With more than 100,000 South Africans currently living in Australia, the two countries have close ties. Though sending shipments to Australia from South Africa is generally straightforward, here are some things to bear in mind.

Country Information

Sending shipments to Australia – general advice 

It is important to note that all invoices are to be clear, precise and accurate. All invoices must include receiver and shipper details and quantity of goods.

Ensure that the invoice displays itemised detailed descriptions of goods, (not just part numbers/code numbers), e.g. “100% cotton t-shirt.”

The Australian Border Force (ABF) requires all goods to have the – country of origin – clearly marked/labelled. Under the Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act 1905, goods not correctly marked are prohibited into Australia. A high number of these goods are currently being sent to AU and seized by ABF. Examples: mobile phone accessories and clothing. Any non-compliant shipments will be Returned to Origin along with the supporting official Customs documentation.

Specific brands and/or product names must not be used as the goods description on the Waybill or label. This means you cannot write “Captain Black” instead of the general commodity “Cigars”. Do not use generic terms to describe goods, e.g. “gift”, “present”, “hamper” as this will result in lengthy delays with Australian Quarantine and Border Force. Australian Customs and Quarantine have heavy penalties in place for the false or ambiguous declaration of goods coming into the country.

Australia Border Force does not accept PO-Box addresses as importer addresses.

For shipments subject to quarantine expect delays of 24-48 hours. For an overview of Australian Quarantine requirements and conditions, click on this link and search the commodity:

Shipments with a declared or assessed value equal to or less than AUD 1,000 will not incur duty, taxes or charges, unless they are alcoholic beverages, tobacco, or tobacco products.

Australia’s Department of Immigration & Border Protection increased its Fee Schedule on 1 January 2016. This increased the Formal Entry Fee. Australia Quarantine increased Formal Entry IPC Fees on 1 December 2015.

Shipments with a declared value of AUD 1,000.00 to AUD 10,000.00 will attract an IPC (Import Processing Charge) of AUD 83.00, a Customs charge of AUD 40.20, and a Quarantine charge of AUD 33.00.

Shipments with a declared value over AUD 10,000.00 will attract an IPC of AUD 185.00, a Customs Charge of AUD 122.10, and a Quarantine charge of AUD 33.00.

These fees are in addition to the fee increases levied by Australia’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources that took effect on 1 December 2015. For full details, please visit the Department of Agriculture and Water Resource website

The DHL Express Australia clearance team is unable to clear temporary import shipments that require a Bonded Security for Duties and / or GST to be lodged with the Australian Border Force until the goods are re-exported. Such clearances must be undertaken by third party customs brokers. Temporary Imports attracting Duties and / or GST should be sent under ATA Carnet or have Tradex Scheme to facilitate the clearance process.

All commercial shipments of wooden products must be accompanied by an original fumigation certificate that links to the consignment, e.g. state the fumigation certificate number on the waybill and/or commercial invoice. Failure to provide this documentation may result in additional clearance delays and costs.


Document shipments

Australia Customs defines a document as general correspondence (business or private) as well as:

  • Airline tickets, blank stock (NI)
  • Airline tickets, issued/validated
  • Annual reports
  • Artwork including drawings/proofs/layouts
  • Blank forms
  • Blueprints
  • Booklets, brochures (non-advertising)
  • Business cards
  • Calendars 2
  • Cash letters (NI)
  • Catalogues 2
  • Charts/graphs
  • Cheques, cancelled (NI)
  • Cheques, cashier (NI)
  • Computer printouts
  • Credit card blanks (NI)
  • Credit cards (NI)
  • Diaries 2
  • Diplomatic mail
  • Documents, general business 1
  • Drawings, technical/architectural/engineering
  • Films: 8mm, 16mm & 35mm 3
  • Films: promotional, training
  • Invoices, blank
  • Invoices, not blank
  • Labels
  • Magazines, periodicals, journals 2
  • Manuals, technical
  • Manuscripts 2
  • Maps
  • Microfiche and microfilm
  • Money orders (NI)
  • Music, printed or manuscript
  • Negatives, including x-rays, films
  • Pamphlets 2
  • Passports
  • Personal mail
  • Photographs
  • Photographs as part of business reports
  • Plans/drawings for architectural/industrial/engineering purposes
  • Price lists
  • Price tickets for garments
  • Publications not for public resale
  • Publications for public resale 2
  • Ship manifests – computer generated
  • Shipping schedules
  • Slides
  • Transparencies
  • Visa applications
  1. General business documents weighing above 25kg must be sent as goods.
  2. If advertising material, send as goods.
  3. Full value including carrier medium and intellectual property must be included as the asset value. If value over USD 140.00 or GST payable above USD 30.00, send as goods.


Non-document shipments

  • Alcoholic beverages 4
  • Animal Products 2
  • Animal skins 5
  • Coal and Firewood 2 11
  • Coffee 2
  • Coffee samples 2
  • Cosmetics 8
  • Cotton 2
  • Cotton seeds 2
  • Drugs: non-Prescriptions 3
  • Drugs: Prescription 3
  • Foodstuffs 1
  • Lithium Batteries 12
  • Marble Products 2
  • Medical Samples 3
  • Medical/dental supplies and equipment 3
  • Newspaper 10
  • Perishables 2
  • Personal effects 7
  • Plant products 2
  • Plants 2
  • Seeds 2 6
  • Soil Samples 2
  • Stone/mineral samples for analysis 2
  • Tapes: computer 9
  • Tea 2
  • Tobacco 2
  • X-ray machines 13
  1. Foodstuffs – All Inbound parcel shipments containing foodstuffs MUST contain an accurate goods description of the said foodstuffs. Vague and ambiguous descriptions such as “snacks” OR “Food” are not acceptable. Failure to comply will result in regulatory (Quarantine) delays. Foodstuffs not commercially manufactured, commercially labelled or commercially packaged will be seized by Quarantine. Herbal or Nutritional Supplements MUST contain the full name/s of the product/s and an ingredients listing on the commercial invoice. Failure to comply may lead to clearance delays. HONEY – Western Australia has a higher quarantine status for import of bees. Importer should contact W.A. Agriculture Dept 08- 93683535.
  2. All plant/animal material subject to quarantine inspection, delay:24-36 hours. Herbal Tea must be commercially prepared and packaged with a full ingredients listing. Tea containing citrus/fruit rind/peel may not be required without an Import Permit. Tobacco: The duty rates is based on a per kilo/weight rate that is $AUD409.71 / kg + GST of 10% of the CIF amount.
  3. Pharmaceutical products: Subject to import approval from Department of Health. Consignee needs an import permit. Shipper/Recipient to pay quarantine processing fee AUD47.30 min.
  4. All alcohol and tobacco-related products imported into AU are subject to high duty and tax rates. Refer to the below link for more detailed information
  5. Raw hides and skins (including when used on musical instruments) must be treated by gamma radiation upon arrival in Australia. Fumigation certificates supplied by origin will not be accepted.
  6. No seeds can enter Australia, unless for a commercial company that has the correct phytosanitary certificates and import permits.
  7. Unaccompanied Personal Effects (UPE) shipments must be declared to Australia Border Force on a B534 Form, which can be completed at origin. An invoice, packing list, and photocopy of the owners passport photo page are also required. All UPE shipments require an examination by Australia Quarantine. Breakdown of fees: DHL Admin fee $AUD150.00, GST on DHL Admin Fee $AUD15.00, Total of $165, in addition to these charges DHL Quarantine Admin Fee may be applicable and charges vary between $AUD90-130 Plus GST, Disbursement Fee $AUD10.00, to be billed after the quarantine inspection has completed. Please expect delays in clearance approx. 4-5 days.
  8. Should makeup content contain Lead – this must be clearly declared on the commercial invoice.
  9. Full value including carrier medium and intellectual property must be included as the asset value. If value over USD140.00 or GST payable above USD30.00, ship via WPX.
  10. All shipments of Newspapers MUST be declared as a parcel – this would include creating a commercial invoice for shipping.
  11. Coal shipments must have a declaration stating “The coal is clean and free of any soil and biological material”.
  12. Aircraft operators are increasingly imposing embargos or other restrictions on their acceptance of UN3480, Lithium Ion batteries, prepared in accordance with Packing Instruction 965 sections IB and II. Customers should expect additional transit time of up to 3 days at Australia, depending upon the destination and routing being used. PI965 Shipments transiting via AKL to Australia please ensure the below restrictions are adhered to. Failure will result in the shipment being RTO’d. Max size = H 45cm x 55 cm x B 55 cm Max weight = 20 kilos.
  13. Please contact destination prior to accepting shipment for any licenses or permits requirement.


Prohibited items

The following items are specifically not allowed to be sent with DHL to Australia.

  • Asbestos
  • Antiques
  • All dairy products exported from India, including baby formula
  • Dangerous goods, including hazardous or combustible materials
  • Firearms, parts of
  • Precious metals and stones

This is in addition to DHL’s Global standard list of prohibited items which can be found here


Size and Weight notes

There are no maximum weights per shipment or piece, but any document shipment weighing over 25 kg must be sent as a parcel (non-document). The maximum dimensions of each shipment are length: 300.0 cm (117.0 in); height: 160.0 cm (62.0 in); width: 200.0 cm (78.0 in).

Should you at any time require more information or telephonic assistance, please make contact with our Certified International Specialists.

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