Returning residents may bring in specified goods duty free

Did you know that household and personal effects and other goods for personal use that are imported by qualifying individuals (but not companies) can qualify for a rebate of duty and import Value Added Tax (VAT) in terms of the Customs and Excise Act [Chapter 23:02] as read with Section 105 of the General Regulations, and Section 12 (3) of the Value Added Tax Act [Chapter 23:12]? Goods imported for commercial or trade purposes do not qualify for a rebate under these provisions.

Who qualifies for the immigrant’s rebate?

The rebate is granted to an individual who comes to Zimbabwe:-

  • To take up employment or permanent residence; or
  • As a visitor but remains to take up employment or permanent residence; or
  • As a diplomat but remains to take up employment or permanent residence or to attend any educational institution; or
  • For the purposes of attending any educational institution.

In the circumstances mentioned above, spouses of such persons are included. However, any person who has previously resided or has been employed in Zimbabwe and who has been outside Zimbabwe for less than two years is excluded.

The person requesting for the rebate will be required to attend an interview at the Customs port through which the goods are being imported and will also be required to complete a questionnaire.

What documents does one need to submit to be considered for the immigrants rebate?

  • Employment record or residence permit
  • Proof that one has completed such studies - for a person who has been pursuing studies
  • Proof that one has terminated such contract - for a person who has been on a contract of employment
  • Proof of such absence from Zimbabwe - for a person who has been on an extended absence from Zimbabwe
  • A certificate stating that such effects and other goods were owned by him/her at the time of his/her arrival and at their time of importation
  • In the case of a motor vehicle, a certificate stating that a rebate has not been granted to him/her in respect of a motor vehicle during the previous four years
  • A certificate that such effects and other goods are intended for his/her own use in Zimbabwe and will not be used for trade or commercial purposes
  • A written undertaking that such effects and other goods will not be sold or disposed of in any manner and that he/she shall not leave Zimbabwe for a period of more than six months within 24 months of arrival as stated below (conditions after importing)
  • A written undertaking to pay such duty as may become due if he/she decides to sell or dispose of in any manner or if  he/she decides to leave Zimbabwe for a period of more than six months within 24 months of arrival as stated below (conditions after importing)
  • Satisfactory evidence relating to the acquisition, ownership or purchase of the goods as may be required by the Commissioner.

What kind of goods can be imported under the Immigrant’s rebate?

An immigrant can import duty free;

  • Personal and household effects such as clothing, linen and furniture.
  • Motor vehicles limited to one vehicle per individual.
  • No person under the age of 16 is allowed to import a vehicle under this rebate.
  • Motor vehicles designed to transport 15 or more people including the driver and vehicles whose gross vehicle weight exceeds five tonnes are also excluded from this rebate.

Conditions to be met at the time of importation

  • The goods should have been owned by the immigrant at the time of his/her arrival and at the time of their importation.
  • The goods must also be in physical existence and fully paid for by the immigrant before the time of his/her arrival.

Time of arrival

  • For an immigrant coming for his first time to Zimbabwe, the time of arrival is the first occasion on which he/she enters Zimbabwe after the grant of his/her employment permit or resident permit.
  • If the immigrant does not depart from Zimbabwe after the grant of his/her permit, the time of arrival is the first occasion he/she imports personal goods or a personal vehicle within three months from the date of grant of the permit.

For an immigrant who has previously resided or has been employed in Zimbabwe and who:-

  • has been on a course of study, the time of arrival is the first occasion on which he/she returns to Zimbabwe after successfully completing such course of study; or
  • has been on contract of employment, the first occasion on which he/she returns to Zimbabwe after the expiry of such contract; or
  • has been on an extended absence for any other reason, the first occasion on which he/she returns to Zimbabwe:

Time of arrival for a former resident who enters Zimbabwe as a visitor and does not depart from Zimbabwe shall be deemed to be the first occasion on which he/she imports any personal and household effects and other goods within three months from the grant of his/her permanent returning resident status. For a former diplomat who remains in Zimbabwe to take up employment or permanent residence, his/her time of arrival is the first occasion he/she imports any personal and household effects and other goods within three months from the date of grant of his new employment permit or residence permit.

Please note that in all cases stated   above, if the immigrant fails to import within the stipulated three months’ period, any goods purchased and imported after three months would not qualify.

Conditions after Importing

The immigrant shall not sell or dispose of in any manner or display for sale goods in respect of which such rebate was granted within 24 months after the date of being granted such rebate unless:-

  • Written permission is granted by the Commissioner and
  • The duty which would have been payable at the time of granting the rebate is paid
  • An immigrant who has been granted a rebate of duty who emigrates or departs from Zimbabwe for a period of more than six (6) months within 24 months from the date the rebate was granted shall remove  the goods from Zimbabwe on his departure, unless:-
  • Prior written permission is granted by the Commissioner to leave the effects or such other goods in Zimbabwe
  • The duty which would have been payable at the time of granting the rebate is paid

NB: Any violation of the conditions above makes the goods liable to seizure. Misuse or attempts to misuse the provision on rebates is an offence in terms of section 174 and 184(g) of the Customs and Excise Act [Chapter 23:02] and can result in prosecution or penalties or seizure of the goods.

 
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