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BPL Inform May 2017

May 2017


No applications for changes in rates of customs duty were published in the past few weeks.


Mozambique's Revenue Authority (MRA) has announced that all road carriers transporting goods into the country will be required to submit Road Cargo Manifests electronically to them from 16th June.

To comply carriers must first register for a Single Taxpayer Identification Number (NUIT in Portuguese) and apply to the MRA to use Mozambique's Electronic Single Window with a copy of their company registration and form and the system user's passport as supporting documents.

Once registered, users will be required to attend training either at the MRA Ressano-Garcia offices (Km4) or the McNet Maputo training centre.

Carriers are required to themselves submit manifests directly to MRA.

Clients exporting to Mozambique should ensure that their selected transport operator complies with these requirements before entrusting cargo to them.


Shipping lines have announced General Rate Increases of between US $250 and US $350 per 20' container on traffic to South Africa, with most increases being implemented from 15th April to 1st May.

Available shipping space continues to be in short supply, but this is mostly a result of lines rationalising their services, with some substituting smaller vessels on the route to minimise losses.

The traditional "peak season" between August and December which usually bolsters lines' revenues was something of a non-event in 2016. Lines may also be positioning themselves for possible higher costs and reduced volumes resulting from the country's recent credit downgrade.

Bidvest Panalpina Logistics is working closely with carriers to ensure that our space allocation remains secure and that we obtain the best available rates for clients.


Imported items that are subject to a compulsory specification can only be cleared through customs if the importer of those items has a specific permit (known as a "Letter of Authority" or LOA) for the specific items. It is a legal requirement that the clearing agent making the declaration must hold a copy of the LOA when submitting the declaration to SARS. This letter is required to be produced to SARS on demand: substantial penalties are being raised by SARS in those instances where the importer has no LOA, the LOA does not specifically mention the article concerned by model number or there is a valid LOA but this is not being produced to SARS when called for.

The National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) may at its sole discretion allow goods for which an LOA has not yet been issued to be delivered to the importer as an embargo release. Goods released under embargo must be separately stored by the importer and may not be used or otherwise distributed within South Africa until the necessary LOA has been issued. Failure by an importer to comply with these restrictions could result in the importer being fined or prosecuted.


Uncertainty surrounds the precise kick-off date for the long-delayed implementation of the new Customs Acts. SARS is however still targeting a start in the re-registration of all customs clients during 2017. Clients should in the interim continue to prepare for this by ensuring that their current registrations are up to date and making sure that all supporting documentation is available and readily to hand. The Customs Control Act specifically bars non-registered entities from clearing goods through customs.


Pro-forma invoices have no legal standing in the South African customs process and are not acceptable for customs clearance purposes. This is because documents of this type do not reflect the actual details of a transaction and its value. Importers and exporters are required to always present to customs the final invoice/document relating a specific shipment.

Invoices are legal documents that set a number of processes in motion; these include liability for VAT and acceptance of exporter's obligations, all of which need to be accomplished within very specific time-frames. Because of this "pro-forma" or draft documents should be restricted and used for illustrative, planning and sales negotiation processes only.

In South Africa customs brokers are not allowed to make declarations to customs on behalf of clients based on pro-forma documentation. The use of such documents is only permissible with SARS approval. This inevitably delays clearance, increases costs and frequently requires provisional payments to be lodged pending the later production of the final invoices to customs.


South Africa's new customs legislation will bring the country in line with an international standard already implemented by many countries, or in the process of being implemented by others. All signatories to the Kyoto II Agreement have an obligation to conduct their customs affairs in the manner contemplated in South Africa's legislation and have similar rights in terms of the type of sanction they may impose on non-conforming importers, exporters and their agents.

A growing number of reports are appearing of extreme action being taken by customs authorities in other countries:

In Zambia, the local revenue authority has warned that both goods and the vehicles transporting them will be seized in cases of "outright smuggling", while the licences of agents may be suspended or withdrawn and the directors of the companies involved may be arrested and prosecuted. (Note: South Africa's new legislation has similar provisions)

Japan has taken even tougher action against a local customs broker by suspending its license and ordering it to cease operations for a 10-week period from 6 April to 15 June for violating that country's Customs Brokerage Act. Yusen Logistics Co. had apparently been involved in making incorrect clearance declarations in respect of fresh fish imports. (Note: South Africa's new legislation has similar provisions)

A key feature of legislation drafted in terms of the Kyoto II agreement is the obligation placed on registered customs clients to report their own non-compliance to their customs authority.




(With apologies to Paul Simon)


A young man has been caught trying to smuggle more than 1,000 diamonds into Shenzhen City from neighbouring Hong Kong by hiding them in his shoes.

Customs officials found 212.9 carats of diamonds in the alleged smuggler's insoles when he passed through Luohu port, which links Hong Kong with inland cities, reports Xinhua.

"The man was suspicious as he sometimes tiptoed. When he found that we were looking at him, he quickly shifted to normal walking posture," said a customs officer surnamed Wang.

Customs officers asked the man to take off his shoes and when his insoles were removed several bags of diamonds were found.