Shipping to South Africa From the US

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Looking to ship finished goods from the US to South Africa?

It’s easier to ship to South Africa is easier than you might think. However, to serve customers in South Africa at the most affordable rate it’s important to compare all options and partner with the right carriers.

This guide provides information on how to ship a package from the US to South Africa, plus tips on how ecommerce brands can better plan international shipping logistics with ShipBob.

Cost & delivery speeds for shipping to South Africa from the US

To meet customer expectations while optimizing costs, there are several options to choose from.

To help you establish a proper shipping strategy for South Africa-based shipments, below offers a snapshot of the top services offered by leading shipping carriers.

We calculated the following rates using each carrier’s pricing calculators for a consistent example of a 2 lbs package in January 2022. Exact prices are subject to change and other factors also weight into pricing, including dimensional weight.

Note: These are general options for consumers shipping orders. To know what ShipBob offers when shipping to other countries like South Africa, please request a quote here.

ShipBob’s exact rates for customers will vary as we charge an all-in ‘total fulfillment cost’ that includes picking, packing, and shipping, among other factors. 

ServicePrice*Delivery Time
USPSFirst Class International$25.6518-27 business days
USPSPriority Mail International$56.7611-21 business days
USPSPriority Mail Express International$74.664-8 business days
UPSWorldwide Expedited$40.062-5 business days
UPSUPS Worldwide Saver$181.603-4 business days
FedExInternational Economy$143.214-5 business days
FedExInternational Priority$153.412-3 business days
DHLExpress Worldwide$50.2310-15 business days 

*USPS prices here reflect flat rate box shipping pricing.

How to choose a shipping carrier

No matter what you’re selling— you need to have a sound shipping strategy to South Africa. 

To make shipping to South Africa, you have different options from USPS, UPS, FedEx, and DHL. Besides shipping rates and transit times, there are other carrier services you will want to keep in mind – including reliable order tracking, pick-up options, and more. 

Here is what you must know about each of them:




  • Enjoy flat rate shipping services, which makes sending heavy packages affordable 
  • Significant US-wide presence for convenient parcel drop-offs
  • Offers free Saturday deliver
  • Delays in delivery and poor handling of shipment can be expected
  • Inaccurate last-mile delivery tracking
  • Simplifies order management with real-time order tracking
  • Offers free access to customer care agents to address shipping concerns
  • Offers free shipping
  • No free parcel pick-up 
  • Fewer offices across the US makes it difficult to drop off parcels
  • Lots of convenient drop-off points across the US 
  • Free customs clearance support
  • Reliable last-mile tracking
  • More expensive shipping fees along with surcharges and other fees 
  • No free pick-up service
  • Charges for Saturday delivery
  • Good for businesses that wish to ship orders sustainably 
  • Insures international shipments 
  • No pickup fees levied
  • Limited presence in the US makes parcel drop-offs inconvenient
  • High shipping costs and surcharges as compared to USPS

Shipping to South Africa from the US with USPS

USPS is a 50-year-old delivery service company headquartered in Washington D.C. that has a significant presence across the US. It is touted to be a carrier that offers reliable, affordable, and universal mail service.

When to use USPS to ship from the US to South Africa

Using the services of USPS is one of the best ways to keep shipping costs low, when sending orders to South Africa.

Thanks to its flat-rate shipping option, you can courier heavy parcels without worrying about an increase in shipping costs.

Shipping to South Africa from the US with UPS

United Postal Service (UPS) is a great option for retailers that wish to have their orders delivered asap. Founded in 1907, this Fortune 500 company is one of the world’s largest shipping couriers. And it delivers goods to 220 countries, including South Africa.

When to use UPS to ship from the US to South Africa

UPS is an Atlanta-based company that offers that reliably and conveniently ensures that your orders reach customers in South Africa. It offers good last mile tracking too. But, on the flip side, the carrier’s charges tend to be much higher than that of competition.

Shipping to South Africa from the US with FedEx

Founded in 1971, FedEx Corporation allows you unfettered shipping access to 220+ countries from the US. It is also one of the first companies to offer overnight delivery services. 

When to use FedEx to ship from the US to South Africa

Ecommerce retailers in the US must remember that it is much cheaper to ship to South Africa with FedEx’s bulk shipping offers. The carrier also offers access to customer care support and accurate shipment tracking. 

On the flip side, it levies many surcharges above and beyond the base shipping charges.

Shipping to South Africa from the US with DHL

With a legacy of delivering goods on time and safely to customers worldwide, DHL International GmbH is a well-known carrier. Headquartered in Germany, this division of Deutsche Post, has a strong commitment to reducing carbon emissions. 

When to use DHL to ship from the US to South Africa

DHL’s international shipping services are one of the fastest offered by a global carrier. Aside from reliable fulfilment services, it also offers shipment insurance and door-to-door parcel delivery. That said, it is important to remember that sometimes DHL’s services are more expensive than that of competition. 

Duties & taxes when shipping to South Africa from the US

There is a $32 tax-free threshold on goods entering South Africa. If the declared value of the shipment exceeds this amount then a 15% tax is levied.

Additionally, here are the customs duties that are applicable on different categories of shipments:

Custom Duty %* Description 
20%Home decor
0%Mobile phone

Note: When calculating duty and tax, apart from the value of the goods you need to take into consideration the freight charge and other fees.

South Africa customs information

The customs clearance process in South Africa involves the vetting of import documentation (including invoice, bill of lading, certificate of origin, permits, etc). Then, the applicable customs duty and VAT will be collected before the goods are released.

To know more about how to ship goods into South Africa, here is a link to the country’s official customs department’s website.

Note: If you are a private customer who wishes to import goods into South Africa more than thrice a year, with a value exceeding $3,209, you need to have an importers code.

Prohibited items when shipping to South Africa

Countries, including South Africa, have a range of item categories that are not allowed to be shipped into their borders for safety reasons or due to trade embargos. 

Here are some of the items that can never be sent to this African country:

Items you can’t ship to South Africa from the US

Lithium batterie
Products made in Iran

Note: Several special permits are required to ship alcoholic beverages into South Africa.

What ecommerce businesses need to know about shipping to South Africa

South Africa is the 37th largest market for ecommerce. To tap into this market, you need to conduct preliminary research and familiarize yourself with the conditions of the nation’s ecommerce ecosystem. 

Here some insights to help your retail business build a better foothold in South Africa are:

  • Strong rural demand: The country has a mature consumer culture where even the rural population is keen to buy online. So, your fulfillment network should be strong enough to reach the more isolated locations in South Africa in the shortest time possible. ShipBob gives you many options so you can always use the best international shipping carriers for your order fulfillment needs.
  • Nearly half of all ecommerce transactions happen on mobile: It is important to have a mobile-friendly retail presence so that your South African audiences can easily and intuitively make purchases.
  • Cards and e-wallets are highly popular payment modes: Your ecommerce portal should allow for different payment modes such as cards, e-wallets, bank transfers, and cash on delivery.


Outsource shipping and logistics to a 3PL like ShipBob

To offer customers across the world a remarkable brand experience, consider partnering with an international 3PL like ShipBob.

Selling internationally can be challenging, time-consuming, and costly. But with ShipBob, you’re given everything you need to serve customers across the globe while saving time on logistics. 

We not only take care of picking, packing, and shipping your orders to South Africa, we also offer upfront fulfillment costs that include customs, duties, and additional taxes.

By partnering with ShipBob, you eliminate the need to manage retail fulfillment, logistics operations, and hire labor.

Working with ShipBob can actually turn logistics and warehousing into a revenue driver because you can increase sales and offer the shipping options, transit times, and delivery speeds that customers want.

The best part about partnering with ShipBob is you get time back to focus on more strategic initiatives, such as customer service and marketing.

“ShipBob also provides tracking, even for international orders, and helps with overseas customs. Through ShipBob, I can use DHL and other services to help meet customers halfway.”

Lee Nania, Founder of SubSubmarine

Ready to start shipping to South Africa from the US? Get started with ShipBob. 

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Shipping to South Africa FAQs

Here are answers to the top questions about shipping from the US to South Africa.

What’s the cheapest way to ship to South Africa from the US?

USPS’ Priority Mail International offers one of the most affordable ways to transport goods from the US to South Africa. But it can take up to 18 days for delivery.

What’s the cheapest way to ship large packages to South Africa from the US?

USPS has a flat rate service that keeps the cost the same for parcels of certain dimensions no matter what their weight. Therefore, it is one of the cheapest ways to ship large and heavy packages to South Africa from the US. 

What’s the fastest way to ship a package to South Africa from the US?

FedEx international Priority ensures l ensure that your parcels reach the recipient within 1 to 3 business days, but you will have to pay a premium.

Do I have to pay customs duties and fees when shipping to South Africa from the US?

When orders reach South African borders, you need to pay customs duty and a 15% VAT on certain shipments.

What’s the easiest way to ship something to South Africa from the US?

Carriers like UPS and FedEx come with a significant US presence which makes courier drop-offs very easy. The likes of DHL and UPS also offer customs support so that it is one less thing for you to worry about.