Claiming Value Added Tax


As a visitor to South Africa, if you spend R250 or more on goods intended for export, you may claim a VAT refund. Follow the procedure below to claim your money before you leave South Africa.

VAT Refund Applications

What is VAT?

Currently set at 14%, Value Added Tax (VAT) is included in the price of most goods and services. Foreign visitors are not exempt from paying VAT on purchased goods. They may, however, claim back VAT paid on items taken out of the country when the total valued exceeds R250. The refund may be lodged with the VAT Refund Administrator’s offices, which are situated in Johannesburg and Cape Town International Airports, various land border posts and designated commercial harbours. Note that the refund claim should only be lodged with the South African Customs Authorities at points of departure where the VAT Refund Administrator is not present.

Who Can Claim?

Foreign passport holders (South African Passport holders are excluded from the Scheme) who travel to the Republic of South Africa on a non-resident travel document and export moveable goods from the Republic of South Africa.

How to Go About Claiming Your Refund

Simply identify yourself as a tourist to shop assistants, and request a tax invoice for the goods you have purchased. A Tax Invoice must contain all the following information:

  • The amount of VAT charged, or a statement that VAT is included in the total cost of the goods.
  • The quantity and full description of the goods purchased.
  • A unique serialised tax invoice number.
  • The buyer’s name and address.
  • The amount of VAT charged, or a statement to the effect that VAT at the rate of 14% is included in the total cost of the goods.

What documentation do you need to claim a VAT refund?

You need an original tax invoice reflecting the seller’s name, address VAT registration number, invoice number, your name and full postal address, a complete description of the item/s purchased, the cost of the item/s in Rand with the VAT reflected separately or the cost including VAT with a statement that the price includes VAT.

NOTE: Carbon copies, photocopied copies or facsimiles of the original tax invoices are not acceptable. You must insist on the correct documentation when purchasing an item.
You must hold a foreign passport reflecting your country of residence/citizenship as other than South Africa.

What procedure must be followed when claiming a VAT refund?

When departing from South Africa, you must present the tax invoices, together with all the items on which a VAT refund is claimed, at the VAT Refund Administration for inspection and endorsement of the tax invoices.

NOTE: It is essential that all items on which VAT refunds are claimed, are presented for examination. If you cannot display the items and documents, you will not obtain a VAT Refund.

How to claim VAT if a problem was experienced at the airport

The information hereunder is an extrapolation from the website of the VAT Administrator. Additional information as to detailed guidelines and the correct forms as well as time frames for submission can be obtained from

  • Due to circumstances, some travellers are not able to process their VAT refunds prior to departure from South Africa.
  • It is possible to have the VAT refund forms stamped by the Customs Officer of the travellers’ home country on arrival.
  • It is further possible to have the form stamped at any South African Representation Office abroad (Embassy, High Commission or Consulate) provided the goods are presented for inspection together with the relevant invoices.

The relevant Office does not assume any responsibility for the posting of the application nor for the processing of the application.

Send the above to the following address:
(remember to keep copies for your own records)

P O BOX 107
Johannesburg International Airport Post Office
South Africa
Attention: Werner van Loggerenberg

If you have any further enquiries you can contact them at:

Telephone: + 27 11 394 1117
Facsimile: +27 11 394 1430

  • When the claim is submitted it is very important that you indicate in which currency the refund is required.
  • Please be patient this process can take from two to three months.

Third Payment Option

It should be noted that the VAT Refund Administrator has recently introduced a third payment option whereby the claimant can elect to have the VAT refund directly transferred to his/her credit card. The transfer will be effected within 2 working days after submitting the claim (in cases where the VAT refund is less than R3000) or in the case of amounts exceeding R3000, the transfer will be done once the claim has been audited by the South African Revenue Service, which may take anything between 4 to 6 weeks. The standard fee charged by the bank for the credit card transfer is R28 irrespective of the value of the refund. For more information about this payment option, email

Cape Town International Airport Produce goods prior to check-in at the VAT Inspection of Customs Counter clearly sign-posted in the Departure Hall. Hand luggage may be inspected at the VAT Refund Office after immigration At VAT Refund Office Checks issued may be cashed for foreign currency at airport banking facilities
Cape Town Harbour Present goods for inspection at Customs and request a Customs official to endorse the Tax Invoice The endorsed tax invoice, copy of tourists’ passport and postal address should be mailed to:
VAT Refund Administrator
P.O. Box 107
Johannesburg International Airport Office
Postal VAT refund claims will be paid by bank draft and posted to the tourist’s country of residence in the currency of that country