Cross border trade

Cross border trade

South Africa, despite its location at the southern most tip of the African continent, is surrounded by five local borders. These border crossings present ample opportunity for cross border trade, but it is important to have the correct documentation and information before you attempt to import or export across local borders.

South Africa’s five (5) bordering countries are:

  1. Botswana
  2. Mozambique
  3. Namibia
  4. Lesotho
  5. Swaziland

There are many similar requirements for entering these countries, but some requirements do differ between countries. This will be discussed in more detail further on in this article.

First, let’s consider the general requirements for cross border trade.

Checklist: Imports and exports across local borders

  • Licenses and permits: You need to be registered as an importer/exporter if you want to import or export goods over the value of R50,000, or more than 3 times a year, or if the goods are regulated. Once registered for an import/export license, you will be allowed to import or export most items. Certain regulated items (e.g. meat, pharmaceuticals, gold, cars, cellphones etc.) require a special permit in addition to the standard import/export license. You can register for your import/export license here.
  • Certificate of origin: You may need to pay import duties or VAT on your goods. You can save on import duties if you are importing into a country that has a trade agreement with South Africa. Depending on the trade agreement, you may need a certificate of origin. You can obtain your SADC certificates of origin here.
  • Confirm operating hours: Check the border operating hours to avoid arriving at a closed border post. Some border posts are open 24 hours whereas others are only open for a few hours.  This list from the AA provides a comprehensive summary of border operating hours.
  • Cross border permits: If you are exporting goods or passengers for profit and the vehicle (or combination of vehicles) exceeds a total mass of 3,500kg, then you need a cross border road transport permit. Foreign registered vehicles that are used commercially within South Africa also require this permit. You can obtain a cross border road permit here.
  • Road Freight Manifest: All Road Haulers/Transporters (people that transport goods by truck for business purposes) are required to submit a Road Freight Manifest (RFM) prior to arriving at the border. The RFM lists all the items the vehicle carries. To do this submission, road hauliers need to be registered at Customs as a Carrier. RFMs can also be submitted electronically in advance with the use of an electronic communication link to customs called the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI).
  • Bonded cargo: Transporting bonded cargo (cargo that carries VAT and duties) requires a bond and an additional registration at Customs as either a Transporter or Road Hauler (if the bond is owned by a client) or a Remover of Goods in Bond (if the bond is in your name).
  • Customs declaration form: A Customs declaration form is used to declare all goods to Customs. This form needs to be approved before the goods are allowed to cross the border. This form can be completed with a Customs official at the border.

Crossing the border: General considerations

In addition to the above checklist items, Table 1 outlines the general considerations you need to take into account when crossing one of the following local South African borders: Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe.

Table 1: General considerations when crossing local South African borders
BOTSWANAMOZAMBIQUENAMIBIALESOTHOSWAZILANDZIMBABWE
VISASVisas are not required by SA passport holders (for a stay of up to 90 days)Visas are not required by SA passport holders for tourism purposes (for a stay of up to 30 days)Visas are not required by SA passport holders for tourism purposes. A visa is required when planning to do business in the country.Visas are not required by SA passport holders (for a stay of up to 90 days (for a stay of up to 30 days)Visas are not required by SA passport holders (for a stay of up to 30 days)Visas are not required by SA passport holders (for a stay of up to 90 days)
VACCINATIONSCompulsory: Yellow Fever (if coming from an affected area)

Recommended: Hepatitis A & B, Rabies, Typhoid, Polio, Tetanus

Compulsory: Yellow Fever (if coming from an affected area)

Recommended: Hepatitis A & B, Rabies, Typhoid, Polio, Cholera, Tetanus

Compulsory: Yellow Fever (if coming from an affected area)

Recommended: Hepatitis A & B, Typhoid, Polio, Tetanus

Compulsory: Yellow Fever (if coming from an affected area)

Recommended: Hepatitis A & B, Rabies, Typhoid, Polio, Tetanus

Compulsory: Yellow Fever (if coming from an affected area)

Recommended: Hepatitis A & B, Rabies, Typhoid, Polio, Tetanus

Compulsory: Yellow Fever (if coming from an affected area)

Recommended: Hepatitis A & B, Rabies, Typhoid, Tetanus

PRECAUTIONSMalaria riskMalaria riskMalaria riskNoneMalaria riskMalaria risk
ZA STICKERYesYesYesYesYesYes
VALID PASSPORTYesYesYesYesYesYes
DRIVINGInternational Driving Permit recommendedInternational Driving Permit recommendedValid driver’s licenseValid driver’s licenseValid driver’s licenseValid driver’s license
EXTRASRed warning triangles: 1 x set required (does not need to be displayed on car)

Reflective jackets (to be used when changing a tyre, at an accident scene, or if loading)

Yellow and blue Mozambique warning triangle: Two stickers required if towing a trailer

White and red reflective tape: Two small white rectangular-shaped strips on the right and left hand side of the front bumper as well as two small red square strips on the right and left hand side of the rear bumper.

Warning triangles: Two warning triangles on a metal plate

White and red T-sign: Required if towing a trailer

Fire Extinguisher

Recommended: Safety Vests

Note: Vehicle registration papers

The following information regarding vehicle registration is required when crossing the border into the above mentioned countries:

Botswana:

  • Certified copy of the vehicle registration papers in the name of the driver.
  • If the vehicle is not owned by the driver, the driver must present a letter of authority (i.e. a police-issued affidavit) from the registered owner stating that the driver has permission to use the vehicle.
  • If the vehicle is still financed, the driver must carry a letter of authority from the bank (which stipulates the dates of travel), together with the vehicle license papers.
  • An international driving permit is recommended, but not compulsory.

Mozambique:

  • Certified copy of the vehicle registration papers in the name of the driver.
  • If the vehicle is not owned by the driver, the driver must present a letter of authority (i.e. a police-issued affidavit) from the registered owner stating that the driver has permission to use the vehicle.
  • If the vehicle is still financed, the driver must carry a letter of authority from the bank (which stipulates the dates of travel), together with the vehicle license papers.
  • Temporary import permit for vehicle (compulsory).
  • Third-party insurance (compulsory).
  • Vehicle declaration form.

Lesotho:

  • Certified copy of the vehicle registration papers in the name of the driver.
  • If the vehicle is not owned by the driver, the driver must present a letter of authority (i.e. a police-issued affidavit) from the registered owner stating that the driver has permission to use the vehicle.
  • If the vehicle is still financed, the driver must carry a letter of authority from the bank (which stipulates the dates of travel), together with the vehicle license papers. It is advisable to obtain a police-issued affidavit from the financial institution stating that they give the driver permission to take the vehicle abroad.

Namibia:

  • Certified copy of the vehicle registration papers in the name of the driver.
  • If the vehicle is not owned by the driver, the driver must present a letter of authority (i.e. a police-issued affidavit) from the registered owner stating that the driver has permission to use the vehicle.
  • If the vehicle is still financed, the driver must carry a letter of authority from the bank (which stipulates the dates of travel), together with the vehicle license papers.
  • Motor insurance certificate (can be obtained at the border free of charge, and is valid for 30 days).

Zimbabwe:

  • Certified copy of the vehicle registration papers in the name of the driver.
  • If the vehicle is not owned by the driver, the driver must present a letter of authority (i.e. a police-issued affidavit) from the registered owner stating that the driver has permission to use the vehicle.
  • If the vehicle is still financed, the driver must carry a letter of authority from the bank (which stipulates the dates of travel), together with the vehicle license papers. It is advisable to obtain a police-issued affidavit from the financial institution stating that they give the driver permission to take the vehicle abroad.
  • Police clearance certificate (if travelling through the Chirundu border post) for vehicles and trailers.
  • Third-party insurance (compulsory).

If you require any assistance with getting ready for cross border trade, our consultants are here to help. Enquire online, or call us on 0861 0 TRADE (87233).