Tourism Sector Recovery Plan (TSRP)
Destination Development Programme
Tourism Incentive Programme (TIP)
Tourism Equity Fund (TEF)
Tourism Grading Support Programme (TGSP)
Green Tourism Incentive Programme (GTIP)
South African Tourism (SAT)
Tourism in the provinces
Top-10 reasons to visit South Africa
Traveller’s Guide




Official Guide to South Africa 2021/22 - Tourism


The mandate of the Department of Tourism  (NDT),  as  outlined in the Tourism Act of 2014,  is to promote the growth and development of the tourism sector; promote quality tourism products and services; provide for the effective marketing of  South  Africa as a domestic and international tourist  destination; enhance cooperation and coordination between all spheres of government in developing and managing tourism; and promote responsible tourism for the benefit of South Africa, and for the enjoyment of all its residents and foreign visitors.

In recognition of tourism as a national priority with the potential to contribute significantly to economic development, the 1996 White Paper on the Development and Promotion of Tourism in South Africa provides for the promotion of domestic and international tourism. The National Tourism Sector Strategy provides a blueprint for the sector to meet the growth targets contained in the National Development Plan.

The department considers it vital to protect and reignite the demand for tourism to ensure that the sector lives up to its potential for contributing to South Africa’s economic growth. Over the medium term, this will entail a focus on strengthening capabilities within the department to ensure the long‐term sustainability  of the sector;  enhancing and maintaining core tourism assets and infrastructure,  and in so  doing creating work opportunities; supporting historically disadvantaged tourism  enterprises; implementing norms and standards for safe operations across the tourism value chain;  and enhancing tourism safety in collaboration with the South African Police Service.

Tourism contributes 3,7% to South Africa’s  gross domestic product, more than agriculture, utilities and construction. South Africa is optimistic about its tourism prospects, following the total rescinding of the Coronavirus Disease  (COVID-19) restrictive regulations and lockdowns in June 2022.

Tourism Sector Recovery Plan (TSRP)

The  tourism  sector  is  one  of  the  critical  intervention areas   that  have  been identified in the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery  Plan as a key driver of the economic recovery in the country. The NDT together with the private sector and other stakeholders collaborated to develop the TSRP.

The plan is anchored on three interlinked pillars or strategic themes: protecting and rejuvenating supply, reigniting demand and strengthening enabling capability for long-term sustainability.

The TSRP outlines a set of actions, timelines of implementation of each action and the allocation of each action to an implementation agent.

As  part  of  the  TSRP, the  NDT  has  implemented projects  to protect  and rejuvenate the supply of tourists,  and these include:

  • publishing the Norms and Standards for Safe Operation in the Sector, as well as providing training within the sector on these;
  • implementing the tourism infrastructure maintenance programme in key tourism assets and finalizing the Baviaanskloof Interpretative Centre and Leopard Trail, which was funded by the European Union at the tune of R57 million;
  • refurbishing existing state-owned tourism assets such as precincts, protected areas, national and provincial parks, botanical and zoological gardens and heritage sites through the Tourism Infrastructure Maintenance Programme;
  • implementing initiatives to mobilise resources through investment promotion; and
  • rolling out the comprehensive sector skills development programme to ensure that relevant skills are available as the sector recovers.

Destination Development Programme

During the medium term, the Destination Development Programme will continue with the implementation of a tourism infrastructure maintenance programme of state-owned assets to protect and rejuvenate tourism supply.

The focus of  this work is on improving and  upgrading  sites of heritage significance including liberation heritage, national parks, botanical gardens as well as rural and township precincts.

Tourism Incentive Programme (TIP)

The NDT continues to implement the TIP to stimulate the growth, development and transformation of the South African tourism sector. The TIP aims to stimulate growth and development in the tourism sector by providing financial assistance to privately owned tourism enterprises.

In line with its mission to employ strategic partnerships, it has collaborated with other government departments and entities in the roll out of the incentive programme.  These include the National   Empowerment Fund, Industrial Development Corporation, Tourism Grading Council of South Africa    (TGCSA) and the Small Enterprise Finance Agency.

Under the TIP, the department will implement the Market Access Support Programme (MASP)  offering partial financial support to qualifying small tourism enterprises  to participate and exhibit at selected  tourism marketing platforms.

Various trade shows have returned following the lockdown conditions globally, which resulted in the cancellation of most international tourism trade platforms.

Tourism Equity Fund (TEF)

In support of the objectives of enterprise development and transformation, the department will aim to fast-track the piloting of the TEF, which offers for capital investment in the form of grant funding to commercially viable black‐owned tourism enterprises.

The TEF is intended to fast-track transformation within the tourism sector.

The facility provides a combination of debt finance and grant to facilitate equity acquisition and new project development in the tourism sector by black entrepreneurs. The fund will also  seek  to develop skills and ensure that the sector is sufficiently equipped to meet increased  demand and  expectations by  implementing capacity‐building   programmes  such   as   the  wine  service training programme, the hospitality youth programme, and food and beverage programmes.

Tourism Grading Support Programme (TGSP)

The TGSP is a joint initiative between NDT and the TGCSA under the broader TIP to encourage more accommodation and MESE (meetings, exhibitions, and special events) establishments  to get graded and stay  graded under the star grading system.

The programme aims to improve quality and standards of tourism offerings and gives discounts of up to 90% on grading assessment fees for new and renewal grading applications. This is an important incentive as it supports our quality assurance programme that enhances overall visitor experience without putting additional burden on small enterprises.

The department is expected to implement the Women in Tourism (WiT) Programme as a platform to drive initiatives that support the development and empowerment of women in the tourism sector. This platform recognises the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs who are often found at the bottom end of the tourism economic value chain.

Green Tourism Incentive Programme (GTIP)

The GTIP is a resource efficiency incentive programme of the NDT whose objective is to encourage private sector tourism enterprises to move towards the sustainable management of water and energy resources  whilst adhering to responsible  tourism practices. Through grant funding, the GTIP assists private sector tourism enterprises in reducing the cost of investing in more energy and water efficient operations, while increasing their competitiveness, profitability and operational sustainability in the long term. The GTIP broadly offers the following to qualifying tourism enterprises:

  • 90% of the cost for a new resource efficiency audit or the full cost for reviewing an  existing  resource efficiency audit conducted by the National Cleaner Production Centre of South Africa; and
  • Grant funding to qualifying small and micro enterprises on a sliding scale from 30%  to 90%  of the total cost of implementing qualifying resource efficiency interventions, which is capped at R1 million. The Industrial Development Corporation manages the programme on behalf of the department.

South African Tourism (SAT)

The Tourism Act of 2014 mandates SAT  to market South Africa  internationally and domestically as a preferred tourism and business events destination, ensure that tourist facilities  and services  are of the highest standard,  and monitor and evaluate the performance of the tourism sector.

Over the medium term, the entity planned to focus on responding to the National Tourism Recovery   Strategy. Primary activities will include revitalising South Africa’s reputation as a premier travel destination; and protecting, defending and entrenching current markets while growing new strategically identified markets to drive domestic business travel and meet the rising demand for domestic leisure travel. The South Africa National Convention Bureau (SANCB) is a ‘one-stop solution’ for independent information and assistance, giving neutral advice on all aspects of hosting and organising any business event in South Africa.

Tourism in the provinces

Western Cape

The Western Cape, which lies bordered by two oceans – the Indian Ocean to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the west – is South Africa’s most developed tourism region.

Key attractions
Garden Route

The Garden Route features the pont at Malgas, which is one of the two remaining points in the country, ferrying vehicles and livestock across  the Breede River. This popular route spans roughly 200km of South Africa’s southern coast, incorporating a picturesque stretch of coastline.

Key attractions
  • Attequas Kloof Pass, South African/Anglo-Boer War blockhouses and the Bartolomeu Dias complex. Great Brak River offers a historic village with many opportunities for whale- and dolphin-watching along the extensive coast. The Slave Tree in George, located just outside the Old Library, was planted in 1811. It is known to be the biggest English oak in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Bungee-jumping at the Gouritz River Gorge, hiking, mountain-biking and angling are popular pastimes.
  • The Point in Mossel Bay is popular among surfers and its natural pool formed by rock is also a favourite swimming spot at low tide.
  • Genadendal is the oldest Moravian village in Africa, with church buildings and a school dating back to 1738. The Genadendal Mission and Museum complex documents the first mission station in South Africa.
  • Villiersdorp houses the Dagbreek Museum that dates back to 1845. The historical home, Oude Radyn, is possibly the only building in the Western Cape to have Batavian wooden gutters and down pipes.
The Karoo

The Karoo is distinctively divided into the Great Karoo and the Little Karoo by the Swartberg Mountain Range, which runs east-west, parallel to the southern coastline, but is separated from the sea by another east-west range called the Outeniqua–Langeberg Mountains. The Great Karoo lies  to the north of the Swartberg range; the Little Karoo is to the south of it.

Little Karoo

The Little Karoo’s fascinating landscape is fashioned almost entirely by water. Its vegetation ranges from lush greenery in the fertile river valleys to short, rugged Karoo plants in the veld. Gorges feature rivers that cut through towering mountains, while breathtakingly steep passes cross imposing terrain. The region is also home to the world’s largest bird – the ostrich.

Key attractions
  • Excellent wines and port are produced in the Calitzdorp and De Rust areas.
  • The Swartberg Nature Reserve and Pass with their gravel roads are also worth a visit.
  • The Little Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (National  Arts  Festival) is held in Oudtshoorn annually.
  • The Cango Caves, a series of 30 subterranean limestone caves, bear evidence of early San habitation and features magnificent dripstone formations.
  • Amalienstein and Zoar are historic mission stations midway between Ladysmith and Calitzdorp.  Visitors can go on donkey-cart and hiking trails through orchards and vineyards. The Seweweekspoort is ideal for mountain biking, hiking, and protea and fynbos admirers.

Northern Cape

The Northern Cape is an excellent sandboarding destination and a number of local operators offer sandboarding lessons and tours. The dunes near Kakamas and Witsand are very popular and expert boarders and novices are more than welcome – boards can be rented on arrival.

Adventure-tour companies specialising in dune boarding in South Africa advise you to bring: a camera to record the inevitable antics, lots of sunscreen and a sense of humour. Some of the more enterprising companies turn it into a fun day, complete with children’s dune boarding and picnics.  This is a fun sport that will satisfy most peoples’ need for speed.

Key attractions
  • The Big Hole in Kimberley is the largest hand-dug excavation in the world. In 1871, diamonds  were discovered  at  the  site  and  mined  manually  by prospectors.
  • The house where Sol Plaatje (African National Congress founding member and human rights activist) lived in Kimberley, has a library of Plaatje’s and other black South African writers’ works,  and several displays, including a portrayal of black involvement in the South African/Anglo- Boer War.
  • Known as the “Oasis of the Kalahari”, Kuruman is blessed with a permanent and abundant source of water that flows from Gasegonyana (Setswana for “the little water calabash”)  – commonly called the “Eye  of Kuruman” – which yields 20 million litres  of water a day.  The Wonderwerk Cave at Kuruman features extensive San paintings that may be viewed by appointment.
  • The Kalahari Raptor Centre cares for injured birds. Many of these majestic creatures can be seen at close quarters.
  • Upington is the commercial, educational and social centre of the Green Kalahari, owing its prosperity to agriculture and its irrigated lands along the Orange River. A camel-and-rider statue in front of the town’s police station pays tribute to the “mounties”, who patrolled the harsh desert territory on camels.
  • Namaqualand is famous for a spectacular annual show in spring when an abundance of wild flowers covers vast tracts of desert.
  • Namaqualand is also home to the Ais-Ais/Richtersveld National  Park. It is managed jointly by the local Nama people and South African National Parks.
  • De Aar is the most important railway junction in South Africa. The author Olive Schreiner lived in the town for many years. Visitors can dine in her former house, which has been converted into a restaurant.
  • Hanover is known for its handmade shoes and articles mademostly from sheepskin and leather.
  • Mattanu Private Game Reserve offers the ultimate Kalahari game experience – there are roan, sable, buffalo, golden oryx, golden gnu and many other types of antelope and wild animals. One can view the animals on a quad bike, safari vehicle or even by helicopter.

Free State

This central region of South Africa is characterised by endless rolling fields of wheat, sunflowers and maize, and forms the principal bread basket of South Africa.

Key attractions

  • With its King’s Park Rose Garden containing more than 4 000 rose bushes, the Free State’s major city, Bloemfontein, has rightfully earned the nickname “City of Roses.” The city also hosts an annual rose festival.
  • Bloemfontein has a busy cultural and social-events calendar. One of the annual events is the Mangaung African Cultural Festival, popularly known as the Macufe Arts Festival, in September.
  • The National Women’s Memorial commemorates the women and children who died in concentration camps during the Anglo-Boer/South African War.
  • The Gariep Dam, more than 100-km long and 15-km wide, is part of the Orange River Water Scheme, the largest inland expanse of water in South Africa. The Gariep Dam Nature Reserve lies between the dam and Bethulie.
  • Clocolan is known for the beauty of its cherry trees when they are in full bloom in spring. San rock paintings and engravings are also found in the area.
  • The Llandaff Oratory in the nearby village of Van Reenen is believed to be the smallest Roman Catholic church in the world.
  • At Harrismith, there are various memorials in honour of those who fought in the Anglo-Boer/South African War and World War I. Of particular interest is a memorial for the Scots Guards and Grenadier Guards.
  • The Golden Gate Highlands National Park outside Clarens has beautiful sandstone rock formations.
  • The Vredefort Dome, a World Heritage Site, is the oldest and largest meteorite impact site in the world. It was formed about two billion years ago when a giant meteorite hit Earth.

Eastern Cape

The Eastern Cape boasts a magnificent coastline that is complemented by more than 60 state-owned game reserves and over 30 private game farms, which collectively cover an area greater than the Kruger National Park.

Key attractions
  • Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth) has some beautiful parks with well-landscaped gardens, including St George’s Park, which covers 73 ha.
  • To the north-west of Graaff-Reinet lies the Valley of Desolation, which is a national monument within the Karoo Nature Reserve that was formed millions of years ago by weathering erosion.
  • Varied game reserves, including the Addo Elephant, Mountain Zebra and Mkambati parks.
  • South Africa’s first marine park, the Tsitsikamma National Park extends along a rocky coastline of 50 km, and 3 km out to sea.
  • Southern right and humpback whales and their calves are regularly spotted from the high dunes, usually between May and November, while common and bottlenose dolphins are often seen close to shore.
  • The Camdeboo National Park, near Graaff-Reinet, was proclaimed as South Africa’s 22nd National Park.


The Limpopo landscape is made up of dramatic contrasts characterised by hot savanna plains and mist-clad mountains, age-old indigenous forests and cycads alongside modern plantations, and ancient mountain fortresses and the luxury of contemporary infrastructure and modern-day facilities.

Key attractions
  • The Marakele National Park is home to some rare yellowwood and cedar trees and the world’s largest colony of Cape vultures. It is also a leader in the conservation of the black rhino.
  • Polokwane is considered the premier game-hunting destination in South Africa.
  • The Mapungubwe Archaeological Site, about 80 km west of Musina, lies within the boundaries of the Mapungubwe National Park. It is one of the richest of its kind in Africa and a world heritage site. Excavations in the 1930s uncovered a royal graveyard,  which included a number of golden artefacts, including the famous gold foil rhinoceros.
  • The Kruger National Park  (northern section) is one of South Asfrica’s major tourist attractions. The park is home to a large number and wide variety of amphibians, reptiles and birds,  as well as 147 mammal species, including the Big Five (African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard and black rhinoceros).

North West

North West has several cultural villages that entertain and attract visitors. A number of excellent game reserves have been established, including the Pilanesberg National Park.

Key attractions
  • The historic route of Mahikeng includes an South  African/Anglo-Boer War siege site, the Molema House where Sol Plaatje lived while writing his Mafikeng Diary, and the Mahikeng Museum.
  • The Groot Marico region is known as mampoer country and visitors can explore the Mampoer Route. The Kortkloof Cultural Village is dedicated to the Tswana people.
  • Ottosdal is the only place in South Africa where the unique “wonderstone” or pyrophyllite, is found and mined.
  • San rock engravings, Stone Age implements and structures are found on farms such as Witpoort, Gestoptefontein, Driekuil and Korannafontein.


Mpumalanga means “the place where the sun rises” in the Nguni languages. The climate and topography vary from cool highland grasslands  at 1 600 m above sea  level,  through the middleveld and escarpment,  to the subtropical Lowveld towards the Kruger National  Park   and many private game reserves. Scenic beauty, climate and wildlife, voted the most attractive features of South Africa, are found in abundance in this province.

Key attractions
  • Barberton features many reminders of the early gold-rush era. Museums include Belhaven, Fernlea House and Stopforth House. The only known verdite deposits in the world are found in the rocks of the Barberton district. The annual Diggers Festival is held in September every year.
  • The spectacular Blyde River Canyon is a 26-km-long gorge carved out of the face of the escarpment, and is one of the natural wonders of Africa.  God’s Window provides a magnificent panoramic view across miles of densely forested mountains, the green Lowveld and the canyon.
  • Sabie is the centre of the largest man-made forest in South Africa and a popular destination among mountain bikers.  The Cultural Historical Forestry Museum depicts various aspects  of the country’s forestry industry.
  • The Bridal Veil, Horseshoe and Lone Creek waterfalls,  and Mac Mac pools and falls  just outside Sabie are well worth a  visit.  At the Montrose Falls in Schoemanskloof, the Crocodile River cascades into a series  of rock pools.
  • The region also holds rich historical sentiments centred on the monument of the late Mozambican President Samora Machel, constructed in the village of Mbuzini.


‘Gauteng’ is a Sesotho word meaning “place of gold”. It is the smallest province of South Africa and also the most populous and urbanized. It is characterised by a cosmopolitan mix of people from all walks of life.

Key attractions


One of the country’s  most popular tourist destinations the province stretches from Port Edward in the south to the borders of Eswatini and Mozambique to the north.

Key attractions
  • The Durban area has a significant number of reserves, developed parks and specialised gardens, the most renowned being the Municipal Botanical Garden. Annual events in and around the city include the popular Comrades Marathon between Durban and Pietermaritzburg,  an international surfing competition, the Duzi canoe marathon, the Midmar Mile, Dolphin Mile open water swimming events and the Durban July Handicap horse race.
  • The Weza State Forest in East Griqualand runs through indigenous forests and commercial plantations. The forest is home to several antelope species and a huge variety of birds.
  • St Lucia and its surroundings comprise the iSimangaliso Wetland Park that have five  separate  ecosystems. It is a fishing and bird watching paradise. Boat trips on the lake offer opportunities for crocodile and hippo sightings. The Kosi Bay Nature Reserve is part of the Coastal Forest Reserve between Mozambique and Sodwana Bay.
  • The Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Park, one of the largest game parks in South Africa, is home to the Big Five, as well as cheetah and wild dogs.
  • The Battlefields Route in northern KwaZulu-Natal has the highest concentration of battlefields and related military sites in South Africa.
  • The Midlands Meander is a scenic drive between Hilton and Mooi River, with some art studios, potters and painters, to herb gardens and cheese makers.
  • Midmar Dam is zoned for yachting and power-boating while the 1 000-ha Midmar Game Park has rhino, zebra,  a wide variety of antelope species  and waterfowl.

Top-10 reasons to visit South Africa

  1. Affordable – In South Africa, you can even afford luxury and have spending money for shopping and other treats.
  2. Natural beauty – South Africa’s scenic wonders are legendary. From Table Mountain to God’s Window, the mountains, forests,  coasts  and deserts  will sooth your soul and delight you.
  3. World-class facilities – You will find it easy to get around, find a comfortable place to stay and have a great meal.
  4. Adventure – South Africa is the adventure capital of the world. With over 130 adventures, there is something for everyone from mountain walks  to shark-cage diving.
  5. Good weather – In sunny South Africa with a great weather, you can enjoy the outdoors, play golf year-round and take advantage of the nearly 3 000 km coastline.
  6. Rainbow Nation – The Rainbow Nation celebrates all its African and immigrant cultures. South Africans are known for their friendliness and hospitality.
  7. Diverse experiences – Go almost anywhere in South Africa and experience the ultimate combination of nature, wildlife, culture, adventure, heritage and good vibe.
  8. Wildlife – The abundant and diverse wildlife include the Big Five (African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard and black rhinoceros).
  9. Freedom Struggle – Discover a nation’s struggle for freedom whilst following the footsteps of Nelson Mandela, Hector Pieterson and many other celebrated revolutionarie
  10. Responsible tourism – In  South  Africa  you can  travel  with care  as  you explore protected areas, contribute to social and conservation projects, and collect arts and crafts

Traveller’s Guide:

Any person travelling in or out of the Republic of South Africa should unreservedly declare:

  • All goods  (including goods  of  another person)  upon his  person or in his possession which were purchased or otherwise acquired abroad or on any ship,  vehicle or in any shop selling goods on which duty has not been paid; were remodelled, processed or repaired abroad, on arrival.
  • Goods that are prohibited, restricted or controlled under any law;
  • Goods that were required to be declared before leaving the Republic.

Before leaving, all goods which a traveller is taking with them beyond the borders of the Republic, including goods which are:

  • Carried on behalf of another person;
  • Intended for remodel, process or repair abroad;
  • Prohibited, restricted or controlled under any law;
  • Goods that a person, who temporarily entered the Republic, was required to declare upon entering the Republic.

Travellers must, upon request by a Customs Officer, provide the officer with full particulars related to the goods such as invoices,  transport documents, proof of payment to supplier, letter of authority and any permits applicable to such goods. Further, travellers must answer fully and truthfully all questions put to him by such officer and, if required by such officer to do so, produce and open such goods for inspection by the said officer, and shall pay the duty and taxes  assessed by such officer, if any.

What are your Duty Free allowances?

The duty free allowance only apply to goods for personal use or to dispose  of as gifts in accompanied travellers’ baggage declared by returning residents and non-residents visiting the Republic.

The following imported goods declared by travellers in their accompanied baggage may be exempted from paying any import duties and Value-Added Tax (VAT):

  • New or used goods of a total value not exceeding R5 000 per person;
  • Wine not exceeding 2 litres per person;
  • Spirituous and other alcoholic beverages, a total quantity not exceeding 1 litre per person;
  • Cigarettes not exceeding 200 and cigars not exceeding 20 per person;
  • 250 g cigarette or pipe tobacco per person;
  • Perfumery not exceeding 50 ml and eau de toilette not exceeding 250 ml per person.

Wine, spirituous and other alcoholic beverages, tobacco products and perfumery imported in excess  of the quantities specified  must be cleared  at the rates  of duty specified in Schedule No.1 (“Tariff”) to the Customs and Excise  Act No.91 of 1964.

The aforementioned goods are commonly referred to as consumables or luxury goods and the rate  of duty can  be considerably  high if travellers  exceed  the above quantities and must clear  those excess   quantities and pay  the import duties at the rates of duty specified in the tariff.

Even if goods are bought at an inbound duty free shop, the duty free allowance still applies upon arrival.

Note: The duty free allowance applicable to new or used goods to the value of R5000 person, is applicable in addition to the duty free allowance applicable to consumable goods.

What is your flat-rate assessment allowance?

  • If you have goods in excess of the R5 000 duty free allowance but not exceeding R20 000, you may elect to pay customs duty at a rate of full duty less  20% (flat-rate) with VAT exempted instead of clearing the goods at the rates of duty specified in Schedule No. 1 (“tariff”)  to the Customs and Excise  Act of 1964;
  • Goods in excess  of the R20  000 flat-rate  assessment  threshold, pay import duties and VAT  in accordance  with the Harmonised System  description and originating status of goods.

Conditions for duty free allowances:

  • The duty free allowances related to new or used goods is only allowed once per person during a period of 30 days,  following an absence of not less  than 48 hours from South Africa;
  • The flat rate assessment  allowance is only allowed during a period of 30 days and shall not apply to goods imported by persons returning after an absence of less than 48 hours;
  • The  duty  free  allowances  related  to  wine,  spirituous  and  other  alcoholic beverages,  tobacco products and perfumery is only allowed once per person during a period of 30 days,  following an absence of not less than 48 hours from South Africa;
  • The goods must be carried as accompanied baggage;
  • The tobacco  or alcoholic  beverage allowance is  not applicable  to persons under the age of 18 years.

What about handmade articles?

  • Travellers can  import handmade articles  of leather,  wood,  plastic,  stone or glass  of up to 25kg for commercial purposes without paying duties or taxes.

What about goods coming in temporarily?

  • You may be required to lodge a cash deposit as security to cover potential import duty or VAT on certain articles imported temporarily. Your refund will be paid after confirmation that the goods have left the country.

To access the Customs external Policy Traveller Processing  SC-PA-01-11  visit the Customs page on the SARS website

Prohibited and restricted goods

  • SARS administers certain prohibitions and restrictions on behalf of a number of government departments, institutions and bodies
  • Prohibited means the goods are not allowed to enter or exit South Africa
  • Restricted means goods are allowed to enter or exit South Africa under certain conditions e.g. permit or certificate is required.

To access a list of “Prohibited and restricted goods SC-CC-32”, visit the Customs page on the SARS website

Note: Traders and Travellers must be aware of the Counterfeit Goods Act No. 37 of 1997,  which states  that goods of inferior quality made or sold under another brand,  without the brand owners authorisation, is  an infringement upon which civil and/or criminal proceedings may be taken against the offender.

Cash restrictions

  • A traveller is allowed to declare and carry a maximum of R25 000 / unlimited foreign currency, whether leaving or entering;
  • A traveller shall declare whether or not he has with him any banknotes, gold, securities or foreign currency; and produce any bank notes, gold, securities or foreign currency which he has with him;
  • The South African bank notes is unlimited if the traveller is going to / coming from a country within the Common Monetary Area (CMA);
  • Travellers are advised to contact the South African Reserve Bank to obtain approval prior to taking cash across the borders of South Africa
  • Although there’s technically no legal limit on how much money you can carry on a plane,  if you are traveling internationally you must declare  amounts of more than US$10,000 on your customs  form, and be prepared for possible interviews with customs or law enforcement to explain the amount of money you have with you.

Southern African Customs Union (SACU)

The countries that fall under the SACU are Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Botswana and Eswatini.  Travellers   from SACU   member countries  do not pay customs  import duties and are entitled to a VAT exemption on goods up to a value of R5 000.

When do I register for a customs code?

  • Before goods can be imported or exported, SARS may require a person or entity to formally license or register prior to conducting any activity regulated by the Act
  • A person, including a traveller, who imports or exports goods of which the total value required to be declared is less  than R150  000 during any calendar year is excluded from formal registration requirements.

Persons excluded from formal registration requirements may make use of the registration code 70707070 subject to the following conditions:

  • He/she is a natural person;
  • Enters the goods for home consumption, temporary export or export;
  • Reflects in the field provided on the bill of entry or declaration form his or her:
    • South African Revenue Service taxpayer reference number; or
    • South African identity document number, in the case of a South African citizen or a permanent resident of the Republic, or passport  document number in the case  of a person who is not a South African citizen nor a permanent resident.

To register for a customs code

  • You must complete the DA 185:  Application form: Registration /Licensing of Customs and Excise  clients,  together with the relevant supporting annexure to the DA 185; or
  • Use the Electronic Registration System and complete the online version DA185 and the relevant online supporting Annexure.
  • Please refer to the following External Policies on
    • Customs Registration, Licensing and Designation SC-CF-19.
    • Excise Licensing and Registration SE-LR-02.

Refund of tax on visitor’s purchases

Value Added Tax (VAT) at a rate of 15% is levied on the purchase of most goods in South Africa. Tourists and foreign visitors to South Africa may make application at departure points for a refund of the VAT paid. The tax invoices/proof of payment for the purchases and the goods must be presented for inspection at the port of exit.

What happens if I have not complied with customs requirements?

SARS endeavours to educate and inform traders of their tax/duty obligations through various interventions, to help you to keep your tax affairs in order. Traders who are found to be non-compliant will be subjected to the Penal Provisions of the Customs and Excise Act of 1964, which includes a fine or criminal prosecution.

Source: Official Guide to South Africa 2021/22