November 28, 2023


A guide to the New Advance Payment Notice Process

A guide to the New Advance Payment Notice Process

As importers of offshore goods, it is essential that you stay informed about any changes made to the payment process, as this will directly affect your business. We at Currency Partners are here to inform you of the new Advance Payment Notice process implemented by the South African Revenue Service (SARS). This mandatory process launched on 1 December 2023.

What is an APN (Advance Payment Notice)?

An “Advance Payment Notice” or “APN” is a unique reference number required to make an advance foreign exchange payment, exceeding R50,000, for goods to be imported into South Africa. These payments relate to Balance of Payment (BOP) category 101.

Why has the APN process been implemented?

The aim of the APN process is to combat illicit financial flows and customs valuation fraud associated with the misuse of advance foreign exchange payments for imported goods.

This allows the South African Reserve Bank (SARB), South African Revenue Service (SARS) and authorised dealers in foreign exchange to collaborate to make it easy for importers to comply with their obligations. It also enables SARS to detect taxpayers and traders who do not comply with regulations.

How does this affect you as the client?

With the new APN process, you are required to log the invoice details onto SARS e-filing for each transaction before making payment. A SARS-generated APN reference number will be issued electronically through the SARS eFiling platform. You must be registered with SARS as an eFiling user and as an importer. Each payment will have its own unique APN reference number. Only SARS can provide you with an APN reference number, which you will then submit, along with the invoice and supporting documents, to Currency Partners to assist with your offshore payment.

Will the APN requirement delay your payment?

APN reference numbers are provided immediately by SARS upon submission of the advance payment details, minimising delays. However, if the APN reference number is not provided when making the offshore payment, there will be a delay with regards to the processing of the offshore payment. This could result in a delay in the shipment.

Cancellation of a payment

To cancel your offshore payment, you will need to cancel the APN notice. The APN notice will also automatically lapse if no payment is made within 30 days of its issuance.

Import Customs Clearance Declaration

An importer must, when submitting an import bill of entry relating to goods in respect of which an APN reference was assigned, indicate the APN reference number on the bill of entry.

Although the new APN process has taken effect, you are still required to submit your Import Customs Clearance documents (shipping documents) within 4 months of your offshore payment.

Should your Import Customs Clearance documents not collaborate with the information you have provided when applying for your APN notice, this could result in your account being placed on a non-compliant status until the issue has been resolved.

Important Notes:

  • It’s essential you keep your APN notice, invoice and supporting documents in safe keeping as SARS is allowed to do regular follow ups.
  • As of 1 December 2023, it will be mandatory for all importer to provide the related APN number when effecting an advance import payment.
  • It’s also mandatory for the remitting bank to report the APN to the SARB and SARS when the payment is concluded.
  • When applying for an APN on eFiling, the importer must indicate the South African bank through which the advance payment is being affected.
  • APNs are not required for advance import payments into the Common Monetary Area (Eswatini, Lesotho and Namibia).

For more information, please click here for the guide from SARS.

To speak to an expert in our specialist business team, email or call us on +27 21 203 0081.  Please don’t hesitate to contact us should you have any questions or would like assistance with your APN.

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