How to Claim VAT Refunds in South Africa

By | April 25, 2023

Value Added Tax (VAT) is a tax levied on goods and services sold in South Africa.

If you are a foreigner visiting South Africa for business purposes, you may be entitled to claim back Value-Added Tax (VAT) paid on goods and services purchased during your stay. 

This article will serve as a guide providing a step-by-step process on how to claim VAT refunds in South Africa.

What are VAT Refunds?

Before delving into the process of claiming VAT refunds, it is essential to understand what VAT refunds are and who is eligible for them. 

VAT refunds are the returns given on the value-added tax paid on goods and services by foreign tourists or businesses. 

It is also applicable for South African residents traveling abroad for business purposes. It is important to note that only VAT paid on certain goods can be claimed for a refund. 

These goods include clothing, souvenirs, and electronic items. VAT refunds cannot be claimed for services such as accommodation or car rental.

Who Qualifies for a VAT Refund?

To be eligible for a VAT refund, the following criteria must be met:

  • The refund claim must be for more than R250.
  • The goods must be exported within 90 days from the date of purchase.
  • The VAT refund claim must be submitted within 90 days from the date of purchase.
  • The goods must be in the possession of the person claiming the refund at the time of departure.

How to Claim VAT Refunds

The process of claiming VAT refunds in South Africa can be broken down into the following steps:

1. Collect Tax Invoices

To claim a VAT refund, the purchaser must obtain a tax invoice from the retailer. The invoice should show the VAT charged on the purchase, the name and address of the retailer, and the date of purchase.

2. Declare Goods at Customs

The next step is to declare the goods at customs upon departure. The purchaser must present the tax invoices, the goods, and a valid passport to the customs officer.

3. Obtain Customs Endorsement

After presenting the necessary documents to the customs officer, they will stamp the tax invoices and issue a VAT refund control sheet.

4. Submit Refund Claim

Once the purchaser has received the customs endorsement, they can then submit the VAT refund claim to the VAT refund administrator. The refund claim should include the VAT refund control sheet, the tax invoices, and the purchaser’s bank details.

5. Receive VAT Refund

If the VAT refund claim is approved, the purchaser will receive the refund in their bank account within a few weeks.

You can claim your VAT refund at the VAT refund administration office at the airport, seaport, or border post. 

You will need to present the stamped VAT invoices, original receipts, and your passport. The VAT refund administration office will process your refund and pay you in the currency of your choice.

Claiming VAT refunds in South Africa is a relatively straightforward process. Eligible tourists and businesses must ensure that they collect tax invoices, declare goods at customs, obtain customs endorsement, and submit the refund claim within 90 days from the date of purchase. 

With these steps, tourists and businesses can claim back the VAT paid on their purchases, making their trips or operations in South Africa more cost-effective.

RELATED POST: How to submit your VAT return online in South Africa

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