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Customs and Import Regulations: What to Know When Moving to South Africa

Jul 09. 2024

Moving to a new country involves numerous considerations, one of the most crucial being understanding the customs and import regulations. South Africa, with its rich culture and diverse landscape, welcomes many expatriates each year. However, to ensure smooth removals to South Africa, it’s important to be well-informed about the country’s customs and import policies when it comes to your household effects and personal possessions.

Personal Effects and Household Goods
When moving to South Africa, you can bring your personal effects and household goods duty-free, provided you have owned and used them for at least six months prior to your move. These items must arrive within six months of your arrival. To qualify for duty-free entry, you’ll need to provide:

A copy of your passport.
A detailed inventory of the items, preferably in English.
A bill of lading or air waybill.
A valid work permit or permanent residence permit.
It’s also crucial to note that newly purchased items will attract customs duties and VAT, so it’s advisable to bring only used items to minimize extra costs.

Prohibited and Restricted Items
South Africa has stringent regulations on certain items. Prohibited goods include narcotics, toxic substances, counterfeit goods and certain foodstuffs. Restricted items such as firearms, ammunition and certain medicines require special permits and approvals.

For example, if you wish to bring firearms, you must obtain a permit from the South African Police Service prior to importation. Similarly, importing plants, seeds, or animal products requires inspection and clearance by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to prevent the introduction of pests and diseases.

Motor Vehicles
Bringing a motor vehicle into South Africa is possible but subject to stringent regulations. Importing a car requires an import permit from the Department of Trade and Industry and a Letter of Authority from the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS). Vehicles must meet specific environmental and safety standards. Additionally, customs duties, VAT and ad valorem tax (based on the car’s value) are applicable.

You will need to provide:
Proof of ownership.
Registration documents.
Purchase invoice.
Import permit and Letter of Authority.

Executing a smooth removal to South Africa requires meticulous planning and a thorough understanding of the country’s customs and import regulations and for this reason, it is advisable to use the services of a professional international removals company who have extensive experience of organising moves to South Africa. By preparing adequately, ensuring compliance with all relevant laws and respecting local customs, you can facilitate a smooth transition and begin your new chapter in South Africa with confidence. If you would like further information please contact our international removals experts on 01902 714555 or via sales@burkebros.co.uk.

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