Contradicting articles have been causing confusion lately.
In terms of Customs legislation, South African residents travelling abroad are not required to declare their personal effects in their possession when leaving the country, nor upon return. ‘Personal effects’ is defined in legislation as including items such as personal laptops, iPads, cell phones, golf clubs, cameras and/or other high value items forming part of the traveller’s possessions when leaving the country.
Only new goods purchased overseas are subject to duty and VAT implications and this is exactly why SARS can challenge any traveller to provide proof of local purchase or ownership.
In order to avoid this the traveller needs to be able to provide proof of ownership, in the form of an invoice, an insurance record, in the case of a laptop, even the content on the laptop. Let’s be honest, how many travellers, for example, go overseas with an old cell phone and come back a few weeks later with a brand spanking new cell phone claiming it is the one that left South Africa with them.
Where the Customs officer is not satisfied that proof of local purchase or ownership can be established, the officer will advise the traveller that the item(s) will be detained until such proof can be presented.
Reports have been cited that a DA65 must be completed by travellers to declare the re-importation of personal valuables.
On the DA65 form there are 6 notes that must be read before the form is completed. The first 2 notes are very relevant:
- “This form may be used to register goods temporarily exported on form SAD 500 so as to assist in the identification of those goods on re-importation.
- This form may not be used by a traveller (any person entering or leaving the Republic) in respect of a vehicle, accompanied baggage or goods in his or her personal possession. The traveller declaration form DA 331 must be used for the registration of any vehicle (for private or commercial use), accompanied baggage or goods for re-importation in the personal possession of a traveller.”
The DA65 clearly states in point 2 that it may not be used for personal valuables (“in his or her personal possession”) as it only applies to “commercial cargo environment, for example where goods are temporarily exported for repair abroad”.
According to the DA65 the “traveller declaration form DA331” must be completed for personal valuables (“in his or her personal possession”), but notice 1031 was issued in the Government Gazette on 27 December 2013 stating the following:
- DA 331 traveller declaration form was deleted.
- TC-01 (Traveller Card) is the applicable form that must be completed if the traveller has goods to register for re-importation.
- TRD1 (Traveller Declaration) will be generated by the Customs officer and a printed copy will be handed to the traveller as proof of declaration of personal valuables in their possession.
On 30/1/2014 the Customs External Directive for Traveller Processing was issued by SARS. This document is an excellent guide to follow as it explains all the relevant steps a traveller must follow regarding re-importation of goods in his or her possession. Following these guidelines will save the traveller the burden of having to be questioned on their personal effects when they return.
The Customs External Directive Traveller Processing states the following:
“2.3 Goods that will be re-imported
- Personal effects temporarily exported as accompanied baggage by residents for their own use abroad or for the purpose of repair must be registered with Customs prior to exportation to facilitate the subsequent re-importation thereof. …”
“3.2.1 Registration of goods for re-importation
- The traveller / crew member identifies items to be registered for re-importation prior to leaving South Africa.
- The traveller / crew member must identify the goods for re-importation.
- Personal effects such as cameras, video cameras, jewellery, laptops, etc., which private persons wish to take out of South Africa for their own use whilst abroad and articles which are exported for the purpose of repair overseas must be registered for re-importation provided they retain their essential character and can be identified upon re-importation.
- The traveller / crew member must request a Traveller Card (TC-01) only when he / she has goods to register for re-importation.
- The traveller / crew member completes the TC-01 and hands the card and his / her passport to the Customs Officer to scan onto PPS.
- The traveller / crew member MUST VERBALLY DECLARE his / her goods to the Customs Officer.
- The Customs Officer captures the items identified for re-importation on the TRD 1 on the system.
- If there is a mistake on the TRD 1, the Customs Officer must request authorisation from the Team Leader to make an amendment on the system.
- The traveller / crew member signs the TRD 1 electronically on the signature pad if all the information is captured correctly.
- The traveller / crew member must retain the printed TRD 1.
- The traveller / crew member is allowed to exit the Passenger Processing Area (PPA) by the Customs Officer.”
- Please refer to 3.1 for traveller / crew member arrivals.
- The traveller must proceed to the Goods to declare (red) channel if he / she has goods that were repaired or altered because duties need to be paid on such costs.
- The traveller / crew member must declare the cost of any repairs effected on the goods outside South Africa and the invoices must be submitted in this regard.
- The Customs Officer scans the traveller’s / crew member’s passport and TC-01 in order to retrieve the TRD 1 that was captured on the system at time of the traveller’s departure.
- The Customs Officer must ensure that the electronic declaration is the same as the traveller’s / crew member’s copy. If goods are the same as the declaration the traveller / crew member may leave the PPA.
- Where the traveller / crew member cannot produce the declaration; he / she must produce proof that the goods were exported to the Customs Officer. In the absence of any of these, full duty is payable where applicable.
- The Customs Officer verifies the goods against the declaration”
South African residents travelling abroad are not required to declare their personal effects in their possession when leaving the country, nor upon return. Only new goods purchased overseas are subject to duty and VAT implications and this is exactly why SARS can challenge any traveller to provide proof of local purchase or ownership.
- DA65 is not the correct form to complete regarding the re-importation of personal valuables.
- At departure the traveller must complete a TC-01 and declare verbally to the Customs Officer the personal effects in their possession.
- The Customs Officer will generate a TRD1 on the SARS system and hand a printed copy to the traveller for safe keeping.
- On request of the Customs Officer the traveller must then provide the printed copy of the TRD1 on return to South Africa.
The aforementioned will save the traveller endless queries from Customs Officers and ensure that the traveller spends as little time as possible in the presence of numerus SARS officials in airport arrivals.
Save journey to all.
If you have any enquiries, please contact Adri Britz at firstname.lastname@example.org
- SARS website – DA65:
- Traveller24 article published 24/5/2018 at 17:00:
- Notice 1031 Government Gazette:
- Customs External Directive Traveller Processing (effective 30/1/2014):
- TC-01 (Traveller Card) & TRD1 (Traveller Declaration)
- TC-01 (Traveller Card)