Import Restrictions

The following notes are for your guidance but please feel free to call and ask us for further advice. Our office in Cape Town will act as your clearing agent but any technical questions regarding import restrictions are best dealt with before the goods are shipped. Remember we are here to help.

Returning South African Residents are allowed to take their household and personal effects back to South Africa without payment of import duties or VAT.
This is providing that they can substantiate that they were in the UK for more than 6 months for purposes other than touring or studying and can produce both an inventory of the goods and proof of change of residence.

Immigrants and Temporary Residence Permit Holders are also allowed to import their personal and household effects into South Africa without payment of import duties and VAT. This is providing the residence permit and a full inventory of goods is produced to Customs.

Tourists must pay full import duties and VAT on importation of furniture or household goods and also obtain an Import Permit from the International Trade and Administration Commission in Pretoria before shipping the goods.


Please note that motor cars are subject to significant rates of Import Duty and also Vat on importation into South Africa. Customs Duty of 36% may be payable on cars less than 20 years old. Ad valorem duty (which is based on the valuation of the car) may be anything up to 20%. Vat is 14%.

Please note that an Import Permit must always be obtained prior to the car being shipped from the UK and a letter of Authority must also be produced.

A rebate of duties may be applicable to immigrants and also to South African residents returning permanently to South Africa after obtaining permanent residence status in the UK. A full rebate may be possible for one motor vehicle per family providing that the vehicle was the private property of the importer and was owned and used by the importer in the UK for a period of not less than 12 months prior to departure to South Africa.

In short if you are a South African Resident you must comply with the following three elements. If not, you do not qualify for a rebate of duties.

  • You originally emigrated from South Africa
  • You obtained permanent resident’s status abroad
  • You again return to South Africa permanently