Zimra introduces new Vehicle Importation Rules: You must obtain number plates from CVR before leaving the border!


In a bid to crack down on the rising cases of vehicle smuggling and fraudulent registrations, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has introduced new regulations tightening vehicle import rules. The move aims to eradicate customs fraud and ensure the integrity of the country’s borders.

Under the new order, Zimbabweans importing vehicles through the country’s borders, particularly Beitbridge and Plumtree, are now required to obtain number plates from the Central Vehicle Registry (CVR) before leaving the ports of entry or the transit-sheds where import documents are processed. This rule applies to all vehicles, except those imported by diplomats or registered car dealers who are allowed to use temporary registration plates.

The decision to enforce stricter regulations comes as a response to the alarming increase in cases of vehicles being smuggled into the country and later fraudulently registered. Customs fraud, which involves deliberate misrepresentation or undervaluation of imported goods, poses a significant threat to the country’s revenue collection and security.

According to a Zimra official at Beitbridge, who wished to remain anonymous, the implementation of these regulations was long overdue. The official stated, “These regulations have always been in place, as provided by section 49A of the Customs and Excise Act Chapter 23:02. However, we have now decided to take a more proactive approach to curb the rising cases of customs fraud.”

To ensure compliance, Zimra began implementing the new regulations at Beitbridge and Plumtree on July 1, 2024. Customs clearing agents were notified of these changes at the beginning of June, allowing them time to adjust their operations accordingly. Failure to adhere to the new rules may result in vehicles being detained and released only upon proper registration.

Previously, vehicle importers were able to release vehicles from the border using temporary registration plates with a validity of 14 days. However, the revision of this system was deemed necessary due to the increasing instances of import fraud, particularly involving pre-owned cars.

Zimra issued a public notice clarifying the requirements for vehicle registration. Importers are now required to provide several documents, including a valid police clearance stamped by the Vehicle Theft Squad (VTS), the original ASYCUDA receipt-of-duty payment, and an original Insurance Cover Note accompanied by a photocopy of the same. Proof of residence, stamped and authorized by a commissioner of oaths, along with a photocopy of the national identity document, are also necessary.

Furthermore, Zimra requests an affidavit or letter of authority stamped by the police or a power of attorney notarized by a legal representative, where applicable. For registered clearing agents, a valid Zimra-stamped ID is required. Immigrants or returning residents must present their original passport and all export documents from the shipping country, as well as the Consignment Based Conformity Assessment (CBCA) certificate.

Zimra emphasized that no vehicle will be released from their custody without proper registration, unless authorized by the authority. These measures aim to ensure that vehicles entering the country are accounted for and that fraudulent activities are curtailed.

The implementation of these stricter rules has been met with mixed reactions. While some applaud Zimra’s efforts to combat customs fraud and protect the country’s revenue, others express concerns over the potential delays and bureaucratic processes that importers may face.

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