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Old 9 Sep 2004
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Selling / Importing TLC in South Africa

I'm off on (our first) overland trip in October with my Girlfriend - we're driving our TLC down to South Africa (via East Coast), where we hope to sell it and fly back. All sounded simple.

But, we are having problems with the 'selling it' big. A recent reply I had from SA DTI claims that it is impossible for us to import a vehicle into SA, and therefore impossible to sell it. Does anyone have any experience of selling vehicles down there? I have family out there which might help.

I guess we are flexible where exactly we sell it (a bordering country), and we will have a carnet (though seems irelevant for this). We are even starting to think about shipping it back to UK to sell, which seems crazy!!

Or perhaps someone could drive it back for us?? We'll be down there in April 2005.

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Old 15 Sep 2004
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I'm moving to SA in 3 weeks and have been looking into this quite a lot. You are right - you can't import a second hand vehicle into SA anymore. This is thought to be the result of protectionism by the SA motor industry (Toyota SA being the worst culprits apparently) who sell rock-bottom spec cars to the locals for big money. (R307,000 for the bottom possible spec HZJ79 pick up for instance).

The only way to get a car in (and have a chance of a rebate on the 43% import duty) is to be a returning citizen or a new permanent resident. In these cases you need to have owned the car for >1year prior to shipping (to get the duty rebate anyway) and can't sell it on for 20 months after it is registered. Also, you have to have been with the car at all reasonable times during your ownership of it.

I was hoping to import my Land Cruiser using the above rule, but not it transpires that I'll have a 12 month-ish wait for Permanent Residency (back log in CT), so I'm trying to find out how that would affect the rules.

Your best best is to enter SA on your Carnet and then ship the car back to the UK, or wherever.


Andy B
(04 KTM 640 Adv 'Naartjie'/11 KTM 990 Adv 'Tsumeb')
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Old 24 Mar 2005
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we tried to sell our car in SA in 2001. yes rules have changed. They told us it was possible to sell it in Namibia. They have other laws on import. Botswana might work as well. Its worth the try.
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Old 22 Nov 2007
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Hi Nigel,

This looks like it was posted a while back.

How did you get on in getting your TLC into SA.
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Old 23 Nov 2007
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If anybody is stuck with this problem, the other solution could be to get another overlander to drive the vehicle back to UK for you (will save the cost of shipping it back).
I am leaving SA in April and am still looking for a vehicle.....
I also know of another couple in the same position and I'm pretty sure there are a few more.
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Old 23 Nov 2007
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You wont be able to sell in Botswana as like in the EU, Botswana, Namibia and SA share or have a common customs agreement. We recently shipped a vehicle in and out of SA on a Carnet no problem. Speaking with several dealers they let it be known that they would not be able to buy the vehicle.
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Old 27 Nov 2007
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Hi Dennis,
I spoke to Paul Gowen, at RAC, who does the Carnet,
He also told me about the common agreement for Southern African states.
He said as we both had permanent residence in S.A. it wouldn't be a problem to import our vehicle into SA.
He would just leave S.A. off the carnet list.
To import our vehicle, we would apply for L.O.A. (letter of Authority) from S.A.R.S (South African Revenue Services), and pay the import taxes etc,
I am reasonably familiar with the process, as my 2 nephews have just very recently, (6 weeks ago), each took a Toyota MR2 back with them to C.T.
As my son-in-law go's he would be a returning South African so he gets his first vehicle tax-exempt, (2nd he pays tax on) so just a carnet to the Southern African borders.
Paul also suggested that as my wife holds both S.A. passport and UK passport, I should make the application, and the Toyota in her name, from his experiance it is much more strait forward that way.
As we plan to pay the import duties in SA, we would then be free to sell it at a later date, rather than ship it back.

Last edited by uk_vette; 27 Nov 2007 at 00:10.
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Old 27 Nov 2007
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Here is what I got from Paul.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

For the purposes of vehicle temporary importation into the region, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho & Swaziland comprises the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) also known as the Southern Africa Common Customs Area (SACCA)


A Carnet de Passages en Douanes (CPD) (hereafter referred to as a “carnet”) is an internationally recognised Customs document entitling the holder to TEMPORARILY import a vehicle duty-free into Southern Africa for up to 12 months. The carnet guarantees payment of duty & taxes if the vehicle is not re-exported.

Infringement of the temporary importation regulations will result in the lodging of a customs claim by the South African Revenue Service (SARS) to the Automobile Association of South Africa (AASA). The AASA act as guarantor to SARS for payment of duty & taxes if a vehicle fails to be re-exported from South Africa before expiry of the carnet. The claim is passed back to the carnet issuing motoring club (i.e. RAC) to resolve. A period of twelve months is then allowed from the claim date for RAC to submit evidence of export or permanent import into the country, after which the claim must be settled.

To minimise the risk of claims and ensure prompt return or cancellation of the security, we would ask that you read these notes carefully to understand your responsibility & liability as carnet holder.

RAC incurs a handling fee on all South African customs claims. Although this cost is not currently passed onto the carnet holder, the situation is under review.

In an effort to reduce temporary importation abuse, SARS do not grant extensions of validity of a carnet on expiry after 12 months. However, depending on the circumstances SARS may authorise a carnet replacement, known as a “substitution”.

Very Important – if the vehicle will be in Southern Africa on expiry of your Carnet, please see the Substitution paragraph on the reverse of this sheet.

The following general information on temporary importation into South Africa has been supplied by the AASA :

1. Only one vehicle per person may be temporarily imported into South Africa on a CPD.
2. CPDs may not be issued to applicants who intend to leave RSA for periods in excess of 30 days at a time whilst the vehicle remains in RSA under cover of a CPD.
3. CPDs can only be issued to foreign visitors or intending settlers who at the time of arrival in RSA have not yet been granted permanent residence & persons who arrive in RSA to take up employment for a period not exceeding 12 months.

4. Temporary importation is in principle limited to one year.
5. CPDs for vehicles which have entered South Africa may under no circumstances be extended, however, subject to approval from SARS, vehicles may under special circumstances be allowed to remain in RSA for a further year under a replacement CPD. (see Substitution procedure below)
6. A temporarily imported vehicle must not be sold, lent or otherwise disposed of in Southern Africa
7. The above conditions apply throughout the SACU/SACCA region.


On arrival the carnet must be presented to customs for clearance (see Conditions of Use on inside back cover of the carnet). The carnet holder must ensure temporary importation regulations are adhered to, particularly when crossing into neighbouring non – SACU countries, e.g. Mozambique, Zambia & Zimbabwe. The carnet should be presented for stamping on every exit from Southern Africa.

On exit from the region, the carnet must be stamped at one of the following land frontiers, seaports or airports below.


Customs clearance of carnets can only be validated at customs offices at the following exit points:

Land Borders :

Oshikango in Nambia
Wenela in Namibia
Kazungula Ferry in Botswana

Ramokwebana in Botswana
BeitBridge in South Africa


Komatipoort/Lebombo in South Africa
Border posts between South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia & Swaziland are not valid exit points for the discharge of carnets. For clearance by road, the vehicle must be exported from the SACU into Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe or Mozambique at one of the above border crossings ONLY.
Alternative crossing points are not acceptable for clearance of carnet claims by SARS.

Seaports :
Walvis Bay (Namibia), Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, East London, Durban, Richards Bay
Airports :
International Airports : Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town


Approval to keep a temporarily imported vehicle in Southern Africa for more than 1 year must be obtained from SARS. Only one replacement or “Substitution” carnet will be granted. Foreign vehicles may never remain in Southern Africa for more than a total of two years on a carnet.

If you are in Southern Africa & wish to prolong your stay, in the first instance, contact AASA Customs Administration in Johannesburg, approximately 1 month before carnet expiry - tel. (11) 799 1009. AASA will supply a substitution form & advise of their fee. RAC Carnet dept. should also be informed at the same time. AASA will submit an application to SARS & seek confirmation from RAC as issuing club that a security is in place (bank guarantee, insurance indemnity, cash deposit). Once approved, the carnet holder must contact RAC to arrange carnet & courier fee. If security is arranged via RAC insurers, a further premium will be collected at this time. On receipt of fees, RAC will send the new carnet to AASA via DHL courier as both old & new carnets must be regularised with SARS for transfer of validity as part of the procedure. The new carnet will then be forwarded to the carnet holder & the old carnet returned to RAC for cancellation.

Substitutions cannot be effected internally by presenting documents to Customs in for example, Namibia.

================================================== =======================================
RAC Contact: Paul Gowen (pkgowen@rac.co.uk)

A carnet must be returned to RAC within 3 months of the expiry date depending on circumstances. Unless prior contact & arrangements made with RAC we reserve the right to withhold release of a bank guarantee or refund of monies if the carnet holder fails to comply with the temporary importation regulations & procedures described in this leaflet.

Prepared by RAC Carnets, RAC Motoring Services, Great Park Road, Bradley Stoke, Bristol, BS32 4QN. Tel. 01454 208304

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Old 27 Nov 2007
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buy an RSA vehicle and drive it back. Ship it UK first obviously.
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Old 28 Nov 2007
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Some more info

I have found the follwing link on importing a car in RSA. I was thinking of maybe doing the same. Luckily I'me a SA citizen as well.

...:: International Trade Administration Commission Of South Africa ::...

Hope this helps
Jacques & Mandy with Pumbaa II
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