If you buy more than three items from international retail sites in one year, Sars will automatically identify you as an official importer.
South Africans who import more than three shipments from overseas in a year will have to apply for an importer's code from Sars in order to receive their goods.
And it's quite a hassle, says Mike Hibbert.
Mike relayed his experience of red tape, long queues and time wasted while undergoing the application process - which he says is still pending.
He says he applied for an import code on August 8. He was told it would take 10 days to receive.
He is still waiting.
Mike bemoans the admin and paperwork involved in the process, including the need for documents such as tax clearance forms.
Tax practitioner Pete says the import code has to be renewed yearly by law.
The expert exlpains why the laborious process is a "messy business".
It's reported that Sars only recently began to enforce this practice, which has been upheld in the Customs and Excise Act, as more and more shoppers move online.
As a consumer, I've been bringin in goods to South Africa, like electronics and what have you.— Mike Hibbert, Simon's Town resident
In the past, the courier would call, and you'd have to give them your ID number. That would reflect and you would pay your [custom] duties.— Mike Hibbert, Simon's Town resident
But this new law kicked in and I got a call from one of the couriers about a month ago, saying I needed this import code. I had no idea what they were talking about.— Mike Hibbert, Simon's Town resident
It's for my own personal consumption.— Mike Hibbert, Simon's Town resident
It the pain of having to do this and wasting the entire day to have this done.— Mike Hibbert, Simon's Town resident
It's not easy to import or export in this country.— Pete, tax practitioner
To learn more visit the Sars website.
Take a listen to the discussion on The John Maytham Show:
This article first appeared on CapeTalk : [LISTEN] Big online shopper? Sars has its eyes on you (and your imports)