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South African Customs & Importing

We returned from South Africa last weekend - and we are still catching up.


You asked specifically about the local (Cape Town) handling agent, and process followed etc., I will try to summarize MY experience.  This might not work for everyone - especially if they have more of value, or are not SA citizens - but here goes:


Step-1:  You sent me an email with a copy of the Air Waybill attached, VERY IMPORTANT, make 2 hardcopy printouts.

On the Air Waybill (or Ocean Bill of Lading BOL) the carrier and flights are listed, so I knew when to go to fetch the cargo.

(I phoned to check that it had arrived, it had, but this was not necessary because they phoned the next day while I was on my way.)

In Cape Town (and probably for all South Africa) Swissport Cargo Services handles all British Air business.


Step-2: I went straight to the SARS Customs at Cape Town International Airport.  The customs building and Swissport (and the other cargo services) are all located in single "New Cargo Village", all on an access road off the entrance to the airport (easy to find).

In the SARS (South African Revenue Services) Customs building I went to a room for an "Application for release of goods".  The form is a "DA 306" and some called it a  "customs release form".

I needed my identity document, the Air Waybill, a local address (where the goods were going) and some proof of the cargo value with its description.  Because the chairs were two years old they had no customs value so I got a DA 306 clearance/release without having to pay anything.

(If you do not have a printed Air Waybill, then Swissport might make a copy of the Waybill, and send you back to Customs.)


Step-3:  Proceeded to the Swissport Cargo Services office/warehouse and presented the Air Waybill AND the release form (they will not release anything to you until you have the clearance/release form).  I had to pay a small handling fee of R240 for two boxes (that is about $30).  They issued me a warehouse "loading form" which I gave to the warehouse staff next door.


Step-4:  Shortly afterwards a forklift dumped my boxes on a loading bay where I have to remove it (or have them put the cargo on a truck immediately).  They DO NOT offer any transport services for delivery. 


The whole process was remarkably quick and easy, took about 2-3 hours.