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Getting Started with Importing

In 2018, goods to the value of just less than $90 billion were imported into South Africa, with about 45% of this originating from China. European and African trade partners accounted for 33% and 10% respectively, with the balance of trade originating throughout the rest of the globe.

As the local economy continues to emerge from a recessionary period, it is likely that the demand for foreign goods will continue to grow, making this an economic segment ripe with opportunities for those organisations looking to capitalise on this demand.

As with any other country, the local market is governed by specific import regulations, and it is crucial for any organisation looking to bring goods into the country to be aware of, and abide by these, to make the process as easy as possible.

There are many complex procedures that need to be complied with and importers are encouraged to appoint customs brokers, as specialists, to perform these formalities on their behalf. Basic documents are:

1. Clearing Instructions 

The clearance instruction provides customs broker and customs with all the relevant information that is required to submit a valid customs clearance declaration (SAD500).  The clearance instruction must be prepared and signed by an employee of the importer.

2. Customs clearance declaration (SAD500) 

The purpose of this document is to ensure that imported goods are properly declared to SARS, i.e. exact nature, value and quantity of the goods, seeking SARS permission to release in South African on payment of relevant VAT and duties due .

3. Commercial Invoice 

An invoice is important in any commercial transaction as it details the information with regards to the sale of goods between two parties. When importing the invoice requires details including the seller and buyer details, goods description, INCOTERMS,  terms and payment method, freight and insurance costs, shipment origin and destination and packing specifications. A pro-forma invoice may be used as a quote in order to obtain an import permit, raise finance or check order details but a commercial invoice is required for SARS clearance into South Africa.

4. Bill of Lading (Sea) / Air waybill (Air) / Road or Rail consignment note (Road/Rail) 

These are contracts of carriage entered into between the freight carrier and the cargo owner to carry out the transportation of the cargo as per the sale between buyer and selling. It is issued by the freight carrier to the shipper on receipt of goods, serving as proof of receipt pending final delivery as endorsed.

5. Certificate of Origin 

This is a document that used to identify the country of manufacture of the products being imported. Among others, the origin of the goods may impact the customs tariff payable according to trade agreements between South Africa and the country of origin.

To talk to an expert about getting your business set up for importing, contact Meraki Consulting today.

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