Sipping Guides

Guide to Importing A Vehicle into South Africa

  • You can only import a second-hand vehicle into South Africa if you have been granted a permit to do so.
  • The importation of used vehicles is restricted to protect the local motor vehicle manufacturing industry.
  • Permits are only issued under specifically defined circumstances.
  • Mainly returning South African nationals and immigrants who have permanent residence are permitted to bring vehicles registered in their names into the country.
  • Other cars that may be imported include racing cars, vintage passenger vehicles, specially designed vehicles and inherited vehicles.

What is to be done?

If you are a South African citizen, submit the following documents:

  • identity  document or passport
  • letter from employer confirming permanent employment abroad and reflecting period of employment (salary advices, payslips, job offers, job contracts, tax returns, work permits, etc. are not considered proof of employment)
  • a certified copy of the official foreign vehicle registration certificate
  • If you are a bona fide immigrant, submit the following documents:
  • a copy of your South African permanent residence certificate
  • a copy of your foreign passport (page with photo and details)
  • a copy of your foreign motor vehicle registration certificate
  • proof of study or research to be concluded where applicable.

It may take up to five days to complete the process once all required documents are received.

The  prevailing  import  control  policy  with  regard  to  the  different  categories  of goods is as follows:

(a) Used or second-hand motor vehicles for personal use.

Permits for the importation of used or second-hand passenger motor vehicles are issued in the following circumstances:

  • To immigrants for the importation of private passenger motor vehicles and LDV’S. Application form IE462 must be completed and applications can only be considered when permanent residence status has been issued by the Department of Home Affairs.
  • Attach a copy of the motor vehicle registration certificate, a copy of the applicant’s foreign passport and a copy of the permanent residence certificate to the duly completed application form for consideration.
  • Imported vehicles may not be disposed of within a period of 24 months from the date of importation. (In the event of permanent residence not being available, SARS, Customs and Excise must be approached for temporary clearance.)

(b) To returning South African residents and nationals

  • The returning resident or national may import his/her used or second-hand passenger vehicle or LDV for a maximum of three vehicles per person in possession of a valid driver’s license, if he/she returns permanently to the RSA after a minimum uninterrupted period of absence of no less than six months working, studying or conducting research abroad.
  • It is also required that the vehicle be registered in the name of the returning resident/national for the minimum uninterrupted corresponding period of six months (working etc.) referred to above, prior to the return.
  • Application form IE462 must be completed. Attach a copy of the foreign motor vehicle registration certificate in the name of the applicant, a copy of applicant’s South African identity document or passport (page with barcode and details) and proof of permanent employment abroad (this must be a typed, signed and dated letter on the company letterhead confirming that the applicant (full name) has been permanently employed and confirming the start and termination dates of employment. (Please note that salary advices, pay slips, job offers, job contracts, tax returns, work permits, etc are not considered as sufficient proof of employment.)
  • The imported vehicle may not be disposed of within a period of two years from the date of importation.

(c) To physically disabled 

  • South African citizens/nationals to import a specially designed motor vehicle which will suit the disabled person’s personal requirements.
  • Application form IE463 must be completed and proof in the form of a certificate, issued by a medical practitioner that the applicant is in fact disabled is required. A copy of the applicant’s South African passport or ID (page with barcode and details) and a copy of the relevant rebate permit must also be attached.
  • Full details of the vehicle must be submitted and the imported vehicle may not be disposed of within a period of two years from the date of importation.

(d) Inheritance

  • Permits are issued to South African citizens/nationals for the importation of inherited passenger motor vehicles and LDV’S. Form IE463 must be completed.
  • The heir must submit a copy of his/her South African ID or passport (page with barcode and details), a copy of the will, a copy of the deceased’s ID or passport, a copy of the motor vehicle registration certificate in the name of the deceased and a copy of the death certificate.
  • The imported vehicle may not be disposed of within a period of two years from the date of importation.

(e) Vintage and Collector`s vehicles. 

  • To South African citizens/nationals for the importation of vintage passenger vehicles and vehicles that are regarded as collectors’ items. Vintage vehicles can be described as vehicles of 40 years old or older.
  • Application form IE463 must be completed.
  • Full details of the vintage vehicle must be provided and a copy of the applicant’s South African ID or passport (page with barcode and details) must be attached to the application form.
  • Vehicles regarded as collector’s items are not so easy to define.
  • All requests for the importation of such vehicles are, inter alia, discussed with the industry and the South African Veteran and Vintage Association, which organisation complies with international criteria.
  • Vehicles regarded as collector’s items must be considered collector’s items internationally.
  • Application form IE463 must be completed, full details of the vehicle must be submitted and the applicant must also attach a copy of his/her South African ID or passport (page with barcode and details).
  • An affidavit confirming where (which country) the vehicle will be imported from must also be provided.
  • The imported vehicle may not be disposed of within a period of two years from the date of importation.

(f) Racing cars

  • South African citizens/nationals for the importation of racing cars: Racing cars may be imported by a racing driver.
  • The proposed importer must submit a copy of his/her international, national or regional Motorsport South Africa (MSA) competition racing car driver’s license and a written confirmation that a copy of the import permits notification may be forwarded to MSA.
  • A copy of his South African identification document or passport (page with barcode and details) must also accompany the application.
  • An affidavit confirming where (which country) the vehicle will be imported from must also be provided.
  • Racing vehicles to be imported are those to be used for circuit or track racing events only.
  • Imported racing vehicles may not be registered locally and may not be used on SA national roads. The imported racing vehicle may not be disposed of for a period of two years from the date of importation.

Note:

  • No import permits are issued for the importation of used or second-hand motor vehicles for commercial/resale purposes or any other purpose falling outside of the specifically defined circumstances referred to herein above.
  • Please also note that used or second-hand vehicles may not be sent to South Africa from abroad by returning residents prior to their permanent return to South Africa.
  • All applications are considered on their own merits and ITAC may request that additional documentation/information be provided to supplement applications.
  • Please also note that no import permits will be granted for vehicles sourced in bonded warehouses.

(g) Specially designed vehicles

  • Permits are issued for the importation of specially designed vehicles, for instance mobile cranes and similar vehicles if the particular type of vehicle or a similar/substitute vehicle is not available locally.
  • Technical specifications of the specially designed vehicle may be required for consideration of the application.
  • Duly completed application forms IE230 (for first time importers) and form IE461 must be submitted for companies intending to import specially designed vehicles. (Note that a SARS VAT registration certificate is required on completion of form IE230.)

(h) Used or second-hand buses, trucks, taxis and coaches

  • Taxis, trucks, buses and coaches are available from local manufacturers. Import duties are not a suitable method of supporting local manufacturers and guarding against the disruptive importation of the above-mentioned used or second-hand vehicles, as well as supporting safety considerations.
  • Stringent import control measures are, therefore, maintained and no permits are issued for the importation of used or second-hand vehicles other than for vehicles mentioned in (a) and (b) above. The existing policies are reviewed from time to time.
  • New vehicles (passenger vehicles), trucks, taxis, buses and coaches are not subject to import control measures. The applicable duties are however payable.

(i) Used engines and gearboxes

  • Import permits for the importation of used petrol engines for passenger vehicles and LDVs of an engine capacity not exceeding 3 000 cc, used diesel engines for passenger vehicles and LDV’S of an engine capacity not exceeding 3 500 cc and gearboxes for passenger vehicles and LDV’S, are issued to a value of 50% of an importer’s previous years allocation as an initial issue for the current year.
  • Duly completed application forms IE230 (for first time importers) and form IE461 must be submitted for companies intending to import the above-mentioned engines and gearboxes. (Note that a SARS VAT registration certificate is required on completion of form IE230.)
  • New entrants or first time importers of used engines and gearboxes are issued a maximum amount of R500 000.00, in total, for proposed engine and gearbox imports, for a six month period, covering January to June and then July to December of a calendar year.
  • A 15% increase is normally allowed after each full calendar year of importing.

(j) Used differentials

  • Import permits for the importation of used differentials for passenger vehicles and LDVs are issued to bona-fide re-conditioners only. All imported differentials must be reconditioned prior to resale or use, by the importer on his own premises and with his own reconditioning equipment.
  • Duly completed application forms IE230 (for first time importers) and form IE461 must be submitted for companies intending to import the above-mentioned differentials. (Note that a SARS VAT registration certificate is required on completion of form IE230.)

(k) Used or second-hand spares for passenger vehicles and LDVs

  • Import permits for the importation of used or second hand motor vehicle mechanical and body parts (excluding engines, gearboxes and differentials referred to above) are issued to private individuals only for repair of privately owned, accident damaged vehicles on condition that such parts are not available from local sources and on receipt of documentary proof which includes the owner’s identity document, motor vehicle registration certificate, South African Police Service’s accident report and insurance report.
  • Application form IE463 must be completed for all spares and parts required for the repair of the vehicle, and must be submitted together with a copy of the applicant’s South African ID or passport (page with barcode and details), and the required documentation as indicated above.

(l) Used or second-hand spares for heavy duty commercial trucks

  • Import permits for the importation of used or second-hand heavy duty commercial truck spares and parts are issued on condition that similar or suitable substitute spares or parts are not available from local sources or suppliers.
  • The importation of used or second-hand commercial truck/bus chassis is not allowed.
  • Import permits for the importation of used parts such as diesel engines, gearboxes and differentials for commercial trucks are issued for the importation of that particular spare or part only, and may not include any other mechanical or body parts/components which are not integral parts of the spare or part mentioned in the permit.
  • Duly completed application forms IE230 (for first time importers) and form IE461 must be submitted for companies intending to import the above-mentioned used or second-hand commercial truck spares or parts. (Note that a SARS VAT registration certificate is required on completion of form IE230.)

(m) General information

  • Persons/firms that wish to or intend importing a used or second-hand vehicle and/or used or second-hand spares and parts described in sections (a) through (g) are strongly advised, before placing an order or buying/shipping a vehicle or vehicle spares/parts to South Africa, to first apply for and obtain an import permit.
  • In cases where the applicant clearly qualifies in terms of the above guidelines, and the correct documentation is submitted, permits are issued within an average of four to five working days. In other cases where the merits of the specific application have to be evaluated, it takes longer, depending on the nature of the particular case.
  • Import permit application forms are available from the Director: Import and Export Control, Private Bag X 192, Pretoria, 0001.
  • Application forms are also available and can be downloaded from the International Trade Administration Commission website on www.itac.org.za (knowledge management centre> documents> application forms> import).
  • Further information can be obtained from the above address or by phoning Mr Marius Collins or Ms Rene van Vuuren.

NOTE: All imported vehicles are subject to the issuing of a Letter of Authority by the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS), www.nrcs.org.za or telephone number (012) 428-5000.

Legislation changed from 27 May 2009 with regard to left hand drive vehicles stating that such vehicles which were not registered in the Republic before 23 July 2004 may not be registered, licensed, roadworthy and operated on a public road in South Africa.

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