If you as a traveller are asking: “What are the customs requirements when travelling to Swaziland” or “what are the border-crossing procedures when entering Swaziland?” – then look no further, we’ve prepared a few pointers here based on the Swaziland Revenue Authority brochure ” Importing goods from South Africa”.
Although passing through our borders can generally be a satisfactory experience, it could be a testing one if you’re not aware of the Customs’ procedures. Please note that this is our own interpretation and not a word-for-word copy of the Swaziland Revenue Authority Procedures. Feel free to visit their website or contact them directly.
Tax free allowances:
Returning residents and visitors entering Swaziland may bring in new goods for their own consumption (not intended for sale or other commercial purposes) to the value of E 1,000.00 per individual, and E 2,000.00 per family travelling together (one such importation per day). Additional new goods above these allowances are liable for 14% V.A.T.
Visitors to Swaziland:
Visitors may be allowed to temporarily import their personal belongings without paying VAT, for example: laptops, cameras, recreational and camping equipment etc. In some cases they may be required to complete a Temporary Importation Permit. If temporarily imported goods are disposed of in Swaziland, V.A.T will be payable.
Note: our observation as locals is that a form for temporary importation purposes is only presented by the border posts between Swaziland and Mozambique, and not between South Africa and Swaziland, although you can request them.
So after having stamped your passport, look for the Customs desk and ask for a Baggage Declaration Form (see below). Fill this in and present your gate pass to the Customs official. They will write the value of your declaration on the back of your gate pass, which is then used by the Customs officer at the gate to eyeball your baggage. If you don’t declare anything or if you declare a very small sum, and the Customs Officer feels that your declaration does not match the packets/boxes of new-looking goods in your car, you are likely to be subjected to a thorough search and required to present receipts for all new goods. As this is likely to take time, or lead to penalties if you have under-declared and concealed goods, the moral of the story is: always make a reasonable declaration to avoid undue attention.
This is what the form looks like:
Prohibitions and Restrictions:
Dangerous drugs (narcotics), endangered species (or parts thereof). Live animals, arms and ammunition are subject to import controls and must be declared. There are importing restrictions of dairy products, meat, fruits, vegetables and plants: please declare them to an officer and seek advice on the requirements.
Goods not declared fully or presented with false invoices will be detained and subject to forfeiture. Persons evading V.A.T may also be prosecuted in the country’s courts and subject to penalties or fines and possibly imprisonment.
Goods that are exempt from Sales Tax/VAT:
- Meat (including offal)- fresh or frozen
- Fish ( excluding crustaceans and molluscs)- fresh, frozen or canned.
- Dairy products (incl. eggs and powdered milk)
- Maize, wheat, rice, sorghum, malt, peanuts and beans.
- Plain bread
- Flours, meals and sprouts of maize, wheat, rice, sorghum and malt.
- Sugar and salt.
- Fresh fruit and vegetables- fresh or dried.
- Medical drugs, medicines and medicinal preparations for therapeutic or prophylactic use.
- Spectacles and lenses for the correction of abnormal eyesight.
Note: this list will need to verified after the 1st April 2012 when Sales Tax gives way for VAT as there are likely to be some changes.
The long and short of it is: that the border crossing into Swaziland is one of easiest on the continent, so don’t stress too much. Wear a nice smile and be polite to all Immigration and Customs officials… and you’ll be amazed what a difference that makes. They work long shifts and deal with hundreds of people. Politeness and smiles are as infectious as grumpiness and impatience – so make sure you’re helping us to spread the right attitude.