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Shipping to Cape Town

Cape Town

Deciding to set up life in Cape Town is one thing. Actually making it happen is quite another. There are countless hoops through which you need to jump to make your relocation dream a reality: after visas are sorted, jobs are secured and accommodation found you still need to move all your vital belongings thousands of miles over land and sea to your new home city.

But shipping to Cape Town needn’t be a headache. There are many companies offering both sea and air freight from countries all over the world allowing you to pick and choose based on cost, timing, convenience and security.

Sea Freight to Cape Town

The Port of Cape Town was a vitally important way station in the trade between East and West in days of old. Though today it has long been surpassed by Durban, Africa’s busiest general cargo port, it still handles over 51 million tonnes of cargo a year and will be the destination for any of your goods shipped by sea to Cape Town.

Shipping schedules vary depending on the country of origin.

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Shipping from the UK to Cape Town occurs on a weekly basis and takes around 20 days port to port. That transit time might be exacerbated by a company which waits until it has full container loads of goods before putting them aboard a ship so check the times provided by each company carefully. Find out more about shipping from London to Cape Town

Most shipping companies offer a door-to-door service so you don’t need to worry about transit to and from the port. Many will also offer to pack your goods for you to minimise space and therefore cost.

At the time of writing one company was quoting a price of £440 for shipping 2 cubic metres of goods from London to Cape Town on a door-to-door basis including packing materials and shipping documentation but excluding customs fees and insurance.

Air Freight to Cape Town

Shipping your goods by air to Cape Town is obviously much quicker - you can expect turnaround times of under a week - but also much more expensive.

Air freight companies tend to charge by the weight of your goods, unlike sea freight companies which charge by volume (with maximum weight restrictions).

At the time of writing the same company was quoting prices of £359 for a 30 kg air freight shipment from the UK to South Africa, rising to £1,099 for 200 kg. Again this includes shipping and documents but excludes customs fees and insurance.

Air freight is therefore viable for a small shipment that is unsuitable to take as excess baggage with your airline but becomes prohibitively expensive for larger shipments.

Insurance and Customs

Insurance on your shipments can typically be purchased for around 5% of the value to which you wish to insure.

Insurance usually covers damage as well as complete loss but check the details of your particular policy carefully - the best companies will have transparent claims procedures. You might also be obliged to use the company’s own packing service in order to insure against damage and might need to produce receipts for high value items.

Goods brought into South Africa over the value of ZAR 500 are subject to duties ranging from 0% to 45% with an average duty rate of 18.74% on the value of the goods, shipping and insurance. There may also be additional fees for inspections etc. Typically your shipping company will take responsibility for paying any customs charges and then pass the costs on to you - make sure they provide copies of the receipts from customs officials.