If you have recently relocated to SA, buying a new car in today’s South African market can be quite a budget burden; especially when you already have a car that you do not know how to import. Or maybe, you are just struggling to let go of the fact that you have left your dream car alone, in another country.

Although it may seem like a hassle, importing a car to South Africa is actually easy under certain circumstances. For example, if you are changing your permanent residency to South Africa and are the registered owner of car for a minimum period of 12-months, then you are practically eligible to import your car into South Africa under the exemption from duty and VAT. It’s that easy.

However, the process may be different if your circumstance is put into reverse.

The right to import a used car is controlled to protect South Africa’s local motor vehicle manufacturing industry. The role of import control is to regulate health, environmental, security, safety and technical standards, emitted by domestic laws and International Agreement.

Importing a registered car to South Africa, is generally limited to South African nationals and immigrants who possess permanent residency. Apart from this, circumstances under which cars may be imported include inherited cars, vintage passenger cars, racing cars and special-designed cars. In order to import your second hand car to the country, you need to obtain an authority letter from the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS), in order to do so.

Import guidelines, compiled by the International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC), state that, “to import controlled or used and second hand personal or individual goods into South Africa”, you will have to request permission from ITAC and apply to ITAC for an ‘import permit’.

Below are the steps to go about importing a car into South African territory:

Step 1: Complete the ‘Application for importation of a second hand or used vehicle form (IE462)’.
Step 2: If a South African national, submit your ID or passport; employment letter confirming abroad employment and period; and a certified copy of the foreign car registration certificate.
Step 3: If a bona fide immigrant, submit a copy of your permanent SA residence certificate; foreign passport; foreign car registration certificate; and proof of study or research to be concluded.

Be prepared to wait a maximum of 5-days to complete the application process, after the documents have been received. Although ITAC may not charge any fees for their service, you will need to pay customs ‘duty’ at the South African Revenue Service (SARS). Here, ‘duty’ will be calculated as a percentage of the value of the goods, as stipulated in the ‘Customs and Excise Act’.

If you are planning to import a car into South Africa, you will not have to worry about decreasing the value of your used car. Your used car resale value will be retained more than locally available cars, especially if your motor vehicle is internationally desirable.

The above information, as retrieved from gov.za and ITAC, is simply a guide and does not change any laws, rules and regulations, as stipulated in the 2002 International Trade Administration Act, 1964 Customs and Excise Act, 2000 Promotion to Administrative Justice Act, 2000 Promotion to Access to Information Act; and as stipulated by South African Bureau of Standards and South African Revenue Service.

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