Import Control

Import and Export Control measures are applied to enforce health, environmental, security and safety, and technical standards that arise from domestic laws and International Agreements such as the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, and the 1988 UN Convention Against the Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. The import and export control measures or restrictions are limited to those allowed under the relevant World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreements.
Out of approximately 6 650 tariff lines in the South African version of the International Harmonised Commodity Description and Coding System, there are 276 tariff lines under import control and 177 tariff lines that are under export control. However, for the importation of all used or second-hand goods, an import permit is required.

The list of goods that are subject to import control are available here.

The role of the Import and Export Control Unit

As mentioned above, the key role of Import and Export Control is essentially to enforce health, environmental, security and safety, and technical standards that arise from domestic laws and International Agreements.

Enforcement and inspections are conducted to ensure effective compliance with the conditions contained in permits, compliance with provision of the Regulations and for detection of contraventions of the Act.

Import Control

If you want to import controlled or used and second-hand personal or individual goods into South Africa, you need permission from ITAC.

To import such goods, you have to apply to ITAC for an import permit.
In the administration of the relevant provisions of the ITA Act, by Import and Export Control a distinction is drawn between the importation of new goods and used goods, second-hand and waste and scrap.

Some of the products subject to import control include:

Radioactive chemical elements
Control is exercised to assist the Department of Health (radiation control) to control and monitoring the importation of radioactive isotapes and chemical elements for medical and industrial purposes.

New pneumatic tyres
Control is exercised to assist the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) in ensuring that all new pneumatic tyres comply with the safety/quality specification and that tyres have been subjected to a process of homolation.

Chemicals listed in the 1988 Convention
Control is exercised to assist the SAPS in ensuring that importers/exporters of listed chemicals are recorded and the movements of these chemicals are adequately monitored as required by the Convention.

Fossil fuels
Fossil fuels are controlled to assist the Department of Mineral Resources in regulating the industry for purposes of promoting efficient manufacturing, wholesaling and retailing of petroleum products, creating an environment for investment, and creating small business and employment opportunities in the industry.

Arms and ammunition
Arms and ammunition is controlled to assist the SAPS with maintaining safety and security.

Gambling devices
Gambling devices are controlled for social reasons and quality. It is also done to assist the National Gambling Board in the development of the industry with specific reference to manufacturing and Information Technology and to ensure compliance with NRCS specifications.

Used goods

  • Used electronic equipment
    Used electronic equipment is controlled to assist the Department of Environmental Affairs to address the problem of dumping electronic waste.
  • Used medical equipment
    Used medical equipment is controlled to assist the Department of Health to address the problem of inferior quality used medical equipment being imported, such as used x-ray machines.
  • Used aircraft
    The importation of used aircraft is controlled to assist the Civil Aviation Authority and ensuring that the requirements of airworthiness have been complied with.
  • Waste and scrap
    Waste and scrap is controlled as the generation of waste and scrap exceeds recycling programmes resulting in many developed countries paying developing countries for receiving waste and scrap for purpose of landfill. In many instances the importation of waste and scrap is allowed as a raw material for manufacturing purposes such as waste paper, glass, rubber and lead. In all these instances, the provisions of the Basel Convention must be complied with.


The following legislation and provisions applies to an importer or exporter only in cases where an import and export permit is required: International Trade Administration Act, 2002, (Act 71 of 2002).

Customs and Excise Act, 1964, (Act 91 of 1964).
Promotion to Administrative Justice Act, 2000, (Act 3 of 2000).
Promotion to Access to Information Act, 2000, (Act 2 of 2000).

How to apply and the processing procedures

Import Permits

The application forms for Import Permits are found here. Applications can be emailed to the respective officials as per the contact list or delivered directly to the office, the office address is found here.

The turnaround time for processing applications is, on average, three to five working days. In some instances, the applications require support documentation from other departments (DEA, Mineral Resources Energy, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, NRCS and SAPS), depending on the product in question.