How Long Does It Take to Claim VAT Back?

By Dave Nyam •  Updated: 01/23/24 •  5 min read

Claiming a Value Added Tax refund in South Africa can be a complex process with varying timelines depending on your circumstances. VAT is a consumption tax paid on goods and services, and tourists and certain vendors can apply for VAT refunds. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the time frames for claiming VAT refunds, how to check the status of your refund, what happens when you claim VAT back, and the steps to claim VAT back in South Africa.

How Long Does It Take to Claim VAT Back

The time it takes to claim a VAT refund in South Africa can differ based on your eligibility and the refund amount. Here are some general timelines:

Tourists and Foreign Enterprises

Tourists and foreign enterprises can claim VAT refunds on goods they take out of the country when the total value exceeds R250. Exported goods should ideally leave within 90 days from the tax invoice date, barring a few exceptions noted in Part One of the Export Regulations. While refund processing durations can fluctuate, adherence to the correct protocols and thorough documentation significantly streamline the refund process.

Vendors

Vendors can claim back VAT on specific business-related expenses, enhancing their financial flexibility. SARS aims to pay VAT refunds to vendors within 21 business days of receiving the correctly completed VAT return. However, the actual processing time might vary based on factors like the accuracy and completeness of your submission.

Refund Amount

Refunds for different amounts might have different processing times. Generally, VAT refunds for claims less than R3,000.00 are loaded onto the VAT Refund Card within 3-4 weeks of the claimant’s departure date. Larger refunds may take longer, and ensuring all documentation is crucial to avoid delays.

Claim Approval

The endorsement of VAT refund claims significantly influences the processing duration. After SARS approves your claim, anticipate a refund timeline of about 3 months. Their approval process typically entails a thorough review of your records and adherence to tax guidelines.

How Do I Check My South African Tax Refund Status?

Checking the status of your tax refund in South Africa, including VAT refunds, can be done through the SARS eFiling system. Check how:

  1. SARS eFiling
    • Visit the main SARS eFiling online portal.
    • Use your credentials/particulars to sign in to your SARS account.
    • Visit the “Returns” site section.
    • Pick the “Income Tax” page or the “VAT” section, depending on your expected refund.
    • Check the “Refund” page for the refund status display.
    • You’ll check the payment date after the refund processing step.
  2. Contact SARS
    You can contact SARS directly if you can’t access your eFiling account or have questions about your refund. SARS has various contact channels, including phone and email, to assist taxpayers with their queries.

What Happens When You Claim Back VAT?

When you claim back VAT in South Africa, several key steps and processes come into play:

You must submit a correctly completed VAT return to claim a VAT refund. This return should detail your eligible expenses and purchases for which you’re seeking a refund.

SARS reviews the submitted documentation to ensure compliance with tax regulations. This stage could entail confirming the validity and precision of the data submitted.

Once your request is endorsed, the reimbursement is initiated. As previously mentioned, the timeframe for processing may differ based on the sum, your qualifications, and additional considerations.

If your claim is successful, SARS will arrange for a refund payment. The payment method can vary, but refunds are often loaded onto a VAT Refund Card for easy access.

Maintaining proper documentation and ensuring compliance with tax regulations is crucial to facilitate a smooth refund process.

SARS may communicate with you during the process if they require additional information or have questions about your claim.

How Do I Claim South Africa VAT Back?

To claim VAT back in South Africa, you need to follow specific steps:

  1. Eligibility: Ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria. Tourists, foreign enterprises, and certain vendors can claim VAT refunds.
  2. Documentation: Keep detailed records of your eligible expenses and purchases. This includes tax invoices and receipts.
  3. Submission: Complete the VAT return form accurately. For tourists and foreign enterprises, ensure that your goods are exported within 90 days from the tax invoice date.
  4. Submit the Claim: Submit your VAT refund claim to SARS. This can often be done through the eFiling system.
  5. Wait for Approval: After submission, wait for SARS to review and approve your claim. This can be a time-consuming step, as previously indicated.
  6. Receive Reimbursement: Upon approval, you’ll receive your refund, which can be loaded onto a Value Added Tariff Refund Card or disbursed via alternative methods.
  7. Adherence to Regulations: Ensuring compliance with tax regulations is critical at every stage. Maintaining meticulous records and adhering to the established guidelines is essential.
  8. Seek Assistance: Should you require guidance or have inquiries about your claim, don’t hesitate to dial SARS for support.

In conclusion, the duration for reclaiming VAT in South Africa can vary based on several factors, including your eligibility, the refund amount, and the validation process. To facilitate a seamless refund process to adhere to the correct protocols, maintain accurate documentation, and uphold tax compliance.

Keep Reading

What Is The Penalty For Late Payment Of VAT In 2024?

What Is The Penalty For Late Payment Of VAT In 2024?

Today we are looking at what to do in the event of penalty for late payment of VAT. 

How To Calculate A Price Excluding VAT

How To Calculate A Price Excluding VAT

There will be times when you want to know what the price excluding VAT was on an item, either as part of your own price calculations as a business

Can You Claim VAT on the Commission Paid in South Africa?

Can You Claim VAT on the Commission Paid in South Africa?

This guide provides insights into claiming VAT on commission paid in South Africa, understanding the calculation of VAT on commission

How To Become A VAT Vendor

How To Become A VAT Vendor

Remember that you can also voluntarily register as a VAT vendor at a much lower turnover if it will benefit your business

How to Claim Back VAT in South Africa

How to Claim Back VAT in South Africa

How to Claim Back VAT in South Africa. Read on to learn how to claim back value-added tax in South Africa.   

How To Claim A VAT Refund In South Africa

How To Claim A VAT Refund In South Africa

Today we look at some facts everyone should know about VAT refunds in South Africa and claiming them.

How To Check VAT Refund Status

How To Check VAT Refund Status

Today we will walk you through how to How To Check VAT Refund Status in South Africa, as well as some other tips and tricks around refunds. 

How is VAT Calculated in South Africa?

How is VAT Calculated in South Africa?

In this extensive guide, we'll delve into the workings of VAT calculation in South Africa, providing insights into subtracting VAT from an amount

How To Apply For VAT Exemption

How To Apply For VAT Exemption

There is also a wider category of goods and services that do not generate VAT on the end user. Today we look at these in more detail.

What is a VAT Reverse Charge in South Africa?

What is a VAT Reverse Charge in South Africa?

Specifically, when it comes to valuable metals, the responsibility for accounting and paying VAT does a bit of a switcheroo.

How To Get A VAT Exemption Certificate

How To Get A VAT Exemption Certificate

Today, we will break down the idea of VAT exemption further and bring some clarity to this often-confusing area of VAT payments in South Africa.

How Much Does It Cost To Register A Company For VAT?

How Much Does It Cost To Register A Company For VAT?

Today we are looking more closely at the VAT registration process, especially regarding costs and requirements

How is VAT Collected in South Africa?

How is VAT Collected in South Africa?

This piece offers insights into the collection of VAT in South Africa, its overseers, the resultant revenue, the various types of VAT

Which Incomes Are Taxable Under PAYE And VAT

Which Incomes Are Taxable Under PAYE And VAT

This post will delve into the details to better understand which wages are subject to taxation under PAYE and VAT.

How to Claim VAT on Exported Goods?

How to Claim VAT on Exported Goods?

To be eligible to claim a VAT refund on export items, there are different things you should know. Read on to learn how to claim VAT on exported goods.