The transit time for over-the-border consignments can be shorter by road than by rail (or sometimes even by air). This is because the road haulier controls the delivery of the goods right up to the final destination (which may be near the border and far from the main airport), whereas goods transported by rail can be delayed when railway trucks are handed over from one railway authority to another.
Convenience of distribution
When goods are being exported to a neighbouring country, a road haulage service may provide either direct delivery to the importer or to a convenient point nearby.
Freight rates in respect of road freight rates are generally lower than those rates offered for carriage by air. However consideration should be given to the higher risk which cargo is exposed to when freighting goods by road, and, as an example of this, it is worth noting that insurance cover for war and riots, is not available when goods are dispatched by road or rail freight. Road freight movements are prepaid, as road hauliers are reluctant to deliver cargo into an African country without having the freight prepaid in South Africa.
VAT and customs requirements for road freight
There are many delays associated with customs clearance of goods at the border posts. To avoid unnecessary delays, the exporter or his freight forwarder must ensure that all the necessary documentation has been supplied and accurately completed, to ensure ease of movement through the border post.
The goods moving into African countries can be cleared at the closest customs office at their place of origin in South Africa. The following documents are required:
- A customs-authorised bill of entry
- A commercial invoice
Unlike ocean or airfreight, there is no standard transport document for road haulage. Road hauliers normally design their own waybills, which resemble road manifests. Customs and Excise require a border stamped copy of the bill of entry as proof of export. If the exporter cannot ensure receipt of this copy he must charge VAT to the importer, and this amount would be stated on the commercial invoice.
In many African countries there are severe foreign exchange shortages and import permits have to be obtained by the importer prior to the importation of goods. It is the responsibility of the exporter to ensure that the import permit will be available at the border at the time of customs clearance. The import permit number should be stated on all necessary documents these are:
- Commercial Invoice
- Road consignment note
- Packing list
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