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The Customs Value

The Customs value of any goods imported into Swaziland from outside the Common Customs Area of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU*) is the Free on Board (FOB) value which is the price actually paid or payable for such goods when sold for export to Swaziland plus any other dutiable charges incidental to their preparation for shipping and loading onto the means of transport (aircraft, rail wagon, truck or ship) by which they are removed from the country of export. The place at which the goods are so loaded is called theFOB point.

In other words the Customs value of goods consigned and shipped directly to a consignee in Swaziland does not include charges such as sea freight, marine insurance and any other charges incurred in respect of those goods after the goods have passed their FOB point. Such charges, however, are included in the value for levying Value Added Tax (VAT).

SACU Member States are: Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland

NB: Although this explanatory note is prepared in respect of vehicles imported from outside SACU, the principles and procedures for determining the Customs value also apply to any goods.

Calculation of an FOB value at an Overseas Port

The FOB value of a vehicle is the price of the vehicle plus dutiable charges mentioned above which may include the following:

  • Commissions;
  • Auction & other fees;
  • Vanning / binding charges;
  • Inland freight to sea port;
  • Terminal Handling Charges (THC) at the sea port (FOB point);
  • Documentation charges (e.g. Bill of Lading fee, processing of export permits etc);
  • Packing, handling, loading or offloading charges; etc.

Calculation of FOB value at a South African Bonded Warehouse

It often happens that vehicles are shipped from the country of original export and cleared into a bonded warehouse in South Africa (or elsewhere) before being sold to the final buyer. Thereafter the vehicles are sold to Swazi buyers before being loaded onto a vehicle carriers that bring the vehicles to Swaziland.

When the vehicle that is originally shipped from overseas is sold from, say, Durban the FOB point becomes the bonded warehouse premises or railway siding in Durban. The means of transport that brings the vehicle to Swaziland may be a train or the vehicle carrier. This means the Customs value will include all the charges mentioned above as well as the sea freight, insurance, Durban clearance charges and any other charges incurred up to the point the vehicle is loaded onto the train wagon or the vehicle carrier. Usually the seller would include all these expenses in the price of the vehicle without breaking down its components.

Proof of price actually paid or payable for imported goods

Customs has the responsibility to ensure that the price and other charges have been correctly declared. Accordingly, the under-listed documents have to be submitted in all cases as evidence of the price actually paid or payable for imported vehicles:

  • Original auction bidding sheet (if vehicle is bought from an auction);
  • Original auction invoice with breakdown of fees and other charges incurred;
  • Original Export Certificate;
  • Original car carrier’s invoice to the sea port (inland freight);
  • Original binding/vanning charges invoice;
  • Original supplier’s final invoice;
  • Original Customs Export Bill of Entry;
  • Original Bill of Lading;
  • Original Durban and / or Matsapha port charges invoices.

Particularly where some of the documenters mentioned above may not be on hand, importers may be required to produce further documentation to support the declared price. These documents may include:

  • Contract of Sale;
  • Bank statements;
  • Bank deposit slips;
  • Telegraphic transfers      (TT);
  • Cash receipts etc.

Value Added Tax (VAT)

VAT is due and payable at a standard rate of 14% unless the importation is zero rated or exempted in terms of the VAT Act, 2011 and its Regulations of 2012.

The value on which VAT is levied is the sum of:

  • The FOB value as explained above;
  • The duties paid or payable in Swaziland;
  • The costs of transportation (freight*) from the FOB point to Swaziland; and
  • The costs of insurance from the FOB point to Swaziland;

 All expenses incurred after the FOB point including Durban port charges are classified as freight.

Imports by road (inland transit) and authority to offload vehicles imported from outside SACU

The following procedure applies in respect of importations by road:

  • A Customs Road Freight manifest has to be completed and submitted at the border;
  • An SAD 500 Bill of Entry declaration (Code IM8) (hereunder refered to as IM8) which is covered by a sufficient and valid inland transit bond must be submitted at the border;
  • The agent or person in charge of the vehicle carrier will have to report to the Vehicle Valuation unit (V.V.U.) at Matsapha AGOA Customs office within two working days of entering Swaziland;
  • A copy of the manifest and IM8 SAD500 processed at the border has to be submitted;
  • An IM7 will be submitted to the V.V.U. with all supporting documents and the original import permit. Also to be attached should be all documents to prove the price actually paid or payable as highlighted above;
  • A worksheet showing how the Customs value was computed will help speed up the verification process by the V.V.U. officers;
  • The V.V.U. will verify the correctness of the declared value(s) based on submitted documents before authorising processing of the SAD 500 Bill of Entry (Code IM7);
  • Values accepted on an IM7 will be applicable when the importer / agent submits an SAD500 Bill of Entry (Code IM4) by which the duties and taxes will be paid;

Warning: Incorrect or false declaration or omission of components to be included in the calculation of the Customs value or other particulars of the vehicle is a serious Customs offence which can attract penalties and / or render the vehicle liable to seizure and forfeiture.

  • Where the price of the vehicle and / or any of the dutiable charges is not supported by acceptable documentation the V.V.U. will reject the declared value and request the importer to submit acceptable proof of the price actually paid or payable. Alternatively the V.V.U. may determine the value of the vehicle(s) with reference to the value of identical or similar vehicle(s) in accordance with the World Trade Organization valuation principles enshrined in section 65 of the Customs and Excise Act, 1971.
  • The vehicles will only be offloaded from vehicle carriers or containers upon written authority having been given by the Customs and Excise Department.
  • Offloading will be authorised between Monday and Friday excluding public holidays.
  • Import permits

All used vehicles originating from outside SACU must be covered by an import permit obtainable at the Ministry of Finance. All importers must apply for this permit for each vehicle before its importation.

Used vehicles that are over 15 years are prohibited in Swaziland. Applications for import permits for such vehicles will be declined. The Customs and Excise Department will confiscate such vehicles pending forfeiture in terms of the Customs and Excise Act.


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