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New System Cuts Delays in Customs Clearance

Friday, 23 August 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Author: Amanda Visser (BDlive)
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Author: Amanda Visser (BDlive)

A new automated customs management system introduced by the South African Revenue Service (SARS) will eliminate lengthy delays and reduce red tape at the country’s border posts.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan unveiled a new digital system on Thursday that would centralise the clearing of all import and export declarations and would use a single process engine.

The R350m system is estimated to reduce border turnaround times from two hours to six minutes on average, and inspection processing from eight hours to two hours, with mountains of paper being eliminated.

The new system became fully operational last weekend and dealt with more than 500,000 consignments and close to 100,000 import and export declarations without any glitch.

Goods with a total value of R40bn moved through South Africa’s borders since implementation on Saturday afternoon, Mr Gordhan announced at a press conference in Johannesburg on Thursday.

SARS acting commissioner Ivan Pillay said the system was bound to increase South Africa’s competitiveness and decrease the cost of doing business. The Durban Citrus Growers’ Association has estimated that border delays in the region during 2010 cost growers $10m each season.

More than 4-million containers with goods worth R2.5-trillion moved across South Africa’s borders during the 2012-13 fiscal year, with SARS handling 16-million pieces of paper to process 5.5-million declarations.

Several industry players, including auditing firm Deloitte, the South African Association of Freight Forwarders (SAAFF), Bidvest Panalpinia Logistics and Samsung hailed the system as "world class" and described its introduction as a milestone in South Africa’s customs history.

SAAFF CEO David Logan said the sheer size of the system made collaboration with traders and businesses imperative.

Jed Michaletos, tax director at Deloitte, said the system will help South Africa to truly be the gateway to Africa.



Section 240A of the Tax Administration Act, 2011 (as amended) requires that all tax practitioners register with a recognized controlling body before 1 July 2013. It is a criminal offense to not register with both a recognized controlling body and SARS.

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