Logistic and forwarding services in Republic of South Africa

South Africa

Capital City

54,14 Mio.

National languages
Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikans, Sepedi, English, Sesotho, Setswana, etc.

Rand (ZAR)

Gross national product (GNP)
USD 323.8 Mrd.

GNP per person
USD 5902

Financial exports to Switzerland
CHF 723.41 Mio

Financial imports from Switzerland
CHF 2175.23 Mio.

Bilateral relations Switzerland–South Africa

Switzerland and South Africa have diverse and close relations. South Africa is a strategic partner country of Switzerland and is one of Switzerland’s most important economic partners on the African continent. Priorities of cooperation are economic development as well as science and research.

Economic cooperation

South Africa is one of Switzerland’s most important economic partners on the African continent. The bilateral trade volume reached approximately CHF 1.3 billion in 2014. Switzerland primarily imported precious metals, in particular platinum, while South Africa imports pharmaceuticals, machines, precision instruments and watches. In 2014, Switzerland was the seventh-largest foreign investor in South Africa. South Africa receives more tourists from Switzerland than from any other European country.
More than 100 Swiss companies have subsidiaries or production sites in South Africa, creating approximately 33,000 jobs. A Swiss Business Hub for promoting trade and investment is integrated in the Swiss embassy in Pretoria.


Business language

English, Afrikaans.

Dimensions and weights

Metric system.


National currency Rand (R) = 100 Cents (c).

ISO code: ZAR

Customs tariff

Harmonised system, customs clearance based on the transaction value.


Import control

Goods for which licences are required are published by the customs office in lists ( The licence number and expiry date must be indicated on all shipping documents for these goods. The licence must have been obtained before the goods are dispatched. Goods for which licences are required but for which there is no valid licence that arrive in South African ports will be seized. We would very much advise against the shipment of goods for which authorisation is required without an import licence. This will be viewed as illegal imports.

Standard VAT rate: 14%

Foreign currency controls are gradually being relaxed. Nationals are allowed to hold foreign currency accounts.

Terms of payment and tenders

Usually an irrevocable, confirmed letter of credit. Documents against payment is possible where there is a good business relationship.

Foreign currencies can only be provided to importers once evidence of shipment has been provided. Invoices in EUR, GBP or USD fob European ports.

Correspondence should fundamentally be in English. Tenders and commercial invoices must be prepared in English.

Designations of origin

If the presentation, markings or labelling of the goods could give the impression that the brand is South African or is in any way misleading, the goods and their packaging must bear the country of origin (“Made in …”).


There are labelling regulations for goods including silver-plated items, disinfectants, foods, cosmetics and agricultural tools.

Use standard markings (sender, recipient, net and gross weight) and indicate the name of the country of origin.


Do not use hay and straw where possible. Ensure that the packaging is sufficient. Seaworthy packaging, transport boxes and crates made of healthy wood, inspection on arrival and under certain circumstances compulsory disinfection. There are special regulations on the signing of boxes. Ask the importer or freight forwarder. Boxes to continue transportation in South Africa via rail must be labelled with the full address of the recipient. This will be carried out by the railway administration for a small fee if it is missing.

ISPM no. 15 applicable.

Product samples

In practice, small quantities are permitted duty free if they merely demonstrate the quality and nature of the goods. A special sample invoice in English is required if samples with a retail value are delivered without a charge being made. Obtaining information from the Chamber of Industry and Commerce is advisable. Carnet-ATA procedure possible.

Shipping and accompanying documents

Standard and

a) Commercial invoices, 1 copy with the standard information such as the addresses of the buyer and the seller, an indication of the ship, the port of destination, a description of the goods, weights, sales price (FOB value), application number and date, customs tariff number, terms of delivery – information in English. The following must be indicated on textiles: name and address of the indent agent or where applicable the confirming house and the supplier’s sample number. A sample of 15 cm x 8 cm must also be attached to each copy of the invoice. The sample must be marked with a sample of insoluble paint showing the name of the supplier and the sample number, which must comply with the number on the invoice.

b) Bills of lading do not require certification.

c) Certificates of origin from the Chamber of Industry and Commerce are not required but a Declaration of Origin for the export of goods to the Republic of South Africa, 3 copies, is required if there are various different customs rates for goods and the preferential rate of duty wants to be achieved; to be signed by the exporter (preprinted form DA 59).

d) As evidence of the preferential origin: movement certificate EUR. 1 for shipments where the products come under the free trade agreement with the EU. EUR 1 for shipments up to a value of EUR 6.000. The following declaration must be made in this case: “The exporter of the goods to which this commercial document refers declares that these goods, unless otherwise specified, are preferential goods”. The movement certificate EUR. 1 is required for shipments with a value of more than EUR 6.000. The exporter fills in the form, the customs office issues it. “Authorised exporters” can use the above mentioned declaration of origin on commercial documents including for shipments over a value of EUR 6.000 after they have been approved by the competent central customs office.

e) For postal items up to 31.5 kg: 1 international dispatch note, 2 customs declaration in English, 1 commercial invoice, signed.