International tourists will soon be able to travel to South Africa almost paperless thanks to the new electronic visa (eVisa). The digital system is currently being tested with the collaboration of Kenyan citizens but as soon as the trial is over, it will be extended to several other nationalities around the world.
These visitors will be allowed to apply for the visa completely online, which means no long queues at the embassy or consulate and no paperwork — all documents can be uploaded digitally.
However, there is one piece of paper that all passengers must complete when arriving in South Africa, regardless of the visa they are holding: the Traveller Card TC-01.
What Is the South African Traveller Card?
The Traveller Card is a mandatory form that must be completed in all of its parts by all visitors reaching the country from abroad and leaving it for a foreign destination. It is part of the South African customs regulations (Customs & Excise Act No. 91 of 1964) and helps speed up the process of checking that these are complied with by all passengers.
Thanks to the card, international travelers are able to easily declare the goods that the South African authorities must be aware of and the customs and border control officers can find all relevant information at a glance.
How to Fill Out the Traveller Card TC-01
The TC-01 for South Africa is a simple one-page form that can be filled out in minutes. After providing all the necessary information, travelers also need to sign at the bottom of the page.
Each passenger will receive a card and will have to complete it individually, however, minors can aks their parents or guardian for help. It also will be the guardian to sign the document in this case.
The Traveller Card must be filled out upon arrival before reaching the immigration desk, where the completed form needs to be presented to the immigration officer. All information must be written using a black or blue pen.
In order to successfully answer all questions in the form, travelers must be in possession of information such as their passport number, travel plans, and flight number.
Questions on the Traveller Card TC-01
Find below a list of details that the Traveller Card may require visitors to provide:
- Passport number
- Flight/ ship/ vehicle registration number
- Reason(s) for visit, such as holiday, study, immigrant, resident
- Information regarding the goods the passenger is crossing the border with (prohibited or restricted goods, currency, products intended for trade, etc.)
- Address in South Africa
What Can You not Bring into South Africa?
There are a variety of goods that the South African authorities have declared prohibited, meaning that they cannot be imported in any quantity. Others may be brought into the country but only in limited amounts.
Fortunately for those who are not familiar with the South African law, the Card itself includes clear and comprehensive information regarding prohibited items. Most of these products are forbidden for obvious reasons, such as ensuring the safety of passengers and fighting international crime (that is the case, for example, of firearms, explosives, and narcotics.)
Those in possession of official special permissions can still import and export some restricted items (like firearms), provided that they can present the appropriate documentation.
The Card explains how all individuals except for crew members are entitled to specific allowances on restricted items such as alcohol and tobacco products. These two allowances, in particular, do not apply to minors under 18 years of age.
Technical and sporting equipment can be carried across the border if intended for personal use only. These items cannot remain in South Africa after the visitor has left.
How Do I Avoid Customs Charges in South Africa?
Those who fail to complete the Traveller Card correctly and declare relevant goods or those who are caught crossing the border with prohibited items may face penalties in various forms depending on the severity of the situation, including:
- Seizure of goods
- Criminal prosecution
False receipts and permissions may also have serious consequences for the traveler.
The payment of potential fines can be made in cash, by credit card or traveler’s cheque. The penalty can be paid immediately or within 30 days, in this case, the goods will be kept by Customs until the payment is processed.
In order to avoid issues, passengers should simply become familiar with the customs regulations for the country. They should make sure that they do not carry forbidden goods and be thorough and truthful in the completion of their declaration.
Please note that Customs agents may physically inspect luggage. It is paramount that travelers collaborate with the South African officials answering all questions they are asked.