Import & Export frequent questions:

When do I need an import/export license?

All importers and exporters must have a customs code, irrespective how low the rand value is. The reason for this is that customs is now keeping a closer record of all movement of goods into and out of the country.

Why do I need an import licence?

All individuals/businesses and trusts wishing to move goods into or out of the country are required by law to be in possession of a license in order to do so. A license number (custom code) is required to complete the bill of entry/exit in order for customs to release any cargo coming in or out. This same custom code is required by the bank to either make or receive payments for goods bought or sold.

Does the license need to be renewed?

Licenses (or custom codes) do not need to be renewed, they do not expire and are not subject to annual fees. Once you have been issued with your license it will remain active for as long as it is used.

Can I use one license to import different goods or do I a need a new license for every item I import?

This license enables you to import or export general, unrestricted merchandise. A few categories of merchandise have restrictions from the government and require a special permit to when importing or exporting. Examples of these categories are goods of plant or animal origin, second hand goods, tyres and tyre casing, vehicles, nutritional supplements etcetera.

What is a tariff/HS code?

It is an internationally standardized system of names and numbers for classifying traded products. In other words every item that can be imported/exported is given a number (HS/tariff code) to identify it. In South Africa and most other companies customs uses the HS/tariff code to determine the duty tax that should be paid.

Is there a maximum amount of goods or rand value that I can import export on one license?

Unless your specific merchandise is a restricted by the government, there is no limit to how much you can bring in on one license.

Can I apply as an AGOA, GSP, TDCA, SACU/EFTA, SADC or COMESA exporter?

We can organize all the above registrations for you. Please click here for a summary of each of the above trade agreements.

Is it compulsory to register for ACM/EDI and submit declarations electronically?

Yes it is. In terms of Government Notice R814 dated 31 July 2009, SARS is now legally mandated to enforce the use of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) for the submission of certain cargo and goods declarations and reports. It was, however, decided to enforce the electronic submission of goods declarations in respect of cross-border movements between the Republic and the neighbouring countries with effect from 1 April 2010.

Electronic Road Freight Manifests (RFM’s) must be submitted in respect of all commercial cargo carried by a road haulier on a truck that is to cross a South African land border post.

All road hauliers who are to cross a South African land border post with commercial cargo must register as road hauliers for ACM cargo reporting purposes and must submit their RFM’s electronically to the ACM system.

Who is responsible for submitting the electronic transmission of the clearing documents via ACM?

The “reporting party” is the person who actually transmits the electronic RFM to the ACM system. In the case of a South African road haulier the reporting party can be –

  • the road haulier himself (if he has his own computer submitting system or that of a service provider); or
  • an agent (e.g. another South African road haulier or a licensed clearing agent) appointed by the road haulier to submit his manifests to the ACM system on his behalf.

When will ACM be implemented?

The ACM implementation for road freight is scheduled to commence on 18 May 2012 and envisaged to be activated at the following offices:

  • Kopfontein
  • Ramatlabama
  • Nerston
  • Vioolsdrift
  • Nakop
  • Quachasneck
  • Caledonspoort
  • Mananga/Mahamba
  • Jeppes Reef
  • Van Rooyenshek
  • Golela

For the initial phase of the ACM implementation a hybrid solution will be employed –

  • Road hauliers who have not submitted an electronic manifest to ACM will be processed in terms of the manual Service Manager process as is currently the case. SARS will compare clearance records against the goods listed on the paper manifest and, where any discrepancy exists, the necessary corrective measures will need to be performed by means of Vouchers of Correction (VOC’s).
  • Road hauliers who have submitted an electronic manifest to ACM will be processed on the basis of the information contained in the electronic manifest. Provided that the information on the manifest is factually correct at arrival of the truck at the border, discrepancies on bills of entry appearing on that manifest regarding incorrect truck registration details will not require VOC’s from traders as a record of the correct information will be carried by SARS against the appropriate clearances.