Foods That are Allowed Into South Africa

No need to BYO Foods into South Africa, and here’s why

If you have managed to bag cheap international flights to South Africa, or happen to be crossing a few borders during your visit and you’re wondering what to pack food-wise, read on to put your mind at rest.

International import regulations vary from country to country and despite what you might read online, there really is no need to try and sneak a live goat or chicken through customs! Let’s see what South Africa has to say about bringing your own food when you visit.

The rules for prohibited substances are clear and include specific references to food stuffs: “Food, plants, animals and biological goods: All plants and plant products, such as seeds, flowers, fruit, honey, margarine and vegetable oils. Also, animals, birds, poultry and products thereof, such as dairy products, butter and eggs.” –


Why Bring Food into South Africa?

Good question. There is no logical reason to bring food into South Africa. Despite what you might think based on negative media reports, we have plenty of food in the country.

It’s not all mopane worms and traditional maize meal either. South Africa has import arrangements with most countries in the world, so you will probably find a lot of your familiar favourites on supermarket shelves. If you suffer under the burden of brand loyalty, ask around and you are sure to find a store that imports you chosen product in Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg and many of the other cities in this diverse country.

You will be overwhelmed at the variety and quality of fresh produce, fine meat and gourmet items available across South Africa. Particularly in the major centres. Large shopping centres provide access to luxury food shops as well as grocery stores stocking everything you need.

With the exchange rate favoring local visitors, you are more likely to end up asking what you can take out of South Africa before too long.

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Foods That Are Allowed Into South Africa

Gifts for Friends

Most travellers have had no problem bringing in food gifts for friends if they are in factory-sealed containers. Many of these items will be available locally. You can buy them shortly after arrival if you want to treat your hosts to some of your home-country treats.

It’s not worth trying to make it past the steely gaze and razor sharp olfactory senses of the security sniffer dogs if you think you may be carrying contraband items.


Alcoholic Drinks

You can bring 2l of alcohol per person on international flights to South Africa. However, bringing booze into South Africa is like taking ice to Alaska.

South Africa produces some of the world’s finest wines and brandies. While friends and family may appreciate the gesture, your French wines will most likely be wasted on them. You’ll probably find yourself making space in your toddler’s luggage so you can take back their quota of wine on your return trip.



Candy and chocolates are fine to bring into the country if they are in sealed packages. The South African government would never discriminate against chocolate. Be advised that Tim-Tams, Mars Bars, Snickers, Ferrero Rocher and many other international top sellers are all widely available in South Africa.

If you can’t find your favourite brands in the country, you’ll have to slum it at one of the other artisan chocolateries in Stellenbosch, Franschhoek or Cape Town. Believe it or not, we even have our own Lindt Chocolate workshop at the V&A Waterfront.


The same applies to cheese. Wandering along the Cape Wine or the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands you will find cheese made from the milk of any mammal that will stand still long enough.


Fresh Produce and Meat

No fresh produce such as fruit and vegetables are allowed. These items can harbour miniscule insects. These foreign critters simply don’t belong here and we have enough of our own, thanks.


foods that are allowed into south africa

Meat is not allowed

For health and hygiene reasons, meat and other animal products are strictly controlled in South Africa. Besides, how are you going to keep these items fresh on a long flight and possible lay-over.

You’ll have to make do with fat farm fresh free-roaming chickens, grass-fed beef and succulent venison instead. South Africa has had animal husbandry down pat since the 1820s.

Major cities as well as country towns boast top-notch delicatessens selling charcuterie of the highest standards. Be prepared to discover the joys of boerewors, biltong and other local delicacies along the way too.

Special Dietary Requirements

If you simply must stick to your self- or health-imposed rules while on vacation, an internet search will reveal stockists of your required supplements, vitamins and other food items.

Ask family and friends to arrange these for you or simply stock up on arrival. You will be flying into a city, such as Cape Town or Johannesburg, that is up to speed with all the latest health trends, and any internal domestic flights in South Africa will simply fly you to another city with all the same foods on offer.

Vegan and vegetarian travellers are well catered for in hotels, restaurants, fast-food stores and grocery shops. Halaal and Kosher foods are also common in a country which is home to such a wide diversity of cultures.


Any More Questions?

If you are still in any doubt as to what to pack, ask your travel agent or get in touch with your airline. They will advise you on the rules and put you at ease.

Don’t sweat the small stuff either, book your cheap international and domestic flights South Africa online  and come discover the culinary wonderland of South Africa.

‘Hamba gahle’ and ‘lekker eet”.