Vat Refund

VISITING RSA - Duty-Free Allowances

NOTES CONCERNING DUTY-FREE ALLOWANCES - Returning residents please note that if you have been absent from the Republic for a period of less than six months, firearms acquired overseas or in any duty-free shop, including such goods bought duty-free on the aircraft/ship, do not fall within your duty-free allowances.

Children under 18 years of age may also claim duty-free allowances, excluding tobacco and alcohol, provided the goods are for use by the children themselves. Customs declarations may be made by parents on behalf of their children. Your allowances may only be claimed by yourself and may not be pooled or transferred to other persons. Crew members (including the master or pilot) do not qualify for duty-free allowances of a value not exceeding R500, 00. However, provision exists whereby they may bring in goods mentioned under "other goods" , with a total value of not more than R3000, 00 on which a flat rate of 20% will be payable. The usual duty-free allowances may only be claimed when crew members return to the Republic permanently.


To expedite your passage through the RED CHANNEL you may elect to pay customs duty at a flat-rate of 20% on goods which you acquired abroad or in any duty-free shop, including such goods bought duty-free on an aircraft/ship and which you bring with you as accompanied baggage. Goods up to a value of R12 000, 00, (over and above your duty-free allowances), fall within this concession. Such goods are also exempted from payment of VAT. Should the value of the goods in question exceed R12 000,00 or should you decide not to make use of this facility, the flat-rate assessment falls away and the appropriate rates of duty and VAT must be paid on each individual item.


Although certain goods are liable to rates of duty in excess of 20%, others are subject to lower rates, while certain goods may be free of duty.

The following goods do not qualify for this concession and duty at the applicable rates must be paid on them:

  • Firearms that were acquired abroad or in any duty-free shop, including such goods bought duty-free on an aircraft/ship, by residents returning to the Republic after an absence of less than six months.
  • Consumable goods.

    Goods for commercial purposes and goods carried on behalf of other persons.


  • always declare all goods in your possession;
  • produce all receipts for goods purchased abroad or in any duty-free shop including such goods bought duty-free on an aircraft or ship;


the following goods may be imported without the payment of customs duty and VAT.:

  • Personal effects, sporting and recreational equipment (brought either as accompanied or unaccompanied baggage).


This concession covers goods which were taken with you and which you are now bringing back into the country. Please note that any goods, e.g. jewellery, which were exchanged, remodelled, processed or repaired while you were abroad, do not fall within this allowance (jewellery).


These are goods for your own use and must be taken with you when you leave South Africa. You may be required to lodge a cash deposit to cover the duty/tax on expensive articles, such as video cameras. This deposit will be refunded on your departure with the goods from South Africa.


Travellers are entitled to import free of duty or tax consumables goods (crew members including the master / pilot are not entitled to any) not exceeding the specified limits; being:

  • Cigarettes, not exceeding 200 and not exceeding 20 cigars per person.
  • Combined 250g pipe and/ or cigarette tobacco per person.
  • Perfumery not exceeding 50ml and toilet water not exceeding 250ml per person.
  • Wine not exceeding 2 litres per person.

Consumable goods in excess may not be claimed under the duty free allowance. Full duty and VAT must be paid on such excesses.

The duty free allowance will only be granted once per person in a thirty (30) day cycle after an absence of 48 hours or more from the country. For example, a person returning for the second time within thirty (30) days will not receive any allowance. Similarly a person after an absence of 36 hours will not be entitled to the duty free allowance.

Tobacco and alcohol allowances are not allowed to persons under the age of eighteen (18).


 Travellers are allowed to bring in one month’s supply of pharmaceutical drugs and medicines for their personal use. This must be accompanied by a prescription issued by a medical doctor. All other pharmaceutical drugs and medicines have to be declared and have to be accompanied by a letter or certified prescription from a registered physician

When entering SA you may import any type of currency according to the Exchange Control Regulations, but the amount is restricted to R5000, 00 per person. Tourists who enter the country have a limit of R5000, 00 in cash per person.

Prohibited goods

may not be imported; examples of such goods are the following:

  • Narcotics and habit forming drugs;
  • Military weapons;
  • Poisons and toxic substance;
  • Penitentiary or prison-made goods;
  • Explosive and fireworks etc.

Restricted goods:

may only be imported under certain circumstances, such as under permit or quota. Examples of such goods are the following:

  • Currency: South African bank notes in excess of R25 000, gold coins, coin and stamp collections and unprocessed gold.
  • Firearms;
  • Endangered plants and animals. The restriction includes any parts of or articles made from them;
  • Medicine;
  • Unprocessed minerals etc.
  • Food, plants, animals and biological goods: All plants and plant products, such as seeds, flowers, fruit, honey, margarine and vegetable oils. All animals, birds, poultry and products thereof, for example, dairy products, butter and eggs.

For additional information, go to