Discover SA’s Tax-Free Shopping: List of VAT-Exempt Items

Are you planning to travel to South Africa and wondering how to save money while shopping for souvenirs or gifts? Here is some good news – there are certain items that are exempt from value-added tax (VAT) in South Africa. VAT is a type of consumption tax applied on most goods and services sold in the country, but not all items are subject to it. In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive list of VAT-exempt items in South Africa to help you make informed decisions during your shopping spree.

What is Value-Added Tax (VAT)?

Before we dive into the list of VAT-exempt items, let’s first understand what value-added tax (VAT) means. VAT is a type of indirect tax applied at each stage of the supply chain when goods or services are sold. It is levied on the difference between the cost price and selling price, which effectively means that consumers bear the ultimate burden of paying it while purchasing products or services.

In South Africa, most consumer goods and services have a standard rate of 15% VAT added to their selling prices. However, there are some exceptions where either no VAT applies or reduced rates apply.

List of VAT-Exempt Items

The following list provides an overview of common consumer goods that are exempted from VAT in South Africa:

Basic Food Items

  • Brown bread
  • Maize meal
  • Samp
  • Mealie rice
  • Dried beans
  • Lentils
  • Pilchards/sardines canned/ tinned fish
  • Milk powder

Educational Materials & Medical Supplies

Educational Material:

  • Books (in various formats)
  • Children’s activity and coloring books

Medical Supplies:

  • Condoms
  • Lubricating jellies for sexual use

Sanitary Products/Services

  • Sanitary towels
  • Tampons

Non-luxury Exported Goods

Goods that are exported from South Africa are VAT-exempt, provided they meet certain criteria.


Diesel or petrol used in farming equipment is zero-rated for VAT.


Now that you know which items are exempt from value-added tax (VAT) in South Africa, you can plan your shopping trip accordingly and save money on purchases. However, it’s important to note that this list of VAT-exempt items is not exhaustive and may be subject to change without prior notice.

We hope this article has been helpful in providing valuable insights into tax-free shopping in South Africa. Happy shopping!

Product Name Price
Portable Espresso Maker $49.99
Mason Jar Indoor Herb Garden $20.00
Scratch Off USA Map $26.95
Winc Wine Club Subscription Starts at $39/month
Personalized Family Cookbook Binder Set $80.00
Long Distance Touch Bracelet Set $98.00
Custom Pet Portrait Pillow $58.00
Himalayan Salt Tequila Glasses- Set of 4 $28.00


Sure, here are three popular FAQs and their answers related to South Africa’s Tax-Free Shopping:

What is tax-free shopping in South Africa?

Tax-free shopping refers to goods that are exempt from value-added tax (VAT) in South Africa. This means that travelers visiting the country can purchase certain items without having to pay VAT on them, making them more affordable.

Which items are VAT-exempt under the tax-free shopping scheme in South Africa?

The following categories of items are usually VAT-exempt under the tax-free shopping scheme in South Africa:
– Food products, such as coffee, tea, cereal, and spices
– Baby products, including diapers and infant food
– Medical supplies and medicines
– Books
– Educational materials

It is important to note that not all products within these categories may be eligible for exemption from VAT.

How do I claim a VAT refund on purchases made through tax-free shopping in South Africa?

Travelers who have qualified for tax-free shopping can reclaim their VAT by presenting their receipt(s) along with their passport and return airline ticket at one of the approved electronic service kiosks located at major airports or designated commercial ports of departure. A customs official will verify eligibility before processing the refund which will typically be refunded into your original payment method within a few weeks after you’ve left SA.

These were just some basic FAQs about Tax-Free Shopping List of Vat-exempted Items provided by Discover SA’s website. The information contained herein should only serve as guidance; always refer back to government documentation if there is any question regarding legislation or procedure involved with claiming back taxes while traveling abroad especially during this pandemic period as rules are subject to change without prior notice