Shipping Iran-South Africa

Bandar Abbas to Cape Town, South Africa

In October 2016 we undertook our first ever shipment and successfully sent our Toyota Landcruiser from Bandar Abbas in Iran to Cape Town, South Africa in a 20 foot contatiner.

Below I’ve included a lot of background information, in case it is of any interest to anyone as to why we made the choices we did. If you just want the facts, jump to the bottom “SUMMARY.”

In case it didn’t work, our fallback plans were to either just turn up in Bandar Abbas and ask around or to take the well-documented RoRo ferry from Bandar Abbas to Dubai and then ship from there. The former may have worked, but for us, I’m glad we didn’t do it that way as we wouldn’t really have known where to start and you can’t just enter the port area and find a row of offices with people waiting to talk to you. The latter would have been a lot more expensive: at least 1.000 EUR more, possibly a little more.

About 6 weeks prior to our preferred shipping date, we very rudimentarily Googled ”international freight forwarder Teheran“ and contacted the first two pages of results. We chose Teheran in case it was going to be easier to go into an office and speak to people rather than communicate via phone or email and we wanted to get the ball rolling rather than have to hang around in hot and humid Bandar Abbas waiting for a ship. One company replied.

Simultaneously we contacted the South African agents mentioned here on the HUBB to see if they themselves had any contacts, but the answer was no. We also looked into shipping to Namibia and driving to Cape Town from there. We had some commitments in Cape Town, which meant we couldn’t change our trip routing too much.

Joy at TD Shipping told us in January 2016 that no lines were servicing this route. When I contacted her again in September, she just didn’t respond at all. I think we sounded like too much work for them: we were still quite vague on dates and were prepared to go from Dubai or Oman and arrive into Cape Town, Durban or Port Elizabeth, if it helped to find a ship.

Adrian at EconoTrans got some quotes in for from Dubai and passed the best one on to us, but had no luck finding counterparts in Iran.

Given the lack of choice of suppliers, the quick communication in very good English, the reasonable pricing and later the assurance that any additional, unforeseen charges would be minimal, we chose to deal with Sareh at Saadat Sorat Co. rather than travel first to Dubai.


The original quote was a bit vague:

“FOB BND Cape Town is 950Euro/20’

THC: 133 USD/20’

BL fee 75 USD/set”


But we got answers to most of our many questions, importantly for us: there’s a weekly service, it’s not a direct route and there’s someone in Bandar Abbas who will handhold us until everything is done.


In essence, the difficult parts to the shipment were:

  • We chose a date in Octobe,r which we later discovered was the week of the country’s biggest national holidays, two days of mourning, Ashura. This meant being ready before time, which in turn meant we were in Iran a week less than we would have preferred. We couldn’t ship later due to some commitments in SA and Europe.
  • Insurance: we learnt there are 3 broad classes of marine shipping insurance across the world: A, B and C. Class A is the ‘fully-comprehensive’ package and the one the agent originally recommended taking. B is somewhat less and C is hardly worth bothering with.

We were keen to have insurance that covers total loss of the vehicle in any situation. 

  • We only took enough cash with us to cover the expected cost of RoRo to Dubai, not for the shipment to Cape Town from Iran directly, as the agency confirmed we would be able to pay via bank transfer to one of their international accounts.

When we first tried to do this, the receiving bank in Hong Kong sent a catalogue of more than 20 questions asking for more information. It then turned out the receiving bank could not receive our payment and we had to transfer to a different account. This cost quite a lot of time and was only resolved about 3 days before arrival in Cape Town!


As we tackled each of these with the Iranian agency as they came up, we had a lot of emails, and on the very short notice things, phone calls, to get everything sorted.

The most important thing for the agency was to get everything arranged quickly, the more important thing for us, was to have the car arrive in Cape Town without major damage, within a reasonable time (we estimated perhaps 2 to 4 weeks longer than quoted in a worst-case scenario.


The agency originally told us we should take out Class A insurance, which was cheap at ca. $370 It became apparent they hadn’t shipped used cars before as it turns out the Iranian insurance companies will only issue Class A to new cars and they didn’t know this. Class B isn’t offered at all, we don’t know why, and class C for 80$ didn’t offer enough coverage for us.

Adrian at EconoTrans came to our rescue and was able to quote via his broker, which we refined to suit our needs. This cost 0.85% of: the value of vehicle plus an allowance of 2,800 € for shipping.


At the last minute, before entering the port in Bandar Abbas, we were also told we would need to pay 240 USD for a Power of Attorney for our agent to take care of everything. Although we were told there was absolutely no way of getting round this, in the we had to as there was no lawyer willing (or with time, we don’t know) who would do one. This caused some particular stress for our agent, but he dealt with everything perfectly.





Agent in Iran:

Ms Sareh Karoubi, Sales Manager

Saadat Sorat Int’l Transport & Shipping Agency

Tel: +98 21 889 26617 ext. 120

Mobile: +98 912 254 9116


Agent in Cape Town:

Mr Adrian Schultz

Director, Econo Trans

Tel. +27 21 511 5513



  1. a) Iranian shipping costs: 2,004 USD, which was approximately:

300 USD: Putting the car into the 20’ container (stuffing, lashing, shifting)

100 USD: Handling fee

133 USD: Terminal Handling Charges (THC) before the container is loaded on board

75 USD: Bill of Lading fee

100 USD: Evaluation (additional charges customs deem necessary to demand) These are charged as they occur, but we were told this ist he general amoung

1,036 USD: Shipping. The quote was actually 950 € to Cape Town, indirect

9% VAT


  1. b) South African arrival costs: ca. 1,100 USD: actual rate was 12,856 ZAR plus 14% VAT = 14,273.92 ZAR. We were originally quoted 11,500 ZAR plus 14% VAT



Coverage levels: Type B including an excess in case of a claim

Cost: 0.85% of: the value of vehicle plus an allowance of 2,800 € for shipping

You should always calculate on ca. 1% to an absolute maximum of 1.5% of the value of the car for best coverage. Anything less, make sure you read the fine print in detail.


Additional costs on arrival: 1,000 ZAR (ca. 73€). These are already included in (b) above.

Note from Adrian: try not to use PIL: they are intransparent regarding their charges and inflexible regarding container movements and using a depot that charges more than the one Econo Trans normally use. (ca. 73€


Shipping time: 30 days via Singapore. It’s possible to ship every week.


Payment for Iran: possible by bank transfer, but make sure the Iran agent is 100% sure there won’t be any issues with the receiving bank, otherwise you will suffer some delays.

Cash in USD or EUR would have been easier.



All in all, despite some tense moments with payment and authorisation signatures on the carnet (ca. 25 on the Iranian side, which created quite a lot of headaches and needed his best persuasion tactics for our agent in Bandar Abbas), insurance needing to be arranged at the very last second, everything was otherwise very smooth and not at all the nightmare we had anticipated. Can highly recommend both agencies and the route.



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