What is the local currency?
South African Rand (ZAR)
What denominations does it come in?
Coins - 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, R1 and notes R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200
What is the best way to exchange currency?
Local banks and shopping centers have foreign exchange facilities.
What are commonly-used forms of payment for everyday purchases (such as groceries)?
Cash, credit card and debit card.
Will I be able to use my credit card around town? If not, list when I’ll need cash.
Yes, all retail outlets and restaurants accept credit cards.
By what method are bills (such as rent and utilities) paid?
Via the internet and at various banks and pay points such as grocery stores, as well as cash points at the local municipality.
What are the requirements for opening a bank account? At what stage of the settling-in process should I open it?
Opening an account is something that expats should plan for several weeks in advance. Current accounts are generally available to residents only, but savings accounts may be opened by non-residents. Accounts are available in South African Rands (ZAR) or in foreign currency, such as the US dollar or the Euro.
Opening a resident account
As far as paperwork is concerned, you need at least the following items:
- Study or work permit
- Proof of address
- Bank statement from your home country
If you are applying from abroad, you will need to get your signature certified by an acceptable person, such as a lawyer or a notary. In addition, your prospective bank may require you to make a credit check, which itself is subject to a fee.
Foreign Nationals must observe special rules. As temporary residents, they have the right to be treated like South African nationals for banking purposes, despite the exchange controls. Anyone with Foreign National status may remit funds abroad with almost no restrictions. As a result, Foreign Nationals must:
- Report to their bank the amount of any “foreign assets” remitted from overseas to South Africa
- Complete a declaration that they will not put such assets at the disposal of a South African resident third party
Opening a non-resident account
If you are a non-resident applying for a savings account, you will probably need proof of income as well as a document from a bank in your home country, such as a bank statement. Minimum balance requirements apply.
In general, non-resident accounts may be opened in foreign currency only. However, there are many exceptions to this rule. For more information, check with your bank the extent to which you can keep a Rand-denominated savings account.
Where to apply?
It is strongly advisable to shop around before selecting a bank. Feel free to compare the fees, the interest rates, the customer satisfaction rates, and the account opening processes.
South Africa’s banking system comprises many local and foreign banks. Examples of banks taking South African customers include ABSA, First National Bank, Standard Bank, Investec Bank, Post Bank and Nedbank. All banks are regulated by the South African Reserve Bank.
Most banks in South Africa are open from Monday to Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. On Saturdays, banks are open between 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.
Day-to-day account management
Do always check if you are paying a fee for something you don’t need, for banks make a lot of money from the charges.
Online and telephone banking services are generally available from South African banks. Current accounts usually come along with a debit card and a chip pin device. Checks are not commonly used, but credit and debit cards are.
If you are a non-resident client, your savings account will likely come with a cash card, which you may use to withdraw cash from ATMs in South Africa.
Outbound transfers, standing orders and direct debits are generally available from all South African banks. Such services are unlikely to be provided for free, but it’s worth checking.
Will foreign residents be able to find banking services in their native languages?
Individual banks may differ and possibly employees working in the forex departments may be able to assist in a foreign language, however, it is not common in Port Elizabeth.
Are there any restrictions on services for those who are new to your country?
Most current accounts are fee-based. When they’re not, this probably means the bank is just giving an incentive to switch, which is commonplace in South Africa. Fees may also be waived if you meet certain criteria, such as minimum balance requirements.
As far as savings accounts are concerned, they are quite straightforward, but they will not come with the essential features of a current account, such as a check book or credit card.
Bank interest paid to residents is subject to the progressive tax scale. For non-residents, interest is paid tax-free.
What are typical banking hours?
Normal banking hours are 09:00 to 15:30.
Are automatic teller machines (ATMs) available around the clock?
Yes there are a number of ATMs in shopping centers, 24-hour service stations and outside banking facilities that can be used after hours.
Crown Relocations has made every effort to present accurate information. However, regulations, rates and other variables are subject to change and Crown Relocations cannot accept responsibility for the errors that might result. Should you have any questions or need additional information, please contact your local Crown representative.