How to avoid Customs Charges in South Africa (7 Ways)

During the importation of items into South Africa, The South African Revenue Service (SARS) customs are very likely to charge you a customs duty.

How To Avoid Customs Charges In South Africa
South African Revenue Service (SARS) logo.

There are guidelines set by SARS on what must be declared when importing goods and the customs charges for different items.

Customs charges will differ based on the type and quantity of any imported item. Therefore all goods imported into South Africa, whether, via air, road, rail, or sea, must be cleared by customs authorities; however there is no explicit guide on how to avoid customs charges in South Africa.

Ways to avoid customs charges in South Africa

Understand the breakdown of South Africa’s import tax

How is customs duty calculated in South Africa? Going through the import tax of South Africa breaks down.

Some tariffs will vary depending on quality, the higher the quality of an item, the higher the custom charge.

Understanding the breakdown will help in knowing how to lower your import duty in South Africa. For example, importing some types of weaves will be cheaper than importing others.

Buy and declare items as gifts

Do I have to pay customs charges for a gift? Here is the good news, if you have a friend or relative in the country you want to buy an item for, you can send them the money and tell them to buy the item for you and send it to South Africa while declaring it as a gift.

The gift policy is, however, limited to two gifts per calendar year, and the item should not exceed R1,400. Items that do not fall as gifts include wine, spirits, tobacco, and perfumes. The friend or relative can also bring any item when they come to visit you.

Buy cheap goods

When buying goods under $10, you are likely to receive the South African customs duty-free allowance. Buying in large quantities will still attract customs duty.

Buy items while on holiday

To avoid South African import duties, buy items while on holiday or on trips to different countries and break the seal of the items before coming back.

If you arrive at the airport, for example, with a new phone still sealed in a box, you will be charged a customs duty even if it is yours. Break the seal and place the item in a different bag out of the box.

Buy an item and break its seal

When buying an item from neighboring countries, if possible, go pick it up and break the seal before coming back to South Africa.

This method will only work if the product is very expensive and the customs duty is more than the cost you will incur if you picked up the goods.

Use local online websites to purchase goods

Use local online sites that help cover import duties in South Africa. Local businesses get incentives, and thus, the items may still have a reasonable price even after going through South African customs.

Avoid international sites where online shopping customs in South Africa may double the price of the item.

Buy items from local vendors

Buy items from local vendors instead of importing them to South Africa. If the item is sold locally, most times, it will be cheaper to buy it from local shops than importing to South Africa, especially when you add the import duty.

Compare the prices with local stores while factoring in South Africa import duties before making your decision.

It is money-saving to know how to avoid customs charges in South Africa, however, you must not partake in illegal activities when trying to avoid customs charges. Therefore if you are running a business, instead of avoiding customs duty completely, work with authorities to find ways of lowering the charges within the law.


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