International Moving From USA to Any Destination

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Moving and Shipping Your Household to South Africa

Is it true that more Americans are deciding to move to South Africa?  Yes!  How difficult is it for an American to move to South Africa?  It can be relatively easy.  Connecting with a top-tier international moving and shipping company is a key component.   Currently, there are approximately 10,000 Americans living in South Africa!

What is behind this trend? There are several reasons why people choose to move to South Africa. Here are some of the top reasons:

  • Natural beauty: South Africa is known for its breathtaking natural beauty, from stunning beaches to breathtaking mountains and wildlife reserves.
  • Climate: South Africa enjoys a warm and sunny climate for most of the year, making it an ideal destination for people who enjoy outdoor activities and a relaxed lifestyle.
  • Cultural diversity: South Africa is a diverse country with a rich cultural heritage. There are 11 official languages spoken in South Africa and a variety of different cultural traditions and cuisines.
  • Cost of living: The cost of living in South Africa is generally lower than in many developed countries, which can make it an attractive destination for people looking to live on a budget.
  • Business opportunities: South Africa has a strong and growing economy, and there are many opportunities for entrepreneurs and businesspeople to start or expand a business.
  • Education: South Africa has a well-developed education system, with several world-class universities and other tertiary institutions.
  • Adventure tourism: South Africa is a popular destination for adventure tourism, with activities such as hiking, surfing, and wildlife safaris.
  • Welcoming people: South Africans are known for their friendly and welcoming nature, which can make it easier for expats to adjust to life in a new country.
  • Of course, like any country, South Africa also has its challenges, such as crime and social inequality, which should be taken into consideration when deciding to move there.

What are the top cities in South Africa, for expats?

Cape town South Africa

Cape town South Africa

There are several cities in South Africa that are popular among expats. Here are some of the top cities and the reasons why they are attractive to expats:

  1. Cape Town: Cape Town is often considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world, with its stunning beaches, mountains, and vineyards. It also has a diverse and cosmopolitan population, a thriving arts and culture scene, and a relatively low cost of living compared to other major cities. Many expats are drawn to Cape Town for its outdoor lifestyle and relaxed atmosphere.
  1. Johannesburg: Johannesburg is the economic hub of South Africa and offers many job opportunities for expats in fields such as finance, mining, and technology. It is a fast-paced and dynamic city with a diverse population, world-class shopping and dining, and a vibrant nightlife. It is also home to several top-ranked international schools, making it a popular choice for expat families.
  2. Durban: Durban is a coastal city known for its warm climate, beautiful beaches, and multicultural population. It has a lower cost of living than Cape Town or Johannesburg and offers a relaxed lifestyle with plenty of outdoor activities. Durban is also a major port city and has a thriving economy, particularly in the tourism and manufacturing sectors.
  1. Pretoria: Pretoria is the administrative capital of South Africa and is known for its beautiful Jacaranda-lined streets and historic architecture. It is a quieter and more laid-back city than Johannesburg, with a lower cost of living and a strong expat community. Pretoria is also home to several excellent schools and universities, making it a popular choice for expat families.
  1. Port Elizabeth: Port Elizabeth is a smaller coastal city known for its beautiful beaches and laid-back lifestyle. It has a low cost of living and a strong sense of community, making it an attractive option for expats who are looking for a quieter and more affordable place to live. Port Elizabeth is also home to several good schools and universities, as well as a growing tech industry.

Ultimately, the best city for expats will depend on their personal preferences, job opportunities, and lifestyle needs. It’s important to do your research and visit different cities before deciding on where to live.

So, how straightforward is it really to pull the trigger to make this happen?  The answer is that it can be very straightforward, provided you have done a little homework, have made the decision, and are working with an experienced, reputable, and responsive international shipping company (your mover to South Africa).  SDC is an international shipping company that stays with you every step of the way, from start to finish!

What to Look for in a Top-Tier Door-to-Door International Moving Company

SDC International Movers

Expertise and Experience

This is obvious.  The company you work with should be very experienced and have all the expertise necessary to navigate all the elements that come along with completing a trouble-free shipment from the USA to South Africa.  Failure to work with a company that is truly knowledgeable and experienced can result in rather unpleasant, negative outcomes.  SDC has been moving household goods and personal effects to South Africa for our clients for over 20 years.

A Dedicated Support Team Working with You from Start to Finish.

Shipping household goods and personal effects to South Africa from the USA is often confused as being “simple”.   If all your T’s are crossed, I’s dotted and you are working with a very experienced shipping company, it can be.  From door to door, including navigating customs in South Africa, SDC International Shipping guides you every step of the way.   We stay in communication and advise you on the paperwork and documents we need to make sure we clear customs for you at the port of entry in South Africa.  Further, we deliver to your new residence (or delivery location).

Superior Online Reviews

Online reviews are an important and effective way to better understand the sort of company with whom you are considering working.   It is our advice to only work with companies who have 4+ star ratings.

Visual Survey / Question and Answer Meeting (meet your shipper)

In order to accurately quote a client, it is critical for any international moving company to thoroughly understand both the volume of items being shipped, as well as any other important considerations.  To do this, a virtual or in-person visual survey, conducted by an experienced shipper and estimator, is usually necessary.   This critical step ensures that the quotation is based upon the actual volume estimate as well as all the client’s needs.

Things to Watch Out for When Choosing a Shipping Company

SDC International Shipping

Are You Working with a Genuine International Moving Company? (Caution)

Unfortunately, there are companies out there who represent themselves as an actual moving company, perhaps even specializing in moves to Ireland.   Is this always the case?  Often it is not.  They (the broker posing as a moving company) may gain your trust and booking, only to hire a 3rd party/s for the lowest possible cost to them.    Avoid the broker posing as a true, international moving company.

It is critical that you engage only with a genuine International Moving and Shipping Company that has been engaged in this process for many years, and it is their primary or sole business.

Bait and Switch (low-ball)   (Caution)

This is just as it sounds.  Beware of the very low quote. Have you ever seen a new car advertised as “starting as low as…”?   Does that mean the steering wheel, transmission, and tires will cost extra?  Kidding aside, the “bait and switch” or “low-ball quote” is a real thing; and you should understand it.  SDC has been at this for a long time; and we know that too often the lowest quoted price may ultimately end up as the costliest.   It may be a red flag when a shipping company quickly provides a quote, often a lower quote than others, but didn’t take time to understand all the inventory, let alone the client’s needs.   Those “surprise” costs add up!

At SDC we strive to thoroughly understand all your needs and expectations.  From there, we provide a clear, professional quotation that is as low as our many years of experience, shipping relationships, and efficiencies allow.

Up-Front $ Deposits (Caution)

Beware of any company that requires an up-front deposit.  A credit card authorization (as security) is fine, but an actual deposit could be a red flag.  SDC Intl. Shipping does not require up-front deposits, nor do we charge a credit card up-front, for 99+% of our jobs.

Consistently Poor Online Reviews  (Caution)

Just as you should look for an international moving and shipping company that has outstanding online reviews, the opposite is obviously just as important.   Look to Yelp and Google to understand what others have to say about the international shipping company that you are considering.

Lack of a Professional, Comprehensive Quote  (Caution)

SDC will provide a comprehensive, professional proposal for your shipment to South Africa.  This will spell out precisely what service is being quoted (e.g., door to door, door to port, port to port, etc.).  Further, all elements which are included, as well as any which are not included, will be clearly stated.   Be very cautious of any outfit that does not provide such a proposal!

The SDC Shipping Process                                                                     

SDC International Shipping is your best choice when it comes to selecting an international mover to South Africa.  We take extra time to first fully understand our client’s needs.  This helps to reduce or even eliminate “surprise” charges and/or other potential troubles.  From there, the process, depending on the desired level of service (e.g., door to door, door to port, port to door, port to port, air freight, etc.) is handled by SDC Intl. Shipping.  That is from your point of origin all the way to your desired destination. As an example, let’s consider a full household move, using ocean shipping, from door to door, including full professional packing, wrapping, and protecting of all household goods.

  1. First, it is a great idea to conduct the Visual Survey in order to get to know each other better, and for SDC to understand the client’s needs and inventory. This is also an opportunity to answer any questions the client may have.  ß Very important   Sometimes a visual survey isn’t possible.  In that case, it is still important for SDC to understand your needs.  Sometimes we use pictures; or in certain cases, we agree on an amount and service.  That said, for most shipments of household goods from door to door, a visual survey is an important part of the process.
  1. After the survey is complete and analyzed professionally, SDC Intl. Shipping will then provide a Professional Quotation. This quote will clearly explain all elements of the move that are included as well as those which are not or may not be.
  1. If everything looks good, the next step would be for your SDC Intl. Shipping Relocation Specialist to provide you with an Order for Service. This is the actionable booking document that initiates the shipping process.   The order for service will clearly spell out not only the price but also all details, including what is included, what is not, etc.
  1. Internal Support and Logistics Team gets involved- Once your job is booked, an internal Support Expert for South Africa is assigned. This Specialist will provide constant communication, and guidance, request the proper documents /paperwork that might be required, and stay with you from start through finish.
  1. Packing, Wrapping & Protecting, and Pick-Up- Sometimes this (packing and pick-up) is done on the same day. Sometimes, for larger and more complex jobs, professional packing (if part of your requested service), wrapping, protecting, and prepping could be 1-3 days prior to the actual pick-up/loading.
  1. Shipping– The next step is to ship your household inventory.
  1. Customs– Unless otherwise requested, SDC Intl. Shipping will clear customs at the destination port of entry. Long before this point, your SDC Intl. Shipping Specialist will have taken care of all of the necessary paperwork.  This way, clearing customs at the destination port of entry should go smoothly.
  1. Final Delivery– Unless otherwise requested, SDC Intl. Shipping then delivers your household goods to your destination residence or desired delivery location. All furniture is reassembled (if applicable), unwrapped, and placed where you would like it.  All boxes are delivered to the room or area of your home that you wish.  We then clean up all trash and depart.

Necessary Documents

Moving to South Africa

SDC International Shipping’s Logistics and Support Team works with you and helps with the documents necessary to ship your household goods, clear customs, and deliver to your residence in South Africa.

What Can’t I Ship from the US to South Africa with My Household Goods?

South Africa is rather strict when it comes to customs.  Attempting to ship a prohibiting item into South Africa can derail your plans, or worse.  Keep in mind that some items are banned outright (e.g., illegal drugs), while others may only be “restricted” and require prior approval for import.   Please consult SDC International Shipping for specific information regarding what can, may, and cannot be shipped as part of your household goods shipment to South Africa.

Restricted and Prohibited Items

When you are moving to South Africa from the USA, there are certain items that are prohibited or restricted from being shipped. It is important to be aware of these items to avoid any issues with customs clearance or shipping restrictions. Some of the items that are prohibited or restricted from being shipped to South Africa include:

  • Narcotics and illegal drugs
  • Firearms, ammunition, and explosives
  • Pornographic materials
  • Hazardous materials such as chemicals, flammable liquids, and batteries
  • Perishable goods such as food and plants
  • Animal products such as ivory, fur, and leather from certain endangered species
  • Counterfeit goods and pirated materials
  • Cultural artifacts and antiquities
  • It is important to note that there may be additional restrictions or requirements for shipping certain items, such as electronics or vehicles. It is recommended that you consult with your SDC Intl. Shipping Relocation Specialist to ensure that you comply with all regulations and requirements when shipping your belongings from the USA to South Africa.

Here is a helpful link for more information-  Customs Guide-  South Africa

Packing and Protecting Your Household Goods 

  • Standard Service (protecting your larger items/furniture)- SDC International Shipping, by default will wrap and protect all of your furniture items.  This would include items which would not normally be boxed.  For example, desks, sofas, dining tables, credenzas, beds, etc.  All furniture items will be protected in a manner necessary to ensure transit from door to door, with complete protection.
  • Special Enhanced Protection for Delicate and/or Specialty Items- SDC International Shipping will always provide the appropriate level of protection for your different inventory items. Items such as glass and marble tops, statues, glass china cabinets, etc., will receive the appropriate level of enhanced protection for the shipment.  At SDC, our mandate is to do everything in our power to ensure your items arrive in the exact same condition in which they left.  We are experts at making this happen.
  • Packing of Boxes There are basically 3 options when it comes to packing your boxes.
  1. Full Professional Packing Service by SDC– When it comes to boxes, the client may elect to have SDC International Shipping professionally pack all boxes, or only some of them, and create a professional inventory list. This is often helpful with customs at the port of entry in South Africa.
  2. Self-Pack- Alternatively, the client may elect to self-pack (or partially self-pack) boxes for the shipment. In this case, it is important for you to create an inventory list.  SDC Intl. Shipping will help.
  3. Hybrid- This is an option when the client would like to self-pack most of their boxes but leave some delicate items to be packed by the agent (SDC Intl. Shipping). For Example- the client will pack most boxes but would like SDC to pack the framed wall art, TVs, and fine china. This is a common arrangement.
  • Framed Art- SDC can pack framed wall art for our clients. Alternatively, the client may choose to pack themselves.  SDC can provide everything from standard wrapping and boxing of art to acid-free wrapping and soft crating, all the way up to creating full, custom hard crates for your fine art. 
  • White Glove Service-  If needed, SDC International Shipping’s teams of expert packers and un-packers are happy to provide full white-glove service.

Art, Pianos, Billiard Tables, and Sculptures to South Africa

When shipping your Piano, Billiard Table, Fine Art, and other specialty/collectible items, they must be handled properly by an experienced, knowledgeable, and capable shipping and relocation company.   If you need to ship a musical instrument, oil painting, a pool table, collectible pinball machines, or any other high-value specialty item, our team has the knowledge, experience, skills, and equipment to handle any specialty shipment, door-to-door.  

Shipping Your Household Goods to South Africa by Ocean or by Air 

Household shipments to destinations outside North America are usually shipped by ocean freight.   A benefit is that ocean shipping is a more economical mode.  The downside however is that the total transit time is longer.  SDC Intl. Shipping is an expert in both shipping by air and shipping by way of the ocean.   Often, a combination of both may be utilized.

Shipping Your Car to South Africa  

Can I ship my vehicle from the USA to my new home in South Africa?   Yes, it is possible to bring your car with you when moving to South Africa from the USA. However, there are certain regulations and requirements that you will need to follow in order to import your car into the country.

Firstly, you will need to obtain an import permit from the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS). You will also need to provide proof of ownership and purchase of the vehicle, as well as a certificate of roadworthiness from an approved testing facility in the USA.

Once your car arrives in South Africa, it will need to go through a customs clearance process and be inspected by the South African Bureau of Standards to ensure that it meets the necessary safety and environmental standards. You will also need to pay customs duties and value-added tax (VAT) on the vehicle.

It’s worth noting that South Africa has strict emissions standards and certain types of vehicles may not be allowed to be imported into the country. Additionally, driving is on the left side of the road in South Africa, so you will need to make sure that your vehicle is suitable for RIGHT-HAND DRIVE.  South Africa is one of the countries that happens to be strict on this issue.  Some countries allow you to own, register and drive a left-hand drive or right-hand drive vehicle, regardless of the country’s standard.   South Africa is NOT one of those countries.  In South Africa, in order to legally drive your vehicle, it will need to be right-hand drive (steering on the right).

Please reach out to SDC International Shipping to engage with a Relocation Specialist to help you navigate the process of importing your car into South Africa.

Some Helpful Links for you-

SDC Vehicle Shipping

Shipping to South Africa

Shipping to South Africa

Importing Your Motorcycle to South Africa

Can I ship my motorcycle to South Africa?    Yes, it is possible to ship your motorcycle from the USA to South Africa, but there are several regulations and requirements that you will need to follow to do so.  SDC International Shipping is here to guide you through the process and explain the details.

Firstly, you will need to obtain an import permit from the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) before shipping your motorcycle. You will also need to provide proof of ownership and purchase of the motorcycle, as well as a certificate of roadworthiness from an approved testing facility in the USA.

Once your motorcycle arrives in South Africa, it will need to go through a customs clearance process and be inspected by the South African Bureau of Standards to ensure that it meets the necessary safety and environmental standards. You will also need to pay customs duties and value-added tax (VAT) on the motorcycle.

It’s important to note that South Africa has strict emissions standards, and some types of motorcycles may not be allowed to be imported into the country. You should also ensure that your motorcycle meets South African road regulations, such as having the appropriate lighting and mirrors.

Pet Relocations to South Africa

Can I bring my furry best friend to South Africa?   Yes, you can bring your pet with you when moving to South Africa. However, there are certain regulations and requirements that you must comply with to import your pet into South Africa. South African government requires that all pets entering the country have a valid import permit, which can be obtained from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF). In addition, your pet must be vaccinated against rabies and have a valid health certificate issued by a licensed veterinarian.

There are also specific requirements for certain types of pets, such as cats and dogs. For example, dogs must be microchipped and have a negative blood test result for rabies within 30 days of travel. Cats must be microchipped and have a negative result for feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). It is important to note that there may be additional requirements and fees for importing pets, and the process can take several months to complete. It is recommended that you consult with South African authorities and your veterinarian well in advance of your move to ensure that you comply with all regulations and requirements for importing your pet into South Africa

.SDC Intl. Shipping- Your Pet

Marine Insurance for Your Household Goods  

SDC International Shipping offers both Total Loss as well as Full Coverage insurance options which cover your possessions from door to door.  Please contact SDC International Shipping at 888-779-3962 for details.

SDC Maritime Insurance

Healthcare in South Africa     

What are the options and considerations in terms of Health Insurance Coverage for expats from the USA, moving to South Africa?

Expats relocating to South Africa can obtain health insurance. There are several options available, including international health insurance plans that provide coverage for medical treatment both in South Africa and abroad, as well as local health insurance plans that provide coverage only in South Africa.

International health insurance plans typically offer comprehensive coverage for medical treatment, including hospitalization, doctor visits, and prescription drugs. They may also provide coverage for emergency medical evacuation and repatriation, which can be important for expats who may need to be transported to a different country for medical treatment.

Local health insurance plans in South Africa typically provide coverage for medical treatment within the country and may have lower premiums than international plans. However, they may have limitations on coverage for certain medical treatments or procedures and may require you to use a specific network of healthcare providers.

It’s important to carefully review the terms and conditions of any health insurance plan you are considering, ensuring that it meets your needs and provides adequate coverage. You may also want to consult with a financial advisor or insurance broker who specializes in expat insurance to help you find the best plan for your situation.

Electrical Standard in South Africa     

The residential power standard in South Africa is 230 volts (alternating current) with a frequency of 50Hz.  To use your electrical appliances in South Africa, there are two options-

  1. Your appliance (today, most computers, printers, and chargers already are) must be dual-standard ready. That will be indicated on the device or charger itself.  It will state something like “Input  100-240VAC     50/60Hz”.   This indicates the device already is capable of operating on anything from 100 to 240 volts, and either 50 or 60Hz.
  2. If your device is not dual-standard ready, you can still use it in South Africa by purchasing a power converter (step down). They are readily available at most electronic retail stores and online.


In conclusion, there are compelling reasons why some American expats choose to relocate to South Africa. From its stunning natural beauty and diverse culture to its affordable cost of living and friendly locals, South Africa offers a unique experience that is hard to replicate elsewhere. Whether you’re interested in starting a business, pursuing a new career, or simply seeking adventure, South Africa may be the perfect destination for you. If you have any questions or are ready to plan your move, please contact us directly at SDC International Shipping by calling 877-339-0267. Our team of experts can help make your relocation as smooth and stress-free as possible.

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International Moving From USA to Any Destination

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