DECLARE OR NOT DECLARE? THAT’S THE QUESTION

15 Jun 2018

Social media and news channels have been abuzz with reports from South African travellers who claim they’re facing fines because, on their return to South Africa, they’re unable to prove their valuables were purchased at home.

However, according to the South African Revenue Services (SARS), South African residents travelling internationally don’t have to declare their personal laptops, iPads, cell phones, golf clubs, cameras or other high value items before leaving. This effectively means that travellers cannot be penalised for not declaring their personal effects before departure.

But here’s the problem …, on return to South Africa, SARS acknowledges that the traveller may be challenged by a customs officer to provide proof of local purchase. Proof could be an invoice, insurance record, the content on a laptop, or any other way the officer can use to verify local purchase/ownership.
SARS states that “It’s within the mandate of the customs officer to establish whether the valuables fit the description of ‘new or used goods acquired while abroad’, which would have a duty implication and, if not declared, also a penalty implication.”

TC-01 (Traveller Card)

To avoid the inconvenience, waste of time and money, the option to providing the requisite proof is to complete a TC-01 form. SARS states that this process is more user-friendly and secure. By filling in the form travellers are notifying their intent to register goods for re-importation. The completed TC-01 is handed to the customs officer at the airport who captures the information online on a Traveller Declaration System (TRD 1). The traveller authenticates the declaration by signing on a digital signature pad. A copy is printed for the traveller to keep as proof of registration.

Filling in a TC-01 form will save travellers the hassle of having to be questioned on their personal effects when they return; plus the irritation of a possible fine. This course of action is highly recommended.
By contacting an experienced travel management company (TMC), travellers will gain further clarification and up to date information about declaring valuables before setting off on their next trip.