Shipping to Africa how much should it cost? 2022 Update

If you are looking to ship to Africa you have several options:

a special thank you to IVSS Vehicle shipping for providing a lot of information for this article


Container shipping is good for smaller vehicles, with frequent vessels to the main ports Walvisbay, Cape Town, Durban, Mombasa Dar es Salaam

The general rule is, if you have a single vehicle, it’s cheaper to ship Roll on Roll Off, for two vehicles it’s about the same cost per vehicle shipping container

Door opening heights  20 ft  2.27m 40 HC ft 2.58m

Container rates on the specific port pairs to Southern have not significantly increased over the last year and is till recently priced, however to and from certain ports they can be problems with the availability of space on the ships, and certain depots have a lack of containers. For shipping to and from East Africa, rates are still available but becoming harder to find, don’t be surprised if you are given a crazily expensive price. But a lot of this is down to the availability of space.

Generally, it is not recommended to ship flat rack such at such distance, as they are open to the elements, whilst in Roll on Roll Off there will be in the hold protected from saltwater in the weather.

Container prices – at present there are significant daily fluctuations in container pricing globally, however, if you have a good forwarder, they will find you a reasonable price, it just takes them more time but it’s possible.

The main problem at the moment with container shipping is a lack of space, for example, I could look on the system today and see no bookable containers for a month, I can check tomorrow, and there may be availability in two or three weeks time, which may disappear the same day.

The best time to book containers is generally 3 to 6 weeks in advance, but you should be in contact with your freight forwarder earlier than this so that they can plan your shipment, and ensure they obtain space for your desired shipping dates.

But please be aware at present, for container shipping, there are quite a few delays, and also there are a lot of problems with cargo being rolled into other vessels due to over bookings/lack of space.


How much should you be paying,

Generally from South Africa, you should expect to pay in the region of £3550 / €4000 for shipping a 40ft container with two vehicles all in, to most major ports in Europe, that’s includes all import and export costs, excluding any additional costs if your container is selected for a scan or full customs inspection. The prices of any increased by a couple of hundred £ / € over the last two years.

For shipping to South Africa expect to pay around £3,860 / €4,125 4000 for shipping a 40ft container with two vehicles all in, to most major ports in Europe, that includes all import and export costs, excluding any additional costs if your container is selected for a scan or full customs inspection. The prices of any increased by a couple of hundred £ / € over the last two years.

For RORO depending on the size of the vehicle and route, i.e stopping or not stopping, expect freight prices to be $70-$82 per cubic metre + Local export and import costs. (Export costs expect $600-$800 depending on size and weight of the vehicle, import to Europe, £125 – £200 / €250-€350)

Durban is a much better choice for RORO both North and Southbound.

The below prices are what we would expect people to be offered, and include a reasonable profit for any agent offering them, they include all expected costs (loading customs clearance and unloading), excluding insurance,

It’s important to note that pricing for containers at present is changing on a daily basis, they could be significant fluctuations in pricing depending on the availability of space, and even the time of day we are checking for pricing.

Prices are not absolute, they are just the guidance on what you should expect, and should be a huge help for planning purposes

From     To          20ft                       40ft
EU          SA           €2,800                  €4,125
UK          SA           £2,515                  £3,860
EU          WB         €3,563                  €5,261
UK          WB         £3,180                  £4,743
EU          KE/TZ     €2,200**             €2,900**
UK          TZ           £1,610**             £2,200**

**East Africa Excludes import local costs, these can be quite significant between $1000 & $2,000 USD, depending on port, carrier and destination

From     To          20ft        40ft
SA           EU          €3,300   €4,016
SA           UK          £2,940   £3,550
WB         EU          €3,200   €4,090
WB         UK          £2,570   £3,330
KE TZ     EU          €3,300   €4,195
KE TZ     UK          £2,950   £3,600

*Pricing checked 06/02/2022, subject to availability, prices do differ on the particular sailing and therefore to expect fluctuations on or pricing, there are more problems with availability and pricing from East Africa than southern Africa

*Walvis Bay does have increased, and there are regular problems with lack of containers at the depot in WB

Roll on Roll Off

There are multiple carriers that sail to South Africa, Walvis Bay and East Africa some of these are stopping services, and some of these are either direct or have a single stop.

South Africa

There is a very good service from Northern Europe to South Africa which only has one stop outside of Europe, and we have seen very few thefts over the last few years.

Some of these services stop at Port Elizabeth, East London and Durban, however, my personal recommendation is to ship to Durban and only Durban. The reason being is that quite often port calls to Port Elizabeth are skipped at the last minute, due to lack of cargo, whilst Durban is normally maintained.

Port fees can be cheaper, it is much easier for us to collect your vehicle and move it into storage in a secure warehouse for a reasonable fee, rather than it being left in the quay and open to pilferage. (Which is very good during COVID times where there is more risk with personal movement), whereas in Port Elizabeth you will be paying an expensive port storage charge instead.

We would not recommend shipping on any of the stopping services, as there is a significant and high risk of theft and damage to vehicles on these routes.


Namibia – this route has two carriers serving Walvis bay, however, both of these are stopping services, and we would strongly recommend not shipping expedition/travellers vehicles. One of the services is better than the other, but please only ship to Walvis bay Roll on Roll Off, if you have very limited items on board, are prepared to take the risk, and can secure your vehicle. Pricing to Namibia used to be cheaper than South Africa, however, the carriers charge more for POV’s due to the number of break-ins, and therefore it is more economical to ship to South Africa.

For E. Africa,   (Mombasa & Dar Es Salaam) from Northern Europe the first was transshipped either in Italy or Egypt, you can also ship from the Mediterranean on this route and then continue the journey to East Africa, the pricing on this route has significantly increased over the last year, and there is a relative amount of pilferage on this route, with extremely high port fees in Mombasa.

Expected pricing – for south Africa

Shipping Roll on Roll Off will cost around US$85 per cubic metre, for example, the sea freight would be:

20 CBM                $1700  (i.e 5m x 2m x 2m)
40 CBM                $3400
60 CBM                $5100

Export costs in Europe would be around, €175 – €300

Import costs in South Africa would be between USD $750-$1100 (depending on the size of the vehicle)

For example for a 20 m³ Toyota Landcruiser, the cost would be as follows

Sea freight          $1700 USD
Export                  €300
Import                  $750
+ Insurance
Total                     €2500

So potentially they could ship their vehicle:

20ft container    €3500
40ft HC shared   €2250 (50% cost)

RORO                   €2500
The general rule is, for single-vehicle Roll on Roll Off is cheaper, for two vehicles it is slightly cheaper than Roll on Roll Off.

The cheapest and most efficient harbour would be Durban South Africa, it is important at this point in time that you have options if you are not able to enter the country, or if you are delayed for any reason.  In Durban, we are able to collect your vehicle from the port and take it to a local warehouse where we can store it locally for a very reasonable cost.

Heat treatment / fumigation

Treatment is not required for shipping to South Africa, it is only required on specific vessels which continue onto Australia and New Zealand,

Most, proper shipping companies will explain this to you in advance, and give you the option to use shipping services that do require treatment.

Treatment costs can be anywhere between €200 for a 4×4 to €450 for a motorhome or more for larger units.

Can I lock my vehicle, and provide only the keys to the Cab?

If you are using a service where your vehicle requires treatment, the short answer is no. They will need access to the vehicle to be able to carry out the treatment.

For all other services, it depends, and the reason it depends is that the port and the carrier have the right to access your vehicle if they wish to, and so do customs.

Therefore if they ask for access we must provide access, however, what many people do is to fully lock up their vehicle, and to hide a key somewhere on the vehicle, so that if either Customs or the port request access, they are able to contact your freight forwarder and find out where the key is and gain access if required.

Please understand, if the port staff ask for all of the keys, then you don’t really have the ability to say no, it is down to you managing the situation when you deliver your vehicle. The majority of the time port staff have a quick look inside the vehicle, you lock it back up and give them the keys to the driver’s cab, and nothing more is said.

However, on rare occasions, they may ask for keys, and it’s at this point you need to manage that situation.

If customs decide to inspect your vehicle upon export and are not able to access your vehicle, then the vehicle will not be loaded.

Personal effects – anything left inside the vehicle is done so entirely at your in risk, and must not include flammable or hazardous items, medicines, food or drink, or electronics like drones, laptops, gps and cameras.

*More standard 4×4 vehicles with visible personal effects are being rejected at the ports for Roll on Roll Off services, partly due to changes in customs rules, but also the carrier is becoming stricter, vehicles which have had a camper conversion, look more like a camping car, have fewer issues. (It goes without saying if you have a 4×4, and the whole vehicle is accessible, and it’s very likely that any items inside are more prone to theft)


if you are shipping into, Egypt, East Africa or Southern Africa, you will need a carnet. If you are taking a ferry from Europe to Morocco you don’t

Who should you be using to arrange your shipping

Generally, you should only be using a bonafide shipping company/shipping agent, who are a registered freight forwarder, not a fixer, go-between, campsite etc, there are risks with shipping and if something goes wrong you need:

  • To know who you contracted with ultimately for the shipping
  • that the person or company you are contacting through have the financial means to resolve any issues.
  • That they have insurance coverage for errors and omissions
  • They have suitable insurance coverage for storage (fire and theft)

You will find ultimately it will cost you more not using a verified shipping company and increase your risk, as they will be going through a freight forwarder in any case to arrange the shipment therefore you will simply be paying more, for greater risk, and for them to handle the interaction between you and the party actually shipping your vehicle, so there’s just no point.

Any person you use should be able to provide:

  • Terms and conditions,
  • Confirm which organisation they registered with as a freight forwarder
  • Confirmation that they have errors and omissions insurance

Thank you to IVSS Vehicle shipping for providing a lot of information for this article


Last updated byOverlanding Association on February 6, 2022
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