MY IMPORT & REGISTRATION EXPERIENCE BLOG AUG -NOV 2021
This is my personal notes of my experience when I imported & registered my 2013 Toyota Hilux 3.0 D4D 4×4 DC in South Africa after driving it solo here all the way from London, UK mid-pandemic.
It can be a daunting experience, the importation business, and I hope by noting what I experienced, it could help someone out there navigate through their own experience with a little less stress when they go into “battle” with an idea of what to expect.
Mid-pandemic, between October 2020 and July 2021, me and my trusted 2013 Toyota Hilux 4×4, drove almost 20000 km’s Solo from Harlow, London, U.K. to St Helena Bay, South Africa.
The countries visited were England, France, Italy, Greece, Egypt, Sudan, (due to war in Ethiopia I had to ship my car from Port Sudan to Port Mombasa) Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Namibia, South Africa.
I used a Carnet De Passage document, required to drive your foreign registered vehicles through some north and South African countries. The “Carnet de Passages en Douane” is a customs document that identifies a traveler’s motor vehicle or other valuable equipment or baggage. It is required to take a motor vehicle into a significant but diminishing number of countries around the world.
Here we go..
Once in South Africa, the importation process went through without a glitch, and I can gladly vouch for Tyron Whitely +27 (79) 072-0161 who handled the trickiest process as my import agent. Tyron has helped thousands of returning expats before me with importing their vehicles and also came with very good references from Chris Kröger(Email:firstname.lastname@example.org) and her team at the South African Removals company (www.southafricanremovals.com) in the UK whom I used to ship my personal belongings from the UK to Cape Town, South Africa. I can’t say enough about Chris and her removals team either – exceptional service! In the interest of protecting identities, I will refer to any person I do not have permission to name only in letters and not their real names (DM me if you need specific contact info so I can see if I can help you/ask for permission to share details).
In short, the below is the basic steps of the importation & registering process as I understand/experienced it.
- Letters from car manufacturer required to prove conformity to SABS standards.
- Import permit and LOA (Letter of Authority) obtained from SARS – I obtained this in the UK before I left.
- A clearing agent is needed for this process (This is where Tyron shined!)– all the documents must then be submitted to Customs to do the permanent importation.
- SAD 500 form must be submitted to SARS so that the carnet can be withdrawn.
- The same documents must then be used for the licensing and registration as well.
- See below blog/diary notes for more detailed info.
I had all the necessary documents (conformity certificates from manufacturer etc.) already gathered in the U.K. and along with my completed carnet ready for Tyrone when we started. The whole process was done in two weeks and at the same time I started dealing with SARS to get the necessary signed off documents from SARS to start the registration process (DM me if you need more info regarding SARS contacts).
The local registration is where the real frustration started as to be expected when dealing with government employees, however I can’t help but wonder how long the process would have taken me if I lodged the application in any other province other than the Western Cape where things still actually work 🤔. Hopefully my diary notes will save the next person a bit of hassle.
I Stood in the cue at Vredenburg licensing (SVL) department between 10am and 12am. I handed over my paperwork (Carnet, VC5 UK registration doc, IMPORT & SARS docs) and we’re given three forms to fill out and told to “Visit the police station to ask the police to check y& verify the details on the forms matches your vehicle”. I visited St Helena Bay and Vredenburg police stations, but they couldn’t help me and were then sent to Saldanha police station as the vehicle anti-theft police unit is on a revolving schedule visiting other stations but on the day, they were at Saldanha. At Saldanha police station the officers sent me to a building to the back of the main station where a very friendly & competent sergeant D did the first police clearance check and signed the form (vin/engine number check). He said I don’t need to go to the test station and should go straight to the license office as it seems my car was already signed off by the weight tester – unfortunately he turned out to be wrong in this instance. I Went to Kaap Agri weighing station in Vredenburg and got the car weighed for R90 (South African Rand) – it weighed 2600kg with the extras (winch bar, canopy etc.).
I Stood in a cue at Vredenburg vehicle Testing station between 07:50 to 10:00 only to be told that since my vehicle is imported it’s not on the South African system yet so they can’t test it.
I phoned “K” at SVL (+27 (72) 029-8116) and explained the time/money issue/constraint I’m in with the Carnet. “K” Saïd her supervisor returns tomorrow after 10 days away from work, but she will ask the supervisor to send my forms through to head office (normally 4-6 week process) and obtain me a tracking number so I can “chase” head office in Cape Town instead of the SVL. “K” said she will phone me back on Friday the 20th of August.
No phone call yet from “K” after lunch so I rang her. She said she didn’t have my phone number so couldn’t ring me back- I explained to her that my phone number is in the paperwork I left with her. After having to give her my ID, vehicle registration number, and phone number again over the phone she said she doesn’t know if my case has been sent to head office yet as her supervisor have been off sick for the second time – that’s a no then. She promised she will go through my case with her supervisor and get back to me…
Nobody phoned me back from SVL yet and I couldn’t get hold of the person who handled my case due to people being off sick of “COVID” – every day when I phoned someone else was off sick 😤.
Today I got hold of “K” at SVL on the phone and she gave me the number at head office vehicle registrations in Cape Town (Department of Public Works and Vehicle Licensing) 0214835995 with my 15 number reference number. I kept phoning the above number every workday for almost a month, but nobody ever answered.
I managed to get hold of a government official via a Google search who promised me they will follow up with head office vehicle licensing Cape Town – never heard back from that person unfortunately but not surprisingly.
I phoned Sergeant D of the Saldanha Vehicle anti-theft unit and he advised me to ask Saldanha vehicle license (SVL) to ask “K” to print out an “RPC” (Request for Police Clearance). I phoned Me. L (Chief Clerk: Motor Registration) at SVL and she obviously wasn’t having a great day because she sounded very agitated over the phone – perhaps because I left her a message to call me back very urgently. She explained to me that nothing has been done at head office since we spoke a month ago. I asked her if she has an email address of head office for me because their land line number is never picked up. She said she only has their internal number that they use, so I asked her to please copy me in when she emails them which she did immediately with my task number for the case. The email address for SVL is: email@example.com and the email address for Cape Town Department of Public Works & Vehicle licensing (DPWVL) is firstname.lastname@example.org.
In desperation because I can’t get hold of anyone at the DPWVL in Cape Town I jumped in the car and drove the 150km to their office in 9 Dorp Street, Cape Town. Don’t go to the front door in Dorp street, go to the side door on the RH side of the building if you’re facing the front of the DPWVL building. Be warned – there is no parking close to the office at all unless you arrive at stupid-hour, so you will have to park a few blocks up from there. Aim for two streets up from “The Ladder” coffee shop to find parking. Once in the building of the DPWVL, you take a ticket from one of those machines that is supposed to eliminate the need for a person to hand out the tickets but need a person to explain people how to use the machine (lol) and sit and wait 10-15mins to see someone. There are signs on the walls saying “No personal licenses will be processed”, the person at the counter will ask you who sent you there – just ignore all that and tell them you couldn’t get through to their number and nobody answered your emails. They then take your case reference number you got from your local vehicle licensing office and ask you to go and wait. I waited about 1,5hrs and then they called me and told me my vehicle is now on the system.
It’s 09:00am and I get a friendly “Morning Mr Skeen” welcome greet first in line at the SVL office in Vredenburg. I gave them my ID card and the documents I received at Cape Town from the DPWVL. They got busy typing away on their computers and in the end gave me a completed RPC (Request for Police Clearance – SAP 263) document. I phoned Sergeant D from the Police Vehicle crime unit and arranged to meet him in Malmesbury police station on Wednesday morning after I met Johan (082) 412-0142 (Vredenburg Mall Car Wash & Microdot) in Langebaan to “microdot” my car. If I can’t get my Carnet extended, I will have to buy a 3 day permit (R48) on Tuesday in Vredenburg so I can legally drive my car on Wednesday to Langebaan for micro dotting & Malmesbury for police clearance.
Yolandi R, a very helpful lady from SARS in Pretoria informed me via email that I won’t be able to get an extension on my Carnet, but she cleared my documents against any claims from SARS.
I went to SVL in Vredenburg and wanted to buy a 3-day permit for my car so I can drive to get the next item on the process done but they informed me some idiot who were involved in the sale of my off-road motorcycle 18 years ago assigned R900 to my ID number and they can’t take my R48 (South African Rand) for the permit before I paid the outstanding R900. I was given some contact numbers in Limpopo province 2000km’s away to sort out the mistake but of course none of the numbers worked so I went ahead and paid both the R900 for whatever that was and the R48 for the permit. Days like this that you can just smile and wave 🙂 I will have to leave that for another day (or millennium) to sort out and hopefully get my money back (LOL). I drove to Langebaan about 40min away and got the microdot done on the car by Johan (082) 412-0142. You show your RPC (Request for Police Clearance document) & foreign vehicle registration form (VC5) and he puts you and your car on the system before he sprays all the exposed metal parts on your car with a spray containing a specific code registered to your car. This is to make it easier to identify your car after it’s been chopped up by car thieve syndicates if you’re unlucky enough to find yourself in that situation.
I arranged to meet Sergeant D at Malmesbury police station (they rotate between stations) and by 11am I was on my way again (didn’t need the vehicle there 😤). They just put the RPC and Microdot details on their system and now I had to wait 14 days for Interpol to check if the vehicle wasn’t stolen in the U.K.
On the 3rd of November I had to go back to Malmesbury to see Sergeant D to get more paperwork from him (Interpol clearance proof). Only then can I take my car to a Vehicle Test station to get a roadworthy test certificate and after that to SVL to finally get registered. After that I’ll get some number plates made up and hopefully before Christmas my car will be roadworthy again 😂.
Note: The testing station in Malmesbury charges R145 but it’s a loooong wait or you can go to DEKRA a private testing station in Malmesbury for R600 🤭
I’m at Malmesbury police station at 9am to see sergeant D and was out of there within 10mins with my RPC & Interpol clearance document. They checked my paperwork and quickly checked the micro-dotting on the car, and I was on the road again.
I drove to Moorreesburg in the hope to get my car through the test station there, but they couldn’t help me the same day. I phoned Velddrift vehicle testing station and they couldn’t help me either. I drove to Vredenburg Testing station but they were so busy they couldn’t help me either, so I ended up calling it a day – so near yet so far!
I clocked in first thing in the morning at Vredenburg Vehicle Testing station, parked the car, filled out the paperwork and handed over my car keys. I walked around in Vredenburg getting business done I normally don’t have time for like getting business cards printed etc. and picked up the car at midday.
From there I went to SVL in Vredenburg, handed over the folder full of documents to them and after about 30mins they handed my South African registration papers and disc to display in the windscreen. From here I went across the road to a place where I got the new number plates made and home to pop rivet the new plates to the body of the car (they get stolen if you don’t in SA). The last thing for me was to claim my R159000 (£7500 / $9900) deposit back for my carnet from CARS UK. After a few dozen emails back and forth between SARS, CARS, AASA, and myself I received this beautiful one-liner from CARS UK; “Thank you for returning your CPD carnet, your carnet appears to have been correctly negotiated and has now been discharged”.
So luckily, I managed to get all the signatures in and out of each country from the U.K. to South Africa on the “carnet de passage” without losing the document and I didn’t lose any money through penalties on the carnet.
I started the vehicle registration process on 17 August 2021 and had my South African number plates on 4 November 2021, so it took just over two months. I count myself extremely lucky because I’ve heard many nightmare stories of people struggling more than 12 months to get it done. Would I do it again…NO chance 😂. Its stressful but certainly doable..I did it while trying to kickstart my new career as estate agent with www.Gideonestates.co.za so if I can get through the process, you certainly can!
Feel free to comment or ask questions – I’ll gladly help where I can.In the mean time, why don’t you let me assist you in finding your dream home in St Helena Bay, safe, beautiful and affordable…so hurry and get in contact with me now via Email: email@example.com or mobile: 0790670608.
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