Other Government Agencies when imported).

Depending on value and the type of goods imported you may expect the following:

  • Customs duty (percentage of shipment value and transport charges)
  • Local tax
  • DHL Advance Payment surcharge
  • Any regulatory charges, if applicable

All private individuals without an importer/exporter code are now allowed to:

  • Import or export any number of consignments up to an annual total combined threshold of R150 000
  • No individual shipment limitations apply provided total annual threshold is not exceeded
  • Typed Commercial Invoice containing the following information:* Serial Number or Part Number of the item contained* If there is no serial or part number then a full resolution colour photograph (This is to prove that it is the same item being returned back to South Africa)
  • It needs to have an Exporters Code
  • Clients can expect an increased transit time as customs will inspect the shipment prior to departure
  • Please note the shipment must be returned within 6 months, if not the time will have elapsed and the customer will be required to pay tax and duties on re-importation

Expect a transit delay of 24-48 hour due to a customs inspection.

  • The total value of the gift cannot exceed R1400.00 (or approximately USD90.00, rate of exchange dependent). If the shipment value is above R1400 duties and taxes will be payable for the entire value of the items, not just the amount over R1400.
  • The importation of gifts cannot exceed 2 parcels per calendar year per person. In other words, a person cannot import gift more than twice in a year where the value does not exceed R1400.00.

It is mandatory for importers and exporters to provide their clearing agents with clearance instructions for EVERY formal clearance in terms of the Customs and Excise Act, 1964.

A copy can be downloaded from here.

Commercial invoice: Note ZA Customs do not accept proforma invoices –whether you use a commercial or proforma invoice has no bearing or impact on the duty liability. Nor is it accepted practice to allow the wording of “no customs value”

The commercial invoice is used specifically for Customs procedures and contains important information regarding the

  • exporter,
  • importer,
  • the goods/commodities being supplied and
  • the value to be used for Customs valuation purposes.

A detailed step-by-step form is available to help clients complete a commercial invoice correctly here.

A permanent export is an item or commodity that is sent out of ZA with no intent to return back to ZA.

A temporary export is a shipment or commodity that is sent out of ZA for a temporary time period with the intent of the shipment being returned to ZA within the prescribed period. Examples would include surveillance equipment, testing equipment, exhibition or trade shows or for a company completing a project outside of ZA. There is a time limit on the temp export of 6 months. It is important to note that there will be increased 1-2 day transit delay due to the mandatory customs inspection.

All temporary exports must be registered with SARS on a DA65 form prior to export (no post export clearance is allowed for temporary exports) Also must have clear serial numbers or marking or where there are no markings or serial number then photographs (for example for fashion garments being sent for a fashion show) as the export is done under customs supervision.

Customs inspects the shipment and stamps the DA65 and upon return the inspection is done against this DA65 to verify the same shipment is being returned. This is to ensure that the customer does not pay import duties and tax. The customer is liable to pay customs charges on the cost of repairs.

Expect a transit delay of 24-48 hour due to a customs inspection.

The difference between temporary export and Return & Repair (R&R) is that the temp is the same equipment returning to ZA the R&R is the broken item needing repair. It is important to remember that both return to ZA. For more information on Return & Repair click here.

It is the DHL Express Fee for the use of DHL’s bond facility with Customs. The Receiver is able to pay Customs through DHL instead of arranging their own clearance, bonds, cash or credit line directly with SARS. The service enables a faster clearance of imported goods requiring formal custom clearance.

You will not be paying to DHL any further shipping costs. Rather, you will be asked instead to pay customs duties, taxes and other import charges related to customs clearance in your home country, as per local regulations.

Every country has limitations for imported goods that are used for personal use. This is to avoid misuse and to distinguish imports for personal and commercial use. For more information on importing personal items please click here.

The International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC) Permit also known as an Import Permit, is generally required whenever the product being imported is “used” or “second-hand” goods. Even refurbished goods are considered second-hand and therefore are subject to the production of an Import Permit. This information on whether the goods are used or second-hand or not is obtained either from the commercial invoice description or the waybill description. A detailed step-by-step guide is available to help clients apply for an ITAC Permit correctly here.

Although you ordered and purchased the goods online, the goods are still subject to an import procedure to clear the shipment through customs. Clearance depends on:

  • The country of origin
  • The value including transport charges
  • The quantity of goods

Each country has its own customs laws and the duties for different types of goods and values are set locally. DHL, like any other international transportation company, must adhere to local customs legislation and so DHL pays duties on the receiver’s behalf to clear shipments on arrival.

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