Moving to South Africa

Relocating Overseas?

More than 200,000 UK expats are drawn to The Republic of South Africa due to the relatively low cost of living, warm climate, beautiful beaches, amazing wildlife and game parks, as well as opportunities for an outdoors lifestyle to embrace the country’s incredible scenery.

You’d think that shipping your effects the 6000 plus miles to South Africa from the UK would prove to be a major logistical headache, but you needn’t worry. The team at Hackworthy & Sons will sit down with you and discuss your individual requirements and explain the shipping process. We will even be able to provide you with comparative costs to assist you in the decision making process.

All our removal quotations are free and without obligation and should you decide to entrust us with your removals to South Africa, we’ll be on hand to guide you through the moving process.

To help you plan your relocation and give you an idea of what to expect, we have put together a downloadable Overseas Moving Guide that ought to help.


Documents Required To Ship Household Effects To South Africa:

  • Customs Form DA 302 and P.1.60
  • Copy of your Passport and Visa/Permits
  • Numbered Inventory/Packing List
  • Affidavit stating reason for arrival

Please note that you must be present in person for customs clearance and you will need to present your passport with the date of entry stamp. If you are not in the country or no residence permit has been produced, your effects will be cleared into bond storage and charges will apply.

Additional documents will be required if you are importing antiques, paintings or inherited goods.

Timeframes & Schedule

Sole Use Containers

For large household relocations, the quickest and most cost-effective way of shipping from the UK to South Africa is by sole use container. Our crew will arrive at your property in advance of the container to properly pack and wrap your effects. Once the container arrives at your property, your effects will be carefully loaded into it, sealed and driven to the port where it will be loaded onto the next ship destined for South Africa.

Shipping containers generally come in two sizes;

  • 20ft. This container holds 1050 cu ft.; large enough to hold an average 2- 3 bedroom house.
  • 40ft. This container holds 2100 cu ft.; large enough to hold an average 3- 4 bedroom house

Removals from the UK to South Africa can take between 6-8 weeks, with allowance for some seasonal fluctuations. You should then allow a further 10 -14 days to clear customs before delivery to your new home can be arranged.


Our groupage service is recommended for smaller consignments as you pay only for the space you occupy in the container. Consignments are export packed at your home and taken to our warehouse where it is consolidated with other consignments bound for the same destination, as soon as volumes permit.

Shipment to South Africa by groupage generally takes between 10 – 12 weeks plus an additional 10 -14 days to clear customs.

Shipping Cars*

Like in the UK, people in South Africa drive on the left-hand side of the road and will generally drive a right-hand drive vehicle. This makes it the ideal destination for British cars and drivers, as everything is more-or-less the same as far as driving is concerned. What’s more, UK Driving Licences are recognised and accepted in South Africa, so there is no need to acquire an international driving licence.  

You are able to ship cars into South Africa as long as you have been the owner of the vehicle for at least 12 months prior to shipment. You will need to complete a DA 304/A and provide other documents such as the purchase invoice that shows that the car has been in use and in your possession for over a year as well as papers that show that the car is properly insured.

All cars will need to meet the compulsory vehicle specifications and regulations regarding road traffic in South Africa and a fee of 1,800 Rand will be payable for each vehicle that is imported. You will also need to apply for an Import Permit and a Letter of Authority.

It is very important that the owner of the vehicle has been in South Africa for at least 10 days before the car arrives into the country in order to quicken the process of clearing customs.

Further details can be found on the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications RCS website.

What Can't I Take?*

Certain items cannot be accepted under general conditions of carriage and storage e.g. explosives, flammable gasses, lithium batteries, poisons & toxins, scuba tanks, gas cylinders.

Below is a summary of some of the everyday items that are prohibited or restricted.

Prohibited Goods

  • Plants and vegetable products
  • Certain animal products (including those covered by CITES)
  • Walkie talkies and radios

Restricted/Dutiable Goods

Certain goods are restricted, and may only be brought into South Africa if you have the necessary licence or import permit.

  • Plants, seeds and bulbs.
  • Firearms (permits required)
  • Cigarettes, cigar and tobacco (amounts restricted)
  • Alcohol (Documentation and duties are applicable)

The above lists a by no means exhaustive and destination regulations can change without notice. Further details on restricted and prohibited items can be found on the International Trade Administration Commission of South Africa (ITAC) website.

What Isn't Covered In The Removal Cost?

It is important that all details about your properties and access to them are passed on to us. Unless specifically requested, charges for storage, special lifting equipment and tranship due to limited access for a large vehicle are excluded from the quotation. You are also responsible for parking permits and charges will also be your responsibility so it is prudent to budget for these from the outset.

All duties and customs charges that become payable on inspection of goods upon arrival in South Africa will be your responsibility.

Duty & Tax

Household goods may be imported duty-free into South Africa as long as they have been in use and belonged to the importer for more than 12 months and are not for sale within 2 years. Works of Art are exempt if they are over 100 years old and are part of a bonafide shipment of household effects.

Temporary residents will need to be in possession of a temporary work permit for their household effects to gain duty-free entry.

All new items will be subject to full duty. Duty rates can vary up to 45% on imported goods and VAT applies to most imports up to 14% of the items’ value.

For more information please visit the South African Revenue Service (SARS) website.

What Happens When My Goods Arrive At Their Destination?

When your consignment arrives at the destination port or airport, our South Africa removals partner in will contact you to arrange customs and quarantine formalities. A suitable date for delivery to your residence will also be scheduled at this time.

As Hackworthy will be managing your move to South Africa from the UK, we will have already ensured that all the correct documents have been completed in order to guarantee your effects are not tied up in customs, which can prove costly.

Upon delivery, our destination partner will complete the unpacking of all items, position furniture as required, and remove discarded packing materials.


We take the utmost care with every shipment and use specialist boxes and protective wrap to ensure your effects will arrive safely in South Africa. We do, however, recommend that you take out International Removals Insurance, as accidents can happen.

Moving to South Africa from the UK is already likely to be a stressful process, which is why we do most of the leg work for you when it comes to getting proper cover. As part of our overseas removal service, Hackworthy & Sons will provide you with an Insurance Proposal Form, which must be completed prior to the packing and collection date.

Comprehensive international removals insurance that covers all risks of loss and/or damages in transit is only available on professionally packed goods. Cover on owner-packed boxes is limited to total loss only.

When filling out your insurance proposal form, please ensure you insure your items for full replacement value. It is not advisable to under-insure your items.

Insurance premiums are subject to Insurance Premium Tax (IPT), at the current rate. Please note that if you decline cover, we will rely upon our BAR Terms & Conditions (clause 8) in the unforeseen event of loss or damage, however caused.

*Please note rules, regulations and charges are subject to change and we advise all customers to obtain direct rulings from their destination customs authority.

Emigrating To South Africa: What Else You Need To Know

Applying For A South African Visa

In order to move to South Africa permanently you must apply for a permanent residency permit, of which you will need to meet one of the following visa requirements:

  • Are in possession of a permanent work offer in South Africa
  • Have exceptional skills and qualifications
  • Intend to establish a business in South Africa
  • Qualify as refugee
  • Qualify as retired persons
  • Are financially independent
  • Are related to a South African citizen or permanent residence permit holder

If you have not got an approved residency permit yet, we would recommend against making any travel plans to South Africa. Even if you decided to travel out on a Visitor’s Visa, you would have to come back to the UK to collect your new visa for your visa status to be changed.

As well as completing the relevant documentation, here is a list of the documentation that you will need in order to apply for your South African Visa: 

  • A full set of fingerprints
  • A marriage certificate / Proof of spousal relationship, if applicable
  • A divorce decree / proof of legal separation, if applicable
  • Proof of custody of a minor, if applicable
  • A death certificate for a late spouse, if applicable
  • The consent of parents in the case of minors
  • Proof of judicial adoption of a minor, if applicable
  • Police clearance certificates for all countries in which you resided for a period of one year or longer since your 18th birthday
  • A valid temporary residency permit (if already in South Africa).

For more information on permanent residency in South Africa, please visit the Department For Home Affairs website .

Healthcare In South Africa

Whether you are moving to Capetown, Johannesburg, Durban or Port Elizabeth, it is important to make sure that you have health insurance sorted as well as having the necessary vaccinations up to date. 

South Africa does have a subsidised public healthcare system that covers up to 40% of the overall cost and is available to everybody regardless of their immigration status. That said, there is a significant gap between public and private healthcare facilities, which is why private health insurance is highly recommended. Healthcare in South Africa is paid for up-front so make sure you choose a policy that will cover the fees in the case of an emergency.

Upon your relocation to South Africa, you can contact the emergency services by calling 112 from any mobile phone. Depending on your healthcare provider, you may also get given an additional emergency phone number. Other helpful numbers to bear in mind are 10111, the nationwide emergency response number, and 10177, the ambulance response number. 

Further details on healthcare and health insurance in South Africa can be found on the NHS Website.

Pet Relocation To South Africa

Most, if not all, pet owners wouldn’t dream of emigrating without bringing their pet along and fortunately, it is not that difficult to arrange pet relocations to South Africa. 

Dogs and cats moving to South Africa from the UK are in an incredibly fortunate position as they are not routinely quarantined upon arrival. That said, you will still need to have obtained a valid import permit and health certificate that has been signed and stamped by a UK government- approved veterinarian. If you’re missing either or both of these documents then your pet will be quarantined until the documents are produced. Veterinary Health Certificates are supplied when an import permit is issued. 

It’s also essential that all pet emigrating to South Africa with their families have the following:

  • An Import permit (in English)
  • Documentation proving all vaccinations (including rabies & kennel cough) are up to date
  • Permanent identification in the form of a microchip (tattoos are not accepted)
  • Blood tests for specific diseases (Dogs only)
  • Veterinary Health Certificate

All dogs and cats relocating to South Africa must travel as manifest cargo and can not fly as excess baggage. Some airlines may allow pets to travel in the cabin with their owners, but they will be taken prior to landing and off-loaded from the plane via the cargo terminal.

Please note that while Hackworthy & Sons does not offer Pet Relocation services, we are happy to make recommendations upon request. 

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