December 27, 2011

Importing 4x4 into South Africa Duty Free (Returning South African)

Hi folks, if you are reading this, you are either about to embark on an overland trip, taking part in one or just about to complete one. Either way, if you are a returning South African (like my wife) we want to share our experience of importing our Land Rover duty free into SA after our London to Cape Town trip 2010/11.  This process is likely to be the same for a motorbike or truck traveling on a Carnet but as rules change, this is now possibly out of date.

We offer the following is a summary / check list for any returning South African citizen that has a foreign registered vehicle and wishes to import it into SA free of duty. There are several things that you need to consider BEFORE you set out as there are some items that need to be addressed in your departing country before you set out on your journey if you want to avoid a lot of hassle when you get here. Even though there are various guidelines available on this process, things "on the ground" are often different and even our clearing agent in Cape Town had to jump through a few hoops.

STEP 1 - Key items to have sorted before you depart

MOST IMPORTANT FOR THIS SCENARIO: The car has to have been registered in the SA citizens name for at least 12 months prior to returning to SA, so make sure the registration papers reflect this. Other import scenarios may have different rules and rules change!

- Original SA Passport (or IF dual citizenship, foreign passport) of returning SA citizen should clearly state departure and arrival times stamped in the passport of when you came into country and when you left SA – THIS IS KEY!
- Even if the entry date is on an old passport – bring the old passport with you otherwise you will have to produce an authorised affidavit to cover any discrepancy.
- Letter confirming employment by foreign employer – this has to be an original and signed / dated. Copies will not be accepted. Get at least 2 signed originals just in case your paperwork gets lost in the system!
- Letter confirming resignation or no longer employed by foreign employer – again suggest 2x originals, signed and dated
- Valuation certificate of car – this seems to be a grey area. You can go and get a trade in valuation done and have it written on official letterhead of the garage that did the valuation (ideally a dealer in your marque)
- Your ID book – Needed as additional proof as SA National
- Intl Certificate of Motor Vehicle – you can get this from your country where the car is registered – UK AA in our case
- Registration Certificate from the cars normal place of origin (registration documents V5C in the case of UK)
- De-registration as a taxpayer – when you leave your country you have to let the Inland Revenue know that you are leaving. There is a form for this and you will need a copy of this form. It will have to be certified as an original copy (by police or lawyer)
- Carnet – You will / should have this for your journey anyway. For those people that hope / plan to travel and get into SA with a fake Carnet – good luck!! Based on the process we went through it would be HIGHLY unadvisable to try this!!

STEP 2 - Procedure once you get to SA

At port of entry you only need to get the Carnet stamped into SA when you finally get here (i.e. the entry stub stamped) – same process for all the other countries you visited along the way.

You do not need to fill in any forms at the border with regards the car import process. We even asked about this at the time and they simply refused to discuss it saying the Carnet “entry” stamp was all that was needed.

The following forms / process need to be followed

- Form DA304 : Motor Vehicle Declaration from SARS
- Form P.1.160 : Declaration in Respect of Unaccompanied Manifested Effects Entered Under Rebate of Duty
- Compliance Certificate (Issued by Manufacturer)
- Letter of Authority (Which will have to be applied for by the NRCS)
- Import Permit (Which will have to be applied for by ITAC)

There will then be the possibility that you will need a Customs Exam of the Car, this is at Customs discretion AFTER perusal of your Carnet. Even if you are told that this is required, it maybe cancelled at the last minute. We did not have to have one in the end.

A provisional payment may also be requested as surety for the duties and vat applicable, again at customs discretion so be prepared for this.

You are aiming to get your Carnet exit stub stamped by SARS – this is key if you are to discharge the Carnet and get your Bank Guarantee / Security Insurance / Deposit cancelled.

Even though we had all of the above, we still had to get an affidavit stamped by the SA police to state that the dates of residency in the UK for the SA National and to cover a discrepancy on the passport (the wife’s old passport with this info in had been destroyed)

STEP 3 - Procedure once you complete all the paperwork

When this process is over – it can take up to 2 months – you get the following back from Customs:

- Stamped Carnet – exit stub is stamped by SARS / customs
- Customs Release Notification
- SAD507 Customs declaration form
- SAD500 Customs declaration form
- Copy of NRCS Letter of Authority
- Copy of Import Permit Notification
- Copy of completed DA 304A Motor Vehicle Declaration from SARS
- Stamped original of DA304
- Stamped copy of your declaration of particulars
- Stamped copy of affidavit we submitted
- Your original vehicle registration papers

You are now able to go and register the vehicle in SA.  We posted the Carnet back to RAC UK and emailed copies of the SARS release form (we made a copy for our records).

So how did we do it / what did it cost?

When we got to SA we hooked up with a logistics / import company when we finally finished the trip – Why? Well, the above process is not that simple. Anyone that has dealt with “officialdom” in SA will know 3 things:

1) You are going to spend a lot of time waiting and finding offices etc…..
2) You are likely to be dealing with people unfamiliar with the process (the process can appear to vary from person to person on any given day!)
3) Paperwork can / may get lost and no one is really going to look too hard for it

The benefit of using an agent is they already have established relationships with all the people needed to get the car released, they know the process / forms and they can minimise the amount of time and cost spent driving / calling around to various offices to chase paperwork etc….This is important if you have limited time or are spending time travelling elsewhere when you get here.

We used Ashraf at IQSA and he was VERY helpful and professional. Whilst there is a fee associated with the service, we felt it was worth paying. We saved a lot of time & money simply on fuel costs for driving in and out of Cape Town to various places to get things sorted. We would highly recommend him!!

Mr Ashraf Mallick
IQSA Logistics

Cape Town, South Africa
Tel : + 27 21 697 5443
E-Mail :


Certification & Bill of Entry = R3,135 = £250
Service Fees & misc costs = R1,824 = £145
Postage of Carnet back to UK = R64 = £5

Nick and Vick
Stonehenge to Cape Town 2010/11
48,361km in 366 days

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Nick - thanks so much for this info on importing vehicles post overland expeditions.

Would you happen to know if you can sell the vehicle immediately after you register it in SA.

In two minds as to what I will be doing with my LC80 - might need to sell it to recoup funds. Just wondering about time and how long after registration I might be able to do so.

Many thanks! Shara