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Old 23-10-2012, 11:46   #1
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Foreign Yachts Charged New Tax in South Africa | News and Notes

Foreign Yachts Charged New Tax in South Africa
Posted on October 23, 2012 by andrew
Yachties extending their stays in South Africa are being threatened with having their vessels impounded unless they temporarily import them, or face having to pay fines.

Customs officials are springing laws on them that apply to commercial vessels, causing confusion at moorings in Richards Bay and Durban. Foreign yachtsmen are being expected to temporarily import their vessel if they remain in South Africa for six months and can be fined up to 15% of the value of their yachts if they break this law.

The KwaZulu-Natal yachting fraternity is also concerned that they have not been informed of this law being enforced. The South African Revenue Services, which manages customs and excise, itself maintains that the document the yachties claim is being used to force them to temporarily import their crafts, is only for commercial vehicles and “does not deal with yachts as such”.
Zululand Yacht Club (ZYC) commodore Kirsten Schreuder said the imposing of this regulation could add unnecessary bureaucracy to an industry in South Africa that heavily relies on foreign yachtsmen bringing their vessels to KwaZulu-Natal’s coastline for repairs.

A vague public document called SARS Temporary Import of Commercial Vehicles, which was made effective in 2001, is allegedly being shown by custom officials to the yachting fraternity as validation of the need for the boats to be temporarily imported and justification for handing out fines. “It has caused a huge knee-jerk reaction from everyone. In September, the SAPS Water Wing and Customs arrived at the club and started checking papers, telling our foreign yachties they were in breach of the law. We were all caught completely off-guard. We have never been aware of these regulations,” said Schreuder.

With boats being “placed under arrest” according to one yachtie, Customs decided to only slap each transgressing yachtie with a R2 000 fine.

SARS spokesperson Marika Muller said the import document Schreuder is referring to “does not deal with yachts as such” but added that leisure sailors were still subject to certain expenses.

“Yachts that originate from countries within the European Union and SADC are free from customs duty but subject to 14% VAT,” said Muller.

“Yachts with any other origins are subject to the payment of 10% customs duty plus 14% VAT.” She said, however, there were costs payable to Customs although these amounts were refundable.

In further questions posed to Muller regarding the import document, she said “the legislation on which you are basing your question is not applicable to yachts”.

But Zululand yachtie Izak Labuschagne said the entire affair is peculiar. “Yachties go to great efforts to comply with sovereign laws as they are travelling and their boat is their home. This idea of a temporary import is madness … the reasons for it being shown to us by local customs authorities is so vague, the only tangible result it will have is to chase touring yachts away from our shores,” he said. “The manner in which Customs has pursued foreign yachtsmen in our ports has left a perception, rightly or wrongly, that our officials are corrupt and were merely seeking to make a quick buck by extorting money out of unsuspecting foreigners not prepared to fight them.”

According to the ZYC, the yachting industry brings in about R15 million to the South African economy every month and this is likely to increase with the east coast of Africa further north and Suez Canal increasingly becoming a no-go zone because of the threat of Somali pirates. “We are seen as a safe and reliable destination at which to undertake repairs. We are not adverse to new regulations, just we need to know what they are,” said Schreuder.

He said instead of making it confusing for foreign pleasure sailors to sail into South Africa, it should be made easier through the introduction of a cruising permit valid for two years, a practice used in Trindad and Tobago in the Caribbean. “Vessels are brought to SA for refurbishment and repair, which can take up to two years. The owners are often retired and wealthy and either travel our country or fly home, returning once their yacht is repaired. We need to accommodate them and make our destination and boatyards favourable,” said Schreuder.

Durban Marina manager Malcolm Manion said there was a desperate need for further clarity on the regulations. “What we are finding frustrating is there is not much clarity being given on just how the regulations are to be enforced and what is expected of visiting vessels,” said Manion.

Courtesy of The global site for cruising sailors — Noonsite
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Old 23-10-2012, 12:59   #2
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Re: how to kill a yachting industry

Tragic.

The British Virgin Islands also requires you to "import" a boat which stays there over a certain length of time. However, the import charge is a reasonable $200 per year.

Bill
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Old 23-10-2012, 13:14   #3
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Re: how to kill a yachting industry

Thank you for your posting on this matter. I have not had the chance to investigate this fully but felt compelled to intermediately respond to you. Costs, restrictions, regulations and red tape are multiplying rapidly in almost all cruising areas. This has already had a huge impact on our chosen life style and plans. The cost we (all of us) are incurring is in the process of possibly making us abandon our dreams and pursue other plans. We live full time on a boat manufactured in South Africa. We had a dream of going there in it, but maybe we should just pass on by. As an over all statement of defiance, we have already altered some cruising destinations because of foolhardy financial rules and regulations. We encourage other cruisers to frequent "Cruiser Friendly" destinations. We are a very small group. As such, many see us as an easy target. Even though I understand it, it is alarming that governments look at us individuals as deep, rich pockets of opportunity for them to plunder. For many of us, this is simply not the case. We have our boat and the paltry SS that we paid into. It is hardly rich. For us, we will go where it is nice when it is nice even if this means passing up on some heretofore so called wonderful cruising spots. I encourage others to get a little mad and carefully consider where you spend your dollars.
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Old 23-10-2012, 13:26   #4
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Re: how to kill a yachting industry

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Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
Tragic.

The British Virgin Islands also requires you to "import" a boat which stays there over a certain length of time. However, the import charge is a reasonable $200 per year.

Bill
very short sighted on the part of the sa government,with the large influx of yachts choosing to round the cape,rather than shipping from se asia or braving the pirates.

richards bay is a large natural harbour,and an ideal stop over for yachts visiting the region,,most arriving in oct-november the beggining of cyclone season.

this ruling will probably have the knock on effect of yachts leaving in january from cape town,rather than spending a full season exploring the region before leaving,resulting in millions of rands in lost revenue,and growth in the active marine industry there
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Old 23-10-2012, 13:33   #5
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Re: how to kill a yachting industry

ok (check), another place off my list......
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Old 23-10-2012, 13:38   #6
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Re: how to kill a yachting industry

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very short sighted on the part of the sa government,with the large influx of yachts choosing to round the cape,rather than shipping from se asia or braving the pirates.

richards bay is a large natural harbour,and an ideal stop over for yachts visiting the region,,most arriving in oct-november the beggining of cyclone season.

this ruling will probably have the knock on effect of yachts leaving in january from cape town,rather than spending a full season exploring the region before leaving,resulting in millions of rands in lost revenue,and growth in the active marine industry there
Try to avoid one set of pirates, only to get robbed by another!
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Old 23-10-2012, 13:47   #7
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Re: how to kill a yachting industry

Okay, no more Rio - Cape Town anymore. To get robbed in both Brazil as South Africa is a little to much.

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Old 23-10-2012, 14:12   #8
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Re: how to kill a yachting industry

I would have to say that if you take your boat somewhere and it stays there for 6 months ............. you imported it to that location.
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Old 23-10-2012, 14:28   #9
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Re: how to kill a yachting industry

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I would have to say that if you take your boat somewhere and it stays there for 6 months ............. you imported it to that location.
depends if you want to visit mozambique,madagasgar,comores seyschells etc,most boats arrive at the beggining of the cyclone season after crossing the indian ocean,so if you want to do any cruising in the area it means waiting 6-7 months till the cyclone season is finished.
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Old 24-10-2012, 04:56   #10
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Re: how to kill a yachting industry

My guess is that the local Govt is under pressure for tax revenues and someone identified a "missed" opportunity that seemed easy to collect (sounds like legally they have a point - just because the law wasn't written with Yachts in mind does not mean it don't apply).

But to be fair to the South Africans, they do seem to have realised it is a problem (for them) and have rolled back into small fines - likely that an interim measure until they can come up with something workable.

My first thought was that 6 months was fair enough - but given the comments on seasons and the fact that SA is a long way away perhaps an annual "cruising permit" would be the happy compromise. Will of course be a cost involved - but whilst I hate paying taxes as much as the next person, nonetheless I accept that countries don't run on fresh air.........the trick will be to set the cost at a level which does not kill the golden goose.

Lets hope things develop........
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Old 29-10-2012, 02:18   #11
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Re: how to kill a yachting industry

greedy lawmakers, with no foresight, coming at us from all quarters! There must be somewhere, apart from the middle of the Southern Ocean, where we can all go just to get peace ad quiet!
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