The South African Revenue Service (SARS) recently started enforcing clauses in the Customs and Excise Act relating to personal imports.
Speaking to TimesLive, SARS confirmed that citizens who bring goods into the country more than three times a year will need to apply for an importer’s code.
The regulations have existed since 2013, but have reportedly only started being enforced since April 2018.
The restriction requires applying for an importer’s code, which can require a large amount of paperwork and can take a fair amount of time to process.
There is a way to circumvent this import limitation, however, if you want to buy international goods – and that is to use an import service on a local ecommerce store.
MyBroadband spoke to WantItAll, which offers this service, about the website’s import systems and how they apply to customers.
WantItAll cofounder Justin Drennan said WantItAll aims to make US products more accessible to customers by removing the hurdles associated with imports.
“Effectively our job is to take away all the hassle and risk associated with an import. We take the risk on duties/customs, ensuring the price you see is the price you pay,” said Drennan.
Drennan said the retailer has shipments leaving the United States on a daily basis, and that WantItAll specialises in niche imports – catering to local customers who are searching for a product not available in South African stores.
“Our business isn’t really the barometric of the industry. We are very small and very niche. We in fact never import the same product twice.”
More importantly, WantItAll takes on the importer mantle when bringing in products – allowing customers to circumvent the three-consignment restriction.
“For customs purposes we are in the importer of record, and this means the items do not count towards your SARS limit,” said Drennan.
He added that while some view WantItAll’s pricing as expensive, this can often be due to incorrect weights and customs valuations.
“We find people think our prices are expensive, but a lot of the time that’s caused by incorrect weights from suppliers. Weight is the biggest factor when using air freight,” said Drennan.
“At the same time, customers need to remember there can be issues with customs/SARS and just to be sure, all products are declared at full value.”
“Some people under-declare the items to reduce the VAT or duties – however, one must remember if there is an issue with the import and items are damaged, insurance will only cover declared value.”