Picture: Sizwe Ndingane/African News Agency (ANA)

Tshwane - The SA Post Office (Sapo) on Thursday urged customers who wish to mail Christmas parcels to other countries, using surface mail, to do so without delay.

"This will ensure that the parcels reach their destinations in time for Christmas. South Africa currently has very little delay with items leaving the country, but these parcels have to go through time-consuming clearance procedures in the country of destination," said Sapo spokesperson Johan Kruger.

"The Post Office is not permitted to send items containing ion lithium batteries via air mail. Please make sure that you do not post an item containing these batteries.  All airmail items are X-rayed and scanned for contents, and these items will then be re-routed to surface mail. Airmail items should be posted no later than 1 December."

Kruger said for sea and surface mail, customers should post the parcels no later than the dates below:

The islands of Tristan da Cunha, Ascension and St Helena – no later than October 31.  

Parcels to Australia, the Americas (North and South), the Far East and Asia should also be posted no later than October 31. October 31 is also the last posting date for items to Great Britain, Europe, and the Middle East.

Parcels meant for islands in the Indian Ocean – the Seychelles, Comoros, Mauritius and Reunion – must be posted by October 27. 

For Africa – the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Peoples Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, Cameroon, Nigeria, Gabon, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, Madagascar, Angola, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe - the last date is December 1.

Items meant for countries bordering South Africa should be posted no later than December 8. These countries are Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. 

"Parcels must be packaged securely, as they are transported in bulk. If your mail item does not fill the container, fill it with packaging material like shredded paper or polystyrene to act as a shock absorber," said Kruger.

He also cautioned South Africans to ensure that the items they send are legal in the country of destination. 

"In most countries, plant and animal material cannot be imported," said Kruger.

The following items may not be posted:
• Items containing ion lithium batteries may not be transported using air mail.
• Illegal items such as drugs. 
• Items that could leak and damage other packages, such as liquids.
• Items that may explode or catch fire during air transport, such as aerosols or flammable liquids.

* Note: All airmail items are X-rayed and scanned to make sure the content is legal and safe.

African News Agency/ANA