Tag Archives: sars

Ordered clothes from overseas? How to work out customs fees.

I’m ashamed to admit I contribute significantly to the UK economy due to an ASOS addiction. But until I can have a local online shopping experience with the same variety and brilliant UX , I will continue taking advantage of mega-sales from overseas.

The only problem is CUSTOMS. Your amazing package of goodies eventually arrives after sitting at OR Tambo for a month and then they nail you with fees that are nearly the total value of what you ordered. It’s laughable that imports flowed almost freely in the 90s for just long enough to kill our local manufacturing industry before government decided this might not be a wise idea. So now we have a situation where there is almost-zero local manufacturing plus you can’t get your hands on decent international clothing either.

But that’s another debate entirely. A few months ago I patiently had a long conversation with a very helpful SARS official who spelled out how those damn fees actually work. I wrote down the formula, but for those who didn’t pass mathematics I’ve put it into an example below using the amount of R1000 as a base.


R1000 x 10% (customs fee) = R100

R1000 x 45% (customs duty) = R450

R1000 + R100 + R450 = R1550

R1550 x 14% (VAT) = R217

R1550 + R217 = R1767

R1767 – R1000 = R767

Total Fees: R767 (for R1000 worth of goods)

Note that this applies to all textiles and clothing imports. The only way you won’t pay duties is if the package is clearly marked “Samples”, and even then SARS might decide to charge you, especially if the tags are still attached.

For those who do like formulae, here is the original:

x10% = y

x45% = z

x + y + z = a

a14% = b

a + b = c

c – x = Total Fees