Foreign Processes & Procedures

Procurement and Payment Services (PPS) manages the customs and foreign-exchange issues associated with imports, exports and foreign payments.

The way we buy goods and services at The University Of Cape Town (UCT) is very important. Done correctly, it helps us mitigate risk, increase efficiency and protect our staff and our reputation. The objective of this page is to inform UCT staff on the procedures to follow when importing or exporting goods on behalf of the University and the complexities around these processes.

All movement of goods across SA borders should be referred to the PPS Foreign Section. They are equipped to manage varied types of imports and exports and the many legal requirements on behalf of the University.

Imports and exports

Foreign imports and exports are subject to many regulations as specified by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Department of Health and the South African Revenue Services (SARS).

Compliance with these guidelines ensures that the interests and good reputation of the University are protected.

In addition, compliance could avoid the following problems for a department:

  • Unnecessary costs;
  • Delays at Customs which could have serious consequences for time sensitive research projects; and
  • Goods being returned to the sender where the receiving department (and therefore the fund used for customs and freight costs) cannot be identified.


All goods entering the country are subject to duty and VAT.

Proof of payment of these costs (Bill of Entry) is required to support:

  • Forex payments for these goods, and
  • The sending of equipment out of the country for repair, whether they were donations or purchases.

Payment methods

All foreign payments are processed via Standard Bank Online, using the purchaser order number created within the department as a reference.

You may use your Procurement Card (PCard), as a payment tool for Foreign purchases up to the value of R50 000. Please inform the Foreign team before using your PCard, so that they can advise you accordingly with regards to Customs requirements.

Goods and services can be procured by two methods:

  1. PCard process (Limited to R50,000.00 per transaction for Imported Goods as per SARB regulations. Transactions may not be split to circumvent limits)

    Below is an extract from the Reserve Bank of South Africa document entitled “Currency and Exchanges Guidelines for Business Entities, 2022-04-25”

    6.1 Payment via credit and/or debit cards
    Business entities may effect payment for small transactions (e.g. imports over the Internet) by means of a credit and/or debit card within the limit of R50 000 per transaction. Cardholders will, however, not be absolved from ad valorem excise and custom duties or from complying with the requirements imposed by Customs. Any singular transaction exceeding R50 000 may not be split to circumvent the limit applicable to this dispensation. For more information see Downloads on the right.
  2. Purchase Order process

    PCard Purchases

    • Imported goods must be Customs cleared and related VAT & Duties paid
    • Consult PPS-Foreign prior to paying clearing cost via PCard or request PPS-Foreign to facilitate the clearing process
    • Please provide PPS-Foreign with Customs documentation for storage and presentation thereof for related SARB & SARS audits

    Purchase Orders

    • See Foreign Quick Guide for detailed instructions, invoice and supporting documents required
    • Please make budgetary allowance for importation, customs clearance, VAT and duties associated cost where applicable

Notes for Foreign Purchase Orders

  • Add additional line on PO for Outward Telegraphic Transfer (OTT) banking charges of 0.01
  • Add additional line for VAT if applicable (foreign vendor is registered with SARS)
  • One Time Foreign Vendors: Use vendor code 201450 for foreign currency and 204154 for ZAR currency
  • New Foreign Vendors: Complete MM027 and send completed form to Vendor Management

Transfers to SA citizens living abroad

  • Irrelevant of foreign residency status (i.e. residence permit or visa), Individuals must provide proof of formalisation of their South African emigration status. Alternatively, the money must be paid into their South African bank account from where the individual can transfer the money abroad in their personal capacity.

    Extract from the Reserve Bank of South Africa document entitled “Currency and Exchanges Guidelines for Individuals, 2022-04-25”

    4.3 Authorised Dealers may allow the transfer of assets abroad, provided a private individual:
    (a) has ceased to be a resident for tax purposes in South Africa;
    (b) has obtained a TCS in respect of “emigration” from SARS; and
    (c) is tax compliant upon verification of the TCS.

For more information see Downloads on the right.

Transactions with Common Monetary Area residents (Lesotho, Namibia & eSwatini)

  • Transfers must be in South African Rand
  • Extract from the Reserve Bank of South Africa document entitled “Currency and Exchanges Guidelines for Individuals, 2022-04-25”

    8.1 Introduction
    There are no foreign exchange restrictions between banks of the CMA member countries in respect of cross-border transactions amongst themselves. Lesotho, Namibia and eSwatini have their own monetary authorities and legislation. The application of exchange control within the CMA is governed by the Multilateral Monetary Agreement. Investments and transfers of funds in Rand from/to South Africa to/from other CMA countries do not require the approval of the Financial Surveillance Department.
    CMA country currencies comprise of the following: South African Rand, Lesotho Maloti, eSwatini Emalangeni and Namibian Dollar.

    8.2 General
    Individuals from other CMA countries should note that South African Authorised Dealers are not permitted to enter into foreign exchange transactions (i.e. in foreign currency other than CMA country currencies) with residents of other CMA countries. If such requests are received, residents of other CMA countries will be referred back to their bankers in the CMA country concerned.

For more information see Downloads on the right.


SAP Exchange Rate explained
PO/Commitment rate
Based on daily rate obtained and uploaded from Standard Bank on day PO is raised. Commitment value can be observed in Fund.
GRV rate
Based on daily rate obtained and uploaded from Standard Bank on day goods are receipted. Value can be observed in PO.
Invoice rate
Actual exchange rate applied at time of forex transaction. Value can be observed in PO
Variations in the Fund
Result of SAP background processes to zero exchange rate differences between GRV and Invoice values
Documents NOT required for foreign purchases including Sole Supplier
- Request for approval of deviation from tender procedure
- Request for exception to finance policy
Is PPS approval required for foreign consultancy agreements?

No, not required. Approval process as per GEN002

If a South African company invoice in foreign currency, with South African banking details, should a foreign PO be raised?

No – the Rand equivalent of the currency on the day of the payment will be paid via the local Creditors Department. A vendor request needs to be submitted for this payment to be made. The foreign payment system should therefore not be used.