Certain goods may be imported into South Africa without paying Customs duty or Value Added Tax (VAT).
The following goods may be imported into South Africa without the payment of Customs duty and Value Added Tax (VAT):
- Consumable goods in accompanied baggage
- Goods falling within the following allowances may be imported without the payment of Customs duty and VAT as accompanied baggage. Crew members, including the master of a ship and the pilot of an aircraft, are only entitled to this rebate provided they are returning to South Africa permanently.
- No more than 200 cigarettes and 20 cigars per person.
- No more than 250g of cigarette or pipe tobacco per person.
- No more than 50ml perfumery and 250ml eau de toilette per person.
- No more than 2 litres of wine per person.
- No more than 1 litre in total of spirituous and other alcoholic beverages per person.
Persons under 18 years of age may claim duty-free allowances on goods imported by them, with the exception of alcohol and tobacco products, whether or not they are accompanied by their parents or guardians and provided that it is for their personal use.
Personal effects, sporting and recreational equipment
Visitors may bring in new or used personal effects, sporting and recreational equipment either as accompanied or unaccompanied baggage, for own use during their visit.
Please note that you may be required to lodge a cash deposit to cover the potential duty/tax on expensive articles pending the re-exportation of these items.
Traveller’s Guide: Customs requirements when entering and leaving South Africa
The deposit will be refunded on departure after a Customs officer has physically inspected the items and verified that they are being re-exported. Visitors must notify the Customs office at which the deposit was lodged at least two days before departure to ensure that the refund is ready. You will find the office number on the documents, which will be given to you when lodging your deposit.
If you are departing from a port other than the port where you lodged the deposit, the inspection report confirming the re-exportation of the items will be forwarded to the office where the deposit was lodged and a cheque will be posted to the address you had provided.
Residents of South Africa who had exported new or used personal effects, sporting and recreational equipment for their own use while abroad can bring these back either as accompanied or unaccompanied baggage. Please note that any goods, e.g. jewellery, which were exchanged, remodelled, processed or repaired while you were abroad, do not fall within this allowance and must be declared for duty-assessment purposes as explained below.
New and used goods
In addition to the personal effects and consumables allowances, travellers are allowed new or used goods in accompanied baggage to the value of R3 000. This allowance is only valid once per person during a 30-day period and does not apply to goods imported by people returning after an absence of less than 48 hours. Crew members (including the master or the pilot) are only entitled to a duty-free allowance on a value not exceeding R500. Consumable goods as mentioned above are excluded from this entitlement. Option to pay duty at a flat rate of 20 percent. Travellers have the option to pay customs duty at a flat rate of 20 percent on goods acquired abroad or in any duty-free shop to expedite their passage through Customs. The total value of these additional goods, new or used, may not exceed R12 000 per person. Flat-rated goods are also exempted from payment of VAT.
If the value of the additional goods exceeds R12 000 or if you decide not to make use of the flat rate option, the appropriate rates of duty and VAT will have to be assessed and paid on each individual item. In addition, 15 percent VAT will be payable on the goods so assessed. This flatrate assessment will only be allowed once per person during a period of 30 days and shall not apply to goods imported by people returning after an absence of less than 48 hours. The flat-rate assessment may be used by those under 18 years of age, provided the goods are for their own use. In the case of crew members, including the master of a ship or the pilot of an aircraft, the value of the items that may be assessed on a flat-rate basis is restricted to R2 000 per person. If you have any queries regarding the amount of duty/tax paid or payable, or any other matter that may arise in your dealings with a Customs official, you should take the matter up with the Senior Customs officer in charge. The receipt you obtained from Customs will be of assistance in this regard and must be produced to the officer dealing with your enquiry.