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I was in South Africa in November 2019.



Africa > South Africa > Useful Info
Submitted on Aug 02, 2020 Useful Info

A complete guide on how to do tourist VAT refunds in South Africa

  • All foreign tourists can get up to 15% VAT refund on purchases made in South Africa with the following conditions.
  • You are a foreign tourist and have exported goods worth more than R250 from South Africa.
  • Goods were exported within 90 days after purchase.
  • You submitted your refund request to the VAT refund administrator (VRA) within 90 days after export.
  • The refund request is accompanied together with the appropriate documents:
  • Tax invoices
  • Passport
  • Boarding pass
  • Goods were exported through the 43 designated departure points. The office of the VRA is only physically present at OR Tambo, Cape Town, and King Shaka international airport.
  • If the VRA is not physically present at the exit point you used you must apply for VAT refunds in writing ( postal refund claim).
  • You can also apply for a postal refund claim if you get to the airport late and cannot pass through customs and VRA officials.
  • VAT refunds only apply for goods, not services.

The process

  • After you shop, identify yourself to the shop assistant as a foreign tourist and ask for a tax invoice. It's not necessary to keep receipts unless you but goods worth more than R 10000.
  • On your departure date present all goods to customs in the departure halls for inspection. High-value goods may be double inspected by both customs and VRA officials in the duty-free area.
  • If you're applying for refunds by writing and could not pass through customs and VRA officials in South Africa, you must include an export declaration form. Customs officials in your home country should sign this form to prove that goods were imported from South Africa.
  • Claim your refund at the VAT refund office.
  • A VAT refund card will be issued to you. Your refund money will be loaded directly on this card. You can withdraw the refund at any ATM that accepts MasterCard ATM cards. This is the only way to get money from the card, you can't use it to pay bills, etc.
  • The refund takes between 3 days for an amount less than R3000 and up to 3 months for higher amounts.
  • Use up all the money within a year of getting your card. The card expires in 12 months and is not renewable.
  • Money cannot be transferred from the refund card to any other card.
  • You'll be given a new VAT refund card if you visit South Africa again and qualify for a refund. The VAT refund cards are not reloadable.