New Air Passenger Tax System

From 15 September 2023, SARS has implemented a new system for APT wherein the APT201 returns will now be submitted via eFiling including the payment thereof.

With effect from 15 September 2023, taxpayers will be issued with new APT tax numbers which must be used to register the APT client on eFiling and activate the tax type. The submission of accounts via eFiling will initially only be open to those clients that make use of the following banks:

Standard Bank
First National Bank
Citi Bank
The rest of the banks will be migrated in due course and SARS will notify clients accordingly.

It is important to note that even if the APT client does not make use of the above banks they are still required to make use of eFiling to make payment. These clients will in the meantime continue to submit their APT201 returns via the email channel to the Customs and Excise APT Team at OR Tambo International Airport as per the below contact details, however, it is important to note that payment of these accounts must be made through eFiling,

The APT rates are:

Standard rate (International flights): R190
Lower rate (BLNS countries): R100

With that update out of the way, what exactly is Air Passenger Tax?

In 2000, the Minister of Finance announced that an Air Passenger Tax (APT) was to be instituted on chargeable passengers on a chargeable aircraft departing from an airport in the Republic to a destination outside the Republic. This is also applicable to charter companies. For more information refer to Section 47(B) of the Customs and Excise Act No.91 of 1964.

The tax is NOT applicable to domestic flights. It is only applicable to chargeable passengers leaving on an international flight. Operators (airline), registered Agents (those acting on behalf of an operator), or charter operators will be liable for the payment of the APT to SARS on a monthly basis after the reconciliation of the passenger manifests. Non-passenger and cargo airlines will be required to register for APT purposes but will not be liable for APT payments.

All operators (airlines), duly appointed agents, and charter s have to register for this tax which can only be done at the Customs and Excise Branch Office at OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA).

Every operator or charter company must complete an APT102 and if an operator is required to appoint an agent the APT101 must also be completed, and the following documents must be attached:

Copy of company registration documents (issued by the Registrar of Companies and Close Corporations);
Copy of Operating Certificate (issued by the South African Civil Aviation Authority);
Proof of banking details (letter from the bank confirming the details); and
Any other documents/information as may be required by the Commissioner.

Once the above has been received, it will be captured on the SARS system and an APT reference number will be allocated to the operator that applied for registration.

An Operator, duly appointed agent, or charter company is liable to pay SARS, within 21 days after the end of the month during which the amount was collected. Where the 21st day is not a “Business Day” such payment must be made on or before the last “Business Day” prior to the 21st to avoid late payment which may incur interest and possible penalties.

If not already registered on SARS eFiling for other taxes it is required from the Operator, duly appointed agent, or charter company to register and use the SARS eFiling service when making payment. The EFT payment channel will be closed for APT.

All APT account payments from 15 September 2023 will have to be made via the eFiling system. The payment rules guide link is

Below is more exact detail of the APT’s applicability / non-applicability.

Liability for APT

a) Any registration shall be effective from the date of liability to register for APT.
b) In accordance with Section 47B of the Customs and Excise Act, No. 91 of 1964 (the Act) and the rules thereto, APT is charged on any chargeable passenger departing on a flight from an airport in South Africa to a destination in a territory outside South Africa.
c) The operator of a chargeable aircraft used for the carriage of any chargeable passenger must be registered for APT within seven (7) days of the time of becoming so liable. The operator may however register before any chargeable flight commences.
d) If an operator has no business establishment, other fixed establishment, or residency in South Africa who intends to carry chargeable passengers on a chargeable aircraft from a South African airport must appoint an agent whose place of business is in South Africa. The agent will be the operator’s representative in South Africa and must complete an APT 101.
e) The operator or his / her appointed agent must submit a completed APT 101 together with the letter of appointment from the operator. Furthermore, the Commissioner may also require a copy of the agreement between the operator and the agent.
f) The duly appointed agent of the operator will be registered and act on behalf of the operator for the purposes of the Act. Further to this, the provisions of Sections 44A (joint and several liabilities for duty), (liability of agent for obligations imposed on principal), and (liability of agent for obligations imposed on principal) apply mutatis mutandis to an operator and his/her agent.
g) An operator can only have one (1) agent acting on his / her behalf at any given stage. However, an agent can act on behalf of any number of operators.
h) Every operator, who owns or hires an aircraft, must complete an APT 102.
i) Operators who have a business establishment or other fixed establishment and are a resident in South Africa cannot appoint an agent to act on their behalf.
j) The chargeable passenger is liable for the tax that must be collected by the operator or the agent.
k) Section 47B provides that the tax must be charged at the applicable rate on the carriage of each chargeable passenger departing South Africa.
l) Complimentary or free tickets issued do not fall within the exemptions from APT. Therefore, where complimentary or free tickets are issued, the applicable rate must apply.
m) All correspondence and documentation for the operator will be sent to the agent’s postal address.
n) In the case of chartered flights, where no tickets are issued, each passenger on the chartered flight shall be liable for APT at the applicable rate. It is the responsibility of the operator or agent to collect and pay the tax.
o) In the instance of a person operating a once-off chargeable flight, carrying chargeable passengers he/she must still register and account for APT due on that flight. The normal application procedure must be followed. Once the APT has been accounted for the person may apply for the cancellation of the registration, if he/she is certain that no further chargeable flights will occur.

Non-liability for APT

a) Children below the age of two (2) years, who are not allocated a separate seat before boarding the aircraft, are not liable for APT. However, if a seat is purchased for a child below the age of two (2) years, APT is chargeable.
b) A passenger is not a chargeable passenger if not carried for reward in pursuance of any requirement imposed under any law and/or for the purposes only of inspecting matters relating to the aircraft or the flight crew.
c) A passenger whether or not carried for reward is not a chargeable passenger if he/she is carrying out a duty in terms of an international agreement, convention, or obligation, subject to the approval of the Commissioner and such conditions as he/she may impose in each case.
d) Any passenger, who is in transit through South Africa and departs from the transit area of the airport on a flight without entering South Africa by passing through immigration, is not a chargeable passenger.

e) Employees of an operator/airport:

i) Some categories of airline/airport employees are not regarded as passengers for APT purposes when they are engaged in duties on a flight. APT is not charged for the carriage of the following personnel:
    A) Flight crew;
    B) Cabin attendants;
    C) Employees escorting a passenger or goods;
    D) Employees undertaking repair, maintenance, safety, or security work;
    E) Employees ensuring the hygienic preparation and handling of food and drink;
    F) Airport aircraft handling, airport passenger handling, and cargo handling; and
    G) Airline business support services including passenger services, sales, marketing, finance, administration, information technology, and human resources functions.

ii) These employees are also exempt if they carry out the above duties within 72 hours of the flight ending;
iii) The exemption also applies to employees who begin a return journey within 72 hours after performing any of the above duties provided that they are returning to base, that is the place where they are normally stationed or from where they normally operate; and
iv) When the above employees are travelling as passengers, if they are not working, they are liable for APT.