United Kingdom

With a shared language and close cultural links, the UK is one of South Africa’s most important international partners. More than 230,000 South Africans currently live in the UK, so it’s no surprise that the UK is one of the most popular destinations for sending parcels from South Africa. Here is a handy list of all the things you can and can’t send to the UK with DHL.

Essential Information

Sending items to the UK – General Advice

All shipments sent to the UK with a value exceeding GBP 600 must clear UK Customs using a valid UK VAT/ EORI number. These shipments will be held by Customs if we do not have a record on file or there is no indication of such on the invoice attached to the outside of the shipment. This requirement does not apply if being sent to private individuals that are not registered as a company.

More information on how the receiver can apply for an EORI number can be found here.

If you are sending shipments where the VAT or Duty amount exceeds GBP 2,500, DHL will hold the shipment until we receive an indemnity from the receiver or shipper promising to make the payment.

Prohibited items which cannot be sent under any circumstances to the UK include:


  • Meat, Fish, Dairy products and any other products of animal origin from outside the EEC
  • Dried noodles from Hong Kong and China
  • Tea from Hong Kong and China


  • Cigarettes sent to private individuals

The above items are in addition to the following commodities which are not accepted by DHL under any circumstances. A list of which can be found here.

Restricted items

Please ask your local DHL Customer Service representative prior to shipping any of the following items:

  • Animal skins (may require CITES Licence)
  • Animal products
  • Specifically for insects, larvae, pupae: provide a fully documented business case for transport
  • Cheques (blank)
  • Communications equipment
  • Drugs: prescription and non-prescription
  • Firearms, including parts of firearms
  • Foodstuffs not listed under prohibited items
  • Jewellery and objects constructed of precious metals and/or stones
  • Medical samples
  • Personal effects
  • Pornography (printed, on tapes, or digital)
  • Textile articles and products from Belarus and North Korea
  • X-ray machines

Please note the following advice:

  • Alcoholic beverages: Always declare the volume of liquid and the percentage of alcohol on the invoice. High rates of Duty can apply. Shipments containing alcohol sent to a private individual must always be sent to a permanent residence
  • Diplomatic mail and materials
  • Must contain only correspondence and other printed matter: Must be declared as documents
  • For official or personal use of diplomatic staff: provide form C426 (diplomatic bags bearing the correct seals and stamps are exempt and do not require form C426 for clearance)
  • Electronic equipment, including telecommunications equipment: mobile phones and accessories, laptops, handheld electronic devices including iPods, MP3 players, Xboxes, Blackberrys, CPUs, insured or uninsured with a value above €250,000 must approved by DHL before being sent
  • Plants and plant products: Provide the relevant documentation, e.g. Phyto Sanitary Certificate
  • Ship spares: An additional charge of GBP 25 (USD 36) will apply to cover paperwork handling. This will be billed to the Importer or Agent
  • Soil samples (mud and soil): Provide a Letter of Authority
  • Tobacco (e.g. cigarettes sent to a company): clearly state the exact quantity of cigarettes/cigars/tobacco sent in the invoice

The following items will be considered as documents when sent in quantities up to 2kg and be exempt from import duty.

Above 2kg or the stated limits below, the shipment will be considered a parcel and therefore may attract import duties and taxes.

  • Advertising brochures/pamphlets 7 Airline tickets, issued/validatedAnnual reports Artwork including drawings/proofs/layouts 7
  • Blank forms 7 Blueprints 7
  • Booklets, brochures (non-adv.) Books: hardbk/paperbk non-comm. use 7
  • Cash letters (NI) Catalogues 7
  • Charts/graphs Cheques, cancelled (NI)
  • Cheques, cashier (NI) 5 8 Computer printouts
  • Credit card blanks (NI) 6 Credit cards (NI) 6
  • Deeds Documents, general business
  • Drawings, technical/architect/eng. Event tickets 7
  • Invoices, not blank Magazines, periodicals, journals 7Manuals, technical 2 Manuscripts
  • Maps 7 Money orders (NI) 5
  • Music, printed or manuscript Newspapers 7
  • Pamphlets Paper patterns for wearing apparel 7
  • Passports 4 Personal mail
  • Photographs 7 Photos as part of business reports 1
  • Plans/drawings-arch/indust/eng. pur 7 Price lists
  • Publication not for public resale Ship manifest-computer generated
  • Shipping schedules 3 Visa applications

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.

  1. Max quantity: 2 pieces.; Otherwise send as non documents
  2. Max quantity: 50 pieces.; Otherwise ship as non documents
  3. Must be items not for resale.; Otherwise ship non documents
  4. Please be advised that imports are subject to a possible GB customs examination, and if these shipments are found to contain passports they will be subject to a service delay outside of DHL control
  5. Please contact DHL
  6. Max quantity – 10 pieces, otherwise ship as non documents
  7. Max weight – 1Kg, otherwise ship as non documents
  8. Please contact DHL prior to shipping


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