On 20 November 2018, in communication addressed to external stakeholders, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) confirmed that it had identified three main focus areas in the implementation of the New Customs Acts Programme, which included the Declaration Processing System (DPS). 

By definition, the new DPS is set to improve the current SARS system of processing import and export declarations. SARS indicated that certain amendments to the rules to the Customs and Excise Act, 1964 (the Act) were being considered to support implementation of the new DPS.

In essence, the first step of implementing the DPS envisages introducing requirements rolling out a two-pronged procedure to making declarations to SARS, that is, (i) the processing of an incomplete or provisional clearance declaration, (ii) completing the incomplete or provisional clearance declaration by submitting a supplementary declaration within a prescribed time limit. This two-step declaration procedure is what is envisaged by the new customs legislation that will replace the current Act.

The incomplete or provisional entry accompanied by the supplementary entries will constitute a single indivisible bill of entry under the Act.

The proposed changes to be implemented under the DPS are said to be aligned with the revised Kyoto Convention and are expected to reduce the large volumes of amendment clearances currently being submitted (Vouchers of Correction). 

Release of the DPS was initially earmarked for December 2018, then postponed to mid-2019. As of 19 June 2019, SARS has released communication that implementation of these changes under the DPS is postponed as SARS is working on ensuring that the new declaration types are successfully finalised. 

There is no indication of when this will be implemented, but it is advisable that stakeholders keep a close eye on any publications posted on the SARS website under the New Customs Legislation Updates.

By Busisiwe Vilakazi, Tax Associate, Johannesburg

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