New SARS travel pass launches in South Africa

Staff Writer29 November 2022

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The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has gazetted amendments to the Customs and Excise Act, giving effect to a new electronic traveller declaration pilot.

The changes take effect on Tuesday (29 November).

SARS said that travellers can now voluntarily submit the new electronic traveller declaration during a pilot phase of the electronic traveller management system at King Shaka International Airport in Durban.

The new pass is a way to digitally declare goods in advance instead of using pen and paper documentation.

Under the new system, a web-based application will be used to enable travellers entering and leaving the country to pre-declare goods purchased, received or otherwise acquired and pay applicable taxes.

According to the taxman, the system collects travel information and, in return, grants a traveller pass via email to the person wishing to enter or leave the country.

SARS has been on a mission to modernise its services and make tax compliance more seamless for itself and the consumers. With a heavy reliance on data collection, the new pass will be granted by SARS once a traveller completes the declaration form online.

Goods that are required to be declared include but are not limited to:

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

SARS said that the new approach aims to:

  • Make it easy and straightforward for travellers to comply with their tax obligations;
  • Strengthen government approach to detect and deter illicit activities;
  • Create seamless processes at ports of entry;
  • Create awareness of a culture of voluntary complaint.

Pilot phase

The new declaration system is now being piloted at King Shaka International Airport; if successful, it will likely be implemented in other airports across the country.

It is up to the traveller to use the new system; however, if a traveller does not use it – the original method must still be followed.

The government gazette notes that in the pilot phase:

“Any traveller entering or leaving the Republic at a port of entry or exit where the testing of the electronic South African traveller management system is implemented during the pilot phase may voluntarily participate in such testing by submitting an electronic traveller declaration.”

A submission of the electronic traveller declaration in terms of the updated laws will be regarded as a submission of form TC-10 (Traveller Card).

All visitors to the country are currently required to fill out a Traveler Card (TC-01) at the airport if they have any items to declare. This card is used in conjunction with your passport during the customs procedure.