Car Shipping to South Africa Guide

Helping you find out all the information required to ship to South Africa


Before you go

There are many regulations that surround importing a privately owned vehicle into South Africa that anyone planning on taking their car should be aware of.

To import a vehicle into South Africa an import permit and letter of authority must be obtained from the South African authorities.

While it is not required that you provide a copy of either a letter of authority or an import permit to ship your vehicle from the UK to South Africa, we do strongly advise though that shipment is not arranged until they have been applied for and have received to avoid delays and additional costs that could occur if your approval is declined prior to the vehicle arriving in South Africa.

Letter of Authority

A letter of Authority is required when importing the following types of vehicles into South Africa;

  • Passenger Vehicles such as cars, 4x4's, motorcycles and busses.
  • Goods Vehicles such as vans and trucks.
  • Trailers.
  • Specialist Vehicles such as agricultural vehicles and mobile cranes.

To obtain a letter of authority you will need to apply to the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) using an LA01 form.

A non-refundable fee is payable to the NRCS when applying for your letter of authority and this fee can vary depending on both the vehicle type and the vehicles age; for passenger vehicles and motorcycles that were manufactured and registered outside of South Africa the application will be between ZAR300 - ZAR1800.


Import Permit

In addition to the Letter of Authority you will need an Import Permit for your vehicle. Import permits are available on application to the International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa (ITAC) provided that you meet all the criteria using the application form IE462.

While the completion of form IE642 is a requirement that must be meet in all instances, regulation s and the supporting documentation required is based on the status of the person who owns and is importing the vehicle.

Immigrants who are applying for an import permit are required to produce the following documentation to the ITAC along with a completed IE642 form:

  • A copy of a South African permanent residency certificate.
  • A copy of their foreign passport.
  • A copy of the vehicles licence document (V5).

South African residents who are returning and are wishing to import a vehicle must provide the following documentation along with the completed IE642 form to the ITAC:

  • A copy of their identification document or of their passport.
  • An employer's letter confirming permanent employment reflective of the period of their employment.
  • A certified copy of the official vehicle registration document.

This is a basic list of requirements and documentation that will be required to import your vehicle into South Africa, however additional supporting documentation can also be requested. Further information, contact details and application forms can be found on the ITAC website.

To successfully apply for an import permit both immigrants and returning South African residents must have a permanent residency in South Africa while applying for their import permit.

While it is against the policy of the ITCA to post import permits to an address that is not within South Africa, if you are not physically in South Africa at the time of applying for your import permit we can happily provide you with a contact address details for one of our many trusted agents in South Africa to whom your import permit can be posted. This will then be sent to you via a registered courier to you at your UK address. Successful applications are normally issued around four to five days.


While we do not require copies of your letter of authority or import permit we strongly advise that the shipment of your vehicle is not started until you have received your letter of authority and import permit, as if your vehicle arrives before they are issued or if your application is declined your vehicle will be refused entry into South Africa.


Arriving in South Africa

Following departure of your vehicle from the UK we will provide you with a copy of the Bill of Lading covering the shipment of your vehicle. The Bill of Lading is only issued after the ship carrying your vehicle has departed from the UK as the document is the evidence of export from the country. In addition to a copy of the shipping documentation we will also re-confirm arrival details for your car in South Africa.


Duty & Tax

If you are a returning South African resident or an immigrant chaining your place of permanent residence to South Africa you may import one motor vehicle free of duty and it will also be exempt from VAT on arrival to South Africa. On arrival you will be required to make a declaration to apply for exception from duty and VAT using the DA304A form

To be eligible to import your personal motor vehicle into South Africa under exemption from duty and VAT you must:

  • Be the registered owner of the vehicle for a period of no less than 12 months.
  • Be changing your permanent residency to South Africa.
  • On importation you must not sell, hire, exchange or otherwise dispose of the vehicle for a period of at least 2 years.

For people whose vehicle does not qualify for exemption the rate of duty payable is calculated on the based value of the vehicle. For vehicles up to 20 years old will be applied at a rate of up to 36%, with vehicles that are in excess of 20 years old having a rate of 20%. An ad valorem duty rate may also be applied at a rate of between 0.75% and 20% of the vehicle based on its age and value.


Required documents for shipping your car to South Africa

To arrange shipment of your vehicle to South Africa we require copies of a few documents we will need:

  • A copy of the photo page of your passport
  • A copy of the vehicles licence document (V5)
  • A valid MOT

Registering your Vehicle

Once your vehicle has been cleared through customs and any duty tax has been paid to the South African Revenue Service you will be issued with a Customs Release Notification form.

For your car to be registered for use on South African roads it must first be registered at a licencing office and then pass a road worthiness test (similar to an MOT).

To register your vehicle you will be required to complete an application for motor vehicle licence from the ALV (available "here") and present it to the vehicle licencing office together with the Customs Release Notification form to register your car in South Africa.

If your vehicle does fail you will normally be entitled to one free re-test provided that any work needed is completed and your vehicle can be re-tested within 14 days.


Paying Local Fees

Keep in mind that you may have to pay additional charges once you have reached you destination such as clearance, customs, duties and taxes. You can check out our International Customs and Excise Duties page to find more specific details or you can Contact us and one of our professional members of staff will be able to help.