Complete guide to how much it costs to ship to South Africa from the UK including shipping boxes, containers and international removals in 2023

If you are planning to move to South Africa from the United Kingdom in 2022 and want to find out how much it will cost to ship your personal belongings then you are in the right place.

This guide will not only give you some ballpark prices for both shipping boxes and full house removals but also provide you details of costs and fees not included in most estimates.

We’ll show you how to get a low cost quote for locations such as Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban. How to check your estimate is not too cheap and finally, we’ll look at South African customs so you can minimise fees and avoid unnecessary charges.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the international shipping industry has been subject to delays and regular increases in shipping costs so it is recommended that you use our online cost calculator to get a more accurate and up to date estimate.

The additional charges and exclusions outlined below are industry standard and typical to whichever shipping company you use, not just PSS International Removals. It is important that you discuss these with your Account Manager so you have a clear idea of which applies to your shipment.

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International Removal Costs and Prices to South Africa

The prices listed here are based on the contents of an average UK property and include delivery within 30 miles of the most popular shipping destinations in South Africa – Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban.

Average Shipping Costs to South Africa 2023 

Shipment Size

Average Shipping Cost

1 Parcel / Package (2kg) £14 – £31*
2-3 Large Boxes (up to 30kg) £140 – £290
5 Large Boxes £250 – £411
10 Large Boxes £380 – £671
Student Move From £821
1 – 2 Bed House From £1,049
3 Bed House
(20 ft Container)
From £4,581
4+ Bed House
(40 ft Container)
From £7256

*Royal Mail 

Household Container Shipping Rates and Removal Costs to South Africa From the UK 2023

Prices below include full container load (FCL) and Groupage (Less than Container Load – LCL)

The prices below are for Cape Town.

Removal prices for Johannesburg. Removal prices for DurbanPrices for shipping boxes.

Cape Town, South Africa Shipping Costs from UK 2023

Move Type
Cape Town
student move costs Student Move from £821
quick sudio flat costs Studio Flat from £860
quick 1 bed house move costs 1 Bed Flat from £1,049
quick 2 bed house move costs 2 Bed Flat from £1,772
quick 3 bes house move costs 3 Bed House from £4,581
quick 4 bed house move costs 4+ Bed House from £7,256
shipping times from uk to usa Shipping Time
(Approx. for Full Container Load)
3-5 weeks**



Get A Removals Quote For South Africa

Johannesburg, South Africa Shipping Costs from UK 2023

Move Type
student move costs Student Move from £834
quick sudio flat costs Student Flat from £873
quick 1 bed house move costs 1 Bed Flat from £1,078
quick 2 bed house move costs 2 Bed Flat from £1,829
quick 3 bes house move costs 3 Bed House from £4923
quick 4 bed house move costs 4+ Bed House from £7598
shipping times from uk to usa Shipping Time
(Approx. for Full Container Load)
4-6 weeks**


Durban, South Africa Shipping Costs from UK 2023

Move Type
student move costs Student Move from £834
quick sudio flat costs Student Flat from £873
quick 1 bed house move costs 1 Bed Flat from £1,077
quick 2 bed house move costs 2 Bed Flat from £1,829
quick 3 bes house move costs 3 Bed House from £4,581
quick 4 bed house move costs 4+ Bed House from £7,256
shipping times from uk to usa Shipping Time
(Approx. for Full Container Load)
3-5 weeks**

Get A Removals Quote For South Africa

NB: The shipping prices and rates listed above are approximate shipping costs to South Africa for 2022. For more accurate prices or for other destinations in South Africa, please contact PSS for a quote.

Many websites list port-to-port costs for shipping containers to South Africa. These can significantly underestimate the actual costs for non-commercial users. The prices listed here are for a full door-to-door removals service aimed at people shipping their personal effects.

** Full container load (FCL) is on average 3-4 weeks, Groupage (Less than Container Load – LCL) will likely be longer – 6-10 weeks.

Cost of Shipping Boxes / Excess Baggage to South Africa From the UK

Sea Freight Box Shipping Prices 2022– From UK to South Africa

Cape Town 
2-boxes-shipping 2-3 Large Boxes  £130-£160
£130-£160 £215-£250
5-boxes-shipping 5 Large Boxes  £200 £200 £380
10-boxes-shipping 10 Large Boxes  £370 £370 £650
shipping times from uk to usa Shipping Time
6-10 weeks** 6-10 weeks** 6-10 weeks**


Get A Quote For Shipping Boxes / Excess Baggage To South Africa

Box shipping and excess baggage/luggage services are perfect for shipping smaller quantities of belongings. They can also be packed in boxes or suitcases/bags. They are sent as groupage – in a  shipping container shared with other people moving to South Africa from the UK.

Large items such as furniture will require an international removals service.

The prices above include self-packing although professional packing services are available. Costs per box declines as the quantity of volume shipped increases.

Tea Carton box shippingBox shipping prices are based on standard shipping tea cartons, measuring 46 x 46 x 51 cm (3.4 cubic feet), and weighing no more than 30kg each. Similar costs would apply to luggage such as suitcases.

These prices differ depending on which region of South Africa you are shipping to. Delivery to remote areas can cost more than to destinations close to the main ports.

Costs also vary depending on where in the United Kingdom you are shipping from.

Cost of Sending Parcels to South Africa

Shipping small parcels to South Africa from the UK can be done quite cheaply via Royal Mail. For example, a small 2 kg parcel can be posted for around £21 by airmail. But 2 kg is the maximum size.

For larger parcels, you can use Parcel Force or other courier companies but the costs very quickly become expensive. Therefore if you are relocating to South Africa or plan to stay for longer, specialist box and personal shipping services to South Africa such as those offered by PSS International are a very attractive alternative.

Costs for Shipping Personal Effects and Household Goods

Household goods and personal effects include everything from furniture and clothes to bicycles, golf clubs, and other used personal items.

For new items and commercial goods, other conditions, duties, and costs may apply.

Cost of Car and Vehicle Shipping to South Africa

There are two main methods for shipping cars to South Africa, in a shipping container or using a RORO (Roll-On-Roll-Off) service. If you are shipping other household goods it’s worth seeing if you can save money by shipping them in the same container.

Cars, bikes, motorhomes, caravans, motorbikes, and boats can all be shipped to South Africa. Some cars or vehicles especially motorhomes and caravans may be too wide and tall to fit in a shipping container and will need to be shipped RORO.

Customs Duties and taxes may apply depending on your circumstances.

For a quote and full details of the costs of shipping and importing vehicles to South Africa, please click here to visit our car shipping page or call our advisers on 020 8686 7733.

Cost of Air Freight To South Africa

If you need to send items urgently you can use express delivery by air freight. Costs are higher and depend both on weight and volume. There are also further restrictions on what you can send by air. For more details and a quote visit our shipping to South Africa page and choose air freight or call our office for a quick quote.

Getting an Accurate Shipping Quote or Estimate to South Africa

Durban Harbour South AfricaYour shipping costs are calculated according to the volume in cubic feet that you ship. You, therefore, need to decide what you wish to send to get an accurate estimate. For international removals including furniture, it’s best to have a home or video survey to assess everything you wish to send and then give you a quote.

There are also online calculators where you list what you wish to send.

Check everything you need to ship. Don’t forget hidden cupboards, attics, sheds, garages and anything stored at another site – it all adds up!

Adding Extra Volume:

If you decide to take additional items to your original quote it will likely increase the amount you need to pay. Extra-large items or large quantities of small/fragile items will require more time and materials in packing and may increase the volume shipped.

So let your shipping or removals company know about extra volume so as to avoid unexpected increases in your final bill.

What’s Not Included In Your Quote – Additional Charges and Fees

There are a number of additional charges and fees that are the responsibility of the shipper/customer rather than the removals company and these are not included in standard quotes. Some fees and charges will need to be paid separately at your destination.

  • Customs fees, duties, cargo dues, bond fees, exam fees, and other charges payable to Government bodies (see below).
  • Wooden crates and antique wrapping for delicate items if required.
  • Additional charges for difficult access, e.g. above the first floor or if a shuttle service is needed to transport belongings from your house to the container.
  • Additional storage time in the UK or at the destination before delivery.
  • Shipping protection cover/insurance.
  • Parking permits, charges, or associated fees for suspension /dispensation in order to facilitate removal in the UK or delivery at destination.

What’s Included in the Price for International Removals?

The price estimates quoted here are based on a full international removals service to South Africa. This service is designed for people moving overseas or shipping personal effects and is much more comprehensive than using a freight forwarder or shipping port to port.

  • Door-to-door service (including pick up and delivery)
  • Professional export standard packing materials and cartons.
  • Use of reliable, regulated shipping lines such as Maersk, Ocean Network Express (ONE), Hapag Lloyd, and Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC).
  • Packing, export wrapping and shipping of furniture.
  • Advice & assistance with completing forms, & other paperwork.
  • Customs inventory – numbering and listing of all packages.
  • UK & destination Port/Terminal handling charges.
  • Ocean freight to arrival vessel destination port.
  • Customs clearance, haulage of your shipping container, and unloading.
  • Delivery of household effects to the residence, unwrapping, and removal of packing materials (assumes good access and not above the first floor).


Why The Cheapest Shipping to South Africa May Not Be So Cheap

Cape Town Harbour ShippingWhilst many people are surprised, considering the distance, at the low cost of moving to South Africa compared to moving house within the UK, other people ask:

“Why is it so expensive to ship to South Africa?”

Hopefully, this article explains more clearly the costs and expenses of shipping to South Africa.

You may be able to find some cheap shipping quotes but beware – quotes that look a lot cheaper often don’t provide a quality full service.

Most reputable shipping and international removal companies will have fairly similar costs and estimates. Cheap shipping quotes may look attractive on the surface but often have hidden costs or shortcuts which could put your belongings at risk.

Reasons For Cheap Shipping Quotes For South Africa Can Include:

  • Incorrect calculation of volume on the original quotation
  • Price only includes container shipping to South Africa
  • Your quote is not for a full removals service including packing, customs clearance, delivery etc.
  • The shipping company is using unaccredited shipping lines which may be cheaper but there is a higher risk of something going wrong.
  • Unacceptable lower grade packing materials or not professionally packed.
  • Port-to-port rather than door-to-door delivery.
  • Some charges & fees are added on as extra so the headline quote looks cheap.
  • The removal/shipping company is not BAR or FIDI regulated.
  • The quote is cheaper as it does not include customs clearance and handling.
  • Unregulated or unreliable agents are used at the destination.

See our article for more tips on cheap shipping to South Africa from the UK.

Getting a Discount On Your Shipping Costs to South Africa.

Being flexible or planning your move date can help get a lower price on your shipping/move costs. During peak season, costs are likely to be higher and in quieter periods shipping companies may offer discounts and promotions to help fill containers.

Quantity discounts are also available, so it could well be cheaper for you to ship more of your belongings rather than buy everything new in South Africa where they may be expensive to replace.

Why South Africa Shipping Estimates Vary

The shipping quotation you are given is an estimate and your final invoice may be different for a number of reasons.

This is the case with all shipping companies as much can change between receiving your quote and your actual moving or shipping day.

Final shipping costs can change due to:

  • Exchange rate fluctuations.
  • Additional items were added that were not included in the original quotation.
  • Increases in port/shipping fees and other charges in between receiving your estimate and your actual departure.
  • Varying costs and charges for different ports and shipping lines.
  • Seasonal variations (time of year).

South Africa Customs Duties, Taxes and Other Fees

Customs duties and import taxes are the responsibility of the person shipping and will need to be paid separately to South Africa Customs, although the local shipping agent at your destination port may handle these for you.

In most cases immigrants and returning residents are allowed to import used household and personal effects into South Africa duty free. Although to do a second import, you’ll need to obtain permission from SA Customs.

You will need to check with your shipping company that you meet the criteria. There may, however, be other customs related charges and fees you need to pay.

Customs regulations and duties are subject to change so we suggest you check that you have the most up to date information. A FIDI Guide to South African Customs is available here.
If you don’t meet the criteria for Household Effects or your goods are deemed commercial imports then Customs Duty and other taxes may apply.

These fees will often be handled for you by the shipping company’s agent in South Africa and you will need to reimburse them before your shipment can be delivered.
The South African Government website provides more details here.

South African Quarantine Costs and Fees

If your consignment is selected for inspection by SA Customs you’ll need to pay an examination fee of around 450 rand.

If you are not in South Africa when your belongings arrive or customs decide to hold them for other reasons you may be charged for bonded storage.

These customs and quarantine charges are unpredictable and are not covered in your shipping quote.

You can reduce your chances of paying any by ensuring you don’t ship prohibited or restricted items and that all your goods are properly cleaned and prepared before shipping. Ask your shipping company for more advice.

Embed from Getty Images

Shipment Protection and Maritime Insurance

How Much Does Shipment Protection or Insurance Cost to South Africa?

Shipping companies, like PSS, who are members of BAR, are covered by the Advance Payment Guarantee scheme. Although this guarantees the payment and cost of removal in the rare event that your removal company cannot complete your move, you should also consider protection for your belongings.

Shipment protection and insurance costs vary between companies and depend on whether it is self-packed or packed by the shipping/removals company.

Self-packed tends to be higher as it is not packed by professional packers.

Expect to pay anything from 3% to 7% of the total value of your goods.

(Some removal companies will allow you to select which items you wish to cover so this can save you significantly on your insurance costs).

South Africa’s Major Container Terminals and Ports

The following are some of the main container shipping ports in South Africa. The cost of delivery may increase if your final destination is more than 30 miles from the port. Costs can vary between ports.

Port of Cape Town, Western Cape (ZA CPT)

Port of Durban, KwaZulu-Natal (ZA DUR)

Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape (ZA PLZ)

Port of East London, Eastern Cape (ZA ELS)

Johannesburg Container Terminal (via Durban)

 Get a Quote For Shipping To South Africa From the UK

If you are moving to South Africa, PSS International Removals will be happy to help. Over the last 38 years, we have helped thousands of people and families to move or ship belongings to South Africa.

No matter whether you are a first time migrant or a South African returning home, PSS can offer you the best prices on shipping for household removals, boxes of personal effects and also cars.

PSS International are one of the UK’s leading specialists in international removals and shipping to South Africa. Due to our years of experience and the high volumes we ship, we are able to offer our customers the best service at the lowest prices.

To get an estimate or quote call the PSS team on 020 8686 7733.

Get a House Removal Quote For South Africa Get a Quote For Shipping Boxes / Excess Baggage to South Africa
Video of shipping containers in Port of Durban, South Africa