VAT Refunds make purchasing goods in South Africa even more affordable to international visitors


Visitors departing for their home countries from O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, Cape Town International or King Shaka International Airport north of Durban, are able to claim up to 15% VAT paid on goods purchased during their stay, provided the goods are declared on departure.

The three-step process starts when making a purchase – identify yourself to the shop assistant as a foreign visitor and request a Tax Invoice for your purchase. If the amount exceeds R5 000, your name and permanent foreign address must appear on the Tax Invoice.

For purchases exceeding R10 000, proof of payment – such as a credit card receipt – will need to be retained. On final departure from one of South Africa’s main airports, the goods should be presented to Customs Officials in the departure hall before you check in for your flight – noting that, in Cape Town, the inspection is only done in the arrivals hall at designated VRA counters.

Once the goods have been inspected, you can present your claim at one of the clearly-marked VAT Refund Offices, along with your passport, boarding pass and customs-stamped tax invoice. The refund will be processed and loaded onto a VAT Refund Card between three days and three months after departure, depending on the amount. This card can be used to make purchases or cash withdrawals from any ATM bearing the MasterCard Acceptance Mark (outside the common monetary area of South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland).

There are some other geographical regions where use of the card is also prohibited – please check the list on the Tax Refunds website ( In addition, there are a number of countries and geographical regions where the use of the Card is currently prohibited. Please verify the list of countries and regions on the website. Various alternative payment methods are also available should the VAT Refund Card payment method be unavailable, or uneconomic.


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