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Let’s all give a big round of applause to COVID-19 for bringing world travel to a standstill please! Nothing before, besides war, has put international travel on the back burner like the pesky Coronavirus has! The inconvenience of it all does not go unnoticed, especially by expats who travel back and forth to see family and friends.

While you can’t hop on a plane and head to see family and friends back home, there’s still opportunity to reach out, connect, and share a special moment with loved ones a little further away. We’re not talking about waving at each other from a social distancing-friendly distance, FaceTime or Zoom, but rather about sending a good old fashioned letter or care package. Sending someone a package or a letter is a really personal thing. It might not be equal to a personal visit, but it’s a good “next best” thing! To get started, you need to get your hands on the correct South African postal codes.

When you take a look at Johannesburg postal codes, Cape Town postal codes, and even Kimberley postal codes for instance, it’s important to note that they aren’t just random strings of numbers. When you use a Pretoria postal code (for instance) on a package or letter, it is used to help the postal service department determine which areas certain pieces of mail are being sent to. This helps with sorting mail to certain distribution centres and ensuring that your piece of mail ends up in the right mailman’s bag.

A Brief History of Postal Codes in South Africa

Where did the South African postal code system come from? What was the reason for its creation? It’s interesting to note that other countries were using postal cards long before South Africa adopted the idea. Did you know that postal codes only made their debut in South African history on the 8th of October 1973? This is when automated sorting was introduced to the antiquated postal system in the country. It is quite interesting to note that only 22 out of 62 countries in Africa make use of postal codes.

Postal codes were designed as a series of letters or digits that indicated a postal address, for the sole purpose of sorting mail. Most people don’t know this, but the very first country in the world to start using a postal code system was Germany, in the early 1960s. Soon after, America started using postal codes and then the rest of the world. Countries that do not use a postal code system include Hong Kong and Ireland.

In countries like the United Kingdom, postal codes are very specific in that they can take a postman directly to the front door of the recipient. In South Africa, postal codes work a little differently. They are instead based on the nearest major city, and not an administrative area.

South African Postal Codes

If you are interested in sending a package or letter to someone back in South Africa, having quick and easy access to the postal codes of each area can be helpful. Keep in mind that post office codes are different to street delivery codes, so make sure that you choose the correct code when marking the package for delivery. Below are a few helpful South African postal codes to remember.

South African Post Code AreasStreet Postal CodePost Office Box Postal Code
Johannesburg Postal Code2192 
Cape Town Postal Code80008003
Pretoria Postal Code01820118
Kimberley Postal Code8301 
Durban Postal Code40014000
Bloemfontein Postal Code9301 
East Longo Postal Code52415210
Port Elizabeth60016000

These are just a few of the top South African postal codes to familiarise yourself with.  Can’t find the post code that you are looking for here? You can find a full and exhaustive list of South African postal codes available for download on the South African Post Office website.

Don’t Forget the South African Postal Code

As a result of all countries postal systems following their own standardized formats, you might arrive at the co-op or the post office and realise that affixing a South African postal code to a package or letter is not insisted upon. In some instances, you can leave it off, and still, the package will be accepted and sent onwards. The problem with this is that the package/letter can get a little lost on route. It’s not unheard of for a package/letter to go missing for weeks or months at a time. And guess what the culprit is? No postal code or the use of the incorrect postal code!  Using a postal code is just as much about ensuring that the package or letter arrives at its final destination as it is about making the lives of postal workers easier. So, don’t forget to use the right code!

FinGlobal: your financial emigration specialists

At FinGlobal, we deliver fine-tuned services to expats across the globe – regardless of your postal code! If you need help with your financial and tax emigration processing, want to access the funds in your South African retirement annuity, or are looking for tailor-made tax solutions, we’re the team to assist. With almost a decade of experience behind us, we have helped thousands of South African expats across the globe. If you need more information and advice on expat services, get in touch with us. Leave us your details and we’ll get back to you.