parcel to south africa

Everything you need to know about shipping to South Africa

South Africa possesses a long and intriguing postal past - which can be traced back 500 years to when a Portuguese ship captain placed a letter in a milkwood tree for other sailors to read.

Remarkably, in 1867, the first diamond to be found in the country - the Eureka diamond - was posted in ordinary paper envelope to an expert in order for it to be classified. It arrived safely and was later valued at £800. In 1905 the biggest diamond in the world was posted safely to London from South Africa, shipped only by regular registered mail.

Following the end of apartheid, South Africa was readmitted to the Universal Postal Union in 1994.

Ranked as an upper-middle income economy, much of the country speaks English or Afrikaans, although the constitution recognises 11 official languages - which in itself poses plenty of considerations for the postal network. So if you're sending items to South Africa, here's what you need to bear in mind.


All shipments sent to South Africa should be accompanied by documentation. This should include a statement of the contents of the package, insurance documents and the product's actual value.

Completing and providing these documents is down to the importer. Certain parcels will require a permit, which are issued by the South African Department of Trade. More detailed information is available via the South African Revenue Service website.

Import restrictions

As with many countries, when posting items to South Africa, senders should pay attention to the restrictions on goods entering the country. Aside from the obvious usual restrictions relating to fresh produce, harmful chemicals and explosives, the following goods are also prohibited:

  • Uncut diamonds
  • Counterfeit goods
  • Prison-made and penitentiary-made goods
  • Bees and bee products

The following items carry restrictions:

  • South African bank notes in excess of R5000, gold coins, coin or stamp collections and unprocessed gold.
  • Endangered species of plants or wildlife - whether alive or dead - including any parts of and articles made from them.
  • Plants and plant products, such as seeds, flowers, fruit, honey, margarine and vegetable oils.
  • Medicines (excluding sufficient quantities for one month for own personal treatment accompanied by a letter or certified prescription from a registered physician).

This list is not exhaustive so it is recommended that senders check with the relevant authorities first, as well as with the guidelines from their chosen courier service.


As with any international package, it's always advisable to ensure the item is well packaged. Individually wrapping each item and packing them in to a strong outer container or box will help keep everything safe. Bubble wrap for fragile items is a must and make sure all openings of the box are secured with strong tape.

Following these guidelines should help to ensure packages arrive smoothly at the intended destination in South Africa. But remember - those uncut diamonds just languishing around at home - don't try to post them!

Send A Parcel To South Africa 

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Please note if you do not select the “signature required” delivery option, UKMail will not be liable should your items be subsequently lost or damaged after the delivery (see clause 11.7 of the Terms & Conditions). *We define a “Parcel” as a package with dimensions up to 80cm x 80cm x 80cm and a weight of up to 25kg.

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