South Africa is expanding its international postal services – but watch out for taxes

The South African Post Office has announced expanded services as lockdown and travel restrictions around the country ease.

The postal service said it will now offer international mail service to 46 destinations through both road transport and airmail.

“Customers should remember to include their cell phone number with their address details so that the delivering Post Office can send them an SMS when the item is ready for collection,” it said.

“Customers who are expecting an international item are requested to collect the item from their local Post Office when they receive an SMS asking them to do so.”

International items are delivered within an average of 10 workdays. For quicker service, the Post Office also offers the EMS service, which delivers items within 24 hours of arrival in the destination country, it said.

The expanded list of countries is as follows:

Road Transport

  • Botswana
  • Lesotho
  • Malawi
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Tanzania
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

Air Mail

  • Albania
  • Argentina
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • China
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland
  • France
  • Germany (only surface mail)
  • Greece
  • Hong Kong
  • Hungary
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Maldives
  • Mauritius
  • Netherlands
  • Oman
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Serbia
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Thailand
  • Ukraine
  • United Arab Emirates
  • USA

Tax and restrictions

While South Africans can once again order and receive parcels from several international countries, they should be cautious of any additional taxes that they occur.

Under current regulations, South Africans are entitled to two tax-free gifts from abroad per year, provided the value of each gift is below R1,400.

“Should the value of the parcel exceed R1,400, customs charges will be paid on the total price actually paid for the item,” SARS said.

“On gift parcels where the contents are intended for more than one person and the total declared is more than R1,400, customs charges will be paid by the recipients as the rebate cannot be split and the gifts cannot be linked to people other than the recipient.”

The South African Post Office has also advised customers who send parcels abroad to pack the items securely and use padding, as the mail is transported as bulk freight.  International packages can be tracked all the way to delivery, it said.

“It is illegal to send or receive live animals or plants, flammable or explosive goods or illicit substances such as drugs in the mail.  Any form of medication may only be imported into South Africa if the sender has a permit to export medicines to South Africa.

“Some countries do not allow the importing of any plant or animal products, even in sealed packaging. For more information, please visit the website of the postal administration in the receiving country.”

Read: 5 changes coming to post offices in South Africa – including car licence renewals via mobile app

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South Africa is expanding its international postal services – but watch out for taxes