THE South Africa Post Office says customers who wish to mail Christmas parcels to other countries should do so as soon as possible. In particular, customers who use sea and surface mail to send their Christmas gifts, should do so soon. This will ensure that the parcels reach their destinations in time for Christmas. South Africa currently has very few delays with items leaving the country, but these parcels have to go through time-consuming clearance procedures in the country of destination. Airmail items should be posted no later than December 1. For sea and surface mail, post your parcels no later than the dates below. • The islands of Tristan da Cunha, Ascension and St Helena — no later than October 31. • Parcels to Australia, Great Britain, Europe, the Americas (North and South), the Far East and Asia should also be posted no later than October 31. • Parcels meant for islands in the Indian Ocean such as the Seychelles, Comoros, Mauritius and Reunion, must be posted by October 27. • Items meant for countries bordering South Africa should be posted no later than December 8. These countries are Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique and Swaziland. • Only airmail is available to all other countries in Africa and these items must be posted no later than December 1. How to make sure your parcel arrives safely. • Parcels must be packaged securely as they are transported in bulk.• If your mail item does not fill the container, fill it with packaging material like shredded paper or polystyrene to act as a shock absorber.• Make sure the items you are sending are legal in the country of destination. In most countries, plant and animal material cannot be imported. • Ask the sender to include the receiver’s cellphone number with the address. That makes it possible to SMS the receiver when the parcel is ready for collection.The following items may not be posted. • Items containing ion lithium batteries, liquids, lotions or creams may not be transported using airmail.• Illegal items such as drugs. • Items that could leak and damage other packages. • Items that may explode or catch fire during air transport, such as aerosols or flammable liquids. • Any live animals or animal products. All airmail items are X-rayed and scanned to make sure the contents are legal and safe. Parcels containing items that are not allowed are rejected by the airlines that transport the mail and returned to the Post Office. — Supplied.