What Products Can’t You Sell Online in South Africa? Video 10 mins / 3 min read

After Warrick received a question from one of our students asking if it is prohibited to sell CBD oil online in South Africa he set off to find out exactly what can and can’t be sold online in SA. The list of prohibited products includes a lot of the obvious ones but there’s also a few on the list which are quiet surprising. 

Watch the video below (10 mins) or scroll down to read the article below the video.  

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Posted by Warrick Kernes - SA's Ecommerce Expert on Thursday, 20 June 2019

When it comes to some products consumers are still in the habit of shopping in a retail environment so these items aren’t likely to sell well online. However we’re more interested in the products that aren’t allowed to be sold online! For a detailed list of products that are prohibited from being sold online in South Africa we spoke to the payment gateway PayFast and they gave us the list below.


Goods and Services Prohibited for processing through PayFast

Compliance has become a very important part of our operation and we have to be very mindful of the rules, regulations, and requirements of various bodies governing our operation including the Payments Association of South Africa (PASA), the South African Reserve Bank (SARB), our partner banks and the card associations (VISA, Mastercard).

Compliance is categorised into

1. no processing through PayFast and

2. non-card processing

Card processing includes aggregated card processing (Visa and Mastercard), debit card processing and the Masterpass cashless app (debit, credit or cheque cards)

Non-card processing methods include Instant EFT, Mobicred and Bitcoin

Non-card methods are generally classified as non-risk methods as they cannot be disputed/reversed and so have less regulatory rules and risk product profiling.

What Goods and Services are prohibited for processing through PayFast:

  1. Securities, business opportunities, franchises, multi-level marketing (pyramid schemes)
  2. The pre-order of goods
  3. Illegal goods or services, including but not limited to counterfeit or intellectual infringing goods or services
  4. Pirated content or file sharing
  5. Independent financial adviser services
  6. Key-entry telecom services (long distance services)
  7. Adult entertainment, sexually oriented or pornographic merchants, including but not limited to: Sexual contact sites, escort agencies, pornography, adult pictures and photos and miscellaneous adult entertainment (not elsewhere mentioned)
  8. Any form of direct marketing activities (such as, but not limited to inbound and/or outbound telemarketing activities) and travel-related services
  9. Prescription or non-prescription (over-the-counter) medicines
  10. No controlled substances or herbs and botanicals used to imitate the effects of actual controlled substances, including hallucinogenic, stimulant, or opioid-like effects.
  11. Wholesale distribution of prescription drugs, proprietary drugs, vitamins, druggists’ sundries and toiletries, antiseptics, bandages, pharmaceuticals, and biological or related products. Retail sale is allowed
  12. Tobacco and tobacco accessories

A note on tobacco and tobacco accessories: The sale of tobacco over the internet is not allowed by South African Law under the Tobacco Control Act ( (a) No person shall sell, offer to sell, supply, distribute or buy any tobacco product through the postal services, the internet or any other electronic media. This would include the sale of cigarettes, cigars, hubbly tobacco and tobacco accessories such as hookahs

Goods and Services below are prohibited for card processing. Processing methods allowed are EFT, Mobicred and Bitcoin:

  1. Bureau de change
  2. Commodity investments
  3. Cryptocurrency
  4. Hemp and CBD products
  5. eCigarettes vaping and vaping accessories
  6. Mobile phone insurance
Warrick Kernes

Warrick Kernes

eCommerce Expert

Recognised as one of South Africa’s leading experts in eCommerce Warrick Kernes has started multiple online stores with some reaching consistent sales of over R1m per month. Warrick is the founder and CEO of the Insaka eCommerce Academy and is dedicated to growing SA’s eCommerce industry and helping entrepreneurs to start and grow their own successful online stores. 

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