A Guide On Sending A Parcel To South Africa

Booking an international delivery to South Africa is a quick and easy task, but there are a few things you need to consider before making your booking. Although most people are aware of standard international shipping restrictions, sending a parcel to South Africa does require a bit of preparation to ensure your package reaches its destination with no delays or additional fees. ParcelHero® gives you a rundown of the do’s and don’ts when shipping to South Africa.

  • Customs Clearance and paperwork
  • Prohibited Items
  • Personal Effects/Gifts
  • Packaging

International Shipping & Customs

Whether you intend to use our luggage courier services to make your holiday in South Africa that tad easier, or send a gift to a loved one, every country has its customs regulations which set the duties and taxes. This means that the most important item that needs to accompany your package is the customs documentation. This lists the packaged items, their individual total value, and is a legal requirement for all imports so that the correct duty and tax can be applied. All international shipments travelling to a destination outside of the EU require this and is automatically provided after you complete our Instant Quote booking form.

Deliveries to South Africa come with an expected delivery transit time of 2-4 days. We always recommend customers ship a few days early, just in case there is a delay at customs.

The amount of duty and taxes you have to pay is based on a combination of factors; the reason for export, the type of product and the value of the items. The duty and tax fees are not applied by the courier but by the customs authority in the recipient country. Remember, high-value goods for re-sale can attract a higher level of import duty and tax than gifts, which won’t be sold.

To avoid delays make sure you include full contact details of the recipient; including mobile, email, address and a second contact number if possible. You should always follow the carrier’s packaging guidelines to ensure your shipment is fully covered under any insurance scheme. Take out enhanced cover on valuable, rare or sentimental shipments, but be aware you will need to prove the value of the items if you claim. Our enhanced insurance options are ideal for this scenario.

Sending a gift?

Sending a gift is a great way to show someone far away that they are still in your thoughts. With any international delivery, what you can and can’t send is still subject to restrictions. For example, perfume is an internationally restricted item for most couriers, let alone countries, as it is considered a hazardous material due to it being flammable.

Can I Send Food to South Africa?

  • Foods must be in the original manufacturer’s packaging.
  • Food packaging must be sealed and not tampered with in any way.
  • Food label must list all ingredients.
  • Foods must have a shelf life of longer than 6 months from the date of shipping.
  • All foods that have a shelf life of less than 6 months will be classed as perishables, and cannot be sent via courier, even if store bought.

For further information read our Do’s and Don’ts on Shipping Food Abroad.

When sending a gift your package may also be subject to gift exemptions, which could reduce the amount of duty and tax applied to your parcel. The gift exemption for South Africa is listed at 400 Rand per shipment, not parcel. That’s for individual to individual shipments only, and it’s limited to 2 shipments per year.

In most circumstances the recipient is responsible for paying any duties and taxes, but if you are sending a gift (or any item, for that matter) then you can contact our customer care team and arrange for the charge to be reversed back to you for payment.

If you are intending to send a gift during a public holiday then we recommend you check for a delivery deadline to make sure it arrives on time. Public holidays naturally cause delays to shipments.

Shipping Restrictions

It is always best practice to have a good look through the listed import restrictions and prohibitions for all recipient countries in order to avoid delays and additional fees. If you are sending a document however then your package will be exempt from any restrictions, duty or tax.

What Items are Not Allowed in South Africa?

Prohibited Restricted
Counterfeit goods Food, plants, animals (especially endangered).
Unlawful reproductions of any works subject to copyright South African currency
Prison-made and penitentiary-made goods Unprocessed gold, coins, stamp collections

It is very important you complete your customs documents accurately in order to avoid delays at customs. Countries like South Africa, China, USA and Russia are renowned for tight restrictions – completing the right document with accurate information ensures minimal delay.

Restricted items are items that can be imported into the country, but required additional paperwork and licences in order to do so.

  • Aerosols
  • Dairy
  • Furs
  • Ivory
  • Fresh Food
  • Animals
  • Cash
  • Nail Varnish
  • Perfume
  • Plants
  • Tobacco
  • Seeds

Packing Your Parcel

When shipping internationally it is important to remain informed and up-to-date with your parcels progress. ParcelHero only uses the world’s leading couriers who provide the very latest in parcel tracking technology. This, combined with our very own Real-Time parcel tracking keeps you updated with the location and status of your parcel.

Should your parcel be flagged as an ‘Exception’, then it is possibly being held at customs and is awaiting clearance. Log into your live parcel-scanning updates to see what the issue is. If this problem continues, then please get in touch with our UK based customer care team who can assist with getting your gift moving again.

How do I Pack my Parcel for South Africa?

  • Choose a new box to transport your gift in. This will provide the maximum amount of protection. We strongly recommend that you don’t use any form of gift-wrapping as the outer packaging, instead, use it as the inner packaging. We recommend using a gift bag instead, which will survive a possible customs inspection.
  • Place the items inside the box, but without touching the inner walls. Use packaging chips or newspaper to then fill in any leftover space to stop the items moving around during transit.
  • All items should be wrapped individually. If you are sending precious items then you should use a ‘two box’ method. This involves placing the precious items inside an internal box to then be placed inside a second, outer box, to provide extra cushioning.
  • Reinforce any hinges and flaps with packaging tape for added protection. This is particularly important if you are using an old box. The box should feel self-supporting when you lift it.
  • Place a copy of the shipping paperwork that is automatically provided by ParcelHero on the outer packaging of the package. Place a spare set of customs documents on the inside of the package.Fresh Food
  • Remove any unused bar codes or labels to ensure shipping staff are not confused by which barcode to scan or label to check.

If this is the first time you have shipped an item abroad then please read our packaging page for further instructions on packaging your item correctly.