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How to get your importers code from SARS and save thousands on tech purchases

By June 28, 2023October 11th, 2023FinGlobal

How to get your importers code from SARS and save thousands on tech purchases

June 28, 2023


Shopping in South Africa for technology can be both frustrating and expensive. If it’s not available in South Africa, you’ll have to look abroad for it. If it is available in South Africa, the price is often higher than overseas counterparts, because someone else has paid the import duties on the item you want, and added it to their already inflated price. So how can you get the tech items you need without paying an arm and a leg when you have to ship it in from overseas? We recently heard about a nifty little workaround through an import license from the South African Revenue Service (SARS).

Limitations on South African import laws

According to South Africa’s tax law, individuals are allowed to import items in their personal capacity up to three times a year, as long as none of the imported goods exceed the value of R50,000. However, as we know, big tech can have a hefty price tag. Should you wish to exceed these limitations by importing more than three times a year or purchasing items with a tag higher than R50,000, you will need to obtain a special customs code, commonly known as an “importers code,” from SARS. In cases where you have surpassed the specified limits, shipping or courier companies will ask for your importers code, which is proof of your importers license.

What is a SARS importers code?

A SARS importers code is a unique identifier that is issued by SARS to individuals or businesses that import goods into South Africa. This code is used to track the movement of goods through the customs clearance process and to ensure that the correct duties and taxes are paid. To obtain a SARS importers code, it is necessary to complete an application and provide SARS with certain documentation – either a company registration certificate or a copy of their taxpayer reference number – as the case may be. Once the application is approved, SARS will issue an importers code.

The SARS importers code is a valuable cost-saving tool when importing goods into South Africa. It can help to speed up the customs clearance process and to ensure that import purchases are made in compliance with South African customs regulations. A SARS importers code allows South Africans to buy from international online stores more than three times in a single year.

Here are some of the benefits of having a SARS importers code:

  1. It can help to speed up the customs clearance process.
  2. It can help to ensure compliance with South African customs regulations.
  3. It can help to get better rates on shipping and insurance.

If you own a business that imports goods into South Africa, or you make regular large technology purchases from outside South African borders you should consider applying for a SARS importers code. It is a free service that can save you thousands.

What is the procedure for getting an importers code on SARS eFiling?

Follow these steps on eFiling to get an importers code:

  1.  Sign in to the SARS eFiling website.
  2. Click on “My Profile” and then click on “Portfolio Management”.
  3. Click on the “Change Portfolio Type” button and select “Organisation”.
  4. Click on “Save”.
  5. Click on “User” in the top menu and then click on “User” in the left menu.
  6. Click on “Change Details” and then select the “Importer” role.
  7. Click on “Save”.
  8. Click on “RLA” and then click on “New Application”.
  9. Fill out the application form and upload the documents requested.
  10. Click on “Submit”.

SARS will process your application and will issue you with an importers code within 10 working days.

For a full step-by-step visual guide on how to complete the process on eFiling, please visit this MyBroadband article.

Here are the documents that you need to provide when applying for an importers code:

  • Company registration certificate (where necessary)
  • Taxpayer reference number
  • Proof of address
  • Proof of identity
  • Power of attorney (if applicable)

Here are some additional tips to streamline your application for an importers code:

  • Make sure that you have all of the required documentation before you start the application process.
  • Carefully read the instructions on the SARS website before you start. If you are unsure how to complete the application form, you can contact SARS for assistance.
  • Once you have submitted your application, you will receive an email confirmation from SARS.
  • SARS will process your application and will issue you with an importers code within 10 working days, if successful.

FinGlobal: cross border financial specialists for South Africans

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