The ultimate guide to importing a car or another vehicle into South Africa, with advice on South African import laws and how to register an imported car.
If you’re moving to South Africa, or returning there as a national who has been in the UK for some time, you may be confused by what initially seems to be a complex and time-consuming procedure. But fear not: we’ve put together the ultimate guide to importing a car into South Africa, which aims to help you through the process.
In the sections below, we’ll answer common questions about South Africa import laws, which aim to ensure that any vehicles imported meet specific regulations, as well as discuss the types and models of cars you can import into South Africa. Additionally, we explore the cost of importing a car into South Africa and explain more about the import taxes and shipping costs that may apply. Hopefully, once you’ve read through this guide, you’ll be well-equipped to begin the process of getting your car into the country.
NB: The information in this article is correct and up to date at the time of writing, however, rules and procedures are subject to change. You should, therefore, talk to South African Customs or a shipping company such as PSS International Removals to ensure you have the latest guidance that is applicable to your situation.
- The benefits of shipping your car to South Africa from the UK
- 1. Is it worth importing a car into South Africa?
- 2. Finding a reliable shipping company to transport your car to South Africa
- 3. How to import a registered car to South Africa from the UK
- Check if your vehicle is eligible to be imported into South Africa
- Apply to be an approved importer
- Arrange shipment of your vehicle
- Option 1: Ship your car and household belongings together
- Option 2: Ship your car only
- Option 3: LO/LO (Load On/Load Off) or RO/RO (Roll On/Roll Off)
- Pay for customs clearance and any local taxes
- Register your vehicle in South Africa
- 4. What cars are eligible for export into South Africa?
- 5. South Africa car import laws
- 6. Cost of importing a car to South Africa
- Looking for assistance to import your car to South Africa?
The benefits of shipping your car to South Africa from the UK
You might consider importing a car into South Africa from the UK for several reasons. The first may be because you’re moving there permanently. Whether you intend to stay over to work there for a while or you’re making a permanent move, the benefits of importing your own car rather than purchasing a car once you arrive include:
- You can ship your car at the same time as your belongings. It can be reasonably quick to arrange this, so you may not even need to hire a car while you wait for your pride and joy to join you in South Africa.
- Importing your car may be cheaper than purchasing a new one. Not only this, but only certain models will be available there, and your favourite model might not be one of them.
- There’s no problem driving a UK car on South African roads. Since traffic flows on the left in South Africa, your car will feel the same as in the UK.
- You don’t have to get rid of something you’re attached to. If your car means something to you, why get rid of it when you don’t have to? A fresh start in a new country doesn’t have to mean leaving the things you love the most behind.
Shipping can be hassle-free and easy. When you use a reputable firm such as PSS, we’ll take over all the arrangements for you. We offer a cost-effective, comprehensive service, and you can rely on our years of knowledge and experience to give you a seamless transfer.
1. Is it worth importing a car into South Africa?
There is no denying the costs of shipping a car to South Africa. However, depending on your car type and the way you wish to send it, you may find that the costs it cheaper to import than buying a new car. If your car is right-hand drive and in good condition, it is certainly worth considering importing it into South Africa.
You’ll have the comfort of driving your own familiar vehicle on what may be very unfamiliar roads. Many of us get so used to our cars that changing to something new can be a wrench. Importing a car will save you the hassle of finding the right car, and not knowing the market in South Africa may mean you could overpay for the vehicle you want.
That’s not to say there aren’t complexities in shipping a car from the UK to South Africa. The import requirements vary between countries, and South Africa has its own set of rules as to whether you can import your own car into the country. Thankfully, as experts in moving vehicles overseas, the team at PSS can explain the criteria for importing a car into South Africa.
2. Finding a reliable shipping company to transport your car to South Africa
Shipping and importing your car into South Africa can be a complicated process. It is therefore advisable to find a shipping partner to help guide you through the process including the paperwork and negotiating the best rates with the shipping lines.
They can ensure your vehicle complies with relevant legislation, is packed securely and can take care of the customs clearance process for you. PSS International Removals import many cars into South Africa every year and will be happy to give you a quote and advise you on the process.
3. How to import a registered car to South Africa from the UK
There are various steps to importing your car into South Africa. Generally speaking, the process runs as follows:
Check if your vehicle is eligible to be imported into South Africa
You can only import a second-hand vehicle into South Africa if you have a permit to do so. There are restrictions on the importation of used vehicles to protect the South African motor vehicle manufacturing industry.
Immigrants to South Africa with permanent residence would typically be permitted to bring vehicles into the country if registered in their name. So too could returning South Africans. However, the vehicle must not be for resale, only for personal use.
There are other reasons that a person might be able to import a car into South Africa, such as importing racing vehicles, vintage passenger vehicles, inherited and specially designed vehicles. You can find the full list of vehicles and components on the ITAC (International Trade Administration Commission) website.
Apply to be an approved importer
You must be aware of the customs clearance process before sending your car to South Africa. The South African Revenue Service (SARS) controls how much tax would be applicable on your vehicle. Customs South Africa (a division of SARS) requires that importers register with its office to obtain an importer’s code. Failure to do so may cause delays with customs clearance. Attempting to import without a permit may result in a fine.
There are a few steps to take to become an approved importer.
- Register as an importer with SARS.
- Go to ITAC or download IE230 here.
- Fill in the forms required.
- Submit the forms to ITAC.
You need to obtain a letter of authority and import permit in order to import your car into South Africa. Your letter of authority will come from the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS). You can find further information on their website.
To apply for an import permit, you will need to complete form IE462.
There are certain documents you must submit in order for your application to be accepted. For immigrants, the documents needed are:
- A copy of the page of your passport that has your photograph and details on
- A copy of the UK registration certificate
- If applicable, proof of study or research to be carried out.
- A copy of your South African permanent residence certificate
For South African citizens, you will need the following:
- ID document or passport
- A letter from your employer that confirms your permanent employment abroad and what period you were employed within. Your contract or any payslips, etc, will not suffice – you will need this letter.
- A certified copy of your foreign vehicle registration certificate
According to the South African Government, it may take up to 5 days to process this letter of authority and your permit. It is vital not to dispatch your vehicle until you have received this important documentation.
We recognise that this can look complicated for those not experienced in shipping. However, PSS are experienced in ensuring all boxes are ticked when it comes to the requirements and will be happy to assist you in arranging to meet them.
Arrange shipment of your vehicle
It is important to note that to avoid issues, it is wise to prepare your vehicle properly before shipping it overseas.
You should ensure the vehicle is thoroughly cleaned prior to dispatch. We recommend that all organic material is removed both inside and out. There are professional steam cleaning services that can assist with this. You should also ensure that your vehicle has a full service and check before shipment.
One important point to note is that it isn’t advisable to valet your car’s interior before shipping. Doing so may risk mildew and mould growth during shipping.
Once you have your vehicle ready, it’s time to arrange shipping. Several options are open to you when shipping your car to South Africa.
Option 1: Ship your car and household belongings together
In most cases, it is a good idea to ship your car and household furniture, as well as your other personal effects, together in a shipping container.
Typically, a shipping container will be brought to your home and expert loaders will ensure your vehicle is secured within the container. The remaining space can be used for other household goods and there can be a lot of space in a 40ft container.
This can be a useful option if you want to ensure that all your items remain together. If you choose PSS removals when importing your car to South Africa, our experts will ensure that your goods are packed securely and will be handled with the utmost care. The container will be customs sealed while on your premises and will be taken to the most appropriate UK port. The shipping line will carry your car and belongings to the South African port.
Option 2: Ship your car only
If you only need to send your car, you can do so in a 20ft shipping container. Your car will be loaded and secured inside the container. Again, this will be custom sealed before heading to the port. However, this option gives you the choice of whether to load your car at home, one of our warehouses, or a shipping line depot.
Shipping in a container has the advantage of extra security and protection for your vehicle.
Option 3: LO/LO (Load On/Load Off) or RO/RO (Roll On/Roll Off)
Available only from certain ports, this involves driving your car onto the vessel, whereupon it will be secured before the vessel sets off for South Africa. On arrival, it will be driven off the vessel. This is perhaps one of the more risky ways to import your car to South Africa. It will not give your car as much protection as if it were in its own container. However, it could be an option if the vehicle’s size does not allow it to fit a standard container.
Key note: If you are importing a vehicle, you must obtain an importer code from SARS, which must be used in the import application. This information must be in hand before the container is loaded. Feel free to contact PSS Removals who will be more than happy to help during the process.
Pay for customs clearance and any local taxes
When it comes to the level of taxes you’ll be expected to pay; you might be pleased to learn that you will not pay import duty if the vehicle won’t be sold or disposed of for two years from the date of importation.
The documentation required for customs clearance is:
- Registration papers
- A document showing that your vehicle has been in your own possession and use abroad for a year or more prior to import
- The original purchase invoice for your vehicle, plus one copy
- Your insurance certificate
- Your import permit and letter of authority
- Customs form DA 304/A
VAT will be assessed on the imported value of the vehicle, as per the current rate.
You will also need to pay the National Regulator a fee of R1800 per vehicle.
If you are a temporary resident, a CASH customs bond must be paid to cover the full rate of duties and taxes. However, you can apply for a refund from the South African Department of Customs and Excise once you provide proof of re-export from South Africa.
Returning residents will be due to pay full duty and taxes, while temporary residents should provide a customs bond. They will not need an import permit.
Finally, foreign diplomats are not subject to duties or taxes so long as they provide a Diplomatic clearance certificate and proof of the vehicle’s value.
Register your vehicle in South Africa
Finally, you will need to ensure that your vehicle is registered at a Licensing Office. It must also pass a road safety test to be approved for use in South Africa. For information about registering an imported car in South Africa, see the process below:
- A letter of authority from the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications
- Previous registration documents issued in the UK
- An eNaTIS form
- An RSA identity document, an identity document issued in the UK, or a traffic register number certificate
4. What cars are eligible for export into South Africa?
If you are still considering whether to import your car into South Africa, you should be aware that some of the most commonly imported cars into the country include:
- Suzuki Swift
- Land Rover Defender
- VW Camper van
- Range Rover
- Toyota Urban Cruiser
- Suzuki S-Presso
- Renault Kiger
- Volkswagen T-Cross
- Renault Kwid
These are just a few examples. However, it is essential to check your vehicle is compliant with South African car import laws to ensure that you don’t fall foul of the authorities.
5. South Africa car import laws
As mentioned, there are various eligible categories your vehicle could fall into that would allow you to import your car to South Africa. However, there are certain restrictions that we must reiterate that you absolutely must be aware of.
- Your car must be roadworthy and must meet quarantine requirements
- You must not be importing your car to sell it, at least not within two years of arrival.
- You must ensure that you have the required documents, such as an import permit and letter of authority.
- It must be registered upon arrival in South Africa, and you must have relevant insurance.
6. Cost of importing a car to South Africa
If you are considering importing a car to South Africa, the cost is sure to be a consideration. The factors that may impact how much you pay will include:
- The size of the vehicle
- The method of shipping
- The size of the engine
- The value of the vehicle
When it comes to keeping shipping costs down, it may be worth considering shipping your car with your belongings. That way, you can keep everything in one container, meaning you only have to pay for shipping once, and only for one container should your belongings fit around your car.
It is important to consider that not only will there be shipping costs but also duties and taxes, as well as foreign registration.
The way in which duty is calculated in South Africa is as a percentage of the FOB (free on board) value of the vehicle. However, most foreign second hand car imports are duty free, as mentioned in the previous sections.
When it comes to calculating VAT, the rate in South Africa is currently 15%. This is payable on the ATV (added tax value). You will need to take into factor the customs value of the vehicle plus any duty payable plus 10% of total. Older cars (manufactured 20 years ago or more), however, are subject to a VAT rate of 20%.
For a free, no-obligation estimate of how much it would cost to ship your car to South Africa, why not contact our team, and we will be more than happy to help you.
Looking for assistance to import your car to South Africa?
As we have mentioned, there are a great many benefits of importing your car into South Africa. However, you must be aware of all the costs involved to decide whether importation is right for you.
Here at PSS, we would be glad to talk to you about shipping your vehicle to South Africa, and we could provide you with a cost-effective quote for your shipment. With years of experience and knowledge of shipping requirements worldwide, we offer the value-added service of handling all the paperwork for you, making moving your car overseas a less confusing, more seamless process.
Why not get in touch today to find out how easy we could make the steps to importing a vehicle into South Africa?