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South Africa: import and export guidelines 

Article provided by DHL Express

Do you want to import or export goods to South Africa? Here are six frequently asked questions from DHL, one of the leading courier companies in South Africa.

I was charged duties and taxes by customs for something purchased online. Why wasn’t that included as part of the overall shipping costs?

Duties and taxes are most typically not included in the price of the goods you purchase online.

When purchasing goods online, some or all of these goods may not originate in the country you reside in.

When goods are not shipped domestically (within your country) or within a single customs union, such as the European Union, you are liable to pay any inbound duties and taxes which your local customs authority deems appropriate.

To ensure the DHL courier can deliver your goods in the shortest possible transit time, when we enter your country, DHL pays the customs authority immediately on your behalf for any duties and taxes that are due on the goods.

DHL only releases the goods to you upon the full repayment of any duties and taxes that were paid on your behalf.

What about my Duty Free Concession?

The Duty Free Concession only applies to accompanied baggage and relates to goods up to the value of R25000 with set limits for alcohol and tobacco carried by persons over 18 years of age. Goods imported which are not accompanied baggage are subject to a different customs regulation with a limit of R500 (subject to 3 such imports per calendar year) and no thresholds for alcohol and tobacco (although the latter are subject to other statutory requirements by other government agencies when imported).

What additional charges can I expect following customs clearance?

Depending on value and the type of goods imported you may expect the following:

  • Customs duty (percentage of shipment value and transport charges)
  • Local tax
  • DHL Advance Payment surcharge
  • Any regulatory charges, if applicable

When making my purchase it stated the price includes shipping costs. Why was I asked by DHL to pay additional charges to have my package delivered?

You will not be paying to DHL any further shipping costs. Rather, you will be asked instead to pay customs duties, taxes and other import charges related to customs clearance in your home country, as per local regulations.

Why am I restricted with value and quantity if I am ordering for my personal use?

Every country has limitations on imported goods that are used for personal use. This is to avoid misuse, and to distinguish imports for personal and commercial use.

Why do I need to pay customs duty?

Although you ordered and purchased the goods online, the goods are still subject to an import procedure to clear the shipment through customs. Clearance depends on:

  • The country of origin
  • The value including transport charges
  • The quantity of goods

Each country has its own customs laws and the duties for different types of goods and values are set locally. DHL, like any other international transportation company, must adhere to local customs legislation and so DHL pays duties on the receiver’s behalf to clear shipments on arrival.

DHL Express is a proud Partner of the NSBC.