Can a Foreigner Open a Bank Account in South Africa?

Can a foreigner open a bank account in South Africa? The answer is yes. Foreigners can open resident or non-resident bank accounts in South Africa. The type of bank account you can open will depend with the type of visa you possess. If you are on a tourist visa, you can open a non-resident bank account. On the other hand, you can open a resident bank account if you possess a valid temporary or permanent residency visa. You must be 18 years and above to open either of the two bank accounts. You can open a bank account online or visit a physical bank.


Can a non resident open a bank account in South Africa? Yes, it is possible to open a non resident account in South Africa. However, requirements vary from bank to bank. A South African who has emigrated can also open a non resident bank account in South Africa or a foreign currency account in South Africa.

What is the Difference Between a Temporary Resident and a Non-Resident?

Temporary residents and non-residents will have to submit different documents when opening a bank account in South Africa.

Temporary Resident in South Africa

A temporary resident is a foreign national with temporary residence status in South Africa. There are several temporary resident visas including work visa, study visa, asylum seeker permit, spousal visa, relative visa, visitor’s visa, business visa, treaty visa, and retired person’s visa.

Non-Resident in South Africa

A non-resident is a foreign national living outside South Africa, including South Africans who have emigrated. Non-residents are not ordinarily resident in South Africa (ordinary residents have a permanent home in South Africa).


Choosing a Bank in South Africa

South Africa boasts the largest banks in Africa. These banks have a wide network of branches that offer telephone and internet banking services. Online banking allows you to conduct several tasks, including checking statements, making payments, and applying for products such as foreign currency or additional accounts. Majority of these banks charge account fees, transaction fees and withdrawal fees. Before opening a bank account in South Africa, it is advisable to choose a bank that meets your needs. The following are the major banks in South Africa.

  • Absa Bank: Absa Bank has a wide network of branches and ATMs. It offers a wide range of products including travel and currency accounts. Additionally, Absa offers credit and debit cards.

  • Mercantile Bank: Mercantile Bank offers a wide range of services including transactional banking, payment services, foreign exchange, lending, etc.

  • Standard Bank: Standard Bank operates in over twenty countries and has products for foreign nationals.

  • Nedbank: Nedbank is one of the largest banks in South Africa with a good ATM network and a wide network of branches. Nedbank also offers business banking services.

  • First National Bank: FNB South Africa provides personal, commercial, and corporate banking services.

How to Open a Non Resident Bank Account in South Africa

A non-resident bank account has all the features of a normal bank account. However, this account type is restrictive since you cannot receive deposits in Rands unless if you own a property and let it out. You will need to present the following documentation when opening a non-resident bank account in South Africa.

  • Birth certificate/passport

  • Recent bank statements (usually three months old) from your previous country’s bank

  • Proof of address such as utility bills

  • A certificate of introduction from your home country’s bank. This should be signed by a bank official

  • Provide at least the minimum opening deposit

Opening a Resident Bank Account in South Africa

A resident bank account is a normal bank account with no special limitations. If you are a foreign national seeking to open a resident bank account in South Africa, you will need to provide your bank of choice with the following:

  • A valid passport or birth certificate

  • Proof of address in South Africa such as a utility bill (telephone, electricity, water bills, etc.)

  • Study or work permit

  • Copies of recent bank statements from a bank in your home country

It is also necessary to;

  • Complete the Foreign National Declaration and Confirmation of Employment by a South African Employer form

  • Declare all funds or foreign assets you bring into the country

  • Provide a written declaration that foreign assets will not be given to a third party resident in South Africa.

You can open a resident bank account from abroad. However, the application form and any accompanying declarations must have a certified signature from a lawyer or solicitor. You can also open a bank account without current employment and without depositing any money. However, quarterly maintenance fees may apply depending on the individual bank.

Final Thoughts On Opening a Bank Account in South Africa as a Foreigner

Opening a bank account in South Africa as a foreigner can be frustrating and time consuming. To avoid this, make sure that you fill out the necessary application forms honestly and gather all required documentation dully signed.


Daisy Neema is a graduate of Chuka University. She is a prolific writer and researcher and has an interest in finance. She also loves writing about businesses and startups.