SARS Customs Procedures: Guidelines for International Media on the Importation and Declaration of Equipment for News Reporting

JOHANNESBURG, 7 December 2013 - The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has been requested by Government to explain Customs procedures and requirements for international media who intend visiting South Africa to report on the funeral of former President Nelson Mandela and related events.

Customs is a division within SARS with the mandate to monitor, control and facilitate the movements of goods and passengers across South Africa's borders to ensure compliance with South African tax and customs laws.
 
There are two options available to international media when visiting South Africa for news reporting purposes and who will be importing equipment into South Africa.

Option 1: International Carnet

For media organisations based in countries where the Carnet system is in place and is overseen by their customs and trade bodies, the Carnet will be accepted by Customs in South Africa.

An International Carnet is issued by an issuing authority (generally the Chamber of Commerce) in the country of residence.

The document must be completed in full, and the traveller(s) must present all their equipment to South African Customs on arrival in the country together with the Carnet. The Customs Officer will check the goods/equipment against the Carnet and process it on the SARS system.

Importantly, the Carnet must be presented to Customs again on departure for confirmation that all imported goods are leaving the country.

Option 2: No Carnet: Registering Equipment as a Temporary Importation

For media organisations based in a country with no formal or standard Carnet system in place, or where there is insufficient time to complete the Carnet process in their home countries SARS Customs will provide an alternative.
 
The media organisation must prepare a comprehensive packing list, detailing each and every individual piece of equipment being imported, along with associated identifiable markings (i.e. serial numbers, barcode numbers etc) for each piece.
 
The packing list must be presented, along with all the equipment, to South African Customs on arrival in the country. The Customs Officer will check the goods/equipment against the packing list and capture it on the Customs system as a temporary import. A temporary import document will be issued to the media organisation.

The temporary import document must be presented to Customs again on departure for confirmation that all goods imported temporarily is leaving the country to ensure that no tax liabilities arise after departure of the passenger as a commercial export.

It is strongly advised that international media/journalists contact the relevant SARS officials (see below) before leaving their home countries if they are uncertain about any of the Customs procedures and requirements.
 
For both Options 1 and 2 international media/journalists must ensure that their equipment arrives in South Africa on the same flight/aircraft as part of their luggage. If the equipment arrives on a separate flight/aircraft, it will be regarded as a cargo shipment, which will complicate the process, and which may attract customs duties and/or import VAT.
 
International media institutions/journalists are strongly advised not to import equipment as cargo goods.

Source: SARS (http://www.sars.gov.za/Media/MediaReleases/Pages/7-December-2013---Guidelines-for-International-Media-on-the-Importation-and-Declaration-of-Equipment-for-News-Reporting.aspx)