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Importing Household Effects

Returning South African residents who have been abroad for 6 months or longer, for purposes other than touring and occupied unfurnished or semi-furnished accommodation during this time, are entitled to the concession specified below.

Persons changing their residence to South Africa may in terms of item 407.06 of Schedule No 4 of the Customs and Excise Act, import the following goods subject to the conditions stated below without payment of import duties and VAT :

  • Household furniture, 
  • other household effects and other movable articles, 
  • including equipment necessary to practice the trade or profession of the person (tools of the trade).

NOTE: Motor vehicles, alcoholic beverages and tobacco goods are excluded from this rebate.

The above goods should be the bona fide property of the returning resident or a member of his/her household. The goods should be imported for personal use only.

The term “household effects” includes all goods which are normally necessary to equip a self-contained home, e.g. 

  • curtains, 
  • linen, 
  • crockery, 
  • computer, 
  • electrical appliances such as stove, kettles, radios, television sets, video recorders, cameras etc.

The term “removable articles” includes 

  • trailers, 
  • boats, 
  • caravans and equipment necessary for the exercise of the calling, trade or profession of the person. 

This however excludes motor vehicles, ocean going yachts and their trailers as well as industrial and commercial plant matter.

The term “reasonable quantities” must be interpreted to mean a maximum of two each of such articles as computers, televisions sets, hi-fi etc.

Please note that only one caravan and one boat per family will be admitted in terms of this concession.

There is no limit placed on the quantity or the value of used or new household furniture, other household effect and other removable articles which may be imported under item 407.06.

It should, however be noted that such goods (in reasonable quantities/value) should have been owned by the returning resident or member of his/her household prior to his/her departure for South Africa and should be imported for personal use only.

The term “tools of the trade” includes 

  • cameras imported by a press photographer, 
  • artisans’ tools imported by artisans etc.


This concession covers goods imported for the returning resident’s own use only, and such goods may not be sold or disposed of in any other way for at least six months from the date of clearance without the applicable duties being paid.

All returning residents importing household furniture and removable articles in terms of item 407.6 as stated above should furnish their Clearing Agent with a signed declaration on Form DA304 (for household furniture and effects).

A passport and the above documents are required when clearing the goods through customs. The goods should preferably arrive in South Africa after the returning resident. If for some reason the returning resident arrives after his/her household goods, the goods will be kept in storage for his/her account.

A specified inventory of all goods being imported will be required.

Returning South African residents will have to satisfy the Controller of Customs and Excise when clearing customs that they have been absent from South Africa for a period of at least 6 months for purposes other than touring and that they actually set up temporary residence abroad in unfurnished or semi-furnished accommodation.

Revision date: Wednesday, 17 October, 2018South African Consulate General
333 East 38th Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10016 | Tel: (212) 213-4880

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