Post office reminds customers of prohibited items in the mail

The South African Post Office (SAPO) has warned customers against posting prohibited items overseas as it delays outgoing mail dramatically.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Post Office said it has recently found several incidents where customers post prohibited items overseas.

“Airlines scan all mailbags before loading them for prohibited items using an x-ray machine similar to that used to scan hand luggage.

“Should a single prohibited item be detected in a mailbag, the entire mailbag is returned to the sorting centre to be opened and searched until the offending parcel is found. All the items in the mailbag miss the flight and are delayed until the next flight departs,” SAPO said.

With parcels being loaded in bulk into the holds of planes, customers are urged to make sure that precious parcels are in a sturdy packaging, and if there is empty space, it must be filled with packaging material.

“It is best to state the contents on the parcel and to include the word ‘gift’ if it is an item sent by one individual to another. This facilitates customs clearance in the country of arrival. Write the mobile phone number of the receiver on the parcel; that allows the postal administration in the receiving country to send the receiver a text message for collecting the item,” it said.

Urgent items to other countries can be sent using the cost-effective Expedited Mail Service. These items are delivered within 24 hours of arrival in the destination country.

Items that are potentially dangerous on an aircraft may not be posted to other countries. They include the following:

Liquids, including creams and lotions. Certain explosives are produced in the form of gels or creams.

Explosives – ammunition, fireworks. These may explode in the hull of an aircraft.

Compressed gas – aerosols, carbon dioxide gas, cigarette lighters. These may also explode in the hull of an aircraft.

Flammable liquids: alcohol, thinners, varnish remover, turpentine, petroleum products.

Flammable solids: Magnesium, matches and zinc powder

Oxidising material: Bleach, some hair dyes, peroxide, fibreglass repair kits. If these items leak, they could produce lethal and explosive gases.

Poisons, including drugs and medicine. An import permit is required for all countries.

Radioactive material (including mercury-filled thermometers)

Magnetised materials. These items can interfere with the navigation system of the aircraft.

The following goods are prohibited:

Bank notes and coins. You need an import and export permit to send these items.

Jewellery, precious stones or precious metals. An import permit is also needed to these items.


Any animal, insect or living organism

Any biological substance

Firearms or parts thereof

Fur, ivory or any other animal product

Human remains, including ashes.

Source: South African Government News Agency