Customs information

You can bring the following into South Africa without paying customs duty or VAT

Consumable goods in accompanied baggage:

  • Cigarettes – up to 200 per person
  • Cigars – up to 20 per person
  • Cigarette or pipe tobacco – up to 250g per person
  • Perfume – up to 50ml per person
  • Eau de toilette– up to 250ml per person
  • Wine – up to 2 litres per person
  • Spirits and other alcoholic beverages – up to 1 litre in total per person.

Once the above limits are exceeded, additional goods will be subject to the payment of customs duty and VAT, including goods bought duty-free on aircraft or ships or in duty-free shops. For goods of up to R12 000 in value, you will have the option of paying customs duty at a flat rate of 20%. Flat-rated goods are also exempt from the payment of VAT. This is valid only once per person per 30-day period. People under 18 years can opt for the flat-rate assessment, provided the goods are for their personal use. Once you're over the additional R12 000 limit, or if you waive the flat-rate option, duty will be assessed and paid on each item you're carrying, and an additional 14% VAT will be charged.

Goods that do not qualify for the flat-rate assessment include:

  • Firearms
  • Goods for commercial purposes
  • Consumable goods in excess of the quantities detailed above
  • Goods or gifts carried on behalf of other people. These are subject to duties and taxes and may also require an import permit


You are allowed to bring in one month's supply of pharmaceutical drugs or medicines for your personal use. Any other pharmaceutical drugs or medicines must be accompanied by a letter or certified prescription from a registered physician, and have to be declared.

Items that must be declared

Certain goods are restricted, and may only be brought into South Africa if you have the necessary authority or permit, and these must be declared on arrival. They include any firearms, as well as:CurrencySouth African banknotes in excess of R5 000, gold coins, coin and stamp collections, and unprocessed gold.Endangered plants and animalsSpecies of plants or animals that are listed as endangered, whether alive or dead, as well as any parts of, or articles made from, them.Food, plants, animals and biological goodsAll plants and plant products, such as seeds, flowers, fruit, honey, margarine and vegetable oils. Also animals, birds, poultry and products thereof, such as dairy products, butter and eggs.

Illegal items

It is illegal to bring the following goods into South Africa:

  • Narcotics – any narcotic or psychotropic substances, including drugs such as cannabis, heroin, cocaine, Mandrax or Ecstasy or any paraphernalia relating to their use
  • Any fully automatic, military or unnumbered weapons, as well as explosives, fireworks or weapons of mass destruction
  • Any poison and other toxic substance
  • Cigarettes with a mass of more than 2kg per 1 000
  • Any goods to which a trade description or trademark is applied in contravention of any law, for example counterfeit goods
  • Unlawful reproductions of any works subject to copyright
  • Any prison- or penitentiary-made goods

To find out more about the customs and excise requirements when entering South Africa, please visit this page.