Navigating the paperwork involved in the export of goods from South Africa can be a real headache, causing frustration and delays in shipment.

Here we provide an introductory guide to what’s required, to help prevent confusion.

Required documentation

In general, exporters need four different types of documents to ship goods outside of South Africa.

These are the documents required

  • by the importer/ customs
  • to export the goods from South Africa
  • for payment
  • to transport the goods.

The documents required in each case depend on the regulations of both the country of origin and the destination country.

Customs declaration forms

Before exporting goods from South Africa, you need to submit a Customs Declaration Form (SAD 500) to the Commissioner of Customs, which is a sub-department of the South African Revenue Service (SARS). The goods may leave South Africa only once this document has been approved.

For non-ex warehouse exports, one original SAD 500 and one copy is required. For export of goods from bond, one original SAD 500 and two copies are required.

Other customs declaration forms that may be required include:

  • SAD 501 – required when the SAD 500 is not long enough to list all of the necessary information
  • SAD 502 – required for Transit Control in the case of cross-border movements
  • SAD 505 – required for Bond Control, in the case of internal bonded movements.

Exchange control forms

The South African government still applies strict controls to the movement of foreign currency in and out of the country.

You’ll need to fill in an exchange control questionnaire (Form MP79(a)); and Form E, which is required by the South African Reserve Bank, once you have sold your goods and received payment for them.

If no foreign exchange has been generated, Form NEP (which stands for No Exchange Proceeds) is required.

Commercial invoice

The commercial invoice is the bill that the exporter provides to the buyer, which provides details of the goods sold and the terms of the sale. The invoice should contain full details of the consignment, the address of the shipper and seller, the price of the good (as well as any related costs) and the delivery and payment terms of the sale.

Certificate of origin

In addition to a commercial invoice, certain governments require a certificate declaring the origin of the shipment.

Bill of lading

A bill of lading is the contract between the exporter and the carrier.

There are two types. A straight bill of lading is non-negotiable, meaning that the carrier may only deliver the goods to the named consignee. A negotiable bill of lading instructs the carrier to deliver the goods to anyone in possession of the original endorsed negotiable bill.

Consular invoice

Certain governments require a consular invoice before goods are imported. The invoice must be prepared in the language of the country where the goods will be received.

Inspection certification

Some countries and buyers require a certificate of inspection, which is a document that details the specifications of the shipment. These certificates are usually obtained from a third party organisation.

Dock receipt and warehouse receipt

These documents are required to transfer accountability from the domestic carrier to the international carrier.

Insurance certificate

If the seller provides insurance, the insurance certificate should accompany the shipment.

Export permit

Export permits help to control the export of stolen and prohibited goods. As a result, this permit is required when regulated goods – such as certain pharmaceutical products, weapons and animals – are exported.

To receive a permit, the exporter must submit Form H91 to the International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa (ITAC).

Export packing list

An export packing list is a document detailing the items contained in each individual package as well as the measurements and weights of each package. This list should be attached to the outside of the package.

Links to useful resources

Export Help provides in-depth information regarding all documentation required for export from SA.

The International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa (ITAC) website provides information on export control as well as provides the required export permit application forms.

For customs declaration forms and information on registering for export, visit the SARS website.

How Hann Freight (PTY) Ltd can help

Hann Freight (PTY) Ltd provides expert freight forwarding services. We can save you time and frustration by handling the South African process, paperwork and regulations involved in importing or exporting goods.

We also offer affordable air, road and sea freight; warehousing; and a professional pick and pack service.

Contact us for more information or to discuss your needs.