You are the “importer of record” when buying from Amazon

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has taken a stricter approach to clauses in the Customs and Excise Act relating to personal imports in 2018.

According to reports from TimesLive, SARS confirmed that citizens who bring in more than three import consignments per year will need to apply for an importer’s code.

The regulations have been in place since 2013, but are reportedly only now being enforced – with the reports of the crackdown starting in April 2018.

According to the SARS website, to register as an importer you must provide several personal and identifying documents, along with a certified copy of a close corporation registration or a
company registration.

Buying from Amazon

One of the ways to buy goods from international markets such as the US and not cut into your import quota is to use an import service from a local ecommerce store.

This sees a local retailer bring your order into the country under its own importer’s code, delivering it to you as if you had purchased it in South Africa.

Following the publication of our articles about import limitations and local ecommerce options, MyBroadband was contacted by a reader who asked if shipments from Amazon in the US count towards an individual’s annual limit.

The basis of the question was that when buying from Amazon, customs duties and taxes are paid upfront to Amazon.

Amazon also states that it offers customers “customs duties, taxes, and fees estimation during checkout and customs clearance on your behalf for certain eligible countries and regions”.

“With your authorisation, these funds are used by the carrier or another agent to pay the import fees on your behalf – or the recipient’s behalf – to the appropriate authorities of the destination country,” said Amazon.

Amazon paying your customs duties and other import fees, and taking care of customs clearance on your behalf, does not mean it imports goods into South Africa under its name, however.

The company states that the recipient of an order is the “importer of record” and must comply with all laws and regulations of their country.

This means that the import is logged under the customer’s name.

For individuals, this is done against their ID number and when entering your South African address into Amazon to import goods, an option to include your ID number is present.

Now read: Top executives leave Iqbal Survé’s tech company as PIC investigates

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You are the “importer of record” when buying from Amazon