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SARS makes changes due to coronavirus – what you need to know

  • Staff Writer: Staff Writer

The South African Revenue Services (SARS) has announced a number of changes as the country continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic.

“As SARS, we have to balance the important work we do to collect revenue, facilitate service to taxpayers, travellers and traders, whilst at the same time taking reasonable measures to protect ourselves as SARS officials and yourselves as citizens of the republic,” it said.

“Following this, we will be adhering to strict general hygiene as well as social distancing to reduce the spread of the Covid-19.”

Below SARS outlined the changes to its operations as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Social distancing

  • Taxpayers are discouraged to come into branches and are advised to make use of online digital channels for all engagements. The majority of business can be done on the SARS eFiling platform:;
  • The mobiApp in addition to Personal Income Tax functionality provides additional information which SARS encourages you to download through an app store (Google Play or Apple Store). The SARS website ( will also be regularly updated with news and announcements;
  • If you still need to visit a SARS tax branch, strict adherence to social distancing and general hygiene practices will be applied;
  • Within the guidelines as set out by the president, a maximum of 100 taxpayers will be allowed in branches at any one point in time and will be managed firmly. All SARS branches, as well as ports of entry, have been equipped with hand sanitisers.
  • Additional SARS procedures have been put in place and will be utilised to ensure that work surfaces are regularly cleaned and sanitised. Staff have also been provided with additional protective gear such as gloves, and where required, additional protective equipment such as masks and suits.

Service-related matters 

  • A large part of the daily visitors to the SARS Tax offices are individuals requesting a tax reference number for the purpose of employment. Until further notice, SARS will no longer issue these tax reference numbers for this category of request and individuals are requested not to visit our branches for this purpose. SARS said it will shortly provide a solution whereby its digital channels (eFiling, mobiApp) will cater for this requirement;
  • If supporting documentation is required by SARS, you are encouraged to follow these guidelines:
    • Upload via eFiling;
    • Make use of the SARS mobiApp;
    • Drop off documents at a branch drop-box;
    • If all else fails, SARS will provide a drop box at its branch offices.

Ports of entry

  • If you need to visit or pass through a port of entry, SARS customs officials will also follow similar hygiene practices and in addition:


    • Physical contact with travellers will be avoided as far as possible;
    • Non-intrusive detecting devices such as baggage scanners will be deployed;
    • Where required, SARS staff will be issued with additional protective clothing and gear.

The number of South Africans infected rose to 85 on Tuesday (17 March), up from 62 the day before, and eight of those hadn’t travelled outside the country, the Department of Health said.

The new infections are mostly in Gauteng, which as the country’s most populous province carries the highest risk of transmission. The province accounts for over half of the confirmed cases in the country.

Among the 23 new cases, eight are local transmissions where the patients had no prior recorded international travel history.

Globally there have been 198,517 confirmed cases, with 82,763 recoveries and 7,988 deaths. There are 107,766 active cases, where 6,415 are in critical condition.