Air access
Township tourism
Tourism Sector Recovery Plan (TSRP)
Tourism Incentive Programme (TIP)
Tourism Equity Fund (TEF)
Tourism Grading Support Programme
Green Tourism Incentive Programme
South African Tourism
Tourism in the Provinces 
Top-10 reasons to visit South Africa
Traveller’s Guide




South Africa is blessed with an abundance of natural beauty and some of the most iconic landscapes in the world, an eclectic mix of cultures and tourism offerings and its greatest asset, the warmth of the people. 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.

Attracting more tourists, growing the tourism economy and creating more jobs in the sector is vital to South Africa's  economic recovery efforts. The most recent data from Statistics South Africa and South African Tourism (SAT) show the sector is firmly on the road to recovery. In 2022, nearly 5,7 million tourists visited South Africa, and in the first quarter of 2023 the country received over two million visitors, more than double the amount in the same period last year. There was a 12, 3%  increase in MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) trips taken during January and March 2023. 

South Africa has visa waivers for several African countries for a specified period and up to a maximum of 90 days, particularly in Southern African Development Community countries such as Tanzania, Namibia, Angola, Mozambique, Mauritius, Malawi and Botswana.

The e-visa system was initially launched for 14 countries and this was expanded to an additional 20 countries in 2023.

The implementation of the Tourism Sector Master Plan is expected to focus on enhancing destination marketing and working with all stakeholders including major global tech companies, the Tourism Business Council of South Africa, aviation sector, major hotel groups and the Township Tourism Associations, amongst others. Over the medium term, the department planned to continue its efforts to protect and reignite the demand for tourism to ensure that the sector lives up to its potential to contribute to South Africa’s economic growth.

To do this, it intended to focus on enhancing growth and development in the sector, thereby contributing to broader economic growth; enhancing and maintaining core tourism assets and infrastructure while creating work opportunities; and supporting historically disadvantaged tourism enterprises.

Most of the department’s activities are carried out through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), which, in the tourism sector, is aimed at enhancing and developing tourism infrastructure through labour‐intensive methods targeted at young people, women, unemployed people, people with disabilities and small, medium and micro enterprises.

The department aimed to implement spatial planning and infrastructure projects over the medium-term period to build capacity in township and rural economies, and is working to maintain infrastructure on properties managed by South African National Parks (SANParks).

These initiatives garner support for community‐based projects and ultimately contribute to tourism development and work opportunities in rural areas. These projects are primarily funded through the Working for Tourism programme, which forms part of the EPWP, to enable the creation of a targeted work opportunities over the medium term.

Air access

Air access is another key priority for NDT to bring more direct flights to South Africa and ensure that the planes also leave the country with travellers in order to grow reciprocal relationships with countries around the world.

The African Union (AU) has  also launched the Single African Air Transport Market, which aims to liberalise air transport on the continent and promote greater competition and connectivity. Air capacity has risen since 2022, with a 56% increase in the first quarter of 2023 compared to the same quarter in 2022. In 2023, the country reached 1.8 million seats, and South Africa welcomed around 23 new routes.

New direct flights, such as Cape Town to New York and Washington by United Airlines commenced in 2022 and Air China resumed its direct flight to OR Tambo International Airport in March 2023. The LATAM flight from Brazil to OR Tambo International Airport also contributes to South Africa's appeal.

Township tourism

The township tourism sector is a vital one for South Africa's  economy and by mid-2023, the NDT was finalising plans to ensure all communities enjoy the full economic benefits of tourism.

The NDT planned to do this by broadening participation in the tourism value chain for South African Township and Village Tourism Association (SATOVITO) members and other businesses to develop new tour programmes into townships and villages while focusing on skills development and business acumen training.

SATOVITO is an inclusive organisation that aims to promote authentic, indigenous world standard tourism services and experiences.

It develops, represents and promotes township and village-orientated local, regional, provincial tourism association, businesses and indigents participating in the tourism sector. It aims to foster job creation by ensuring inclusive, sustainable development and transformation of the tourism sector, especially in townships and villages.

Tourism Sector Recovery Plan (TSRP)

The TSRP is in line with the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP) which was launched in November 2020. The ERRP aims to build a new economy and unlock South Africa’s true economic potential.

It identified tourism as one of the priority areas of intervention in the ERRP, especially with infrastructure development, mass public employment, green economy interventions, the inclusion of women and youth, and skills development.

The TSRP has three strategic themes namely: Reigniting Demand, Rejuvenating Supply and Strengthening Enabling Capability.

The effective implementation of the TSRP is anchored on the following seven strategic interventions:

  • Implement norms and standards  for safe operation across  the tourism value chain to enable safe travel and to rebuild traveller confidence;
  • Stimulate domestic demand through targeted initiatives and campaigns;
  • Strengthening the supply-side through resource mobilisation and investment facilitation;
  • Support for the protection of core tourism infrastructure and assets;
  • Execute a global marketing programme to reignite international demand;
  • Tourism regional integration; and
  • Review the tourism policy to provide enhanced support for sector growth and development.

Tourism Incentive Programme (TIP)

The  TIP  was  established  with the aim of  stimulating growth and developing the tourism sector by providing financial assistance to privately owned tourism enterprises. The Market Access Support Programme offers partial financial support towards the cost of exhibition space, return airfare, hotel accommodation to qualifying small  tourism enterprises  that wish  to participate  and exhibit at selected tourism trade platforms.

The Tourism Grading Support Programme (TGSP) supports small tourism enterprises in gaining greater access to markets, and encourage participation in the tourism grading system respectively. These programmes have since been revised and refined, while two additional programmes, the Green Tourism Incentive Programme (GTIP) and the Tourism Transformation Fund (TTF) were added in 2017 and 2018 respectively to support the responsible tourism and transformation objectives of the department.

The TTF offers a combination of grant funding, debt finance and equity contributions to facilitate capital investment in new and expansion projects in the tourism sector.

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

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

The GTIP is a resource efficiency incentive programme of the NDT whose objective is to encourage and support private sector tourism enterprises to adopt responsible tourism practices  by moving towards the sustainable  management and usage of energy and water resources.

The GTIP was launched in 2017  and through grant funding, assists private sector tourism enterprises in reducing the cost of investing in energy and water efficient solutions.

Implementing GTIP   funded  interventions  and  identified  solutions  will  not only ensure more responsible  operations and environmental benefits,  but after the projected payback  period,  the savings  will continue to reduce the overall operational cost of the enterprise with direct and sustained benefits in terms of profitability and improved competitiveness.

The programme is managed by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) on behalf of the NDT and all applications and approvals are managed by the IDC.

The GTIP  broadly offers the following benefits to qualifying tourism enterprises:

  • The full cost for a new resource efficiency audit or the full cost for reviewing an existing resource efficiency audit;
  • Grant funding to qualifying small  and micro enterprises  on a sliding scale from 50%   to  90%   of  the total  cost  of  implementing resource  efficiency interventions, which is capped at R1 million; and
  • Qualifying enterprises  may implement projects in phases  in order to better manage their cash flow over a two-year project implementation period.

South African Tourism

The Tourism Act of 2014 mandates SAT to market South Africa internationally and domestically as  a preferred tourism and business  events destination while monitoring and evaluating the performance of the tourism sector.

In support of this, over the medium-term period, the entity planned to continue prioritising support to domestic, regional and international tourism.

Over the period ahead, SAT  planned to focus on efforts to bid to host events such as business meetings, conferences and exhibitions in rural areas and (small) towns to boost the tourism industry in six  focal sectors: mining and minerals, manufacturing, travel and tourism, agriculture, finance, and wholesale and retail trade.

Ensuring that visitors enjoy their experience is a key component of the entity’s work, and part of SAT's revitalisation plan entails assuring  that tourism establishments are of a high standard.

Tourism in the Provinces 


With  several  local  attractions  and  venues,  the  Western  Cape  is  one  of  the domestic travel destinations  in South Africa  preferred by foreign tourists.  The province is  bordered by two oceans  – the Indian Ocean to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. It is also well known for its scenic beauty and a wealth of flora and fauna. With an abundance of hiking trails you have a choice between coastal or mountain hikes.

Key attractions

There are six very diverse regions, each offering a unique experience:

Cape Winelands

The Cape Winelands is known for some of the best wine in the world. It includes the towns of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Worcester, Robertson and Ceres.

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.

The Central Karoo features a semi-desert landscape in the centre of the province. It includes the towns of Prince Albert, Beaufort West, and Matjiesfontein; a town that’s a national monument due to the preservation of its Victorian Buildings 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.

City of Cape Town Metropolitan area

The City of Cape Town is best known as the Mother City and it’s the provincial capital and main city of the province.

Garden Route

The Garden Route stretches  along the southern coast  of the Western Cape.  It includes  Tsitsikamma National Park, Nature’s Valley,  Knysna, Plettenberg Bay and Oudtshoorn.

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 Overberg is  one of the best  places  in Africa  to watch the southern right whale,  one of South Africa’s marine big five.  The towns in this region include Hermanus, Cape Agulhas and Bredasdorp.

West Coast

The West Coast stretches along the Atlantic coast  of the Western Cape. The West Coast is where you will find the Cederberg Wilderness Area. Towns in the area include Clanwilliam, Langebaan and Citrusdal.


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.


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.


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 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.
  • The World Heritage Site, the Barberton Makhonjwa Mountains,  comprises 40%  of the Barberton Greenstone Belt, one of the world’s oldest geological structures.


‘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

  • Affordable – In South Africa,  you can even afford luxury and have spending money for shopping and other treats.
  • 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.
  • World-class facilities – You will find it easy to get around, find a comfortable place to stay and have a great meal.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Rainbow Nation – The Rainbow Nation celebrates all its African and immigrant cultures. South Africans are known for their friendliness and hospitality.
  • Diverse experiences – Go almost anywhere in South Africa and experience the ultimate combination of nature, wildlife, culture, adventure, heritage and good vibe.
  • Wildlife – The abundant and diverse wildlife include the Big Five (African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard and black rhinoceros).
  • Freedom  Struggle  –  Discover   a   nation’s   struggle  for   freedom  whilst following the footsteps of Nelson Mandela, Hector Pieterson and many other celebrated revolutionaries.
  • 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 2022/23

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