Public courier services in South Africa have evolved to cater for smaller individual deliveries. Here we list 5 popular courier options in South Africa.
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Introduction to courier options in South Africa
More evidence exists that the days of the South African Post Office have come to a standstill. This means that reliable, cost-effective courier options have fallen to private courier services.
This post lists and discusses 5 popular courier options in South Africa. The aim is to cater for smaller packages, typically weighing between 1 to 10kg in weight.
Apart from introducing options, the post aims to help readers make decisions on which courier service to use based on availability, price, location, speed, security, destination and reliability.
The courier options on this post are ordered alphabetically by company name/service. They are Aramex Stoor-to-Door, DSV Locker-to-Door, Paxi, PostNet2PostNet and PUDO.
At the end of this post, we have a summary of all the courier options available in South Africa with their pricing, a list of items that are not allowed to be couriered in South Africa and some frequently asked questions about courier options in South Africa.
Aramex offers a Store-to-Door courier service where the sender can drop packages off at an Aramex drop-off point from which they will be delivered to the address of the recipient.
Aramex drop-off containers are typically situated in Pick n Pay, Fresh Stop, Checkers and Shoprite stores. The size of a package is determined by the size of their branded plastic sleeve — available from the outlets that host drop-off containers. The sleeves are 350 x 450 mm and cost R99.99 (the price of the courier).
The delivery destination can be anywhere in South Africa, as long as it is not a PO Box. Although old branding of the drop-off containers suggests overnight delivery, Aramex has announced later that packages can take anything from 24 to 72 business day hours to deliver. Packages are typically collected from the drop-off containers at 15:00 but the collection time will be specified.
After buying the sleeve, the Aramex App or their website needs to be used to scan/enter the barcode on the sleeve and create the waybill. For an additional R20, the waybill can be created at the store while purchasing the sleeve.
For the waybill, the recipient’s name, cellphone number, email address and physical address will be required as well as the sender’s name, cell number, email address and suburb & postal code.
Aramex states that they offer no insurance on their packages and the content of parcels. Fragile items should preferably not be couriered using Aramex.
Another popular courier option in South Africa is DSV Locker service with their Locker-to-Door service. Parcels, using one of their PAK sizes, are deposited in one of their almost 400 lockers countrywide and DSV does the delivery for you.
DSV lockers are located at selected Engen petrol stations. After the package has been deposited, the delivery can be made to anywhere in South Africa. DSV has various PAK box sizes that are used to pay for and protect parcels. PAK sizes (available from Engen) range from R75 for envelopes [350(L) x 270(W) x 10(H) mm] to R120 for up to 5kg [400(L) x 300(W) x 190(H) mm].
Documents (PAKe) can be couriered using DSV’s express (1-2 working days) or economy (1-5 working days) services while all the other PAKs are delivered using their economy service.
Value-added services for DSV include online tracking service, CCTV monitoring of lockers and R250 liability.
PostNet offers a courier service between two PostNet branches. Their domestic PostNet2PostNet courier service is priced at R99 for 5kg volume or weight. You can either use your own packaging material or PostNet can assist you with the boxes and wrapping materials. After the first 5kg, R20 will be added per additional kilogram and each parcel has a maximum weight limit of 15kg.
The waybill is done in-store and requires the name and cellphone number of the sender and the recipient’s PostNet branch, name and cell phone number.
We have found PostNet to be very reliable and good with fragile items. Delivery to main centres usually takes 2 to 3 working days and 3 to 4 days when the PostNet branch is in an outlying area.
The recipient of the package will receive an SMS when it is time for collection. The sender will receive a printed copy of the waybill with tracking information.
The contents of the package can be insured if the value can be verified.
The fourth courier service on this list is Paxi. Paxi offers courier services between two Paxi points, which are located within PEP, PEP Home, PEPCell, Shoe City and Tekkie Town stores.
Using bags/sleeves, Paxi is great for clothing items. The two bag sizes that are available are Standard – 450 x 370 mm (max 5kg) and Large – 640 x 510 (max 10kg). Normal (7-9 business days) or fast (3-5 business days) services are also available. The price of these bags covers the courier fee and they are available from the cashier of the store. Bags can be taken home to pack and seal the parcel. The cheapest option is the 7-9 day small bag for R60.
The waybill is completed by the cashier while the parcel is dropped off. The name and cell number of the recipient, as well as the Paxi branch code (starting with a P if it is a PEP store), will be required. Unlike the other courier services mentioned here, the waybill also requires the sender’s ID book/card together with a cell phone number.
Parcels can be tracked using the Paxi App or their website. Paxi offers R500 insurance per parcel.
To prevent tearing, we recommend Paxi users not to overpack their bags. Paxi is also not great for fragile items. Other potential problems that customers complain about is parcels getting lost and opened parcels/bags. Paxi points often have long queues.
PUDO (which is short for “Pick Up, Drop Off”) is a smart locker delivery system that is used to deposit and collect parcels. Similarly to DSV Lockers, this courier option allows senders to order a locker where parcels are dropped off, transported to the desired location, whereafter it is collected from another locker by the recipients.
PUDO (powered by The Courier Guy) offers locker-to-locker, door-to-locker and locker-to-door courier services in South Africa.
Lockers are conveniently located countrywide in shopping malls or at some petrol stations and can be accessed 24/7 (if electricity is available). Bookings and payments are made using the PUDO App or their website. Deliveries usually take 1 to 4 working days.
PUDO’s cheapest option, the locker-to-locker service, currently starts off at R40 for an extra small package which is 600(L) x 170(W) x 80(H) mm. Either a box or plastic packaging can be used. The idea is that the packaging fits in a locker’s indicated dimensions.
Senders will have to use their own packaging materials. We recommend using boxes (or re-using thick plastic courier sleeves if your recipient is not too concerned about aesthetics). PUDO boxes in the exact locker sizes are available from The Courier Guy depots.
With PUDO, locker and collection/delivery bookings are made online. When a locker is used, a pin will be SMSed to the sender. On arrival at the locker, the pin code is entered on a touch screen, after which the locker door opens for depositing. Parcels must be deposited within 48 hours of making the booking. Tracking details are given during the booking transaction. The recipient will receive an SMS with the locker pin number to receive the parcel. The recipient must collect the parcel from the locker within 36 hours.
The information required for the waybill is the recipient’s name, cell phone number and destination locker or delivery address. The sender must also supply his/her cell number to PUDO.
At the time of writing, PUDO was rated 2 out of 5 stars (based on 254 reviews) on their Facebook page. Unhappy customers report that their parcel got lost, has been tampered with and/or damaged contents after transit.
Receiving a lot of parcels from PUDO, we can also be added to this list. Our recommendation is to use lockers with cameras guarding them, to properly seal boxes and use strong padding. We’ve also experienced that lockers get double booked or that pickups have been done without the system registering them. Locker sabotage has also been witnessed.
In their terms and conditions, PUDO states that they do not offer any insurance on packages or their content.
Summary of popular courier options in South Africa
Items that cannot be sent via courier in South Africa
All the courier options in South Africa do not allow the following items to be sent:
- Gas and paraffin
- Drugs and medication
- Firearms and explosives
- Dry ice
- Perishable items such as food
- Flammable items
- Furs and ivory
- Bullions and diamonds
- Cash and travellers’ cheques
- Live animals
- Illegal items
- Clinical and/or biological samples
- Human remains and/or ashes
- Tobacco products
- Glass, crockery and other fragile items
- Any dangerous items including magnets and heavy metals
Frequently asked questions about courier options in South Africa
What is a waybill?
A waybill is a document prepared by/for the courier company that contains information about the sender and receiver, the service and the tracking number. Each of the courier options listed here needs a waybill.
Why do most services not offer insurance?
Although each service might have its own specific reason why packages and their content cannot be insured, obvious reasons include fraud and the inability to verify the value of the content. Each service will have its own business model and, in order to be fast and cost-effective, packages might not always be handled with care.
Which is the cheapest courier option in South Africa?
PUDO Locker-to-Locker at R40 for the extra small parcel.
Which courier option is the most reliable?
Judging from our own experience and user ratings, PostNet2PostNet seems to be the most reliable option.
Which courier option is the safest?
Anything in a well-packed box is considered safer to courier than services using sleeves. In our experience, PostNet2PostNet, PUDO and DSV are good options for these. Our number one recommendation is PostNet2PostNet.
The South African Post Office is not the most cost-efficient and reliable courier service anymore. Here we listed and discussed 5 private courier options in South Africa.
They are Aramex Stoor-to-Door, DSV Locker-to-Door, Paxi, PostNet2PostNet and PUDO.