What is an Import Export License?

It is a number or code that is given to the client when they register at customs as an importer or exporter or both.
It is also called a customs code or CNN number.
It allows an individual or business to clear goods through customs and to make international payments for imported/exported goods.

When is an Import Export License needed?

Practically: when the value is above R10 000 or you have im/exported more than 3 times customs may ask for a license.
If you want to make/receive an international payment for im/exported goods through your bank (if credit card it is not needed but then you have high forex costs)

How long does an import / export license take?

Customs official turnaround time is 10 working days after submission. 95% are in this time and normally before the 10 days.
Reasons for delays may be customs bank authentication taking longer, customs changing systems, customs staff shortages, year end.

For us to submit we need all documents from client by email and courier. If the courier arrives before 10am submissions are done the same day, otherwise the next day.

What do I get once registered?

Your custom’s import and/or export code will be emailed to you.
Customs will send the original to the postal address provided on the affidavit. If it does not arrive after a month we can request an electronic copy for the client.

Import, Export or Both?


Once off registration, more expensive to get other one later and need to redo all the admin work again which has a time cost
You never know when you may need it – for export code if you want to send something back or get a refund, for import code if you buy something you want off Amazon.
When you need it there is normally time pressure, better to get it done before you need it.

Why are we the go-to-guys for Import /Export License?

Guaranteed service – we will get the license
Fast as possible – submissions are made to the national customs hub to speed up response time and reduce missing applications.
6 years of building relationships with customs – if customs looses or delays your application we know who to call to get it done.
100% online
One stop shop for all other accounting and business secretarial services

Do I need to be VAT registered?


Does the Import / Export License expire?

At the moment it is a permanent life long license, however customs may change that to renewing every 3 years in future

Are there yearly fees applicable to have the license?


Can I use one license to import /export different goods or do I need a separate license for each item?

One license covers all goods except some regulated goods that require an additional permit.

Can I use one license to import /export to/from different countries or do I need one license for each country?

One license covers all countries, however if you export to Europe or Southern Africa or agricultural goods to America then you need an extra certificate for tax savings.

What is the maximum amount of goods that I can import?

No maximum.

Does the license allow you to get lower duties?


Who do you have to provide the Import / Export License to?

Your clearing agent or freight agent or customs (if you clear the goods yourself) or the bank for international payments.

If the business was dormant for more than a year can you apply?

If you have paid your annual CIPC renewal fees then yes. If not and CIPC has deregistered you then you will first need to re-register on CIPC

Can a foreigner get an Import / Export License?

Yes, there are 2 scenarios 1. they have a SA bank account and a SA address, license is done as per normal 2. if not they need to have a nominated agent in SA

Can I use someone else’s Import / Export License?

No, the name on the commercial invoice and the import/export license need to match, otherwise customs will not clear your goods.