Can I legally Distill at Home in South Africa?

A Big Fat Yes, that’s what you want to hear right!

One of the most frequent questions that we get to answer almost daily is can I legally distill at home and how do I register my still?

The legislation changes from time to time, and there is a lot of false information out there.  Here at Ketelkraal we stay abreast and post notifications when Rules/Regulation/Legislation change.

In S.A., Law allows you to Distill at home only if you fulfill their criteria. You are not allowed to sell/barter or exchange for favors any homemade alcohol to anyone.  The use of your alcohol must be for personal consumption only.

Distilling at home falls under Article 116 of the Law yet we discuss the matter as pertaining  Article 116 Registration.

Two essential things you need to do are:

  1.  Register your Still
  2.  Register yourself as a Home Distiller

Both registrations are required for you to operate as a Home Distiller.

Please note that the South African Law states very clearly that only a registered still manufacturer is allowed to manufacture, repair, import and sell stills. In other words, if you want to buy a still from someone that cannot give the manufacturing serial number with the SARS manufacturing number, you will obtain an illegal still, and may result in undesirable ramifications for you as a Distiller.

Ketelkraal is a registered still manufacturer importer and can do repair work. The Law requires us to fulfill the following requirements.

  1. permanently affix the registration number obtained in terms of the registration under paragraph (b) to such still, together with his name, address and the capacity of the still; and
  2. keep a register with the following information 

       1: registration number contemplated in paragraph (c);

      2: date of manufacture, where applicable;

      3:date of importation, where applicable;

      4:type, brand and capacity; and

      5: the following information on the sale of such still sales invoice, number; date of purchase, the value of purchase, name and address of the purchaser, delivery note number; and delivery address.

Another question we get is, can I manufacture my own still and can Ketelkraal  assist in the registration  of it on my behalf?  The answer is a resounding YES.  However, you must make sure that you fulfill all the safety and legal requirements to do this.

Ketelkraal cannot go on a home still builders word that the still is safe and sound. You will be required to book it in, and we run the necessary tests ti establish still safety and soundness of quality.  Please feel free to get in touch if this is something you would like to do.

These tests include:

  • a Materials Test (to ensure no lead, aluminium or other dangerous metals or materials was used)
  • a capacity test (as the capacity must be listed on the serial number)
  • and a safety check (structurally and for leaks and other dangerous design or construction flaws).  

 SARS offices and officials are not equipped for these tests, they cannot accept liability, and therefore they cannot issue Serial Numbers.

In addition to the above requirements, a Registered Still Manufacturer must also comply with the following regulations:

Every licensee of a customs and excise manufacturing warehouse (including a registered Still Maker) shall, unless exempted by the Controller, keep a record of their stock, The licensee shall record daily particulars of receipts of materials, nature and quantities of excise-able goods manufactured (if applicable), nature and quantities of by-products or other goods manufactured and disposal of goods manufactured and such other particulars as the Controller may require in each case. Such stock record shall, when not in use, be kept in a fire-proof safe.

 Every licensee of a customs and excise manufacturing warehouse (including a registered Still Maker) shall furnish to the Controller such returns showing such particulars and at such times and under such conditions as he may decide. 

Can I buy a Secondhand Still?

Yes, but only if done according to the correct procedure. 

No person may sell, remove or otherwise dispose of a still unless the nearest customs and excise office has approved in writing.

So, the only way you can legally sell or buy a still secondhand is if the current owner of the still has cancelled his registration of the still with SARS, and then changed the registration details to your details.

The sale of the still creates a record of the Still being linked to you as an individual. This record of sale then needs to be matched to your Registration of the Still.


SARS simply grant distillers allowance to make use of stills. Since it  belongs to them, they need to know where all the stills are located and to whom they are registered at any given time.

The fact of the matter is that the registration of yourself and you still are not a voluntary process. The Law requires it from you:

 To be a legitimate Home Distiller and you need to complete Article 116 Registration (the Section of the Legislation that deals with the Manufacture of Excise-able Goods solely for own use by the manufacturer) relied on the individual filling out two forms – a DA104 to register the still, and a DA185 to register as an Article 116 Manufacturer.

First, you need to have a still with all the requirements, (discussed earlier), on the still. You cannot register without having a still, because the still details are required on the forms.

You will need some personal information here such as address etc.

Then you need to indicate the reason for registration.  What do you want to register?

  • DA185 – Cover Sheet
  • DA185.4A15 -To register you as person and
  • DA185.4B12 – To possess a still

With the above docs completed there will be supporting documents required.

  • Original Letter from the bank that shows your account detail, address,  account number etc.
  • Original three months bank statement each page stamped

 ii. Original or certified copies of the following documents (whichever is relevant):

  1. Municipal account to confirm the address details, lease agreement in case of rental or police affidavit;
  2. Detailed site plan of where the still will be used (can be a roughly drawn sketch, not necessarily required but recommended to ensure fast processing of application);
  3. VAT, PAYE, SDL or UIF letters from SARS to confirm revenue registration details (or a police affidavit stating you are not registered for Tax in the case of a Student, etc.);
  4. A fixed telephone line operator’s and/or cell phone account to confirm contact details. Please note that the account must be in your name. If not you will need an affidavit with police stamp from the account holder stating you are using the number and the reason
  5.  Certified Copy of Identity/passport documents of the individual that is applying
  6. Pictures of the still(s) you want to register

As mentioned earlier, the rules may change, and you can find that they might require more info, but to date, we have facilitated many successful registrations with the above information.

There is currently no cost involved to register to become a home distiller should you wish to do so in your personal capacity and on your own time.

Your registration permit is valid for three years from the date of issue.

May I possess more than one still?  The forms make provision for that and the same rules apply for each still you want to register.

What will happen if I don’t register myself and my still?

  1. You can get a fine or a warning.
  2. SARS can fine you for the production of excise-able goods. The formula is unclear, but it can be worked out based on full production for a year.
  3. If found guilty, you can get a negative entry of a liquor-related crime against your name that will prevent you from manufacture or start a Distillery for at least three years.

  What type of stills may I possess?

In our courses, we discuss the different stills; in other words, don’t let these confuse you.  All of the following can be registered and owned by a home Distiller:

  • Pot Stills/Alembic Stills
  • Hybrid Stills
  • Adjustable Reflux Column
  • Fractionating Reflux Column Stills
  • Multi-Column Stills

There are basically two types of Home Distillers, one that wants to make some potable alcohol for a hobby or craft, and those who wish to practice at home, get their recipes in place, polish their products and scale up to a commercial Distillery.

The South African Legislation does not specify any restrictions on Still Type, (Except continuous stills) And size.

SARS can inspect your still should they wish to do so.  

They don’t come often but always act in such a way that they can visit you anytime. Treat your Hobby with respect and make sure all your paperwork is in order, and that you a legitimate Home Distiller.

Record Keeping

Yes, we all hate admin, but if you do it right, it’s not that much, and it will keep you out of trouble.

The following will be required from you as a Home Distiller.

116.02 A manufacturer of excise-able goods solely for own use, who is registered as contemplated in item (i) of paragraph (a) of rule 116.01, must –

(a) keep detailed records in respect of the –

   1: description of any goods manufactured and stored;

   2: description of any manufacturing and storage processes;

   3: the capacity of any manufacturing plant and equipment;

   4: the capacity of any storage facility and equipment;

   5: monthly register of any goods manufactured that reflects the –

    6: opening stock at the start of the month;

    7: quantities manufactured and stored;

    8: quantities used and purpose of use;

    9: quantities removed and purpose of removal;

    10: quantities lost or destroyed and the reason; and

    11: closing stock at the end of the month; and

You will be required to keep a record for a period of 5 years after the manufacturing date.

These records are almost the same as the requirement for a Commercial Distiller, and it will get you into the good habit by making sure you on the right side of the Law if you want to step up your game and start your very own distillery.

There is no official format prescribed by the Law regards to how the form must look or a template.  As long as you have all the above on record, you good to go.

Ketelkraal takes pride in referring Home Distillers to an expert Registration Consultant to assist you in these matters should you wish to circumvent having to facilitate the process yourself.  The Consultant Fee is R1 500.00 per still registration.  Mail to get the referral you need.

SO, to cut a long story short, make sure you buy a legal still, register it and yourself, and use it correctly, to avoid any problems.