South Africa

Removals to South Africa


Smoothing the journey to South Africa

What can transform a pretty daunting move into an experience you feel on top of? Emigrating to any new country has its own potential pitfalls, and shipping to South Africa is no exception. If you want to get on with contemplating the exciting prospect of a new life in the South African sunshine, getting the right professional help from people who know the ropes is vital.

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What about duties, VAT and tax?

For example, what personal and household effects can take with you? Which ones might you have to pay duty or tax on, and which can’t you take with you when relocating to South Africa?

A peculiar feature of importing goods into South Africa is that the owner of the shipment must be in South Africa before customs clearance can take place. Provided that this is the case, household goods and personal effects can be imported duty-free. If you’re a returning resident, you must have been absent from South Africa for an unbroken period of at least 6 months, and to avoid paying duty and VAT, you will need to prove to South African Customs that when you departed from South Africa you had no intention of ever returning. This will include proving that all bank accounts in South Africa were closed and that no property was retained in South Africa. Also you will need to prove that you owned a home and obtained permanent status in your country of origin.

How long does shipping to South Africa take?

You will also want to know how long the removals process is going to take. For a Full Container Load, allow a door-to-door transit time of 6-8 weeks. A Shared Container Shipment – known as groupage – will almost certainly be cheaper, but will take longer, 10-12 weeks door-to-door.

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Can I bring my car or motorbike?

AS far as your car or motor bike is concerned, if you’re a first-time migrant to South Africa, you can import one motor vehicle per family free of duty. First, before the vehicle is shipped to South Africa, you must get a letter of authority (LOA) issued by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS). This LOA has to be submitted to customs at the time of clearance. You will also require an import permit issued by the department of trade and industry. Duties and VAT on importing a vehicle are calculated upon the value accepted by customs plus 10%, which is called the customs value. Duty is then charged at 58% of this customs value. To calculate the VAT, this duty amount is added to the customs value, then 14% VAT is applied to the combined customs value and duty.

To avoid paying duty and VAT on your car, you will need to prove to South African Customs that when you departed from South Africa you had no intention of ever returning. That will include proving that you closed all bank accounts in South Africa and retained no property in South Africa. Also you will need to prove that you owned a home and obtained permanent status in your country of origin.It’s also worth noting that no left hand drive vehicles purchased after January 1st 2000 will be allowed entry.

Don’t worry if it all sounds complicated, because your removals company will cover all of this. The important thing is to make sure the one you choose is reputable, and get them involved as early as possible. They know exactly what needs to be done, how and when. Look for a BAR Bonded company – it’s the international removals industry’s equivalent of ABTA or ATOL in the travel business, a sign that you’re covered.

The Robinsons Advantage

At Robinsons, we are highly experienced in this field, and have a specialist dedicated international division on hand to advise you of everything you need to do, pack and fill in. We will appoint a dedicated Move Manager to you, who will look after your move from start to finish, right to your new South African front door!

Robinsons International are members of FIDI and OMNI, international trade associations, which means that our overseas partners operate to the same high standards. It’s your reassurance that the quality of service provided in the UK is matched by that provided by the agent at the other end in South Africa.

Whatever the particular demands of your move, it’s likely that we have come across them many times before! We’ve been asked most questions over the years, although there’s always something new. Our advice is, first make sure you get 2 or 3 quotes for removals, and make notes about each company you speak to, so you can be sure who promised what, and that you are comparing like with like. Check the volume and service quoted on, and be careful of the transit times quoted.

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