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Import & customs rules

Many people, who have family or friends in South Africa, are asked to bring a piece of for example, cheese. Officially, however, you may not import dairy products in South Africa. However, experience shows that vacuum-packed cheese in the luggage almost always comes in without problems. Want to bring a piece of cheese? Do not carry it in your hand luggage. Incidentally, you can just buy ordinary cheese in the supermarket in South Africa.

Import Customs Rules

The information below is based on data from the Tax Office dated September 2013. This information is not legally binding. For the most current information, visit the Tax Office website.

What can you and cannot bring?

It is prohibited to bring firearms or other weapons (such as knives, swords, brass knuckles, pepper spray etc.) and ammunition. Also, fake weapons and toy weapons that looks real. Only with a special permit are you allowed to carry arms.

Protected Fauna and Flora
Many animal and plants are threatened with extinction if trade is not curbed. To avoid extinction, global rules are established. It is forbidden to bring species and to take home. In the case of less threatened species, you may take them when you have previously arranged a CITES-document issued by the authorities concerned. You need an export permit from the country of origin or departure, and an import permit from the country of destination. You must declare it to customs.

Examples of protected species and products are: exotic plants such as orchids and cacti, monkeys, snakes, lizards and many other tropical animals, coral, shells, etc. Also products made of the above goods are forbidden to enter, for example to decorative objects made of coral or ivory or medicines containing endangered species.

Counterfeit goods
It is forbidden to bring counterfeit goods and to introduce it in the United Kingdom unless it is to a very small amount for personal use. If traders abroad offer branded goods at very low prices, you can almost always assume that it is counterfeit. Examples of counterfeit trademark goods often sold are: handbags, clothing, jewelry, perfume and DVDs. Here are some examples of the maximum amount that you can take: three watches, 250 ml perfume, 3 DVDs / CDs, three other items (such as clothing).

Money and securities
Are you traveling to the United Kingdom or an EU country other from a non-EU country and take cash (cash and securities such as shares, bonds and travelers checks that are issued in the name) worth € 10 000 or more with? Then you must declare to the customs in the country where you enter the EU. Money and securities in foreign currency, you must convert to Euros/Pounds. You must also declare if you are not the owner, but the cash transport for someone else.

Cultural goods
You may not bring cultural goods (art and antiques) to the United Kingdom. In recent centuries, there are many valuable items such as art, antiques and antiquities taken away from their original environment. National and international measures have been taken to counteract this 'plundering'. If traders abroad offer cultural goods at extremely low prices, you can almost always assume that it is illicit or counterfeit. Want to take cultural goods to the United Kingdom? You often need an export license from the government of the country of departure. Recognized antique dealers can often help you with this. Without this export license, do not take the cultural items and enter the United Kingdom.

Tax exemption
Please do not bring more goods than the maximum amounts. Then you do not have to pay taxes for those goods and if the European Union is traveling (you get tax exemption). For products such as alcohol and tobacco there are maximum amounts (without declaration to customs) that may apply.

Tobacco and Cigarettes
The maximum quantities of tobacco products without paying tax are: 200 cigarettes or 250 grams of tobacco or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars. A proportional assortment of these products, for example, 100 cigarettes and 25 cigars is allowed. This exemption applies only to people 17 years and older.

The maximum quantities of alcohol you can enter are as follows: 1 liter of spirits or 2 liters of sparkling wine or two liters of fortified wine such as port / sherry or 4 liters of sparkling wine or 16 liters of beer. A combination of top are allowed like a pint of liquor and 1 liter of sparkling wine. This exemption applies only to people 17 years and older.

Other goods
You do not have to pay tax on goods that you bought outside the EU where the value does not exceed € 430. This amount also excludes gifts. Alcohol and tobacco are not covered by this amount. For example, when you buy a camera worth € 500, you must report to the tax the entire amount. For example, when paying an item worth € 400 and an article worth € 50, then you only need pay on the article of € 50. Do you take commodities? Then you should always report it.

When you exceed the numbers and amounts listed above, then you must declare and pay customs tax.

Your holiday begins at South Africa Specialist.