Bank accounts for Foreign Nationals in South Africa
Whether you’re studying or working in South Africa or want to invest in the country from abroad, temporary residents and non-residents can easily open a Foreign Nationals bank account.
As a temporary resident or non-resident, you can open a bank account in South Africa. There are some requirements and documents that you will need to open an account, which you can read about in detail here.
Opening a bank account as a foreign national
- Are you a temporary resident?
- Are you a non-resident?
- What are the requirements when opening a bank account?
- How do you access the funds in your account while in South Africa?
- Can you make international payments while in South Africa?
A temporary resident may have to submit different documents than a non-resident of South Africa. The procedure will depend on the type of visa you have been granted.
First, let’s unpack the difference between a temporary resident and a non-resident.
A temporary resident is a foreign national with temporary residence status in South Africa. Temporary resident visas include:
- Study visa
- Business visa
- Visitor’s visa
- Work visa
- Spousal visa
- Relative visa
- Treaty visas
- Retired person's visa
- Asylum seeker permit
Non-residents are foreign nationals living outside South Africa, which also includes South Africans who have emigrated. A person is a non-resident if the individual is not ordinarily resident in South Africa or does not meet the requirements of the physical presence test.
An ordinary resident is a person who has a permanent home in South Africa, which they normally return to.
The physical presence test:
The physical presence test is based on the number of days spent in South Africa but is not applicable to a person who was not at any stage ordinarily resident in South Africa. The test has three requirements for time spent in the country:
- 91 days in aggregate during the tax year under consideration
- 91 days in aggregate during each of the five tax years preceding the tax year under consideration
- 915 days in aggregate during the above five preceding tax years
If you don’t meet all three requirements of the physical presence test, you will be deemed a non-resident of South Africa.
As a temporary resident you will need the following documentation:
- A valid passport
- A valid proof of residence
Non-residents will need the following documentation:
- A valid passport
- Address of your current residence
- Three months’ bank statements from your previous country’s bank, showing the activity on the account
- Certificate of Introduction from your previous country’s bank, showing your personal details and signed by a bank official, with their name and contact number on the letter
Whether you are a temporary resident or a non-resident, you will be able to access your funds through a number of alternatives:
- Withdraw and make payments with your debit card
- Make in-branch withdrawals
- Access funds through electronic banking, which includes Internet Banking, Banking App, and Cellphone Banking
Temporary residents and non-residents are able to access foreign exchange services to make payments, for both your personal and business foreign exchange requirements. As a non-resident bear in mind that, although your investments won’t be taxed when brought in from abroad, South Africa’s tax laws may apply when you transfer funds out of the country.
Whether you’re looking to transact, invest or save in South Africa, we can help choose the right solution for you.