South Africa - Country Commercial Guide
Temporary Entry
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South Africa has a variety of mechanisms to facilitate the temporary importation of mostly commercial goods and services.

Carnet Entry (also known as ATA Carnet)

South Africa is a member of the ATA Convention. To learn about ATA Carnets, visit the website. Typically, the following goods are eligible to qualify for carnet entry:

1. Commercial samples.

2. Goods for international fairs and exhibitions.

3. Professional equipment (including tools and instruments, but not goods for processing or repair).

Authorization The exporter must provide a letter stating that the exporter/carnet holder authorizes the customs clearance agent to clear the shipment on its behalf and may deliver it to the consignee addressed therein. This letter from the carnet holder is to accompany the carnet document.  SARS will not process carnet clearance without this letter.  No duty or VAT is payable on carnet shipments.  The same carnet is used for export.

Temporary Entry Process

Notification The shipping agent in the United States and its correspondent customs clearance agent in South Africa must be notified that a shipment is only intended to remain in South Africa for a limited period. In South Africa, a customs clearance agent acts for the importer or exporter and is licensed to pay and collect fees to and from South African authorities on behalf of the principal. A customs clearance agent is also a freight forwarder.

Provisional Payment SARS customs clearance regulations process requires the settlement of a “Provisional Payment” (PP) that is valid for a period of six months; the shipment must be exported within this time.  If the export is to take longer, the customs clearance agent must submit a formal extension request to the South African Revenue Service (SARS, Customs and Excise) before the six-month period has expired.  Upon import, the customs clearance agent needs to ensure that the serial numbers of all the goods are reflected on the documentation (i.e., invoices from the shipper). Customs will examine the shipment and verify the serial numbers and endorse the documentation. Upon export, the same procedure is followed so that SARS can verify that the same goods are leaving the country.  The PP will cover any customs duty and VAT applicable to the shipment.  After export, the customs clearance agent submits the import and export documentation to SARS and requests the refund; the PP is hence liquidated.

Repair and Return Entry

Notification The owner or agent of the goods must notify the shipping agent in the United States and its correspondent customs clearance agent in South Africa that the shipment in question is for repairs, or a return shipment for repairs performed in the United States. The customs clearance agent in South Africa must ensure that serial numbers reflect on invoices; SARS will conduct an examination.

When imported, serial numbers are stated on invoices, with the examination to be done by SARS. No duty is payable as duty was paid on the first import into the country. However, VAT is payable on repair costs only, even though value of goods is declared to SARS as well.

Rebate The above is in accordance with SARS rebate item 409.04.  To make use of this rebate item, the importer must comply with the following provisions:

  • Goods are to be returned to the original exporter and there is no change of ownership; the essential characteristics of product remain the same. 
  • There are no alterations made to the goods (i.e., just repairs). 
  • Goods exported under customs supervision with export documents SAD 500 and DA65 must be produced at the time of import clearance.
  • The goods must be identifiable by the serial numbers on the goods.  If these provisions cannot be met, the importer will have to enter the goods as a Duty Paid (DP) clearance (i.e., as a new import that has not previously been exported). 
  • The full value, which consists of the export value plus any cost of repair, must be declared.

Warranties If the goods are repaired under warranty, the cost of repair will not be dutiable, provided the importer can prove the following:

  • The duty was paid on first importation of the goods in question (again by use of serial numbers);
  • The warranty is in force at time of re-importation;
  • All criteria in terms of rebate item 409.04 are complied with; and
  • That warranty agreement is available for Customs if requested.

In South Africa, the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) is the

correspondent agent for ATA Carnet matters. See: