The estimates regarding the expected number of foreign tourists to South Africa for the World Cup 2010 have dropped from about 450,000 to about 220,000. Economists say that a combination of the global financial crisis, expensive flights to South Africa and pricey accommodation have all contributed to the decline in the number of visitors expected to attend the 2010 World Cup. After all, many of the projections were made before the global recession hit.
The decrease in numbers of foreign visitors could be a blessing for those who do come. They stand to benefit from the resulting cheaper tickets and accommodation.
Foreigner visitors can save even more if they remember to claim Value Added Tax (VAT) on items purchased in South Africa when leaving the country.
Majority of goods sold in South Africa is subject to a 14 percent VAT. Tourists are not exempt from paying VAT. However, they can claim back the VAT portion if the value of the goods bought exceeds a certain amount – currently, R250. The R250 threshold is applicable to the total value of all the invoices submitted, and not to the value per invoice.
To claim the VAT, the visitor must be older than seven years of age, non-resident, and temporarily in South Africa. Plus, the goods must be taken out of the country within 90 days from the date of purchase. The goods must be presented for inspection on departure and accompanied with a tax invoice. The invoice should contain the usual information (name of the seller, seller’s VAT registration number, description of goods, the price and the VAT amount). If the value of the goods on any single invoice exceed a certain amount (currently R2000), the buyer’s name and address should also appear on the invoice or on the credit card payment slip.
Visitors who wish to claim VAT should go to the VAT refund administration office or customs official at the port of exit. If a tourist leaves South Africa without claiming a VAT refund, it is still possible to do it, but the procedure is more involved. Such a claim must be lodged within three months from the date of export.
There is no VAT exemption on eating, drinking, or going out in South Africa; goods consumed or services rendered in the country do not qualify for VAT refunds. Special provisions apply to antiques, second hand goods and the so-called registerable goods; be sure to familiarise yourself with those provisions before the purchase.
Also see: Tax Refunds for Tourists