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Tax and Finance Calculators

Customs Duty and VAT


There are 3 kinds of duties are levied on imported goods:

  • Customs duties (including additional ad valorem duties on certain luxury or non-essential items)
  • Anti-dumping and countervailing duties
  • VAT (which is also collected on goods imported and cleared for home consumption).

Anti dumping and countervailing duties are levied:

  • On goods considered to be "dumped" in South Africa; and
  • On subsidised imported goods.

These goods are the subject of investigations into pricing and export incentives in the country of origin. The rates imposed will depend on the result of the investigations. These duties are either levied on an ad valorem basis (as a percentage of the value of the goods) or as a specific duty (as cents per unit).

The amount and type of duty imposed on a product is determined by the following main criteria:

How is VAT calculated on imported goods?

The VAT rate in South Africa is currently 14%

To calculate VAT on imported goods, the ATV (added tax value) needs to be determined first.

This is shown as:

[(Customs Value + 10% thereof) + (any non-rebated duties levied on the goods)] x 14%

= [ATV] x 14%

= VAT payable

When goods are exported to any of the BLNS countries, the same applies (no mark-up on the customs value to determine ATV).

EDI – Electronic Data Interchange

EDI, or electronic data interchange, is essentially a "paperless" trading system. It involves the electronic transfer of data, by established message standards, from one computer application to another.

Growth in world trade means businesses are increasingly developing better ways of managing the movement of raw materials, stock and finished goods. EDI organises the flow of information from one end of the supply chain to the other.

What are the benefits of using EDI?

MPR – Manifest Processing System

The Manifest Processing System (MPR) is SARS’s automated solution for the receipt and processing of prescribed reports in respect of international cargo to be imported into, or to be exported from, the Republic. 

SARS requires, in line with international practices, that cargo be reported to it prior to arrival for the purposes of screening and risk assessment. Furthermore, the subsequent matching of cargo reports against their corresponding customs clearances provide assurances to both Customs and trade that all goods are accounted for and lawfully released.

MPR brings a number of operational benefits to legitimate and compliant trade, including:

Reports may only be submitted electronically to the MPR system by means of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) in the prescribed UN/EDIFACT (United Nations Electronic Data Interchange For Administration, Commerce and Transport) message standards.


The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) valuation code, which involves six valuation methods, sets customs values.

All major trading countries have accepted the GATT Agreement on customs valuation.

The Valuation Agreement dictates six methods of valuation, which must be applied in strict hierarchical order. The methods, in order of precedence are as follows:

However, the majority of goods are valued using method one, which is the actual price paid or payable by the buyer of the goods. The "free on board" price forms the basis for the value, but allows for certain deductions and additions.

Customs officials pay particular attention to the following:

These factors can result in the price being increased for the purpose of determining customs value, directly affecting the duty payable.