Good news for SA bikers: Duty tax on selective gear like helmets reduced to 0%

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Bike helmers in a store.
Bike helmers in a store.

All motorcycle helmets sold in South Africa are imported.

• Helmets traditionally attracted a 25% import duty.

• The import duty has now been reduced to zero following a ITCSA ruling.

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Following a three year process, the International Trade Commission of South Africa considered an application by the Association of Motorcycle Importers and Distributors SA (AMID) to reduce the rate of customs duty on safety headgear, including motorcycle helmets, to zero.

The Commission announced on 12 May that classifiable under tariff subheading 6506.10.90 helmets, including motorcycle helmets, which traditionally attracted a 25% ad valorem, are now classified as free of duty through the creation of an additional 8-digit tariff subheading.

A major contributing factor to this decision was that the Commission found no local manufacturers of motorcycle helmets. Comments from Armscor SOC Limited supported this finding.

A compulsory essential

The customs duty on other safety headgear, classifiable under tariff subheading 6506.10.90 from 25% ad valorem to free, includes other helmets for motorcyclists or other motorsports, including motorboat activities.

During the process, AMID contested that although there is no local manufacturer of helmets, wearing a motorcycle helmet is compulsory in terms of Section 207 of the National Road Traffic Act. Irrespective of the law, it is an absolutely essential piece of safety equipment when operating a motorcycle.

A motorcycle helmet has a recommended life of 3-5 years, depending on the frequency of use. If the helmet is dropped or involved in a collision, it is recommended that the helmet be replaced immediately.

Approximately 40% of motorcycles sold in South Africa are small capacity motorcycles typically used in the commercial sector, such as for fast food deliveries. The previously imposed 25% import duty made the proper replacement and use of helmets prohibitively expensive, resulting in many lower-end users wearing extremely old helmets.

AMID particularly hope that the 25% saving will be enough to enable commercial motorcycle riders to purchase a new helmet, which will significantly increase safety in an accident.

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