South Africa
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International payments glossary page

Beneficiary type

The end-user who will receive the funds you’re sending. You can either pay a person/individual or an entity/company


Otherwise known as a SWIFT code, a bank’s BIC is its unique identifier worldwide.

BOP / Balance of Payment / Reason for Payment

South African legislation requires you to provide a reason why you’re making an international payment. The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) uses a set of predetermined codes for this, called a Balance of Payment (BOP) code.
Example: 101-01 – Import advance payment (excluding capital goods, gold, platinum, crude oil, refined petroleum products, diamonds, steel, coal, iron ore and goods imported via the South African Post Office).

BOP category code

A BOP category code relates to a unique type of payment (inward or outward). When making payments, you must associate every inward or outward payment to a BOP category. This process assists the SARB in identifying the country’s surplus or deficit in the country’s current account.

How do I pay my Supplier or LSP?

Your Trade Partner will obtain the required documentation through the import process to facilitate the payment on your behalf

BOP third-party

There are instances where a user can make an international payment on behalf of their client. These clients are referred to as BOP third-parties. A BOP third-party is a party indirectly involved in a transaction and can be an entity or an individual.

Customs Client Number (CCN) / Importers code

If you import goods into South Africa, you need to register as an importer with SARS and apply for a Customs Client Number (CCN), also known as an Importers code. A CCN is used to report import payments, for example, BOP category 101-01. Imports for advance payments also require a CCN number.

The Customs Client Number (CCN) must be completed for import transactions, and a valid CCN of the relevant importer must be reported. Inability to provide a CCN may adversely affect import payments. To obtain a CCN, please contact SARS.

Common Monetary Area (CMA)

The Common Monetary Area refers to the Republic of South Africa, the Republic of Namibia, the Kingdom of Lesotho and the Kingdom of eSwatini. All payments between these countries must be made in ZAR.

Correspondent bank

A correspondent bank is a financial institution that provides services on behalf of another financial institution. It is also known as an intermediary bank.


Exchange rate

The rate of exchange is the price at which one currency is bought or sold for another.

Exchange Control (EXCON)

An authorised dealer must handle and control foreign exchange dealings as set out in Exchange Control (EXCON) rulings issued by the SARB. Parliament issues these instructions to the SARB via a publication called the Exchange Control regulations.

Forward Exchange Contracts (FECs)

FECs refers to pre-booked exchange rates.

Foreign Exchange (FX)

The conversion of one country’s currency to another foreign currency i.e. exchange from ZAR to USD.

International payment

When the person making a payment and the person receiving that payment live in different countries, it is called an International Payment.

Indicative exchange rate

An estimation of the exchange rate at any given time, which is not binding as the rate is likely to change.

International Bank Account Number (IBAN)

IBAN consists of an alphabetical country code, followed by two numbers and up to 35 characters. Together, these identify the country, bank and the beneficiary’s account number. Most European countries use IBAN account formats. Example: GB25SBIC40523378945612.

Some countries, such as South Africa and America, do not use IBAN and a normal account number is used for international payments. The account number only identifies the account at a bank and holds no additional information.

Movement Reference Number (MRN)

Customs issue MRN on the SARS customs import declaration form in respect of goods imported into the Republic of South Africa. All transactions related to an import transaction must be reported with either an invoice or MRN number.

Where an MRN is not available and customs do not clear the goods, the invoice number must be submitted starting with the prefix INV.

Outward payment (OTT)

An outward payment, otherwise known as an Outward Telegraphic Transfer (OTT), is an electronic transfer of funds that is directly credited to another bank account in a different country.


Payment status explained
  • Completed: Your payment was successful. Please confirm receipt with your beneficiary
  • Completed - New ref: Your payment was successful. Please note this payment has a new reference number. Please contact the call centre for more information
  • In progress: Your payment is being reviewed. We will contact you if we need more information or documents to complete the payment
  • Cancelled - Account error: We were unable to process your payment due to an issue with the account you chose to use for the transaction
  • Cancelled – Error: We were unable to process your payment
  • Cancelled - Insufficient funds: We were unable to process your payment due to lack of funds in your account.
  • Cancelled - By you: You requested a cancellation of your payment.
Payment limits

You are limited to R1.5 million per transaction on Internet Banking. If you need to make payments for a larger value, please use Business Online or visit your nearest Foreign Trade Services office.

Pre-booked deal

An exchange rate that has been booked before the payment is made.

SPOT deal

A deal where delivery of funds takes place within two business days of the specified value date. In other words, your beneficiary will receive payment in the chosen currency two business days after the deal has been approved.

Straight Through Processing (STP)

When a payment is sent abroad, a SWIFT message is generated. The foreign Bank has certain standards in which this message must be formatted. If this standard is met, the payment is processed immediately (STP). If these standards are not met, the payment needs to be manually processed.

SWIFT standards are reviewed and published annually.


Used for identifying banks when sending money overseas. A SWIFT code contains either 8 or 11 characters, e.g. Standard Bank South Africa’s SWIFT address: SBZAZAJJ.


Transport document

A document used to convey information about cargo that is being transported: kinds of transport documents include air waybill, which is a transport document used for air freight; or a Bill of Lading, which is a transport document for sea freight.

Transaction limit

The maximum value that can be paid to a beneficiary for a specific transaction.

Value date (ETA)

ETA stands for Expected Time of Arrival and is used to inform you of when we expect the payment to arrive at your beneficiary's bank; also known as the value date.