France and South Africa have a relationship that goes back to the 17th century. Though sending shipments to France from South Africa is generally straightforward, here are some things to bear in mind.

Country Information

Sending items to France – general advice


According to French Customs regulations, DHL can only hold uncleared shipments in bonded warehouses for 20 days after the date of arrival. If the necessary documentation / instructions are required to process clearance have not be made available in due time to the import gateway, the shipment could be abandoned or returned to origin.

Shipments with values up to USD 24.00 will experience no additional delays.

Alcoholic beverages: Subject to special requirements. Additional costs and delays may be incurred. Contact DHL for more information.

Animal skins: A CITES certificate must be provided by origin for wild animal skins.

Chemicals, non-hazardous: Products must bear a security warning label with the statement “RESERVE AUX UTILISATEURS PROFESSIONNELS” (for professional users only).

Drugs (prescription and non-prescription): Subject to special requirements. The shipper must certify on the invoice that the importation of that drug is authorised in France. The receiver must obtain a written authorisation of import from France’s Health Ministry.

Electronic equipment and games; eye glasses and contacts; playing cards; sports equipment, toys: Goods must conform to the established norms of European Union for safety and carry the label “CE”.

Fabrics and fabric samples, textiles and textile articles, shoes: Non-preferential certificates of origin are no longer required for certain categories of textiles.

Foodstuffs: Non-perishable only. Contact DHL with full details prior to shipping. The receiver must have a broker in France to clear the shipment.

Gambling devices: Receiver must provide Ministry authorisation for clearance.

Jewellery, costume: Cannot contain precious metals and/or precious stones, or precious metals and stones restrictions will apply.

Personal effects: Provide full detailed invoice required with itemised values, clearly stating “Personal Effects”. Customs inspection will be made upon arrival and the receiver will be contacted. A photocopy of the receiver’s passport is required. No duties or taxes will be charged if the Customs officer considers contents for personal use and not new. Expect Customs delays of 1-2 days.

Precious metals and stones: For precious metals, the invoice must be itemised with the net weight of the precious metal, the commodity code, country of manufacture, karat (if any marking on item). If items are gold-plated or silver-plated, the net weight of any precious stones per item must be indicated as well. For shipments with a net weight exceeding 0.5kg (1lb), the same restrictions apply as for precious stones. For shipments not sent to an individual and destined for resale, the importer must complete an additional declaration submitted to the guarantee specialised Customs office and pay additional charges. DHL cannot be accountable where the receiver fails to complete legal formalities after clearance by DHL. Precious metals are cleared outside the simplified express procedure which may have a possible impact on transit times. Customs clearance of precious stones must be performed in landside Customs specialised offices. A door to airport service is possible in which case the Waybill must be consigned to the pre-designated broker. All additional charges involved after arrival will be paid by the receiver to the pre-designated broker. Silver handicraft jewellery is allowed but regulated with a maximum unit value of EUR 5,000.00 Euros (USD 6,700.00) and a maximum value per Waybill of EUR 75,000 (USD 100,000).

X-ray machines: Please contact the destination prior to shipment for any licenses or permit requirements.


Commodities considered as Documents

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

  • Advertising brochures/pamphlets 1
  • Airline tickets, issued/validated
  • Artwork including drawings/proofs/layouts 1
  • Blank forms 1
  • Blueprints
  • Booklets, brochures (non-advertising) 1
  • Business cards 1
  • Cash letters (NI)
  • Catalogues 1
  • Charts/graphs
  • Cheques, cancelled (NI)
  • Cheques, cashier (NI)
  • Computer printouts
  • Credit card blanks (NI) 4
  • Credit cards (NI) 4
  • Deeds
  • Diplomatic mail
  • Documents, general business
  • Drawings and plans for technical/architectural/engineering purposes
  • Invoices, not blank
  • Labels
  • Magazines, periodicals, journals
  • Manuals, technical
  • Manuscripts
  • Maps 2
  • Microfiche & microfilm
  • Money orders (NI)
  • Music, printed or manuscript
  • Newspapers 3
  • Pamphlets
  • Passports
  • Personal mail
  • Photographs 1
  • Photographs as part of business reports
  • Postal envelopes
  • Price lists
  • Price tickets for garments
  • Publications not for public resale 1
  • Shipment manifests – computer generated
  • Shipping schedules
  • Visa applications


  1. If printing/publication, charges are to be paid by receiver
  2. If exclusively made of paper
  3. If consigned for free distribution
  4. Credit cards are acceptable as documents. Blank credit cards must be accompanied by a Commercial Invoice.


NI = A negotiable instrument is a document guaranteeing the payment of a specific amount of money, either on demand or at a set time, with the payer named on the document


Prohibited items

The following items are specifically not allowed to be sent with DHL to France. This is in addition to DHL’s Globally standard list of prohibited items which can be found here.

  • Animal products
  • Antiques
  • Asbestos
  • Firearms, parts of
  • Furs
  • Imitation and pirated products
  • Melatonin
  • Perishables
  • Plants
  • Pornography
  • Precious metals and stones
  • Products of animal origin requiring veterinary or sanitary controls
  • Seeds
  • Tea and tea products from China and Japan
  • Tobacco
  • Vitamins and other nutritional products


Size and Weight notes

The maximum weight per shipment is 1,000 kg (2,200.0 lb). Shipments exceeding these weight limits may incur additional delays. The maximum dimensions of each shipment are length: 300.0 cm (117 in); height: 160.0 cm (62.0 in); width: 120.0 cm (47.0 in). Pallets are accepted; the pallet height limit for ESU/ESI within Europe is 160 cm. Pallets sent from Marseilles (MRS) to Bastia – Poretta Airport (BIA) or from Marseilles to Ajaccio Napoleon Bonaparte Airport cannot weigh more than 50.0 kg nor exceed 100.0 cm x 100.0 cm x 100.0 cm, and no wooden pallets or metal boxes are allowed. Going against these restrictions can lead to additional delays of 48 hours. Contact DHL for more information.

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