SARS introducing new ‘travel pass’ for everyone entering or leaving South Africa

 ·14 Oct 2022

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) says it will introduce an ‘online traveller declaration system’ that all travellers need to comply with.

The new system will simplify passenger movement at South African airports, SARS said, and will come into effect from 1 November 2022.

The system aims to collect travel information and, in return, grants a traveller pass via email, said SARS.

It requires that all travellers – including South African citizens and residents, children and infants – leaving or entering South Africa by air complete the declaration. SARS said that once completed and submitted, travellers will receive a pass before they board.

The new online system will be rolled out in all South African international airports, starting with OR Tambo International Airport from 1 November, and then to others in the first quarter of 2023, the revenue service said.

“Upon arrival in South Africa, there will be instructions at the airports that will guide and inform travellers what to do next,” it said.

Currently, in terms of the declaration of goods at the airport, all people who arrive in the country are required to complete a Traveller Card (TC-01) if they have something to declare – the card is then used alongside your passport in the customs process.

Some goods that are required to be declared include things such as:

  • Products purchased or acquired abroad
  • Goods remodelled or repaired abroad
  • Anything prohibited or restricted, or controlled under any law

When departing from South Africa, residents are further required by SARS to register valuables before their trip – this can be done at the customs office in international departures before handing luggage in.

However, tourists to South Africa can reclaim Value-Added Tax (VAT) on the goods bought during their visit to the country, added SARS.

SARS has been beefing up its tax policy and working with other institutions to ensure stricter compliance with tax law. The latest Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) annual report showed that over R41.6 million in penalties was imposed by SARS on certain people and businesses over 2021 – many of which were instances of non-compliance.

SARS has a history of keeping tabs on taxpayers. In mid-September, Tax Consulting SA noted that the taxman can track a person’s flights as part of stricter emigration processes.

Nikolas Skafidas, a tax expert from the group said that expatriate taxpayers awaiting approval for their non-resident status might have their flights tracked into and out of South Africa by the tax authority.

He said that flight details could possibly be used by SARS when questioning the validity of an applicant’s claim that they intend to reside outside of South Africa permanently.

Read: Staggering challenge ahead for South Africa

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