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Thread: So you want to import an air rifle:

  1. #1
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    Default So you want to import an air rifle:

    In a previous post on importing an air rifle into SA I dealt with the situation of someone wishing to carry the rifle as hold baggage on an international flight. I covered the need to obtain an import permit of the correct type from ITAC (whose web-site is at www.itac.org.za ) and to seek permission at an early stage from the airline concerned.

    In this post I consider the situation of someone wishing to buy an air rifle from a dealership abroad and to have it shipped to SA. To do this you will also need an import permit from ITAC.

    Many of us are aware that there are some very attractive prices currently advertised by airgun distributors in the USA and if you have some spare cash you may decide to turn your dream into reality by buying now to take advantage of the relative weakness of the US dollar. To begin with, I will deal with some of the pros and cons of buying abroad.

    The whole point of buying an airgun (and other accessories) abroad is to obtain a significantly better deal than you could get in SA. But to get it right you must do your homework. In assessing the deal, price is just one factor – albeit an important one. To answer the question ‘is it worth it in cost terms?’ you first need to establish the price you will have to pay the dealer. This includes the price of the goods, and sometimes a supplementary levy of 3-4 percent because you will be paying by credit card (the only practical method of payment). It will also include the cost of shipping.

    It’s important to get a quote for shipping from the dealer and not just treat it as an inevitable ‘add-on’ to your order. In my opinion the only affordable method of shipping is by post, preferably by air mail. For a rifle and a few accessories with a total cost of say $500 US shipping could cost around $80 US – a ball park figure. My advice is don’t even think about international couriers, they charge a small fortune. So, the humble postal service gets my thumbs up, but bear in mind that SA Postal Service can refuse to handle a package that is over one metre in length. This means for some airguns that you may have to ask the dealer to remove the action and barrel from the stock to satisfy the constraint on package length. Should you insure the package? I would say that this is unnecessary because if you pay by Visa the card company will indemnify you in the event of the package being lost or stolen. But make sure you check this out with your own credit card provider.

    So far we have considered the cost of buying ex-dealer. But if you intend to use your credit card to pay the dealer you need to consider the 'hidden' cost of credit. My credit card provider imposes a 2.5 per cent surcharge on foreign currency transactions. This is fairly standard but check with your card provider to make sure.

    We have assumed that we know what we want - we just need to select a dealer to supply it. But alas it’s not quite as simple as that. For a start, many dealers stateside will only ship to customers in mainland USA; I’ve found few willing to ship to SA. Of those that will some of them only send goods for export orders via a high cost courier service. So you need to find a dealer willing to ship to SA via US Mail. And you don’t want just any old "pile ‘em high sell ‘em cheap" box shifter. You ideally want a dealer with a passion for air rifles, one who carries spares and offers gunsmithing services since you may want a trigger tweaked or a spare set of ‘o’ rings included in your package. Do not ask the dealer to falsify an invoice or customs declaration, he will almost certainly refuse to do so, and he might just refuse to deal with you period.

    The ‘what to buy?’ decision is much more subjective but for you to answer it satisfactorily you must be sure that there is a significant advantage to be gained from buying abroad. It may be that the airgun you want is not distributed in this country (in which case you should consider ordering some essential spares too) or it may be that there is a substantial price advantage. However, it would be a mistake to bypass an excellent dealer in this country for the sake of a small financial gain from buying abroad. Consider what dealer support if any you may require over the period for which you might want to keep your new pride and joy and if this is relevant my advice is don’t be too stingy to tip up a little more cash. My own decision rule would be something like: "if the cost saving associated with importing direct is less than R1,000 - forget it." But exactly where you draw the line is up to you.

    To round off our discussion of importing we need to consider the question of possible liability for import duty and VAT - the final pieces of our jigsaw. Import duty is administered by SA Customs which comes under the SARS umbrella, as does VAT. Unless your particular situation exempts you from paying duty (import tax) and VAT on your airgun purchased from abroad, you will be liable to pay both at whatever rates are current. This will add significantly to total cost so you must take it into account. My advice is to check with SARS personally. You can access their web-site ( SARS Home ) and e-mail your enquiry or you can ring their call centre on a toll-free number: 0860 12 12 18 . When they respond to your enquiry they will give you a reference number and it’s worth making a note of this should you need to get back to them later. In my experience of dealing with SARS I have found their staff to be unfailingly helpful and polite.

    OK let’s cut to the future: you’ve weighed everything up, you’ve ordered your airgun from a dealer in the USA and this morning you received notification from SA Postal Service that a foreign parcel labelled “airgun 0.20 calibre” on the customs declaration has arrived, addressed to you. You will need to send them a copy of your ID or passport, a copy of your import permit from ITAC and a copy of the invoice from the supplier so that they can assess liability for duty and VAT. Do not, I repeat do not falsify the invoice to try to reduce your liability – that would be a criminal offence. SARS will also make a small charge for 'clearance' i.e. the admin involved in getting your goods through Customs.

    My last piece of advice is to pay up without flinching and regard your expenditure as an investment – think of how much you’ll enjoy setting up your new toy and putting it through its paces. In a day or two you will be collecting it from your local post office!

    Good luck and good shooting.
    Last edited by Citizen K; 29-01-17 at 14:39.
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  2. #2
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    Did you import something?? Did all go well?? i'm considdering the exact same "route" you described. Does anybody know how to calculate the vat and import duties on a airrifle??

    say rifle $500
    acessories$100
    Shiiping $100

    Exhange rate 1$= R10(makes it easier to calculate)

    I think Gerrief mentioned once that he deals with imported stuff from time to time, if i recall correctly. I might be mistaken though.
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  3. #3
    Sharp Shooter

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    Think before importing also about if something goes wrong with the rifle and you have to send it back under warranty. You pay for the shipping both ways again.
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  4. #4
    Sharp Shooter

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    VAT is calculated at the daily rate of foreign exchange

    VAT payable = 1.14 X the invoice value x 1.1 (ie an additional 10 %)

    You can see then that this is more than 14% whai we are used to.

    Duty should be zero but pellets may attract duty of 15% (depends if the customs people spot them.
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  5. #5
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    Correction, the URL is http://www.itac.org.za
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  6. #6
    REP: Air Rifle Pros

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    There is a Schedule 1B Ad Valorem duty payable on Air rifles which is calculated as follows:
    Invoice value (in whatever currency you paid) x reigning exchange rate + 15%= duty value. Duty value (Ad Valorem) is then assesed at 7.5%.
    Pellets do attract a 15% duty calculated in a similar manner as above.

    Vat is calculated as described above by Lilliput.
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  7. #7
    Rest in Peace Mike 05/12/2014

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    Mick1.... Good article! Well written!
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  8. #8
    Sharp Shooter

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    Hi Importer, don’t you need a special import permit to bring Air Rifles into South Africa or is it only when you are a dealer/distributor?
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  9. #9
    REP: Air Rifle Pros

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    Technically everyone should have an ITAC permit if they are going to import an Air Rifle and it is generally better to get yourself an ITAC permit even if you are only ever going to import 1 rifle. Customs can be really difficult
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  10. #10
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    30-06,
    Importing is my daily job, bread and butter with a smell of jam. You guys have a lot of guts to attempt something like this. When it came to importing a rifle for myself, I went to the UK and fetched it personally. I don't trust thios lot with my rifles. If I had to shoot over seas ( Protea Teasm etc.) I will hire steal or borrow a rifle there.
    If I go abroad and happened to buy a rifle, I will just walk the rifle through customs in a rifle case and say I took it out with me. That is what I did with my Pro Target. All they want to know is if it is 1) A an air rifle. 2) Is it a .22 or not. If it is and it is not written on the rifle 99.99 % of them will not know the difference in any case. Let's say you have converted a .177 to .20 or .22 and on the action it is still engraved as .177, you are home and dry.
    Importer is 100% correct in his calculations of the ad velorum duties.(He should know by now.) ALL 2nd hand goods need a import permit. For once of import you would not need a customs registration number asan Importer, you can use 70707070 number once then you need to register with customs as a IMPORTER. Please note:There is a difference between a Customs Import Permit and being registered as an Importer.
    Last edited by gerrief; 07-08-08 at 10:18. Reason: Add more details
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  11. #11
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    Yes Gerrie, but plane tickets are expensive!!!
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  12. #12
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    Spyker,
    I meant if are over seas and you buy a rifle, while there............
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  13. #13
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    Ok, then yes, maybe then. But my "overseas" trips are limited to Botswana, Namibia and Mozambique.. And they don't have any airrifles on sale there for a bargain... None that I would want in any way..
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  14. #14
    Protea FT Team '07/'08/'09/'10/'11/'12/'13
    National FT Champ '09/'13

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    Now that is some very interesting, and sound advice. Thanks mick1

    We need more threads like this one on this forum
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  15. #15
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    Gerrief sal jy asseblief n voorbeeld illustreer? Klink vir my soos tax on tax.

    Geweer $1000
    pellets $100
    vervoer $100

    Wiselkoers 1$ = R10(maklik om te maal)

    Dankie solank
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