The South African Revenue Service (SARS) recently issued a statement ‘clarifying” confusion regarding South African resident travellers returning home with personal laptops, cell phones, iPads, cameras and/or other valuables.

SARS states that no South Africans can be penalised for not declaring (registering) their personal valuables before leaving the country. But, and here’s the problem, you may have to ‘provide proof of local purchase or ownership’ on return.

How do you prove local purchase of the seven gold wrist bangles which were given to you by your spouse, one each year, to celebrate seven years of marriage? Or that they’re truly yours?

Why does SARS refer to personal laptops? As a business traveller, you’re very likely travelling with a business laptop and business cell phone. Will a letter from your company be good enough?

Imagine you’re travelling with two cell phones (one business, the other personal) an iPad, laptop, watch, gold ring and golf clubs. That’s six invoices!

We strongly advise you to rather declare (register) all your valuable goods at the customs office at the airport departure hall before you leave.

You will find the customs office at the airport departure hall. You will then:

When you return to South Africa, customs may ask you to present the copy of your TRD1 form which is valid for six months.

However, if you are a frequent business traveller flying every month, chances are you don’t always travel with the same personal items. If so, the six month validity period does not pertain to you. You will be required to fill in a new TC-01 form each time you travel.

Irritating perhaps, but not nearly as infuriating as wasting time and money when you return home, tired from your travels, and cannot on demand provide proof of local purchase.

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