How much you pay to bring in a parcel from overseas

When ordering an item from overseas, the cost can be inflated by customs duties.

While a product may seem cheaper to order from an international retailer than from a local retailer, markups and ad valorem duties may end up making it a more expensive purchase.

Tax and Duties

Various customs duties are imposed on imported products and vary depending on what you are importing into South Africa.

The following duties are levied on imported goods:

  • Customs Duties
  • Anti-dumping and countervailing duties
  • VAT

Customs duties consist of product-dependent tariffs and ad valorem duties on luxury or non-essential items.

Anti-dumping and countervailing duties are levied on goods considered to be dumped in South Africa or subsidised imported goods.

Value-Added Tax is calculated on the total added tax value of the imported goods, which includes duties and customs markup.

If an item is being imported from a country outside the BLNS (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland) Customs Union, a 10% markup will also be applied to the product.

Below is the formula provided by SARS for calculating VAT on imported products:

[(Customs Value + 10% markup) + (any non-rebated duties levied on the goods)] x 14%

[ATV] x 14%

VAT payable

After VAT is calculated, it is added to the Added Tax Value to arrive at the final price of the imported product.


Using the calculations outlined by SARS, a mobile phone imported from the United Kingdom valued at R5,000 would have an additional cost of R1,669 to bring it into South Africa.

This sees the total price reach R6,669, including VAT.

Customs duties vary according to product and Customs Union, and the tariff you will be charged depends on which region you are importing the item from.

Below are the general tariffs and ad valorem duties for a number of products. Anti-dumping and countervailing duties do not apply to any of these products.

It should be noted that courier companies will handle customs clearance on behalf of their clients, which attracts a processing and disbursement fee.

Product Category
General Customs Duty Ad valorem
Perfume 20% 7%
Mobile Phones Free 7%
Headphones Free 7%
Monitors Free 7%
Solid-state storage devices Free Free
Digital cameras Free 7%
Electric guitars Free Free
Video game consoles Free 7%

As stated, tariffs vary according to the region you are importing from and the goods in question.

The full list of customs duties and regional bloc tariffs can be viewed in the Tariff Book on the SARS website.

Now read: Expect to pay much more for SSDs, memory, and laptops in South Africa

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How much you pay to bring in a parcel from overseas