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Import Export

How do I get my goods from point A to point B safely?

Proper planning and being organised are key to the successful import/export of goods.

Norman George



What can I do to ensure a smooth shipment process?

Here are a few pointers to assist with a smooth shipment process:

  • First and foremost, customs require the importer or exporter to register as an importer/exporter before transacting internationally.
  • The business needs to ensure it has the correct paperwork. Typical documents that are required included certificates stating the proof of the products origin as some goods could attract preferred rates of duty depending on their country of origin. There are also goods that require inspection and release by other government agencies, such as The Health Department, so it is imperative to enquire whether the goods being shipped from specific countries require additional permits.
  • Invoices also need to be provided and these need to be in a specific format and include the suitable content, which includes the purpose for the product (commercial or non-commercial) and the proof of their values.

Customs reserves the right to stop, detain and physically inspect any shipment entering or exiting the country.During this phase, they subject the clearance of the product to various checks, such as valuation, to determine whether the value paid to the supplier is in fact the value declared for Customs purposes. There are legal implications if these details do not correspond.

  • Commodities are coded by means of a tariff number and as a result, a Harmonised Tariff code will be assigned to the product, which is a code that determines the rate of duty payable on that specific commodity.
  • Another aspect to consider is whether there are any special requirements for the specific country the product is being shipped to, such as temporary imports / exports and restrictions.

There are prohibited and restricted goods that can only be shipped in and out of the country under a permit or license, such as plant or plant products which require a phytosanitary certificate or medicine / scheduled substances which require a medical control council certificate.

  • To further guarantee a smooth shipment process, for both the business and customer, it is vital for companies to ensure traceability and transparency in the transportation process. Not only will this help keep the customer informed, but it will also assist the company prevent delays should there by a stoppage in the process. With the knowledge of a particular stoppage, a business can then help resolve the issue quickly and efficiently, as in some instances, the delay is likely solved with the provision of extra data or forms.
  • The speed needed for the shipment also needs to be considered when assessing the company’s transportation needs. Businesses must match the transport need to the needs of the customer, which can be categorised into the size, urgency, costs, speed and complexity of shipment.

Due to the complexities of the procedures and processes, it is advisable to seek assistance from service providers that can support and advise according to a business’ individual needs. This enables good local knowledge and the assistance with the clearance process and procedures. They will also ensure that all requirements are met and understood before shipping, as well as manage expectations and navigate through some time very difficult procedures.

By fully understanding the processes and terminology involved with entering the different markets, local businesses can build a long-term foundation for successful international trade.

Import Export

Want To Start An Import Business – Here Are The Importing Terms And Documents Involved

An informative guide to understanding the terms, tariffs and documents involved with importing.




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Import Export

How do I know whether my product is export-ready?

Your product has to tick several boxes before you can consider exporting it.




I want to start exporting my product into Africa. I’ve made contact with some buyers in Nigeria and they’re interested in signing a contract. How do I make sure that my product is ready for export?

Whether or not your product is export ready depends on the buyer’s needs, your product’s ability to meet those needs, and how your product will shape up against international competition.

In order to determine export readiness, you need to research the following:

  • Your target market
  • Any potential competitors
  • The buyers themselves.

Common factors that would affect the exportability of a product include:

1. Market

Unless there is a market for it, your product won’t sell. Look at your domestic market for an indication. If you are meeting a need locally, you should be able to meet the same need internationally.

This, however, is not the only consideration. International markets are usually further away, meaning that you will have to add transport costs, and will most probably have to include the cost of import duties and taxes in the final delivery price.

2. Product adaptability

A key quality of an export product is its ability to adapt to suit an international market. Cultural differences between countries could affect the use or acceptability of a product in each country. A product name could have a totally different and possibly derogatory meaning in another language and might have to be changed for that market.

3. Cost structure

The cost structure of the product will obviously impact on its competitiveness. For example, depending on the cost of materials, and whether or not those materials can be locally sourced, international transport costs and customs duties in the importing country will collectively determine the final delivery price.

4. Competitors

The more you know about your competitor’s product, the better your position when determining your own chances of succeeding. Price is an important factor in determining success, but not the only way to compete. You can also differentiate your product by highlighting some of its unique selling points.

5. Product complexity

The greater the complexity of your product, the more important the strength of your business. Products that need a high level of support or installation assistance will need a strong local network with trained staff to support them. The investment in setting up a sales and support structure in the importing country could be prohibitive, making it unviable to export the product.

For more information, read more here.

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Import Export

How do I verify foreign suppliers?

Do your homework to reduce the likelihood that you’ll end up out of pocket.




I run a small import business and want to find some new suppliers in the Far East. How do I establish their credibility from South Africa?

It’s essential to establish that any new suppliers that you intend to do business with are credible and reliable. Here are some ways that you can check up on their credentials:

  • Use internet trading forums such as that on eBay to establish whether the supplier has a history of being trustworthy and dependable
  • Do online research to find out more about the company, including how long it’s been in business for and how long it’s had the product line that you’re interested in.
  • What does their website look like? Has it been professionally designed and kept up to date? Does it have proper contact details including a physical address and telephone number?
  • If you can’t afford to visit the supplier, contact them by phone or email and discuss your requirements. Find out about delivery times, payment methods and ability to deliver what you need, when you need it. These discussions should give you a feeling for how professional the supplier is in conducting its business.
  • Ask for references and check them.
  • You can consider using the services of a reputable inspection agency to make absolutely certain that the supplier is trustworthy.
  • Obviously a site visit is the number one way of establishing a supplier’s credibility.

See the full article here.

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