Moving to South Africa

Country Guide: South Africa

Household Goods and Personal Effects

Documents Required

  • Customs Form DA 302 and P.1.160
  • Original Passport (including page with Entry Stamp)
  • Detailed inventory for attestation
  • Permanent residence documents / Temporary Residence Permit and Work Permit
  • Affidavit (stating reason for arrival in to South Africa)
  • Original Bill of Lading (OBL) / Air Waybill (AWB)
  • Diplomatic Clearance (Diplomats)
  • Certificate from Embassy, signed by South African Department of Foreign Affairs (Diplomats)

Specific Information

  • The shipper must be present for Customs clearance.
  • The shipper must possess required documents and forward a copy to agent prior to import.
  • The shipment of household items, new furniture, and precious metal objects are treated as a commercial import and subject to the payment of full duties.
  • The following household goods may be imported duty free if meeting the following requirements:
    • Works of art forming a part of a bona fide household shipment or are over 100 years old.
    • The articles have been in the use and possession for more than 12 months and are not for sale or other disposal.
  • Returning residents must have been abroad for a period of at least 6 consecutive months.
  • Diplomats may import items duty free.

Motor Vehicles

Documents Required

Automobiles / Motorcycles

  • Customs Form DA 304/A
  • Vehicle Registration
  • Document showing that vehicle has been in the owner’s use and possessions abroad for more than 1 year before the importation of the vehicle (e.g., original Purchase Invoice, Insurance Certificate, etc.).
  • Import Permit
  • OBL / AWB
  • Letter of Authority (LOA) issued by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) in Pretoria (must be submitted at the time of clearance)

Mopeds / Power-Driven Boats with Inboard Engines

  • Document showing that vehicle has been in owner’s use and possession abroad for more than 1 year prior to importation of the vehicle (original Purchase Invoice, Insurance Certificate, etc.)
  • Import Permit
  • LOA / SABS in Pretoria

Caravans / Trailers

  • Import Permit
  • LOA / SABS in Pretoria

B. Specific Information

  • Only left-hand drive motor vehicles purchased after January 1, 2000, can be imported.
  • The transferee must be in possession of the Import Permit and LOA prior to the arrival of any motor vehicles, motorbikes, motor scooters, or motorcycles (anything motorized); delays related to the permit may result in demurrage charges.
  • The shipper must be in the country at least 10 business days prior to arrival of an ocean vessel.
  • A faxed copy of the LOA and the Import Permit must be received by the agent to avoid a delay of Customs clearance.
  • Motorized vehicles should not be shipped until transferee has proven possession of all required documents to Customs and has received written permission for import.
  • Temporary residents must pay in cash.
  • Vehicles cannot be sold for at least 2 years after the date of importation.
  • The rate of value added tax (VAT) is assessed on the import value of the vehicle.
  • A fee of R1800.00 per vehicle, payable to the SABS is required.
  • Incomplete or missing documents may result in the detainment or destruction of the shipment.
  • Returning residents must pay full duties and taxes.
  • Temporary residents must provide a Customs bond to cover full duties and taxes and do not need an Import Permit. A refund may be possible at the time of export; contact agent for details.
  • Foreign Diplomats pay no duties or taxes, subject to provisions of the Diplomatic Clearance Certificate, and proof of value.


Documents Required

  • Rabies Vaccination Certificate
  • Veterinary Health Certificate
  • Import Permit

Specific Information

  • An Import Permit may be granted after the owner has made arrangements for the period of quarantine required for pets travelling from most, but not all countries; check with agent.
  • Call agent for restrictions on the import of live animals.

Antiques, Artifacts, Carpets, Paintings


Documents Required

  • Copy of Death Certificate
  • Copy of Will of deceased or certified relevant extract therefrom, or copy of Probate from the court if the deceased died intestate; English translation required.
  • Inventory with lawyer’s declaration that the imported goods are the legatee’s rightful share of the estate
  • SABS LOA in Pretoria
  • Import Permit
  • Declaration from the Legatee confirming permanent residency in South Africa and the right to share of the estate.

Specific Information

  • An inventory is required only if the copy of the deceased’s Will or other document does not specifically detail the goods to be imported.
  • Items of inheritance may be imported duty free if the legatee is permanently residing in South Africa.
  • Duty is payable on inherited motor cars, motorcycles, and mopeds.
  • Goods should not be shipped until Customs has authorized duty-free entry.

Note: Failure to comply with requirements may result in the destruction of goods by Customs or return of the entire consignment to the port of origin at shipper’s expense.

Wedding Trousseau / Gifts

Documents Required

  • Invoice
  • Import Permit (if requested by Customs – applies to second-hand goods)

Specific Information

  • Items are subject to the payment of duties.

Restricted/Dutiable Items

  • Local currency of over $10,000; gold coins, coin and stamp collections and unprocessed gold must be declared.
  • Endangered species of plants or wildlife, alive or dead, including parts and articles made from them (require CITES Permit)
  • Animal and animal byproducts
  • Medicines for personal use (note from physician and prescription required)
  • Cigarettes (200), cigars (20), tobacco (250 g)
  • Perfume (50 ml)
  • Eau de toilette (250 ml)
  • Goods for personal use
  • Wine / Liquor / Alcohol
    • Import Permit and Liquor Removal Certificate required.
    • Items subject to payment of duties.
    • Documentation requirements must be met prior to the arrival of the shipment.
  • Dangerous Goods / Firearms
    • Import Permit and South African Police Firearm Registrar Certificate SAP 312 are required.
    • Items are subject to the payment of duties.

Note: Travelers may be asked to pay deposit on expensive items like laptops, which is refunded at re-exported. Returning residents are advised to register personal items (jewelry, watches, cameras, laptops, etc.) before leaving the country to avoid paying duty on these items upon re-importation.

Prohibited Items

  • Narcotics
  • Illegal drugs
  • Plants and vegetable products
  • Pornographic books and magazines
  • Walkie-talkies and radios (may include other prohibited communication devices)
  • Animal products (certain feathers, furs, skins, tusks, or animals identified under protected specifies regulations)

Consignment Instructions

Recommended: Contact the destination agent to ensure all requirements have been met prior to import, especially for differences regarding air / sea shipments.

IAM Note: Customs regulations can change at any time with or without notice. This document is provided as a guide and for information only. While IAM has exercised reasonable care in publishing this document, IAM makes no representation, either expressed or implied, as to its accuracy or applicability.

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