Customs Licenses, Registrations and Rulings

          What a boring subject, right! Nobody I know dreams of the moment when they need to review their licencing and registration particulars with SARS. Well, neither does SARS, but guess what? Every now and again, someone at SARS Customs queries the status of your licence or registration particulars. When this happens, it will feel like a rude awakening. It usually happens when your company details have changed and nobody has notified SARS of the changes. This is why the subject deserves attention. Outdated information may result in shipments being held back and penalties being issued.

          While most licencing and registration types are open ended (i.e. valid indefinitely), some (licencing) are term based. Term based licencing currently relate to excise operations, searching for wrecks, depot operators, clearing agents, bonded removers, and Customs warehousing in an IDZ (Industrial Development Zone). Until now, importer and exporter registrations have being open-ended. In the future, most open ended licencing and registration types will terminate if not utilised for a period of three consecutive years.

          Going forward, the validity of company particulars will also affect the Clearance Instructions. For example, if personnel who are authorised to sign Clearance Instructions resign from your organisation or if role changes are made in the company division, you will need to update the authorised signatory with SARS (for Clearance Instruction purpose).

          Customs Rulings are also referred to as Determinations. Rulings or Determinations come in several forms namely TDN (Tariff Determinations), VDN (Value Determinations), and ROO (Rules of Original Determinations). Rulings are essentially decisions which were made by SARS Customs on your company or products. Such decisions are legally binding. You should review these (if you have any) on an annual basis.

For example, review for product changes on a TDN, a change in supplier or valuation details on a VDN, or a change in the level of manufacture of a product in the country of origin for a COO Determination. Advance Rulings are featured in the new legislation. These fall into the same category.

          In the future, all Customs Rulings or Determinations will expire every three years. For Determinations to remain valid, new applications will need to be made prior to expiry thereof.

          There are many different types of licencing, registration, determination and designation (another term used by Customs to define IDZ operations) types. Each of these will have their own specific adherence requirements. More information about these can be found in the current SARS SOP titled Licencing Registration and Designation number SC-CF-19 on the SARS website www.sars.gov.za, search under “Find a Publication”.

          Also don’t forget to review the validity of your securities (i.e. bonds) lodged with SARS, if you have any.  Registrations will soon be done via e-filing. 

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