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Shipping Container Costs From United Kingdom to South Africa


Written by Reviewed by Dave Sayce

31st Aug 2022 (Last updated on 4th Apr 2024) 4 minute read

On average, it costs £9,290 to ship a container to South Africa from the United Kingdom. This figure is based on the cost of a 40ft shipping container which is equal to the contents of a 3-bedroom house. The average air freight cost is £388 per 100 kg. The data is based on our international removals cost research.

There are two main shipping options for shipping to South Africa - sea and air freight. The option you select will depend on your budget and how soon you will need your items.

  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

Sea freight to South Africa is the most popular option to consider when shipping furniture overseas. This is due to the lower costs and it being more eco-friendly. Your goods will take longer to arrive when compared to air freight. This may be an issue if you need your goods to arrive quickly.


  • The ability to transport motor vehicles easily
  • You pay for the shipping container rather than by the weight of your items
  • More eco-friendly
  • Lower overall costs
  • Part-load services further help to lower costs


  • Longer shipping times
  • Delays are more common
  • Sea freight shipping isn’t as frequent as air freight

Main South African Ports and Routes

There are 7 major ports in South Africa. When shipping a container to South Africa from the UK, there are several ports you can choose from. The Port of Durban is the main port. Other ports include:

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

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

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Air Freight

If you want your goods to arrive as quickly as possible, air freight is the best option. As it arrives quicker than sea freight it’s more expensive. Your goods will be shipped from the most convenient airport in the UK to an airport in South Africa.


  • Good security for your belongings
  • Convenient and regular flight times
  • 3 airports to choose from
  • Quickest shipping option


  • More expensive shipping option
  • Items charged based on the weight of goods
  • Limitations on what can be transported (e.g motor vehicles)
  • Not as eco-friendly

Main South African Airports and Routes

There are 3 main airports in South Africa. The most popular airport 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, and Birmingham.

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FCL VS LCL Shipping

After choosing between sea and air freight for your international shipping, you’ll need to determine whether you want to ship full or part load. This will depend on the number of items you have. Aspects that will affect the type and cost of shipping you select are:

  • The number of items being shipped
  • The weight of the items
  • The size of the items
  • Insurance
  • Tracking
  • Distance travelled
  • Duty charges and customers

Here are the differences between FCL and LCL:

Full Container Load (FCL)

Full container load is the most popular shipping option if you’re looking to ship a lot of goods.

It’s equal to a full shipping container that can be used for all your belongings. You pay for the entire container. Your goods will arrive quicker than using LCL.

Less Container Load (LCL)

Less container load is better suited for those looking to ship a smaller number of goods. You will share a container with others.

While this keeps shipping costs down, it does mean you will have less space to utilise. Your goods will take longer to arrive due to the container being shared.

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Other Costs to Consider

When it comes to international removals to South Africa, you will also need to consider these additional costs:

Packing Services

On average, packing services will cost around £250 based on the contents of a 3-bedroom house. These costs will differ based on the number of items you have and the company used.

Packing services are an additional charge, as the packing specialists will pack all your items for you. This helps to keep your goods secure and protected during transit. They will use high-quality packing materials.

Pick-up and Delivery

Pick-up and delivery services allow your goods to be delivered directly to your door. It removes the need to do this manually. The cost will vary based on the location, the number of goods and the distance to your new home.


The average insurance cost is around 4% of the total cost of your goods. The cost of the insurance will vary depending on the number of items you have, the type of shipping and the total distance travelled.

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

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How Long Does Shipping Take?

Air freight takes 1-3 days on average to arrive. This is considerably quick given South Africa’s distance from the UK. The average sea freight shipping time to South Africa is 16-22 days. If you’re choosing to use LCL, your goods will take longer to arrive.

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

Check the International Trade Administration website for more information. You can also speak to your chosen shipping company about prohibited items.

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Finding an International Removal Company to South Africa

When moving 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 place you in contact with up to 6 different companies and help you to save up to 70% off your international removal costs.

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.

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