We are all aware that Knit-a-Square in South Africa operates on a shoestring budgetMonthly donations are used to keep the operation running and help to cover the cost of KasVan gas for the distributions, expenses incurred in keeping the office running, and a myriad of other small expenses each month.


One of the expenses that Ronda has to deal with is the occasional charge levied by the South African Customs and Excise. Some of these are unavoidable, even when we have filled out the Customs Slip correctly, and are usually small, manageable amounts.




As you will see below, all of the customs slips have the option of declaring the parcel as a 'GIFT'.  PLEASE BE SURE TO DO THIS.


All Customs Slips have a square for declaring VALUE.  Please declare the value as $0 so that no charges will be made on your parcel when it arrives in South Africa. If your postmaster insists on a value, please declare $1.00.


Please be sure your handwriting is clear. Sadly a parcel recently arrived from the UK declaring a value of £12 sterling.  Unfortunately, the writing was not perfectly clear, and, South African Customs & Excise insisted it said £72 sterling, and Ronda had to pay 300 Rand (£17.50 or $30 US) to bail it out. This sum far outstripped the value of the goods contained in the parcel, plus it used up valuable cash that Knit-a-Square would prefer to spend providing the children with extra food!



Below we have included sample copies of customs slips from various countries, however, it would really help if everyone from other countries would also help us with this important matter.


Canada – please note zero is shown both in Declared Value and Total Value - a value of zero is permitted by the Postal Service.




 USA – note the value in the sample shows $5.00, however Helen Flagg is able to send her parcels with the value as $1.00, Mary Anne says she will try this next time!  The USA Postal Services insist on a value being shown, therefore please use $1.00 only.



 Australia - Postal Service insists on a $ value being shown.  Bev Jeffery says $1.00 works for her!

Please indicate $1.00 on your slip.



UK – Postal Service does NOT require a value to be shown on slip, therefore please indicate zero in the value square.



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  • Priority International mail from the U.S. is automatically insured for $100.  Does this matter?

  • Some things I have learned since returning to the US, and shipping packages from here to South Africa:

         You can save about 10% off the cost of postage by using the USPS online forms for customs and to calculate postage.  It isn't the most user-friendly website ever, but it does save money.  When I filled out the forms at the post office, I always declared a value of  --0 -- (zero) everywhere on the form, and they were accepted without question.   However, online you are required to put some value on each item.  So, for instance, I declare 70 squares with a value of $0.01 for each square, and the total package value of $0.70.   So far that seems to work.

         In other countries, there might be a small package price that saves money, but I haven't found that option available on US prices.   I have found that the price per square decreases with bigger packages.   This does not mean the postage is cheap; it isn't.   Postage costs more than the yarn.   US mail has no option for sea mail any longer, so all overseas packages go by air.   Even first class postage isn't available for anything over a letter-sized envelope.  That only leaves Priority Mail or even more expensive options like Express Mail, but I guess the trade-off is that it reaches South Africa pretty quickly.


    • Thanks Sharon for raising awareness of this possibility!

      • That is my fear, Sharon, that they will stop seamail from Australia, as when I send from here it costs between $64 & $79 per package (depending on size). They always seem surprised when I ask for seamail....apparently they don't get many packages sent that way anymore, but with airmail nearly twice the price, it would not be affordable.

  • How hard can it be people, read the instructions and help these guys out, every $ is precious to these kids so pay attention to the instructions. Its not that hard. 

  • When sending toys and clothes items such as socks underpants or hand-knitted sweaters and cuddles, I mark USED TOYS or USED CLOTHING. I don't consider it lying, just bending the truth a little in a good cause.

    Love the poems, Anne. They're spot on.

  • Lina, I can't help wondering why the Swiss are so insistent on such details, but if that is their system, I guess you are stuck with it.

    Canada Post is less concerned and we can happily label the parcel "Knitting for Charity - No Commercial Value" and it is not questioned.

    Like you, my parcels usually contain other items besides squares - sweaters, cuddly toys, educational supplies etc. For me it is a matter of conscience - and maybe I just don't have one when it comes to our kids in South Africa.

    Perhaps I am indulging in what I call "righteous smuggling" and it doesn't bother me one bit. I send each parcel off with a prayer that it will not be opened by South Africa Customs, because if there is ever to be a problem, that's where it will arise.

    We do know that completed blankets could be regarded as having commercial value, so that is why I almost never send a completed blanket. As far as sweaters etc, go, so far we have not heard of any problems. Cuddly toys, socks, underwear, pencils etc. should go through if all labels and price tags are removed so that they qualify as used items.

    Sending in boxes always worries me a bit. I use wine boxes, which are free and the perfect size to hold about 2 Kg. and qualify for the "small packet rate" which is our least expensive way of mailing. Our church sends such a large amount, and although they pay the postage, they do not pay for the packaging materials, so to save my personal budget a bit, I use the boxes.

    I have checked with Ronda, and she tells me that very occasionally she will have to pay a small duty, but usually my boxes go through with no charge. I try to offset any potential duty by making a regular monthly donation to KAS through Paypal and from what I can gather it is more than enough to cover any duty charges.

    It is not likely the Swiss will open your parcels to see if you are fibbing, so why not just carry on as you are. All of us who do the same, can pray for forgiveness when we get to the "great beyond"!! My heart tells me that our desire to help the kids will make up for our less than complete customs declaration.


    I wrote this little poem a couple of years ago






    Dear God:

    As I packed up my squares for Soweto,

    A couple of hats "fell in"

    If they don’t appear on the customs slip

    Will this be considered a sin??

    I packed up a newborn blanket -

    Twelve squares stitched together, you see

    Is this really a blanket, or just a large square??

    Dear God, please answer me!

    I don’t want to lie on the package.

    I want to be honest and true.

    But Ronda’s the one who pays duty...

    Father, what would You like me to do??

    If I just say "Knits for charity -

    No Commercial Value at all"

    Will this be acceptable in Your sight?

    So my parcel at customs, won’t stall?

    We’re sending great love from each of our hearts

    As we send off the work of our hands

    To save Ronda duty, we sometimes ‘omit’

    God - forgive us and please understand.

    • Dear Anne,

      Thanks for taking the time and replying in such details - they were well needed, as much as your moral support. I very much fancy the expression 'righteous smuggling'!

      Fine! I'll stop right away sending completed blankets :D, but will indulge with no remorse in other accessories. Funny though, this distinction between blankets and sweaters, as if the latter could not have commercial value... 

      As I was mentioning to Ann, we although we have this small package (<2kg) rate, it still just gets cheaper with heavy weights: 2kg cost 32 francs, but 10 kg cost 92, and if we go to extremes, 30 cost 204. I therefore have the same question: is there a limit size (From Ronda off the record of course!) that does not attract duty so much by experience? I read somewhere 20 or 30 kg, but maybe that's already too much for Ronda?

      And of course, what a nice, touching poem, you're really very talented. WOooaw. 

      • I use a lot of plastic bags for sending my squares, I reuse the bags that clothes come in or wool if you order it off the internet I also use the bags for life that  supermarkets sell and sometimes I use brown paper but I make sure the squares or in a normal supermarket plastic bag first

    • Anne, I will get down on my knees tonight to recite this one.  Love it!

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