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South Africa Customs Guide

Our Guide to Importing Your Car Into South Africa

Get informed about shipping a car from the UK to South Africa. Avoid common problems with this helpful information.

To help you understand customs requirements and so that you are aware of documentation that you may be required to obtain or provide we have compiled this quick import guide. We hope this will provide you with everything you need however, if you would like to speak to one of our experienced team about South African regulations or any of our services please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Before you go

There are a number of regulations surrounding the importation of privately owned motor vehicles that anyone planning to take their car to South Africa should be aware of. To import a vehicle on arrival in South Africa an import permit and a letter of authority must be obtained from the South African authorities. While you are not required to provide a copy of either an import permit or letter of authority to ship your vehicle from the UK, we strongly advise that shipment is not arranged until they have been successfully applied for and have been received to avoid additional costs in the event that import approval is declined prior to the vehicle arriving in South Africa.

Letter of Authority

A Letter of Authority is required to import the following types of vehicles:

  • Passenger vehicles – Including: cars, 4x4s, motorcycles and busses
    • Goods Vehicles – Including vans and trucks
    • Trailers
    • Specialist vehicles – Such as agricultural vehicles, mobile cranes etc….

A non-refundable fee is payable to NRCS when applying for a letter of authority and while this fee can vary dependent on both vehicle type and age; for passenger vehicles and motorcycles manufactured and registered outside of South Africa the application fee will be between ZAR300 – ZAR1800.

Import Permit

In addition to a Letter of Authority you will also need an Import Permit for your vehicle. Import permits are available on application to the International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa (ITAC) provided that you meet certain criteria using application form IE462.


While completion of form IE462 is required in all instances, regulations and supporting documentation required varies dependent on the status of the person who owns and is importing the vehicle:

Immigrants applying for an import permit must present the following documentation to ITAC along with a completed form IE462:

  • Copy South African permanent residency certificate
    • Copy foreign passport
    • A copy of the vehicle licence document (V5).

Returning South African Residents wishing to import a vehicle must provide the following documentation along with their completed form IE462 to ITAC:

  • Copy identity document or passport
    • An employers letter confirming permanent employment reflective of the period of employment.
    • A certified copy of the official vehicle registration document.

This is a basic list of requirements and documentation that will be needed however, additional supporting documentation may also be requested. Further information, contact details and application forms can be found on the ITAC website:

To successfully apply for an import permit both returning South African residents and immigrants are required to have permanent residency in South Africa. While it is against ITCA policy for them to post import permits to an address outside of South Africa, in the event that you are not physically in South Africa at time of applying for your import permit we can provide you with contact address details for our trusted agents in South Africa to whom your import permit can be posted. They will in turn be happy to forward your import permit by registered courier to you at your UK address. On successful application, import permits are normally issued with approximately four to five days.

While there is no fee payable to ITAC when applying for an import permit, if you wish to list our South African agents as the address for ITAC to send your import permit to, there will be a courier charge of approximately ZAR450 to forward your permit to you specified UK address.

Documentation we need

To arrange shipment of your vehicle to South Africa we require copies of a few documents, please note that we do not require any original documentation only clear legible copies. We will need:

  • A copy of the photo page of your Passport
    • A copy of the vehicles licence document (the V5).
    • • A valid MOT certificate may be required
    In instances where we are arranging collection of your vehicle from your UK address and transportation to the port of departure, if transportation is to be completed using our chauffer driven collection service we will also need a copy a valid MOT certificate. If your vehicle does not have a valid MOT, or if you would simply prefer, we can arrange collection using a recovery transporter or fully enclosed collection vehicle.

While we do not require copies of your letter of authority or import permit we strongly advise that shipment of your vehicle is not undertaken until you have received your letter of authority and import permit as in the event that your vehicle arrives before they are issued or if your application is declined your vehicle will be refused entry into South Africa.

Arriving in South Africa

Following departure from the UK we will provide you with a copy of the Bill of Lading covering shipment of your vehicle. Bills of lading are only issued after the ship carrying your vehicle has departed from the UK as this document is representative of evidence of export from the country. In addition to copy shipping documentation we will also re-confirm anticipated arrival details for your car in South Africa and contact details for our receiving agent at the port.

Our agents will in turn be in contact with you in South Africa before the ship is due to arrive to begin making arrangements with you for completion of local arrival and customs clearance / import formalities.

Port and shipping line charges

Following arrival in South Africa there will be charges to pay to the shipping line / receiving agents in respect of unloading your vehicle form the ship and handling at the port. There are also standard charges in relation to our agents assisting clearing your vehicle through customs in South Africa.

Please see the below guide to indicative charges for these standard services that you should expect to pay when your car arrives in South Africa.

Shipping by
20′ container
Shipping by
Ro Ro
Compulsory Optional
Shipping line and Port fees ZAR5040 ZAR5960 X
Transport to warehouse and container unloading ZAR4680 n/a X
Customs clearance and release fee ZAR2580 ZAR2580 X
Examination fee ZAR600 ZAR600 X

Benefits of Roll on Roll off (Ro Ro) Shipping

Overall destination charges are cheaper when shipping by Ro Ro as your car is simply driven off the ship, does not require the use of cranes and port handling facilities needed to handle containers and the container does not need to be moved to a warehouse for your car to be unloaded. It is however, not possible to ship your vehicle loaded with any personal items when shipping by Ro Ro.

Benefits of Container Shipping

You do have the facility to load personal items into your vehicle when shipping inside a container in addition to which, any additional in the container can also be used for personal items that may not fit inside the vehicle itself. If you have both a car and personal and household effects to ship to South Africa please contact one of our experienced team and we will provide you with the most suitable and cost effective shipping solution.

40′ Container. Additional Benefits

While overall destination port and container unloading charges are higher for a 40′ container in comparison to a 20′ container, there are savings to be made. When shipping two cars or if you wish us to ship your car with another vehicle inside a 40ft container there are some savings to be made at destination. Port fees and warehouse unloading charges are more, totaling ZAR14,000 per container, but does provide a saving as you are shipping two cars so pay ZAR7,000 per car.

Duty and Tax

Returning South African residents or immigrants changing their place of permanent residence to South Africa my import one motor vehicle free of Duty and are also granted exemption from VAT. On arrival South African customs will require you make a declaration to apply or exemption from Duty and VAT using form DA304A .

To be eligible to import your personal motor vehicle into South Africa under exemption from duty and VAT you must:

  • Be the registered owner of the vehicle for a period of no less than 12 months.
    • Be changing your permanent residency to South Africa.
    • On importation you must not sell, hire, exchange or otherwise dispose of the vehicle for a period of at least 2 years.

For vehicles or persons that do not quality for exemption the rate of duty payable is calculated on the based value of the vehicle. For vehicles up to 20 years old may be applied at a rate of up to 36% with vehicles in excess of 20 years old being subject to a rate of 20%. An ad valorem duty rate may also be applied at a rate of between 0.75% and 20% of the vehicle dependent on the age and value of the vehicle.

VAT, if payable, is charged at a standard rate of 14%. The South African VAT act sets the value on which VAT is calculated as being the value of goods plus customs duty levied plus a further 10% of that value.

Further information on import duty and VAT in South Africa can be found on the South African Revenue Service (SARS) website here.


Once your vehicle has been cleared through customs and any duty and tax levied have been paid to the South African Revenue Service you will be issued with a Customs Release Notification form. For your car to be registered for use on South African roads it must be registered at a vehicle licensing office and must pass a road worthiness test (similar to an MOT).

To register your vehicle you will be required to complete the application for motor vehicle licence form ALV (available here) and present it to a vehicle licencing office together with the Customs Release Notification form to register your car in South Africa.

A registered testing centre will complete a road worthiness test and issue you with a road worthy certificate for around ZAR200. If you vehicle does fail you will typically be entitled to one free re-test provided that any work needed is completed and your vehicle can be re-tested within 14 days. Further details on road worthiness certificates is available on the South Africa Government Services website here.