How do Customs Procedure ‘Codes’ work?

            Customs Procedure Codes (CPC) consist of three parts. The first part is the Procedure “Category” Code (PCC), for example:

Category Description
A Home Use Procedure
B National and International Transit
C Transhipment Procedure
D Temporary Admission
E Warehousing Procedure
F Stores Procedure
G Tax Free Shops Procedure
H Export Procedure
I Temporary Export and Re-Importation
J Inward Processing Procedure
K Processing for Home Use
L Outward Processing Procedure

            The second part of the code is the Requested Procedure Code (RPC). This is the “Purpose” of the Customs declaration (examples to follow).

            The third part of the code is the Previous Procedure Code (PPC). This is the code of the “Previous” Customs declaration used in the movement of goods under Customs control.

“But don’t worry too much about the acronyms…”

            But don’t worry too much about the acronyms namely PCC, RPC and PPC. Your only real objective is to have a broad understanding of how the CPC and their intended use works. Here is an example of the three parts of a code for A11.00 (Home Use of goods, on imported goods):

Procedure Category Requested Procedure  Previous Procedure
A 11* 00
Home Use Home use on goods, of imported goods None

*The “1”  series generally means Home Use goods

In this example, the Previous Procedure is “00”. Whenever you see a “00”, it means that there was no Previous Procedure. In other words, there was no previous Customs clearance for the goods being cleared.

            Taking this example further, if you had cleared the goods directly into a bonded warehouse (E – Warehouse Procedure), and you subsequently cleared the goods out of the warehouse as Home Use goods (A – Home Use Procedure), the codes would look as follows:

  Procedure Category Requested Procedure  Previous Procedure
First Clearance E 40* 00
Ware-housing Clearance of imported goods into a customs warehouse under the Warehousing procedure None
Second Clearance A 11 40*
Home Use Home Use of goods… …previously placed under the Warehousing procedure

*The “4”  series generally means Warehouse goods

Notice the “40” in each of the two codes. In the first clearance, the “40” (because of its centre position) means that the goods are being placed into a bonded warehouse. In the second clearance the “40” (now at the end position) means that the goods are being taken out of the bonded warehouse where they were initially cleared. The “11”, which now takes precedence in the centre position, means that the goods are being cleared for Home Use. One needs to have an understanding of how the codes work and how the positioning of the codes affect the status of goods.

            For those accustomed to the traditional Purpose Codes, the first clearance (E40.00) would be WH (Warehouse) and the second clearance (A11.40) an XDP (Ex Duty Paid).

            In terms of the Customs clearance declaration, the Procedure Category is cleared at header level. The remainder of the code is cleared at line level.

            For a full list of codes visit the SARS website and search for “Customs Procedure Poster” under the link “Find A Publication” on the home page.


What Are Customs Procedure Codes?

            Customs Procedure Codes (CPC) are not easily explained yet, how they work is fairly simple.

            “Procedure” Codes replace the old “Purpose” Codes. The codes follow a common format and common set of rules which all parties can follow. They are designed to indicate the “Purpose” of an import or export Customs declaration. For example, if you intend importing goods for domestic consumption in a free market environment (i.e. free movement of goods), we term this as Duty Paid (Code DP) goods. In the new Customs Acts the corresponding CPC is Home Use (Code A11.00) goods. The tax status of such goods (in this example) is that duty and VAT will be paid upon clearance for importation. Here are some examples of the old Purpose Codes (for imports):




Duty Paid


Industrial Rebate




Ex Duty Paid


Removal In Bond

Here are the corresponding new CPC (for imports):

Old Code


New Description



Home Use of goods, on imported goods



Placement of goods under the ‘Processing for Home Use’ procedure



Clearance of imported goods into a customs warehouse under the ‘Warehousing’ procedure



Home Use’ of goods, previously placed under the ‘Warehousing’ procedure



National Transit of goods ‘removed in bond’ from port/place of arrival, to place of destination inside the Republic, or a bonded warehouse in a BLNS* country

*BLNS (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland)

            The coding and wording of the CPC can be a bit confusing at first. I will explain these in more detail as I continue blogging.

            The CPC (the coding) is designed to follow the Customs supply chain in a way that links different movement procedures together; for Customs control purposes. It provides the Customs authorities with the ability to manage the supply chain using a systems approach.

            Importers and exporters use the CPC on the Customs Clearing Instructions to guide their Customs Clearing Agents. Customs Clearing Agents in turn use the CPC (as instructed by their clients) on the Customs Clearance Declaration forms (i.e. the SAD 500).

            In summary, the Tax Status of goods, including the Customs obligations and liabilities of parties during the movement of goods can be determined by understanding the Customs Procedure Codes.