ConsumerTalk with Wendy Knowler

Planning to send/receive Christmas gifts from overseas? You'll want to read this

The countdown to Christmas has begun and many families are expected to send and receive gifts from loved ones scattered across the world.

Read: At own risk! What you need to know before signing that disclaimer

Consumer journalist Wendy Knowler helps shed light on the rights of consumers when dealing with courier and postal services over the festive season.

Two gifts are exempt from hefty customs duty and tax per year

A limit exists on the value of gifts that can be received in South Africa before having to pay customs duty and tax.

The value of a gift parcel cannot be more than the equivalent of R1 400, in order to avoid extra levies.

This does nor apply to wines, spirits, tobacco (including cigarettes and cigars) and perfume.

If somebody declares something in dollars or pounds that's greater than R1400, you will pay custom duties when it gets to the counter here in SA and it's quite a lot.

Wendy Knowler, consumer journalist

A lot of overseas senders aren’t aware of the limits and unwittingly create a financial headache for the recipients in the country, Knowler explains.

Also read: You're probably reading expiry dates wrong (and wasting food in the process)

The South African Post Office (Sapo) explains that in order for parcels to qualify for the gift rebate, they must be sent by individuals and not companies.

Sapo's Mark van Rensburg says import duties on parcels will depend on the contents of the items. (Read about them here.)

Everybody is entitled to two gifts per year from personal friend or family member.

Mark van Rensburg, Head of mail operations at South African Post Office

There could be a backlog at the post office because of increased volumes.

It appears that some people have to wait long periods of time before receiving their gifts from Sapo due to delays at sorting centres.

Time is ticking if you plan on sending gifts abroad.

Van Rensburg explains that airmail should be lodged by 8 December to get to your loved ones overseas in time for Christmas.

It's best to send all surface mail (delivered by ship) should be sent by no later than 27 October, he advises.

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