How to sell and ship internationally from South Africa?

13 0 13

There's a lot of information and guidelines for getting your Shopify shop ready to trade internationally if you're based in the main, first-world economies, but not much if you're outside of these regions.


I'm trying to set-up a Shopify store based in South Africa to be able to trade (sell and ship) internationally.


These are some technical issues that I cannot get clear-cut answers to:


South African regulation requires that you get paid in South Africa Rand (local currency), even if you quote/advertise in a foreign on your website. However, Shopify does not explain this point or provide guidance in such an instance.


Shopify Payments, touted as the first thing to address when wanting to trade/ship internationally, is not available to South Africans: . So, the solution in this respect is to use one of the payment gateways in South Africa that can facilitate international payments, such as PayFast.


Then, in South Africa, you cannot ad a new region/country in the Shopify "payment settings". So, it is not clear how you would 'enable' Shopify Payments (itself a term that's not defined or explained). Although, I'm assuming that by using a payment gateway provider that can handle international payments, this issue is no longer a problem.


Next, South Africa has exchange rate controls in place, meaning that we cannot accept foreign currencies but that we can only advertise our products in a foreign currency. Upon checkout, the customer will thus have their basket converted to ZAR (South African Rands), and the shop will be paid in ZAR.


 So, then the question is, how does one set this up, so that products can be quoted in, let's say, two currencies but upon check-out the USD currency total is converted to ZAR? I'm assuming it would need to be custom-coded or a plugin of some sort needs to be used?

Replies 3 (3)

13 0 13

This is what I’ve subsequently been able to discover relating to the above query:


  1. Show prices in currencies other than your store’s main currency:


In South Africa we do not have access to Shopify Payments or Shopify Markets. Therefore, we’d either need to open a new, secondary webshop for international customers, or use a third-party-app on our store.

These apps will display a different currency only up until the checkout point, at which point the customer will still be charged in the currency of the Shopify store, being Rands (ZAR) in our case. Currently, there is no real way to truly sell in multiple currencies without Shopify Payments.


  1. Convert basket to store currency at checkout:


South Africa still has backward exchange regulations in place: A politicised regulation meant to keep cash in the country and inhibit capital flight.

In relation to processing in different currencies, by law, payment gateways in South Africa are only allowed to accept payments denominated in ZAR. This is a South African Reserve Bank regulation which applies to all South African companies.

We can quote our prices in whatever currency we wish, on our website, but in the end the payment amount that is displayed on the payment gateway (PayFast) payments engine must be specified in ZAR.

The payment gateway thus still accepts payments from foreign customers, but the amount must be in ZAR and the credit card system will take care of the conversion.


  1. International courier:


To be able to physically ship orders internationally, the services of a courier that both ship parcels internationally and can integrate with Shopify is required, again bearing in mind that in South Africa we do not have Shopify Markets. This is type of service is referred to as a Third-Party Carrier.

In this way, it is assumed that the courier provider should be able to integrate in the same way that uAfrica does for our local deliveries:

Rates at checkout are supported if you have a Shopify store.

Third-Party Carrier-Calculated Shipping Rates must be enabled on our Shopify admin.

We may need to contact Shopify to have this feature enabled.

Fixed Rates can also be set up on Shopify (Shipping & Delivery) directly.

To integrate a Shopify store with a third-party carrier, we’d need assistance with: Setting up a Shopify as a channel, and changing the address fields at Shopify checkout.


  1. Returns and refund policy:


The returns and refund policy may need to be adapted for international orders, specifically relating to which party will be covering which costs.

Shopify Partner
1 0 1

Thank you for this useful information 🇿🇦

13 0 13

You're welcome. We learn as we go.