An Advance Payment Notification (APN) is a notice of the intention to apply to an authorised dealer in foreign exchange and currency to make an advance foreign exchange payment, in excess of R50 000, in respect of goods to be imported into the Republic. These goods have yet to be cleared into South Africa when the APN is submitted on eFile.
The APN is valid for 30 days only.
Where a client intends to make use of an advance foreign exchange payment of R50 000 and above, he / she must:
- Be a registered importer; and
- Submit an APN through eFile.
- If the importer is not registered with Customs:
- SARS eFile will request him / her to register with Customs as an importer before submitting an APN to SARS.
- From 1 December 2023 SARS has added an additional step and mandated this from the authorised dealers’ (banks) side as well to further facilitate the control of advanced pre-payments on import shipments – balancing competing needs of improved trade facilitation with improved compliance.
- Therefore, the instruction to pay to the importer’s paying bank (the authorised dealer) must be made within the 30 days that the APN is valid for. Failure by the importer to provide the APN at the time of payment may result in delays at the paying bank.
- This mandate will have a noticeable impact on festive season imports as well as those importing ahead of the New Year.
- Note: APN’s are not required for advance import payments in the Common Monetary Area (Eswatini, Lesotho and Namibia).
Some relevant questions and answers from the SARS website:
- Who must make an Advance Payment Notification?
The importer concerned, or the entity who will be financing the payment.
- When must an Advance Payment Notification be made?
An APN must be made before an application is submitted to an authorised dealer to effect an advance foreign exchange payment, or before such a payment is made by the authorised dealer in terms of a financial instrument (e.g., Letter of Credit).
- What is the purpose of Advance Payment Notifications?
The purpose of Advance Payment Notices is to enable SARS, Authorised Dealers, and legitimate traders to work together to combat Illicit Financial Flows (IFF’s) and Customs undervaluation.
- What will I receive from SARS once I have submitted an Advance Payment Notice?
You will receive a unique SARS-generated APN reference number in relation to that intended payment.
- How soon will I receive the APN reference number after submitting my notification?
The APN reference will be available immediately on successful submission of the notice, provided all required information is correct.
- What happens if I made an error on my APN?
You must amend the APN with the correct information after discovering the error, and after confirming that the payment in respect of which the APN was made has not yet been effected by the authorised dealer.
- What happens if after submission of an APN I decide not to proceed with requesting a payment from an Authorised Dealer?
You must cancel your previously submitted APN notice. The APN will also automatically lapse if no payment is made by the authorised dealer indicated on the notification within 30 days of the date thereof.
- Will I have to reflect my APN reference number on my import customs clearance declaration?
Yes. An importer must, when submitting an import bill of entry relating to goods in respect of which an APN reference number was assigned, indicate the APN reference number on the bill of entry.
- What happens if I have a problem with the eFiling service and I cannot submit my Advance Payment Notice?
Please contact the SARS Contact Centre on 0800 00 7277 for assistance.
- I have a query regarding Advance Import Payment notices, who can I contact?
Send your query by email to BOP@sars.gov.za.
SARS – Frequently Asked Questions prior to the 1 December 2023 additional step.
21/11/2023 – Businesstech article
CUSTOMS EXTERNAL GUIDE SUBMISSION OF ADVANCE IMPORT PAYMENTS – Point 6. Advance Payment Notification on eFile.