In December 2013, the government of South Africa announced a change in import formalities.



  • 1 harmful
  • 0 neutral
  • 0 liberalising


Act No. 31 of 2013: Taxation Laws Amendment Act, 2013, published in the Government Gazette of 12 December 2013:
Government Regulation R. 221, published in the Government Gazette of 28 March 2014:, 19 December 2013, 'South Africa: with effect from 1 April 2014 VAT registration will be required for foreign suppliers of e-commerce services':

National Treasury. Consolidated regulation after amendments regulations: Electronic services for the purpose of definition of "electronic services" in section 1 of the Value Added Tax Act. Available at:

Inception date: 01 Jun 2014 | Removal date: open ended

Import-related non-tariff measure, nes

On 12 December 2013, the Presidency of South Africa gazetted Act No. 31 (Taxation Laws Amendment Act, 2013). In article 165, the Value-Added Tax Act is amended so as to require foreign suppliers of electronic services to South African residents, or whenever the payment for those services originates from a South African bank, to register as a South African VAT vendor. As such, they will be required to levy VAT on their sales at a rate of 14%.
Small vendors, achieving sales of less than R 50,000 (approx. US$ 4,560) per period of twelve months, are exempted from this obligation - this is markedly lower than the threshold for all other taxable supplies at R 1,000,000 (approx. US$ 91,175). The lower threshold for electronic services was introduced to level the playing field between local and foreign suppliers of electronic services.
A later Regulation, R. 221 of 28 March 2014, defined which electronic services are to be included under the new VAT provisions, i.e.:

  • educational services (distance teaching and the like),
  • electronic games,
  • games of chance/internet betting,
  • internet-based auctions,
  • the supply of e-books, audio-visual content, photographic images, music,
  • subscription services to any website, including blogs, journals, magazines, newspapers, social networking sites, and any of the categories mentioned above.

The measure was originally scheduled to enter into effect on 1 April 2014, but this was subsequently postponed to 1 June 2014.

On 24 October 2018, the National Treasury has released the new regulation defining E-services expanding the definition of e-services to include all services supplied by means of an electronic agent, electronic communication, or the internet.