Trading with Regulated or Prohibited Goods

Every country creates its own list of regulated, restricted or prohibited goods for export and import trade. Some countries may even classify a product as prohibited for export, but only restricted for import.

When dealing with Customs, “prohibited”, means that the product is not allowed to cross the border, out of or into the country. The trader may complete a Customs Declaration and get away with Shipping prohibited goods for a while, but if Customs finds out, the trader is deemed to have known that the goods are prohibited for import or export. The onus of knowing which imports and exports are regulated or prohibited lies completely with the trader.

When cargo is “regulated” this means that it is controlled by an export or import permit, which regulates the quality or quantity. Quality permit restrictions are controlled by government departments such as the Department of Health, Department of Agriculture, Department of Environment and various other departments. Volume permits may be controlled by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) or the International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC).

ITAC permit for regulated goods
Example of ITAC permit for regulated goods


With imports, some products have to be sampled and tested before the import permit is issued. One such example is when the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) first needs to test if a product is safe. Only when the product is accepted may the permit be issued.

Below is an example of a regulated product from the Customs list of regulated goods.

Excerpt from the Customs Regulated Cargo List:

Heading /Subheading CD Article Description Prohibited or Restricted Authority Action Required (detain for) Documentary Requirements
0303.66 2 Hake (Merluccius spp.,Urophycis spp.) Not for trade without NRCS approval. Prohibit entry into the country if not accompanied by health certificate. National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications Act, 2008 (Act No. 5 of 2008) International Trade Administration Act, (Act no. 71 of 2002). Refer to Port Health and notify Foods and Associated Industries(FAI of NRCS). Check health guarantee/certificate to accompany consignment ITAC. Official notification and with Bill of Entry,

Health Certificate,

Import permit from ITAC.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7
  1. Heading /Subheading: This is the product’s HS code or tariff code.
  2. The CD or Check Digit relevant to the HS Code.
  3. Description of goods: The description of the goods from the tariff book.
  4. Prohibition or restriction: Regulatory body/authority that controls import and/or export of the goods.
  5. Authority: The section of the Act that gives the above mentioned authority control.
  6. Action Required (detain for): The authority to be notified when the import or export is at Customs.
  7. Document requirement: Documents, permits and information that Customs needs to check in order to clear the goods.

If the importer/exporter is not in possession of the applicable permit, the goods will not be allowed into or out of the country. Should Customs need to store the goods until a permit is obtained, storage costs will be accrued. Delays in Customs clearance due to incorrect documentation may also result in business losses due to lack of availability of the goods. It is therefore important that the restrictions are known and that a permit is obtained before Customs clearance.

Prohibited or regulated goods can be looked up on our Calculators page nu using our Import Regulated Goods Look Up and Export Regulated Goods Look Up.

For assistance with permits call 021 850 0967 or visit our website.

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