How to bring your dream car to South Africa

Have you dreamt about owning a Delorean ever since you saw Back to the Future as a ten-year old? Maybe you favour American muscle car, or an autonomous Tesla…or a vintage London taxi cab. Some dream rides are just not available in the local market – so is the dream dead?

You can import just about anything to South Africa, including cars, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. DTI regulations do not encourage imports, mainly to protect our local manufacturing industry.

Unlike importing a bargain-buy used car, you can import a new vehicle without an import permit. Bear in mind though that you will be subject to a 40% duty fee and 14% VAT. (This will be on top of the R30,000 sea freight and other duties). The vehicle must be submitted to SABS for clearance before it can be licensed locally and cannot be a left-hand drive vehicle. The next (and possibly biggest) headache will be resolving the issue of maintaining your car, if the parts aren’t available locally.

The upside is that a rare import is likely to hold its resale value much better.

There are also instances where you can get an import license for a used vehicle, such as:

  • If you are a returning resident/national, you may import your used vehicle after a minimum uninterrupted period of absence of six months. The vehicle must be registered under your name for at least six months, and may not be sold for two years after importation.
  • Physically disabled people may obtain a specially designed car if they have a supporting doctor’s certificate.
  • Vintage cars (older than 40 years) are allowed in but is subject to a check by the South African Veteran and Vintage Association
  • Racing cars may be imported by a driver or racing drivers’ club with a valid racing driver license.
  • Inherited vehicles may also qualify, as do specially design vehicles such as bulletproof cars, ambulances, fire trucks, mobile cranes and others which are not available locally.

After receiving your import license, you will still need a Letter of Authority issued by the NCRS (National Regulator of National Specifications) after you have proved that your vehicle complies with both the National Traffic Act and other regulations required by law.

There are plenty of specialist companies who will be able to assist you with the necessary paperwork and requirements to bring your dream ride to South Africa. But the chances of you being able to flip an international bargain buy for big bucks are plenty slim.