With more than 300,000 South Africans living in Canada, the two countries share a close relationship. Though sending shipments to Canada from South Africa is generally straightforward, here are some things to bear in mind.

Country Information

Sending shipments to Canada – general advice 

DHL Customs Brokerage must have a signed Canadian Power of Attorney authorisation and Registered Business Number on file, or in the case of DDP (Deliver Duty Paid), a Shipper’s Power of Attorney and Shipper’s Non-Resident Business number on file. These are required to clear shipments into Canada. DHL Canada can assist is applying for the Business Numbers.

If the commodity is a commercial document shipment (a sale is involved), the true transaction value must be declared on the Waybill. The minimum accepted value for any document is the cost to produce the material.

Customs clearance processing streams differ between De Minimis, Low Value Shipments (LVS), and High Value Shipments (HVS) distinguished by Value for Duty (VFD) and/or the involvement of Other Government Department (OGD) requirements.

Shipments VFD:

  • CAD $2,500 and above requires formal entry
  • Greater than CAD $20.00 and less than CAD $2,500 may enter as Low Value Shipments (an informal entry)
  • CAD $20.00 and <  may enter without any formal or informal entry under carrier manifest submission

If DHL performs clearance, Power of Attorney (POA) is required for both DDU (Deliver Duty Unpaid) and DDP (Deliver Duty Paid) shipments; otherwise clearance will be handled by an outside broker designated by the importer.

Shipments that require Temporary Import permits cannot be cleared by DHL. Customs duties and taxes are assessed on the FOB transaction value (Value of merchandise entering Canada, not including International Freight charges or Insurance). Therefore, shipments entering Canada must have a value for Customs, stated on the invoice that reflects the cost of goods when leaving sender’s facility.

All shipments to Canada must reflect a realistic value. Failure to do so is a severe breach of law, and may result in fines, seizures or other penalty actions imposed by Canadian authorities.  Undervaluation is a serious offense that must be avoided at all times to avoid delays, extra costs and consequences.

Goods Sold are to reflect transaction price. Goods sent at no charge must normally show a fair market value as if they were being sold, or at least the value of purchasing the product in the local market at origin.

All shipments to Canada require an airway bill plus supporting Commercial or Canada Customs Invoice (CI/CCI) which must include at very least:

Shipper full name and address; Importer/Consignee full name and address; Specific Product Description, Quantity, Unit Price, Value, Currency and Country of Manufacture. It is highly advisable and preferable to have HS (Harmonized System) codes to at least the first 6 digits reflected for each line of description. Certain products such as clothing/textiles always require fabric breakdown information; other goods may require additional data elements to meet regulatory requirements.

By Legislation, any shipment needing formal entry requires the Importer of Record (IOR) to provided written authority to DHL Express Canada OR another customs broker as appointed by the IOR to act on their behalf in the process of Release, Entry and Accounting with CBSA (Canada Border Security Agency [Canada Customs]).

Power of Attorney (POA) may be for a single transaction or for all future shipments.

To establish a profile within the DHL Canada customs processing computer platforms, a Full-Time Power of Attorney (FTPOA) and a Business Number (BN) need to be recorded in advance of the arrival of the shipment. This prevents delays in processing. Registration for DDU additionally involves a credit application

Shipments may be DDP or DDU. For DDP shipments the POA is normally required from the shipper, but can be obtained from the Consignee under certain conditions. DDP shipments are billed to the origin DHL office who in turn invoices the shipper for duties and taxes following calculation by DHL Canada.

If a shipment arrives as DDU without record of IOR’s broker and requires formal customs clearance, DHL CA will contact the consignee to obtain BTO instructions or to offer our POA to be completed thus allowing DHL to act on behalf of the importer to obtain release, entry and to perform accounting with CBSA on behalf of the IOR.

If a shipment arrives eligible for LVS release, DHL will calculate the duties and taxes and will deliver only against payment of outlays plus fees for this service. We refer to such action as being “COD” – meaning the customer can pay on line via our secure website or can pay the courier at the door via Credit Card. In case of DDU LVS COD shipments, DHL would be acting in lieu of the importer in performing the remittance of duties and taxes to CBSA.


Document shipments

  • Advertising brochures/pamphlets 2
  • Airline tickets, blank stock (NI) 2
  • Airline tickets, issued/validated 2
  • Annual reports 2
  • Blank forms 1 2
  • Booklets, brochures (non-advertising) 2
  • Business cards 2
  • Calendars 2
  • Cheques, cashier (NI) 2
  • Computer printouts 2
  • Deeds 2
  • Documents, general business 2
  • Invoices, not blank 2 3
  • Manuscripts 2
  • Pamphlets 2
  • Photographs as part of business reports 2
  • Price lists 2 3
  • Shipping schedules 2 3
  1. The text “Non-contaminated” is required on the Waybill and supporting documents. Must also adhere to all IATA regulations for transportation. The Department of Health in Canada may inspect.
  2. The minimum accepted value for documents is the cost to produce the material. For non-commercial document shipments (no sale involved or COMAT), the generally accepted rate for valuation is CAD 0.04 per kg. Maximum value for documents is CAD 20.00 (approximately USD 17.50). Higher valued shipments must be sent as goods to all Canadian Gateways.
  3. Cannot be cleared by DHL. Strictly regulated by Government Agency.


Non-document shipments

  • Alcoholic Beverages 2
  • Credit cards 4
  • Medical Samples 1
  • Passports 5
  • Tobacco 6
  • X-Ray Machines 7
  • VISA Applications 5
  • Personal effects 3
  • Mobile phones, accessories and components 9
  • Foodstuffs 8
  1. The text ‘Non-contaminated’ is required on the Air Waybill and supporting documents. Must also adhere to all IATA regulations for transportation. Health Canada may inspect.
  2. Cannot be cleared by DHL. Must be cleared by outside broker designated by Local Government Agency. Cannot move DDP. This includes personal importation.
  3. Must be cleared by actual consignee. Cannot be cleared by DHL or Outside broker unless consignee is willing to pay duties and taxes based on value stipulated by customs after inspection.
  4. Credit cards are considered dutiable regardless of quantity or reason for import. De minimus in Canada is USD20, if valued at this amount or less the shipment will be released duty free.
  5. Passports will be inspected by Canada Border Services Agency (Customs) upon arrival, delay in clearance and delivery possible.
  6. Cannot be cleared by DHL. Strictly regulated by Government Agency.
  7. Please contact destination prior to accepting shipment for any licenses or permits requirement.
  8. Foodstuff into Canada is controlled by Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). Shipments may get refused or require additional documents (zoo-sanitary certificate, Import Declaration or Import Permit) for clearance.
  9. As per IATA Regulations it is not permitted to ship by AIR, Lithium Batteries which are either known or suspected to be damaged or defective. There are NO EXCEPTIONS. Based upon the guidance from FAA, EASA and the airline community Samsung Galaxy Note7 device with batteries are suspected as damaged/defective until further notice. As a result, it is not permitted to ship by AIR. To be clear, the ban covers the new Samsung Galaxy Note7 devices including newly manufactured ones from the factory and old Samsung Note7 devices recalled from customers and retailers/distributors.


Prohibited items

A Prohibited item is not permitted to be sent using the DHL Network to Canada.

  • Base or counterfeit coins
  • Feathers, plumes, and other parts of wild birds
  • Liquid nicotine
  • Meat and meat products from countries with risk of BSE (Mad Cow disease)
  • Reprints of Canadian or British copyrighted works
  • White phosphorus matches

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


Controlled/restricted commodities 

The following items are subject to other Government Department Regulations.

  • Agricultural products and agricultural inputs
  • Aquatic commodities
  • Clothing
  • Drugs
  • Food
  • Goods under trade embargo
  • Live fish and fish products not for human consumption
  • Medical devices
  • Medicines
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Radiation-emitting devices
  • Steel
  • Textiles


Size and Weight notes

The maximum weight per shipment is 2,970.0 kg (6,660.0 lb).

The maximum weight per piece is 990.0 kg (2,200.0 lb).

The maximum dimensions of each shipment are length: 119.0 cm (47.0 in); height: 157.0 cm (62.0 in); width: 99.0 cm (39.0 in). Pallets are accepted.


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

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