On the back of last month’s newsletter which focused on the upcoming film season in South Africa, this month we turn to one of the most commonly asked questions when bringing goods into South Africa on a temporary basis. ‘Which is better; Temporary import or ATA Carnet”

It’s important to note that clearing items into the country on a temporary basis does not apply to consumables, as there is no way of quantifying that the entire item will be returned unused.

Following is a simple summary of the pros and cons for each, which should put clarity to subject and make the decision a lot easier.



  • Carnet can be obtained within 24-48 hours at origin
  • Quick Customs clearance time both on arrival in SA and on return – ideal for time sensitive shipments
  • Passengers carrying their goods with a Carnet can clear the goods themselves Valid for a year


  • Application fee is costly and potentially not suited to low value goods
  • Owner may become liable for taxes if goods not returned in time or if some or all goods lost/destroyed



  • Cheaper than Carnet in the long run
  • Deposit refunded after export
  • Goods can be sent without having to wait for the day or two it takes to process a Carnet at origin


  • Temporary Imports are often queried and stopped by Customs and can take up to a week to clear
  • Aforementioned deposit needs to be lodged with customs pending return of the goods
  • Lost/destroyed goods may result in deposit refund delayed while taxes are brought to account on said goods.

For further information or advice on the above, please speak to us, and we will guide you in the right direction based on your specific needs and requirements at the time.