Travellers’ disclosure requirements

Travellers’ disclosure requirements

Written on 04/01/2021
Nolands Team


Any person travelling in or out of the Republic of South Africa should unreservedly declare:

  • All goods (including goods of another person) upon his person or in his possession which were purchased or otherwise acquired abroad or on any ship, vehicle or in any shop selling goods on which duty has not been paid; were remodelled, processed or repaired abroad, on arrival.
  • Goods that are prohibited, restricted or controlled under any law.
  • Goods that were required to be declared before leaving the Republic.

Before leaving, all goods which a traveller is taking with them beyond the borders of the Republic, including goods which are:

  • Carried on behalf of another person.
  • Intended for remodel, process or repair abroad.
  • Prohibited, restricted or controlled under any law.
  • Goods that a person, who temporarily entered the Republic, was required to declare upon entering the Republic.

Travellers must, upon request by a Customs Officer, provide the officer with full particulars related to the goods such as invoices, transport documents, proof of payment to supplier, letter of authority and any permits applicable to such goods. Further, travellers must answer fully and truthfully all questions put to him by such officer and, if required by such officer to do so, produce and open such goods for inspection by the said officer, and shall pay the duty and taxes assessed by such officer, if any.

What are your Duty-Free allowances?

The duty-free allowance only applies to goods for personal use or to dispose of as gifts in accompanied travellers’ baggage declared by returning residents and non-residents visiting the Republic.

The following imported goods declared by travellers in their accompanied baggage may be exempted from paying any import duties and Value-Added Tax (VAT):

  • New or used goods of a total value not exceeding R5 000 per person.
  • Wine not exceeding 2 litres per person.
  • Spirituous and other alcoholic beverages, a total quantity not exceeding 1 litre per person.
  • Cigarettes not exceeding 200 and cigars not exceeding 20 per person.
  • 250 g cigarette or pipe tobacco per person.
  • Perfumery not exceeding 50 ml and eau de toilette not exceeding 250 ml per person.

Wine, spirituous and other alcoholic beverages, tobacco products and perfumery imported in excess of the quantities specified must be cleared at the rates of duty specified in Schedule No.1 (“Tariff”) to the Customs and Excise Act No.91 of 1964. The aforementioned goods are commonly referred to as consumables or luxury goods and the rate of duty can be considerably higher if travellers exceed the above quantities and must clear those excess quantities and pay the import duties at the rates of duty specified in the tariff.

Even if goods are bought at an inbound duty-free shop, the duty-free allowance still applies upon arrival.

Note: The duty-free allowance applicable to new or used goods to the value of R5000 person, is applicable in addition to the duty-free allowance applicable to consumable goods.

What is your flat-rate assessment allowance?

  • If you have goods in excess of the R5 000 duty free allowance but not exceeding R20 000, you may elect to pay customs duty at a rate of full duty less 20% (flat-rate) with VAT exempted instead of clearing the goods at the rates of duty specified in Schedule No. 1 (“tariff”) to the Customs and Excise Act No.91 of 1964.
  • Goods in excess of the R20 000 flat-rate assessment threshold, pay import duties and VAT in accordance with the Harmonised System description and originating status of goods.

Conditions for duty-free allowances:

  • The duty-free allowances related to new or used goods is only allowed once per person during a period of 30 days, following an absence of not less than 48 hours from South Africa.
  • The flat rate assessment allowance is only allowed during a period of 30 days and shall not apply to goods imported by persons returning after an absence of less than 48 hours.
  • The duty-free allowances related to wine, spirituous and other alcoholic beverages, tobacco products and perfumery is only allowed once per person during a period of 30 days, following an absence of not less than 48 hours from South Africa.
  • The goods must be carried as accompanied baggage.
  • The tobacco or alcoholic beverage allowance is not applicable to persons under the age of 18 years.

DISCLAIMER: The material and information contained in this article is for general information purposes only. You should not rely upon the material or information in this article as the basis for making any business, legal or other decisions.