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Shipping Container Costs From United Kingdom to South Africa

Ashleigh Williams

Written by Reviewed by Dave Sayce

31st Aug 2022 (Last updated on 1st Sep 2022) 5 minute read

It costs £9,290 on average to ship a container of household goods from the United Kingdom to South Africa. This figure is based on the cost of a 40ft shipping container. The size is equivalent to the contents of a 3-bedroom house.

The cost of air freight on average is £388 per 100kg. These figures are taken from our international removals cost research.

Due to the distance and logistics, there are two main shipping options - sea and air freight. The option you consider will depend on the cost and the number of items you need to ship.

This article will cover the following:
  1. Sea Freight
  2. Air Freight
  3. FCL VS LCL Shipping
  4. Other Costs to Consider
  5. How Long Does Shipping Take?
  6. Prohibited Items to South Africa
  7. Finding an International Removal Company to South Africa

Sea Freight

When moving to South Africa, sea freight is typically the most popular shipping option. When you consider the overall cost it’s easy to see why. Not only is it better for the environment, but it’s a straightforward service to use. Its biggest downside is the amount of time it takes for the goods to arrive.


  • The ability to transport motor vehicles
  • Goods aren’t charged by weight
  • The more cost-effective option
  • Better for the environment
  • Part-load options available


  • Significantly longer shipping times
  • Delays are more common
  • Sea freight shipping isn’t as frequent

Main South African Ports and Routes

If you’re shipping by sea freight, there are several ports you can choose from. While Port Hedland is the most common South African port there are others to consider, such as:

  • Port Elizabeth
  • Cape Town
  • Richards Bay
  • Saldanha
  • Ngqura

The main UK ports that ship to South Africa are Felixstowe and Southampton.

Air Freight

For those looking for part or all of their goods to arrive as quickly as possible, air freight is the best choice. Due to the swift nature of air freight, it’s by far the most expensive option to consider.


  • Great security for your belongings
  • Regular flight times
  • Convenience
  • Faster shipping option


  • Expensive
  • Charged based on the weight of goods
  • Limitations on what can be transported (e.g motor vehicles)
  • Not very eco-friendly

Main South African Airports and Routes

The main airport in South Africa is O.R. Tambo International Airport. The two other international airports are:

  • Cape Town
  • King Shaka

The main UK airports that ship goods to South Africa are:

  • London Heathrow
  • Manchester
  • Birmingham

FCL VS LCL Shipping

After you’ve chosen between sea and air freight, you’ll need to determine the number of goods you’re shipping. This will help you choose between shipping full or part load.

Here are the aspects to consider when choosing between FCL and LCL:

  • The number of items being shipped
  • Your budget
  • The destination
  • Whether you want to track your goods
  • How quickly you want to receive your goods
  • Duty charges and customers
  • The size of the items
  • Whether you want to bring motor vehicles
  • Weight of the items
  • The type of items

Here is the difference between FCL and LCL shipping:

Full Container Load (FCL)

If you need to ship the entire contents of a larger home, a full container load is the best option to consider. You will have access to a full shipping container that you can fill with your items. You pay for the container and as it only contains your goods, it will arrive quicker.

Less Container Load (LCL)

If you’re looking to ship a smaller amount of goods, a less container load would be useful. This allows you to share a container with others, and you are only charged based on the amount of space used, rather than for the entire container.

While it’s the less expensive option, you are limited on space. Your goods will take longer to arrive due to other items having to be delivered and received too.

Other Costs to Consider

In addition to the shipping costs, there are other cost factors to consider when moving from the United Kingdom to South Africa. These include:

Packing Services

The average cost of packing services for a 3-bedroom house is £250. However, depending on the distance travelled and whether you need specialist items wrapped, the costs can vary.

Packing services are useful if you’re on a budget, or if you need an extra pair of hands with your move. As it does take up time and packing materials, it’s an additional cost. Most removal companies will factor in the price of this if requested in their initial quote.

Pick-up and Delivery

Pick-up and delivery services are often necessary during an international move as it allows your goods to be delivered directly to your door. While some removal companies will incorporate pick-up and delivery into their costs, others will charge additionally for this.

The cost will vary based on the location, the number of goods and the distance to your new home.


The average cost of removal insurance is around 4% of the total cost of the goods being transported. While it can be costly, it’s always recommended to ensure you have your own insurance policy in addition to the cover provided by the removal company.

  • The cost of the insurance will vary depending on several factors:
  • The number of items you have
  • The type of shipping
  • Total distance travelled

Our international removal partners are all covered by Goods in Transit and Public Liability insurance, so you can rest assured that your goods are in safe hands. This protects your goods during transit.

How Long Does Shipping Take?

The average shipping times to South Africa are quicker than many expect. If you choose to use air freight, your goods will typically arrive in 1-3 days. This is useful for important items you need to receive quickly.

If you’re looking to use sea freight, this will take between 16-22 days, on average. While this is significantly longer, given the distance of South Africa from the UK, it’s a reasonable length of time.

If you’re choosing to use LCL, your goods will take longer to arrive. This is because FCL is direct and will only contain your own goods.

Prohibited Items to South Africa

There are a handful of items you're prohibited to bring into South Africa. These include:

  • Drugs
  • Weapons
  • Poison and toxic substances
  • Counterfeit goods

For a full breakdown of prohibited items, check the International Trade Administration website.

Finding an International Removal Company to South Africa

If you’re looking to move to South Africa, you’ll want to choose a verified and trusted international removals company. All our partners are fully insured, and experienced in this field. Our service can save you up to 70% off your international removal costs.

Ashleigh Williams

Having written book reviews and content for For The Love of Books for over five years, Ashleigh now creates advice articles for Compare My Move, focusing on all things home-related.

Dave Sayce

Reviewed by Dave Sayce

Owner & Managing Director, Compare My Move

Dave Sayce is the owner and managing director of Compare My Move and has over 10 years of experience in the house removals industry.