SARS Takes a Further Step Towards Improving the Integrity of Trade and Traveller Facilitation

South Africa like other countries around the world has a responsibility to facilitate legitimate trade and travel in line with international standards by using risk management to manage the increasing number of trade and travel.

The new online traveller declaration system will, during the pilot phase, be fine-tuned based on insights gained as well as further engagement and feedback with various government departments and other stakeholders. Progressive implementation across all South African ports of entry, will commence as of 1 April 2023. 

By law, Customs must provide a Customs and Excise service that will facilitate legitimate trade and travel as well as protect the economy and society. This mandate is executed as part of the whole-of-government approach. Flowing from this mandate, it is also the responsibility of Customs to monitor financial flows through ports of entry, to detect and make it costly for those engaged in illicit financial flows, and to enforce the country’s laws and regulations. Travellers who have not submitted pre-declarations will still be allowed to enter or leave the Republic, but they are encouraged to voluntarily declare pre-departure or arrival to avoid the inconvenience of making a declaration at a port of entry. SARS will, in good faith, regard travellers who choose not to complete a declaration to have nothing to declare travellers are however reminded that they may be at risk, should they be stopped and searched by a SARS Customs official, and it is discovered that they ought to have made a declaration.

SARS will continue to work with and through stakeholders to improve the tax and Customs ecosystem. SARS has started and will continue engagements with relevant stakeholders to address any challenges or concerns. SARS values these engagements as an opportunity to partner with our stakeholders in creating a seamless border experience for all legitimate travellers in and out of South Africa. Further consultations and engagements with all stakeholders will continue even as implementation is underway.

SARS Commissioner Mr. Edward Kieswetter expressed his confidence that this approach, like in other countries where it’s implemented such as the United States, New Zealand, and Australia where travellers are expected to make declarations on entry, will assist to maintain the integrity of the domestic economy as well as contribute towards the integrity of the country’s financial system. He said that “all goods that are brought to the country or taken out of the country, must comply with our laws and be properly accounted for”. This remains the responsibility of the traveller or business entity.

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