When taking unused goods out of South Africa, overseas visitors may reclaim the 15 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) that has been levied on the purchase price.

Value Added Tax (VAT) of 15 percent is levied in South Africa. Overseas visitors taking goods out of South Africa are able to reclaim the VAT they pay on these goods. Reclaiming VAT is only applicable for unused goods that you are able to produce at the airport and not for any services whatsoever. When purchasing your products you should request a tax invoice. The shop’s VAT number must appear on this invoice. As you are checking in at the airport ready to depart from South Africa, you should approach the Customs official, who will compare your invoices with the goods purchased. Once your invoices have been approved and stamped, the VAT Reclaim Office will refund you the appropriate amount. VAT Reclaim Offices are found at Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town International Airports.

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.
  • Goods on which duty has to be paid

Other than those specified above, all goods and gifts acquired abroad are subject to the payment of Customs duty and VAT when they are brought into South Africa. This includes goods purchased duty-free on-board aircraft and ships or in duty-free shops. Customs duties and taxes are payable in Rands, the currency of South Africa. Payment can be made in cash, by credit card or by means of a bank guaranteed cheque.

Goods that attract duty and do not qualify for the flat rate assessment explained below include:

  • Firearms acquired abroad or at any duty-free shop imported by residents of South Africa returning after an absence of less than six months.
  • Consumable goods in excess of the quantities mentioned above.
  • Goods for commercial purposes.
  • Goods carried on behalf of other people.