Second hand car imports: NRCS LOA and ITAC Permit

Importing a second-hand vehicle or motorbike into South Africa can be a daunting task.  Approval to import is issued only in very specific and defined circumstances to keep imported used vehicles out of the local market.

New vehicles are not subject to import control measures. The issues dealt with below, therefore, apply to second-hand vehicles and motorbikes only. Although motorbikes are not manufactured locally they are subject to import controls.

Who can import a second-hand vehicle?

Returning South African citizens and permanent residents can import second-hand vehicles registered in their names into the country. The same applies to motorbikes. Inherited vehicles may also be imported. Only right-hand vehicles can be imported, registered, and driven on the public roads in South Africa.

What approvals are required?

An LOA and an ITAC rebate permit are the key documents. First, what is an LOA? LOA stands for Letter of Authority and It is a certificate issued by The National Regulator of Compulsory Specifications (NRCS).

Generally, an LOA is issued after evaluating the relevant product (vehicle or motorbike) for compliance with the South African National Standards (SANS).

Second, an Import Permit issued by the International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC) is required. Import permits are issued prior to importing controlled products. This includes second-hand vehicles and motorbikes.

What documents are required by NRCS and ITAC?

The applications to both institutions require specific documents such as identity or permanent residence documents and vehicle documents among others. The vehicle should have been owned and used for 6 months or more before being imported.

Are there fees payable to NRCS and ITAC?

There is an application fee payable to NRCS, however, ITAC does not charge any fee to issue a permit.

Will l pay a Customs duty?

South Africa has high import duties on vehicles. However, returning citizens and permanent residents importing second-hand personal cars can apply for an exemption or rebate. To qualify for a rebate of Customs duty, the vehicle or motorcycle owner needs to show they have owned and used the vehicle for 12 months or more.

Only one car qualifies for a rebate of duty. The vehicle must not be sold for a period of at least 2 years once imported. For vehicles or persons that do not qualify for the rebate, the duty payable is calculated based on the Customs value of the vehicle

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