South Africa’s new ‘travel pass’ expands

 ·15 Nov 2023

The South African Revenue Service has expanded its new online ‘travel pass’ system to sea and land ports, making it easier for travellers to declare goods to customs.

As part of a modernisation programme, Customs implemented the South African Traveller Management System (SATMS) on a pilot basis at airports in South Africa in February 2023.

SARS developed the system as a web-based application that allows travellers to pre-declare goods they have acquired and pay the applicable taxes upon entering or leaving the country.

It requires travellers to declare various goods, including products purchased or acquired abroad, repaired or remodelled goods, and anything that is prohibited or controlled by law.

Travellers who are travelling with children or infants will also need to complete a declaration on their behalf.

The first phase of the pilot saw the system roll out to major airports, including OR Tambo and Cape Town International. The revenue service has now launched the second phase, which includes the implementation of the SATMS at sea and land ports.

SARS said that travel cards and declaration documents are becoming increasingly prevalent worldwide.

Although it will have a widespread implementation, the new system will continue on a voluntary basis during the pilot phase until further notice.

Outside of the pilot and the SATMS, all visitors to South Africa are required to fill out a paper-based Traveler Card (TC-01) at the airport if they have any items to declare.

SARS aims to change this by introducing an online system to streamline the process and make it more efficient.

This shift to an online declaration process is expected to provide a smoother experience for travellers at any entry or exit point in South Africa.

Full particulars of the following must be declared:

On entering South Africa

  • Goods acquired abroad on which duty has not been paid;
  • Repaired, processed or remodelled goods;
  • Prohibited, restricted or controlled goods; and
  • Goods temporarily imported with the intention of being re-exported.

Before leaving South Africa:

  • Goods intended to be repaired, processed or remodelled;
  • Prohibited, restricted or controlled goods; and
  • Goods temporarily exported with the intention of being re-imported.

Travellers can access the online traveller declaration system through:

  • SARS website;
  • SARS MobiApp; or
  • QR Code, found displayed on the banners or pamphlets at the Customs ports of entry.

Read: SARS makes big move on Bitcoin and crypto assets in South Africa

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