How to open a bank account in South Africa

How to open a bank account in South Africa

With a population of expats wall above 2 million people and growing everyday, all of which seek the quality of life, economic opportunity and the varied ways a person can go out and play either in nature or in a city, South Africa is a hotspot.

It is important to get a bank account there if you are planning the move as a student wanting to take part of the many opportunities for training, as a worker looking for a permanent position or a summer job or as a retiree looking to take advantage of the relatively low cost of living.

Here is our guide on how to open a bank account in South Africa

Documents needed to open a bank account in South Africa

There will be some variation in terms of documentation and different banks will have different requirements. However, expect these documents as a basis:

  • Passport
  • Work or study permit, or documents proving your right to be in South Africa
  • Proof of address such as a Utility bill
  • Minimum deposit
  • Banking history documents, such as old bank statements

It should not be too hard to open an account and in some cases it will be outright easy. Remember that you will have to declare funds going into south Africa and requirements in general will differ if you are opening an account as a resident or not.

Can I open a bank account in South Africa as a non-resident?

Yes it is possible to open a bank account in South Africa as a non-resident, and South African banks has international accounts designed for this purpose. There will be differences such as higher fees and maximum deposits and these need to be checked with your choice of bank.

Best banks in South Africa

The banking retail sector is obviously large in South Africa with 4 banks leading the charge. Some of these banks are international and certainly all of them have correspondent relationships with several international banks. Therefore it would be interesting to get in touch with your own bank in your home country and see if it has such a relationship established and open your account before you even land.

  • Standard Bank: being one of the largest in South Africa and having a rather long history of banking outside of the country, Standard bank offers a quality selection of services tailored to foreigners. Otherwise, they are a full fledged bank with a large network of branches and ATMs and overall have a high quality standard.
  • Absa: This is one of South Africa's largest banks and as such has a full stack of products available to those seeking everyday banking. They have accounts for youths and students, travel accounts and multi-currency accounts which come with standards such as low monthly fees (waived in many cases)  and debit cards. Click here for their network.  
  • Nedbank: this bank has a wide selection of products for both residents and non-residents. What makes it interesting is that loans are available to non-residents such as mortgages and car loans. They also have a full selection of banking services for investors and wealth management. Their ATM and branch network is here.
  • Capitec: With over 700 branches and thousands of ATMs and more if you include partner networks, Capitec is a full service bank with offers for non-residents too. They have a pretty excellent online banking tool that you can perform most banking operations with and they also have multilingual phone customer service.

Overall, you won't be short of quality banking when you move to South Africa or even if you are a non-resident that regularly does business in the country. Banks will offer all the normal services including loans and financial advice and a full selection of credit cards with perks such as cashback and discounts.

When it comes to fees, these will vary greatly and that is why it is important to read the fine print and get the full story from your relationship manager. There could be fees that change overtime, fees to keep a debit card working and fees to take cash out of ATMs specially if abroad thanks to currency conversion.

The virtual bank account alternative

Transferring money out of South Africa is expensive if you use a bank

If you need to transfer money abroad and request your bank to perform the operation, you will pay too much. In fact you will pay up to 9x more than what you should. If you transfer 10 thousand dollars to India for example, you only get about 9000 dollars worth of rupees bank in India thanks to high currency conversion fees. The interesting thing is that this is totally normal and acceptable.

With B2B Pay, you get 9900 euros worth of rupees in India and you get a European IBAN account
you can use anytime you want to send and receive money just like a normal bank account. You can send/receive within the EU for free and send abroad anywhere in over 30 currencies.

How to open a bank account in Europe

We have a few guides to guide you through the process of opening a bank account in multiple European countries and explaining why a virtual bank account with B2B Pay may be a better alternative if you are transferring money outside of Europe and taking advantage of a better rate.



How to open a bank account overseas

We have a few guides to guide you through the process of opening a bank account in multiple countries all over the world and explaining why a virtual bank account with B2B Pay may be a better alternative if you are transferring money outside of Europe and taking advantage of a better rate.


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