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On the 3rd of December 2021, SARS updated its rules regarding advance payments for goods still to be imported (under Rules under sections 59A and 120 of the Customs and Excise Act 91 of 1964). Traders are now required to notify SARS through its e-filing platform when they intend to make a foreign payment for goods still to be imported. Upon notification, the importer will receive an Advanced Payment Notification (APN) reference number. The purpose of the advance payment notification system is to curb illicit financial payments as well as duty and tax losses through customs undervaluation.

On 1 December 2023, it will be mandatory to provide this number to the foreign exchange dealer (bank or forex broker) to declare when the payment is made, as well as to their clearing agent, to put on the bill of entry when clearing the goods.

Who will need to get this:

  • Importers (individuals or entities) paying invoices over a value of R50 000.
  • When payments for goods are required before customs clearance into South Africa.

What is needed to apply:

  • The importer needs to be registered on SARS eFiling.
  • The importer needs to be registered with SARS customs as an importer.
  • An invoice or pro-forma invoice from the foreign supplier detailing the intended supply of goods.

How to get an APN reference number on eFiling:  

  1. Log into your eFiling account and open the relevant entity.
  2. Click on the Customs tab in the top right navigation bar.
  3. Click on the “Advance Payment Notification” on the left side menu.
  4. Click on the “Submit New Advance Payment Notification” option.
  5. Capture the information required on the APN form and press continue.

Immediately upon successful completion of the above process, you will receive a SARS-generated APN reference number. If there is a mistake or missing information on the form SARS will ask you to complete that first.

A history of all APN numbers issued can be viewed on the Advance Payment Notification History tab on the left side menu.

One APN number is required per advance payment over R50 000. If more than one payment is required prior to customs clearance then the APN numbers should be linked on e-filing when applying for the additional numbers. All APN numbers used need to be provided to your clearing agent submit to SARS when clearing.

If you need more assistance a step-by-step screenshot guide on how to generate an APN number is available here.

Example of how to do multiple advance payments for one import:

The total cost of an import shipment is R400 000 and is broken up into 4 payments. The 1st payment is the deposit of R100 000. The second payment is required halfway through production for R100 000. The third payment is required prior to shipping and is R40 000. The balance of R160 000 is paid after delivery in South Africa and customs clearance. An APN number is required for the first and second payments. The APN number for the second payment needs to be linked to the first payment. No APN number is required for the third payment as it is below R50 000. No APN is required for the 4th payment as it is after customs clearance.

How do I cancel an APN number if I no longer need it?

You can cancel the APN number on eFiling. The number will also automatically lapse if not used for 30 days.

What about SARS Approval of International Transfers (AIT) legislation? Does that apply to importers?

The Approval of International Transfers (AIT) legislation requires an AIT tax clearance pin for payments out of South Africa from:

  • Individuals using their annual foreign investment allowance, and
  • Individuals who have financially emigrated or are in the process of financial emigration from South Africa.

This pin can be acquired on the applicant’s eFiling through a similar process to the “Good Standing” tax clearance pin with the submission of these additional supporting documents.

The AIT tax clearance pin does not apply to payments for imports.

Should you have any questions not covered in this blog, please contact one of our consultants on 087 550 1038. We would be happy to help you.