Global Sourcebook for International Data Management

                                         by Graham Rhind

Help us to keep this resource free!



This resource is also available as a PDF file

South Africa

Global Sourcebook | Index | Properties


For supplementary information, see links to post office home pages here External, to postal code pages here External and to other personal name and addressing issues pages here External.

Table of Contents

South Africa - Country information


Local short name form

Official name





International telephone access code


ISO 3166 country codes

Car nationality plate code


Internet country code


GRC Country Code


South Africa - Number format


(where . indicates the decimal separator and , the thousands separator)

South Africa - Date formats



mm/dd/yyyy is also commonly used.

South Africa - Languages


Language map External

South Africa has 11 national languages. These are: Afrikaans External (6 200 000 speakers); English External (3 500 000 speakers); Ndebele External (isiNdebele) (588 000 speakers); Northern Sotho External (Sesotho sa Leboa) (3 840 000 speakers); Southern Sotho External (Sesotho) (2 704 000 speakers); Swati External (siSwati) (1 019 000 speakers); Tsonga External (Xitsonga) (1 646 000 speakers); Tswana External (Setswana) (2 822 000 speakers); Venda External (Tshivenda) (666 000 speakers); Xhosa External (isiXhosa) (6 858 000 speakers) and Zulu External (isiZule) (8 778 000 speakers). There are 15 other languages spoken.

South Africa - Company legal forms


The Afrikaans version of “Limited”, Beperk (Bpk), will often be found in company names. Also found will be:

   BK (Beslote Korporasie)
   CC (Closed corporation)
   Privaat Maatskappy
   Private Company
   Pty Ltd (Proprietary Limited)
   Public Company
   Publieke Maatskappy
   Section 21 Company (non-profit organization)

Comprehensive tables of these strings can be acquired – see External

South Africa - Address format


Addresses are written in the following format:

   Contact name
   number[ ]Thoroughfare
   postal code

For example:


Alternatively, the postal code is often found written before the town name in this format:

   Contact name
   number[ ]Thoroughfare
   postal code[ ]Settlement

For example:


Addresses in Afrikaans may have the building number following the thoroughfare name:


Although the state/province may often be found in addresses, these should not be printed. The South African Post Office request that no punctuation at all be included in the address. The postal code should be on the last line, even if posted from abroad - in that case the country name goes on the line preceding the postal code or, in the first format above, on the same line but following the postal code as follows:

   Republic of South Africa


   1559 Republic of South Africa

The settlement name is that where the delivering post office is situated, not necessarily the same as the location where the person actually lives/works.

Est and lgd, found in addresses, mean estate and landgoed.

A table containing information about the relevant position of elements within address blocks can be acquired External

Thoroughfare types

Other elements commonly found in address databases


die and ‘n are articles in Afrikaans.

South Africa - Post office box


This is written PO Box in English and Posbus in Afrikaans. Deliveries may also be to Private Bag or Post Bag.

South Africa - Postal codes


Postal codes consist of a block of 4 digits. The first two digits refer to a postal area, the final two to a post office.

There are plans to change the postal code but no date for implementation has yet been announced. The suggested new code will consist of the current code followed by a new digit to expand the number of codes in a given area, and a second digit to show delivery type (house delivery, post office box, postal bag etc.). Bulk mailers will use a further 6 digits after this new code to identify the postperson’s walk and delivery point. The new code will therefore have the format:

   9999[ ]99


   9999[ ]99[ ]999999

making it the world’s longest postal code. This plan is still under discussion and it may change.

Codes 9000 to 9299 were assigned to South West Africa (now Namibia) until 1992 and are now not in use.

Metadata containing postal code formatting rules, exceptions and regular expressions can be acquired External

South Africa - Postal code format graphic


South Africa - Postal code format

South Africa - Postal code specifics

South Africa - Postal code regular expression


South Africa - Postal code level of coverage


Place names in South Africa


Note that the casing patterns in certain South African languages are different to those to which non-speakers are used, even in upper case. For example:


Many place names have three versions - English, Afrikaans and local South African language. Direction indicators (East, Eastern etc.) written in Afrikaans (Oos, Wes, Noord, Suid, Ooster, Wester, Noorder and Suider) always have a hyphen between them and the rest of the town name. For example “Lingelethu-Wes”. The English equivalents never have a hyphen: “Lingelethu West”.

The following lists give equivalents for settlement names in other national languages:

South Africa: Endonyms External and exonyms External in Ndebele:

Postal code EnglishNdebele For more information about this place:
0001 Pretoria → Pitoli Pretoria - Wikipedia External

South Africa: Endonyms External and exonyms External in Xhosa:

Postal code EnglishXhosa For more information about this place:
7700-8099 Cape Town → Ikapa Cape Town - Wikipedia External
6001 Port Elizabeth → iBhayi Port Elizabeth - Wikipedia External

South Africa: Endonyms External and exonyms External in Zulu:

Postal code EnglishZulu For more information about this place:
4001 Durban → eThekwini Durban - Wikipedia External
2001 Johannesburg → eGoli Johannesburg - Wikipedia External
3201 Pietermaritzburg → umGungundlovu Pietermaritzburg - Wikipedia External
6001 Port Elizabeth → Bhayi Port Elizabeth - Wikipedia External

Pretoria is in the process of being renamed to Tshwane, a process which was planned to be completed by the end of 2012.

South Africa has started a process of renaming some of its settlements. These are the main places which have been renamed:

Old name Becomes
Bloemfontein Manguang
Durban iThekweni
Lydenburg Mashishing
Pietersburg Polokwane
Port Elizabeth Nelson Mandela Bay
Potchefstroom Tlokwe
Pretoria Tshwane
Triomf Sophiatown
Verwoerdburg Centurian

Refer to Exonyms in South Africa for full lists of place names in South Africa in other languages.

Alternate place name forms/postal code tables can be acquired at External

Other language place name data can be acquired at External

South Africa - Administrative districts


Administrative districts graphic


Province External names should never be added to addresses. During the apartheid regime, the provinces were:

   Cape Province/Kaapprovinsie
   Orange Free State/Oranje-Vrijstaat

They are now:

  Approximate postal code areas
Eastern Cape External 4731-6499
Free State External 9300-9999
Gauteng External 0001-0299, 1400-2199
Kwazulu/Natal External 2900-4730
Limpopo External (previously Northern Province) 0500-0999
Mpumalanga External 1000-1399, 2200-2499
North West Province External 0300-0499, 2500-2899
Northern Cape External 8100-2999
Western Cape External 6500-8099

Telephone numbers in South Africa


South African area codes have 2 digits when called from abroad, and subscriber numbers have 7 digits. Mobile number area codes commence with a 6, 7 or 8.

Tables of telephone number information/formats can be acquired – see External

Every effort is made to keep this resource updated. If you find any errors, or have any questions or requests, please don't hesitate to contact the author.

All information copyright Graham Rhind 2020. Any information used should be acknowledged and referenced.