South Africa: What You Need to Know
Extending across an area of over 1.2 million km², the Republic of South Africa is found on the southern tip of the Black Continent.
It is divided into nine provinces, including Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Western Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and North West. These provinces vary in diversity and as such people moving to South Africa need to do their research and carefully choose where they want to relocate to.
Size, climatic characteristics, population and economic strength are some of the main ways the provinces differ. Let’s take Gauteng as an example. More than a quarter of the population live in this province and a large amount of the nation’s GDP is generated there. This is not surprising because the Pretoria-Johannesburg metro area is located in Gauteng. This is the main area expats are attracted to when moving to South Africa.
We offer all types of shipping to South Africa. Our sole use container and LCL services depart weekly, while our air freight services generally depart on a daily basis. We also offer shared services which depart on average every 12 weeks.
Shipping to South Africa
Overseas Packers & Shippers are experienced in providing secure and reliable shipping to South Africa. We make the process as easy and straightforward as possible by ensuring you know what you need and when you need it.
Although we will require a copy of your passport for export customs clearance processes, we do not require customs forms to be completed prior to shipping your items as these are required in original format in South Africa. Our agent will make contact with you prior to the arrival of your items to start the customs clearance process. You will be required to present your original passport for the customs clearance process.
Before making your move to South Africa you must have a valid visa in place. If you plan to stay between the period three months and three years, you will need to apply for a temporary residence visa. These fall into different categories depending on what you intend to do in South Africa – that is, whether you’re moving to retire in the country, to study, to find a job, to start a business, for medical reasons, and so on.
Permanent Residency Visas
Getting a permanent residency visa for South Africa is a natural step for many expats that already have a temporary residence visa, as well as those who wish to have more access to national infrastructure.
The application process varies according to what activity an expat wishes to carry out on arrival. Therefore, the first thing to consider when seeking a permanent residency visa in South Africa is under which category an application is going to be made.
Permanent Residency in South Africa
Categories for Permanent Residency Include:
- Work – applicants must, first of all, hold a valid temporary work permit for five years unless applying under the exceptional skills work permit options
- Retired – applications can be made for permanent residency on a stand-alone basis
- Business – applications can be made for permanent residency on a stand-alone basis
- Relatives – applications can be made for permanent residency on a stand-alone basis providing the relationship is first kin or applicants have been married or in a life partner relationship for a provable five year period.
Though some applications for permanent residency visas can in theory be made as stand-alone applications, the vast majority of immigrants have to adopt a two-step approach by first getting temporary residency. The reason for this is often a practical one of time scales, as permanent residency applications can take anywhere between 12 and 36 months.
Importing Vehicles To South Africa
Many people relocating to South Africa wish to take their vehicle with them. Only first time immigrants with permanent residency visas already issued are allowed to import cars free of duty and VAT.
If you are a returning South African resident, you must comply with all three of the following elements to be able to import your vehicle duty free:
- Originally emigrated from SA
- Obtained permanent residents status abroad
- Returning to SA permanently
South African Customs require you to produce the following in order for them to consider granting you a rebate under item 407.04:
- Proof of permanent residency acquired abroad, such as permanent residency
- Evidence that the abovementioned permanent residency has been withdrawn (e.g. proof of notification of change of permanent address to the emigrations department in Australia or proof of deregistration as a tax payer in Australia or proof of sale of all fixed property in Australia)
- Evidence of permanent return to South Africa (e.g. purchase of a property, proof of a long terms lease on a property, proof of income from a SA registered company)
- An Import Permit for the car (see below and Useful Forms)
- A Letter of Authority (see below and Useful Forms)
- Car registration documents
- Transport document (Bill of Lading which we would provide on shipping)
- DA304A (see below and Useful Forms).
Please note you must have owned (registered in your name) and used the car for at least 6 months before leaving for South Africa and you can only import one vehicle per family. The vehicle may also not be disposed of for a period of 24 months after importation.
You will need a Letter of Compliance proving the car has been manufactured according to European standards. You will also need to get three valuations at origin to confirm the current market value of the car. Customs will decide which valuation to take (usually the highest) when calculating the duties. These duties depend on your residency status. If you are not in possession of a permanent residency visa then the duties will be approximately 75%.
Where to obtain a Letter of Authority
Without the “Letter of Authority” or an “Import Permit”, you are unable to import the car and this will delay clearance and lead to demurrage and storage charges. The “Letter of Authority” is obtained from:
Private Bag X25
Tel: +27 12 428-5000
Fax: +27 12 428-5199
and the “Import Permit” is obtained from:
Import & Export Control
Private Bag X192
Tel: +27 12 394-4614
Fax: +27 12 394-0517
Import Permits will only be issued once a Letter of Authority has been issued so you will need to obtain the Letter of Authority in the first instance.