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To determine the value of goods that are traded across South Africa’s borders, SARS Customs & Excise rely on the integrity of the commercial invoices issued for these transactions. When determining the validity of a commercial invoice , there is a stringent list of requirements to be met, the most common of which we shall explore below.

Lingua franca

Customs and Excise requires presentation of an original invoice from the supplier of the goods, showing all particulars in one of the official languages. Importers are urged to review their suppliers invoices currently presented to Customs for clearance and, if necessary, will have to instruct suppliers to provide original invoices in English. Should this not be possible this it is required that and translation to English is provided by an authorised translation service.

Full Disclosure

The invoice must be true, correct & sufficient to determine the value of the consignment and should include disclose any items that have an affect the the FOB value of the goods, these items are listed but not limited to the items mention in 4 (a) of Section 41 of the Customs Act.

“All particulars necessary to make a valid entry and all particulars in respect of the transaction value or of any commission, discount, cost, charge, expense, royalty, freight, duty, tax, drawback, refund, rebate, remission or other information whatever which relates to and has a bearing on such value shall be declared by the exporter in any prescribed invoice in respect of any imported goods and such particulars shall, except where the Commissioner otherwise determines, relate to the final amount of such transaction value”

Contract of Sale

The commercial should clearly state the contract of sale under which the transaction has taken place. This contract should be stated in the form of an Incoterm, preferable in the correct format which would include the year, and place e.g. CIP 2010 (Cape Town). The Contract of sale is mentioned in the paragraph c, section 39 of the Customs Act

“The said person shall further produce the transport document or such other document in lieu thereof as may be approved by the Commissioner, invoices as prescribed, shipper’s statement of expenses incurred by him, copy of the confirmation of sale or other contract of purchase and sale, importer’s written clearing instructions,”

Addressing the above and making sure the commercial invoices satisfy the above requirements is a sure way to ensure that clearance’s run smoothly and complications can be avoided.