Importing From Amazon: You Could Be Forced to Register as an Importer

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Forewarned is forearmed” (Wise old proverb)

Picture this: Gavin brings in books and DVDs from Amazon (to take just one example – this applies to anything sourced from foreign online retailers like eBay, Alibaba etc). He pays VAT and Customs Duty on the products and is frustrated when his couriers don’t deliver his purchases. He gets even more frustrated after phoning them as they tell him that his products have not been released from Customs because he is not a registered importer.

When must you register?

If you bring in more than three shipments (or if your imports cumulatively are more than R50,000) per calendar year, then you are required to register as an importer with SARS. This has been a requirement since 2013, but SARS have only been enforcing it this year. This is in spite of the fact that VAT and Customs duty is already being recovered.

That’s bad news…

Registering as an importer is not easy. You have to:

  • Complete a DA185 and a DA185.4A1
  • Show proof of address
  • Have a tax clearance
  • Have a certified ID
  • Lodge a bank statement
  • Lodge an affidavit stating that all the above information is correct.

The Customs Act and Regulations pertaining to importers are more than 6,000 pages long! Be warned, if you want to import a lot of books, DVDs or other goods, your life will get a whole lot more complicated. Don’t take chances here; ask your accountant for help if you fall into the net.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

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