How To Refund Vat In South Africa

By | October 29, 2021

What is a VAT refund? 

A VAT refund is an amount of VAT that was charged (increased from 14% to 15% from 1 April 2018) by a vendor and paid by a qualifying purchaser, on the acquisition of goods in South Africa. The qualifying purchase must be in South Africa at the time of acquisition and must also export the goods from South Africa.   

The VAT refund will only be applicable to the acquisition of goods and not on the acquisition of services i.e. the VAT charged at 15% on any acquisition of services, such as transport and accommodation, will not qualify for a refund. For more info on the process for VAT refunds for vendors, click here. Notional Input Tax and Open Market Value will be considered for refund on registrable goods and other second hand goods, for more information please refer to the VAT Act.

Who may claim a VAT refund? 

A qualifying purchaser is entitled to claim a VAT refund. In this regard, a ‘qualifying purchaser’ is a person who is not a registered vendor and who is according to the Export Regulations a:

  • tourist;
  • foreign diplomat;
  • foreign enterprise;
  • non-resident of the Republic;
  • any –
    • international organisation established in terms of a Constitutive Act, a constitution or a charter for the purposes of promoting peace and security, human and people’s rights and political and social-economic development or any similar purpose; or
    • o organisation which is similar to an association not for gain or welfare organisation which is registered as such in that export country
    • and established in an export country and not conducting any activity in the Republic; or
    • for purposes of Part Two – Section A, a person who is not a resident of the Republic who acquires goods from a vendor in the Republic with the sole purpose of selling those goods to another person who is not a resident of the Republic.

For more info on VAT refunds for vendors, click here.  

How do I claim a VAT refund? 

A qualifying purchaser, may claim a VAT refund by submitting such claim to the VAT Refund Administrator (Pty) Ltd (the VRA). The qualifying purchaser must first declare the goods to a customs official at the designated commercial port of departure from South Africa. The tax invoice for goods that are not kept as hand luggage must be endorsed by the customs official and a VRA official if the VRA has a physical presence at the commercial port. If the VRA does not have a physical presence, you must apply in writing to the VRA. See the list of commercial ports further down. 

When will a VAT refund be considered? 

A VAT refund will be considered if the following requirements are met:

  • The purchaser must be a qualifying purchaser.
  • The goods must be exported within 90 days from the date of the tax invoice subject to certain exceptions.
  • The VAT inclusive total of all movable goods purchased during a particular visit to the RSA and exported at the end of that visit by the qualifying purchaser must exceed the minimum of R250 per qualifying purchaser.
  • The request for a refund, together with the relevant documentation, must be received by the VRA within 90 days of date of export.
  • The goods must be exported through one of the 43 designated commercial ports by the qualifying purchaser or the qualifying purchaser’s cartage contractor.
  • The qualifying purchaser must  submit all the relevant original documentary proof as contemplated in Part One of the Export Regulations in order to prove that the movable goods were exported by road, sea, air or rail.

 Note: The VRA has a physical presence only at the following International Airports: Cape Town, King Shaka and OR Tambo.

How do I contact the VRA? 

Contact details for the VRA’s Head Office are as follows: 

Postal address  

The VAT Refund AdministratorPO Box 107OR Tambo (Johannesburg) International AirportSouth Africa1627

Physical address 

Plot 206/1 High RoadPomona, Kempton Park, 1619