Square Circle Forum




 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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Replies to This Discussion

Well, of course, like many other people reading this [I'm sure], I'm now feeling a bit twitchy just in case one of my parcels has been 'a guilty party'.  I do all the right things when posting, but you never know, I may have slipped up!  I'll have to be extra vigilant when posting in future.  I'll pay a visit to the KAS shop and buy a packet of paper, just in case, only $5 or £3 and a bit.  I'm presuming that all the money goes into one big pot to fund distributions [and customs payments!].  Roz x

Roz, we do the best we can, and I'm sure you've been very careful., so stop feeling 'twithchy'.  Sometimes there are minor charges even on correctly labeled parcels.......  no one knows why.  It is the ones that show a big $$ value, or go into detail beyond "knitted squares for charity - no commercial value" that are causing problems and the larger charges.


I do what you do - visit the shop occasionally, or in my case send a small monthly donation in hopes that if any of my parcels incur a charge, it will cover it.  Thanks for your concern.

I'm concerned regarding slip-ins: I have occasionally sent toys, but I'm not happy with not declaring them: the form in my country is phrased such that it does seem to require the mention of all the contents.  I brought a toy from a charity shop and labelled it second-hand on the customs label, which of course, was true and not even a technicality.  But is it nevertheless better not to send certain things under those circumstances - does the customs' charge outweigh the benefit?

Is part of the suggestion here that it is better to write "knitted articles" rather than detailing numbers of squares and garments, and if so, why?

One of the slip-ins mentioned is pictures.  Would a picture postcard incur a customs charge?  It would be useful, I think, for me (and perhaps others) to know for what specific items the customs charge will outweigh the benefit of having the item, if anyone knows?

One solution Cherry, would be to simply write Gift(s) & Knitted articles with No Commercial Value, then add $1 value.  

We are sending gifts to the children and none of what we send is for re-sale - which is what most Customs Officers are looking for in every country.

The customs duty fee can certainly outweigh the benefit if people over-value the items, then, Ronda has to use valuable donations to 'bail' the parcels out!  However, she often refuses and they are sent back to Customs for re-assessment, and invariably are returned (several weeks later) with a more sensible charge. However, we are trying to prevent the need for delays, because then we get emails asking, "Where are my parcels!" from contributors.......and it begins to double the amount of work for the SA team!

Hopefully, the suggestion in the first line will help you to feel more comfortable completing the forms Cherry.

Hi Cherry,
In the U.S, the customs form has five boxes, meaning you should list multiple items. I just list the knitting, and not the slip ins. If you take off the price tags and bar codes and even remove them from their original packaging, then it really is used, but we don't want them to tax KAS unnecessarily so that's why we don't list them. The reason it is better to write knitted articles instead of squares and sweaters is because sweaters, scarves, and other clothing risk custom taxes. Squares are safest, and my PO makes me say squares instead of knitted articles, but if your PO let's you, just say "knitting for charity" or something to that effect.

Mods, feel free to correct me if I'm misunderstanding any of this :).

Here in France I send my items in the small package category, as it's the most reasonable from the cost point of view. I don't have to fill in a customs declaration for this, and so I just mark No Commercial Value  etc. as prominently as possible on the parcel and add HAND KNITTED ITEMS. I cut all the labels off the toys, gloves, underpants etc. and take pens or pencils out of their packaging.

In the UK, one doesn't have to give a minimum value - they can go as £0 - but I have to declare the non-knitted slip-ins, unless I want to be guilty of smuggling!

I am sending very small parcels (A4 envelope), so I very much doubt anyone would challenge the "gift" labelling on it.

I think it also depends on the post office as well cherry, I use 2 different ones where I live and I have been asked once or twice if the value is over £20 even though I put nil on the customs form under the value.and one village post office I went to insisted I put a value on the custom form,even though I had nil there so I put £1 hence to say I don't use that post office any more as the woman behind the counter didn't seem to know what she was doing also I only send squares not slip ins, and I always tick the gift box on the customs form and put how many crochet squares are in the parcel,(I usually only send 20) I save all the plastic bags that you get through the post if you order online and use those to send my squares and I use the forms and address labels you can print off from kas and as far as I know all my squares have got to south Africa with no problem

It does seem that Post Office clerks around the planet all have their 'interpretation' of the rules - some can be a bit pedantic! Thankfully, most are flexible!

Yes, I must admit I have no scruples when it comes to enhancing the lives of the vulnerable children of South Africa - these are ABSOLUTE  personal gifts from me, and, not for re-sale!

Me neither. I'll put anything on the parcel as long as it gets through without any problem.

Cherry, I think it's a matter of conscience.  We all have to make the personal decision which bothers us most - a bit of 'righteous smuggling' - where we send items that are ostensibly 'used' even if that just means labels are removed, or the chance that by declaring items in too much detail, we put Ronda in the position of having to pay duty.

Personally, I don't even get a twinge of conscience when a slip-in jumps into the parcel while my back is turned and hides among the squares.

I would suggest that if something you are declaring might put up a red flag in the customs office, that you simply don't send it.

I have to agree with Anne, Cherry. If you feel you need to declare slip-ins that may have a monetary value, best you don't send them as this will probably attract duty at the other end, a fee that Ronda simply cannot afford.

My parcels sometimes cost me around $90-$100 to send from Australia if I am sending more than one and I don't suffer  the slightest twinge of guilt when sending undeclared slip-ins, I think they are already making enough money from my end without taking two bites of the cherry and hitting Ronda at the other end as well....and it can mean that the duty is much more than the value of the slip-ins.

If you decide to send only knitted items, they will be so appreciated.  :)) The squares are the most needed item after all....the reason why KAS began.



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Created by Linda Maltby May 2, 2018 at 8:26am. Last updated by Linda Maltby Oct 14.

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