How to Import Your Car Into South Africa

If you’re a regular reader here at Joburg Expat, you will know that the business of buying and selling your car in South Africa has occupied quite a bit of space on these pages*. In a land without much public transport to speak of, a car to get around in is key to everything. How you obtain (and then later dispose of) a car is therefore an important topic for budding expats in Johannesburg and beyond. 

A related question that doesn’t get much coverage is how to import your car into South Africa. It can be done, but you have to know the ins and outs. This is why I am delighted to publish the following guest post by CarZar.

 
 

How to Import Your Car Into South Africa

Guest Post by CarZar

 

South Africa has just been voted by Lonely Planet as one of the ‘Top 10 Countries to Visit in 2018.’ For those of us who live here already, this is old news: between the wildlife, the sights, the natural beauty and the cheap beer, why would you want to go anywhere else? And as the silly season approaches and an influx of excited tourists hit our shores, we expect a few of them to like the country so much that they’ll never leave.

Here’s the thing: South Africa isn’t just beautiful – it’s big, too. How else could we fit so many wonderful experiences into one place? If you want to see all of them, you’ll need a car to make the most of all the different sights and sounds the Rainbow Nation has to offer.

Now, most expats will simply sell their cars in their home country when they leave, and buy a new ride when they reach the Republic. But what if someone doesn’t want to give their car up? Maybe it’s a vintage model or a custom-made dream car, or maybe they’ve just grown attached to a specific model that isn’t available in South Africa. Whatever the reason for wanting to keep your current car, don’t stress – there are ways to make it happen!

South African Import Controls on Cars

Importing a car into South Africa is controlled in order to protect the local motor vehicle manufacturing industry. This makes it difficult – but not impossible – for a foreigner to import their car into the country. The good news is that if your car is an inherited car, a vintage car, or a specially-designed car, you shouldn’t struggle to import it.

In order to get the required Import Permit and Letter of Authority, you need to be a permanent resident of South Africa, which means you’ll need to immigrate first and get your Permanent Residence Permit** before you can bring your car into the country.

The process of importing your car can be made easier if you use a car importer service instead of doing it yourself, but even if you don’t, you’ll need to use a clearing agent who can hold your car for you at the dock while it waits to be cleared by customs. Customs costs are made up of a fixed percentage of the car’s value (36%) and VAT (14%), as well as an ad valorem component for cars valued over ZAR130,000 (from 0.78% to 20%). All this can add up to a whopping 70% of your car’s value as customs tax.

Application for Importing Your Car to South Africa

If you do decide to import your car, here are the steps you’ll have to go through:

 

  1. Obtain an authority letter from the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS).
  2. Complete the ‘Application for importation of a second hand or used vehicle’ form (form IE462). This form is available on the International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC) website here.
  3. Submit a copy of your permanent SA residence certificate; foreign passport; and foreign car registration certificate.
  4. Wait for the application process to be completed, which should not take longer than 5 days after the documents have been received. Although ITAC may not charge any direct fees for their service, you will need to pay the customs duty to the South African Revenue Service (SARS). The exact amount owed is calculated as a percentage of the value of the car, as stipulated in the ‘Customs and Excise Act’.

As you can see, the costs and hassle of importing a car can make the whole process not worth it for most cars – but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

Selling Your Car in South Africa

Let’s say you don’t import your car and rather buy it in South Africa. Thankfully, when you’re heading back home after an enjoyable time in Mzanzi, the process of selling your car before you leave is much easier. All you need to do is visit CarZar.co.za – South Africa’s best-priced car buying service – and get a free market valuation and book an obligation-free, unbiased inspection from our partner, DEKRA (the largest independent vehicle inspection service in South Africa).

You’ll receive a guaranteed offer which you can choose to accept, or you can opt to advertise your car on CarZar’s unique MatchMaking Selling Platform: over a period of 48 hours, hundreds of dealers from across the country will make offers on your car. You can track the highest bid in real time, and once the 48 hours have expired, you are likely to have received the best price the market is willing to offer for your used car.

Visit www.CarZar.co.za for more information.

This guest post was sponsored by CarZar.co.za.
* In March of 2010 I arrived in South Africa, four kids in tow, to join my husband who’d already worked there for three months. Was I wrong to believe that a shiny (I would even have taken dirty) new car would be waiting for me, ready to be driven to the grocery store and back? Yes, very wrong. There was no such car. And the ensuing process of buying a car in South Africa also educated me on the process of registering a car in South Africa, an entirely different challenge.
 

** See Applying for a South African Visa for more information. Also, I wanted to point out that a friend from the UK successfully imported his car to South Africa, and he was NOT a permanent resident. So there must be a way to accomplish that without needing a permanent residency certificate as outlined above.