Learn about the Customs Clearance Process

Learn about the Customs Clearance Process

The Customs Clearance Process: 4 Steps

What is involved in the Customs Clearance Process and what actually takes place in a customs office? These burning questions can sometimes be a barrier to successful cross-border trading businesses because any overseas cargo must pass customs before it can be delivered to the customer.

To expedite cargo transit into and out of a country, customs clearance is the act of electronically declaring goods through the appropriate customs authority (export). To expedite exports and imports into a country, customs clearance also entails drafting and submitting the necessary documentation. 

Blackie’s Consultants assists clients in preparing and submitting all the required customs paperwork to ensure that clients’ goods cross borders as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. 

The Definition: Customs Clearance Process

SARS defines it as follows:  “The clearance process includes accepting and checking the goods declaration against the documents produced (invoice, bill of lading, certificate of origin, permits, etc.), examination of the goods if necessary, and the assessment and collection of duty and VAT. “

Customs may ask for samples and supplementary information. Additionally, customs may hold items for other government agencies. The relevant government department will then ensure that all applicable laws, rules, and regulations are followed. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) valuation code, which includes six valuation methodologies, determines customs values.

In general, the customs clearance process can be divided into four steps. This is what happens at customs when cargo arrives.

  1. Your customs documentation is examined by a customs officer. The invoice, certificate of origin, relevant permits, etc., must be accurate and comprehensive to pass this first step.

After customs verified the above documents are correct and valid, they will compare them to the declaration documents relating to the intended movement.

The list includes:

–  SAD500 (Customs declaration form)

– SAD 502 (Transit control form if applicable)

– SAD 505 (Bond control form if applicable)

– Road Freight Manifest and driver’s passport (for road freight), Bill of Lading (sea) / Air Waybill (air), or Rail Manifest (rail)   

  1. Customs documentation is used to calculate import duties and taxes. The type of commodities, their cost, and the particular import laws in the recipient country all affect the import fees.

Every country levies import fees and taxes on items that pass its boundaries. This contributes to economic growth, environmental protection, and community well-being.

Import duties and the specific rate of duties are stipulated in the Harmonised System of Tariff/Commodity Codes. Some commodities or Commodity Codes may attract more than one rate of duty in different schedules. Once the classification was done for commodities and the correct Tariff/Commodity Codes were identified, the rate of duty will be calculated as stipulated. This may include value and statistical quantities, e.g. weight, number of litres, and/or percentage (%). Rules of Origin and trade agreements will also play a role in the rate of duty calculations.

Due to the trade agreements between the SACU Member States (Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, and Eswatini), Tariff/Commodity Codes must be used when clearing goods for statistical purposes. However, there are no duties on commodities originating from the export member state imported into another member state.  

  1. If appropriate, customs seeks payment for taxes and duties. The customs officer determines whether duty and taxes have been paid if your consignment exceeds the tax threshold. Additionally, some restricted commodities may be subject to fees regardless of their value. It is recommended that sellers prepay duties for a smooth delivery experience. However, ultimately it is determined based on the agreement between the buyer and seller
  1. Once all duties have been paid, your cargo clears customs. The goods can then be transported to their destination after customs clearance is complete.

As a side note, one must also consider getting the relevant information on the port procedures of the border, harbour, or airport the goods will be entering or departing from.  

How do Blackie’s Consultants make the process easier?

Blackie’s Consultants is a highly specialised and fully licensed Customs Clearing Agency. Our brokers assist in quickly and accurately completing and submitting the paperwork required to move goods across borders to the appropriate authorities.

From an average of 48 hours to 8 hours, our consultants can obtain approval to cross the border! To request assistance from Blackie’s Consultants, simply complete a clearance instruction which will be used to start the process by correctly classifying the goods being transported across borders.

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