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South Africa


The label must be in at least one of the official languages of South Africa (this includes English). The label must include the following information:

  • Name of the product
  • Name and address of the manufacturer, packer, seller, importer, or person on whose behalf the foodstuff is pre-packed;
  • Instructions for special storage conditions, if applicable;
  • The product’s country of origin

For more information on labeling requirements, please refer to the South African Department of Health's guidance document.

GM (Genetically Modified) Food Labeling:

Regulations on labeling for genetically modified foods and foods containing genetically modified organisms can be found in the “Regulations Relating to the Labeling of Foodstuffs Obtained Through Certain Techniques of Genetic Modification” published in the Government Gazette No. 25908 (January 16, 2004).

These rules require that a genetically modified (GM) food must be labeled as such if it differs significantly from the currently existing food/beverage in:

  • Composition,
  • Nutritional Value,
  • Mode of Storage, or
  • Mode of Preparation or Cooking

The definition of a genetically modified food includes:

  • Foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
  • Foods that contain GM-genetic material/protein
  • Foods obtained through genetic modification but not containing any genetic material/protein

For more information, please visit the Department of Health’s Food Control Directorate online at:

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  • An Import Certificate is required in order to import a liquor product in bulk/bottles (excluding beer) to South Africa. However, the importer must only apply for this once in the lifetime of the product, except when products in a separate shipment (or “consignment”) differ in container, composition, labeling, trade name or bottle size (only composition applies in the case of bulk imports). This certificate (or a copy) must be provided to release a consignment from Customs. This certificate can be obtained from the Liquor Products division.
  • A Certificate of Removal is required when the importer wishes to sell the liquor product (only applicable to bottled products) in South Africa. This certificate is necessary for each shipment. This can be obtained from Quality Audit Division (wine inspectors).
  • Permission for blending of liquor imported in bulk should be obtained when liquor products are imported in bulk and the importer intends to blend the overseas product with a South African or other overseas product. This permission is also necessary should the importer want to break down the bulk product with water. 
  • Permission to sell liquor imported in bulk after bottling is necessary if the importer wants to sell the product after blending (including water) and bottling.

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There are various divisions within the South African government that enforce the Liquor Products Act of 1989, which concerns the import and export of liquor products. The Directorate of Plant Health Quality is the main regulator, while other aspects related to importation are handled by the Department of Trade and Industry (antidumping, security reasons, etc.) as well as the Department of Health (food safety).

An Import Certificate serves as “preliminary approval” for importing specific liquor products (bulk or bottled). The application for this certificate must be accompanied by a sample consisting “of at least 750 ml of the product in question,” or in the case of a bottled import, “the sample must be submitted in the labeled container in which it will be sold…” This sample must be delivered to the office of the Liquor Products division, located at Quarantine Station outside Stellenbosch.

A chemical analysis will be performed on the sample that is provided to the office of the Liquor Products division, unless the importer provides an acceptable Analysis Certificate issued by an official laboratory in the country of origin. In the case of bottled products, the label on the bottle will also be evaluated to ensure that it complies with the Liquor Products Act of 1989. In the case of a bulk product, the label will be assessed when the application for a Permission to Sell certificate is received. After receiving approval from this division, consignments of the product may begin to be imported.

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At least 48 hours notice must be given to the Quality Audit division every time a shipment (or “consignment”) of liquor will enter South Africa. Once it arrives, the Importer must present the Import Certificate and obtain a pass from Quality Audit. A Certificate of Removal is also necessary if planning to sell or distribute the imported products, and this must be obtained for every consignment that arrives in South Africa. The consignment will be unpacked under the supervision of an inspector from the Quality Audit division. The certificate must be accompanied by a min. 750 ml sample (drawn from the consignment by the inspector), as well as the necessary certificates of “origin, age, [and] composition/cultivar,” as mentioned in the Liquor Products Act. For products that arrive in bulk, a Certificate of Permission for blending of liquor imported in bulk and/or a Certificate for Permission to sell liquor imported in bulk after bottling may be necessary. In order to learn more about the requirements and steps that must be taken for these last two certificates, as well as to see the fees associated with all certificates mentioned above, please see pgs. 6 and 7 of the Import Manual for Participants of the Import Trade; this can be downloaded here.

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For the most current tariffs and taxes applied to imported products for this country, please visit the Online Tariff Database provided by Tariffic.  Please ensure you have a 10-digit HS classification code in order to obtain tariff information. Also see the Census Bureau’s Schedule B search function (, which allows you to classify your product according to United States export codes. Simply click "Search" and enter the keyword (i.e. beer) that best describes your product.

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Office of the Agricultural Affairs FAS/USDA
U.E. Embassy, Pretoria
877 Pretorius Street
P O Box 9536
Pretoria, South Africa 0001
Tel: +27 12 431 4057
Fax: +27 12 342 2264


Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
Department of Plant Health

Directorate Food Safety and Quality Assurance (FSQA)
Sub-Directorate Agricultural Product Quality Assurance (AQA)
Private Bag X5015
South Africa
Tel: +27 21 809 1688
Fax: +27 21 887 6392
(for liquor product analysis)

Department of Health
Directorate: Food Control

Private Bag X828
Pretoria, 0001
South Africa
Tel: +27 12 395-8799 or 012 395 8800
Fax: +27 12 395 8854
Email: or

South African Embassy, Washington
3051 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington DC 20008
Tel: (202) 232-4400
Fax: (202) 265-1607

Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
Department of Plant Health

Directorate Food Safety and Quality Assurance (FSQA)
Sub-Directorate Agricultural Product Quality Assurance (AQ)
Private Bag X5015
Tel: +27 21 809 1687
Fax: +27 21 887 6392
(for import protocols)


The information in this guide was obtained from external sources, including the websites of various governmental agencies and organizations, direct contact with those agencies and organizations, and from Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Attaché reports. Consequently, the accuracy of this information depends upon the accuracy of the sources.

TTB is not responsible for the content of external websites.

This page was last reviewed on August 17, 2010.

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Page last reviewed: April 24, 2014
Page last updated: March 21, 2017
Maintained by: International Affairs Division

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