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 on 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. If you have such status, you may qualify for a Temporary Resident Account.

Non-Resident in South Africa

A non-resident in South Africa means a person whose normal place of residence or domicile is outside the Common Monetary Area (CMA). The Common Monetary Area consists of South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia, and Swaziland. A non resident in South Africa also includes South Africans who have emigrated. Non-residents are not ordinarily resident in South Africa (ordinary residents have a permanent home in South Africa).

Best Non Resident Bank Account 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 account for foreigners in South Africa that meets your needs.

The following are the major banks for foreigners in South Africa:

Absa Bank Account for Foreigners

Absa Bank offers a diverse range of products for non-residents, including transactional accounts, investment accounts, and money transfers. Absa also provides credit and debit card services. To open a bank account as a foreigner with Absa Bank, you’ll need a completed Letter of Authority for Bank verification, a certified copy of your passport, and a recent utility bill reflecting your name and current address. Further details about Absa’s accounts for foreigners can be found here.

You can’t transfer money from your non resident account in South Africa to your foreign account.

Standard Bank Account for Foreigners

Operating across more than twenty countries, Standard Bank facilitates account opening for foreigners in South Africa. You can also open a non resident account in South Africa from anywhere in the world. The bank offers transactional accounts, savings, investment accounts, and loans. Requirements to open a Standard Bank account for foreigners includes certified passport copies, proof of address within 3 months, 3 months’ offshore bank statements, and proof of income. Complete information on opening a Standard Bank account for foreigners is available here.

Nedbank Account for Foreigners

Foreigners can open Nedbank accounts through the Non-resident and Embassy Banking (NREB) plan. Necessary documents include those provided by the NREB relationship banker, a certified overseas bank-stamped passport copy, three months’ bank statements, and proof of income. Detailed Nedbank account opening requirements for foreigners are listed here.

First National Bank (FNB)

FNB permits the opening of non-resident cheque accounts in South Africa. Non-residents need to provide a certified recent payslip or proof of income, a passport copy, three months’ latest foreign bank statements, and a physical address proof not older than 3 months. Further information about opening a non-resident bank account in South Africa with FNB is available here.

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.

Can you open a bank account as an asylum in South Africa? Yes, you can. Nedbank is one of the banks that allows you to open asylum bank account in South Africa. To qualify, you need to be 18 years or older and living in South Africa and your refugee or asylum seeker documents must be valid and up to date.

Final Thoughts On Opening a Bank Account in South Africa for Foreigners

Opening a South African bank account for 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.

Based in Mombasa, Kenya, Daisy is our African expert writer and researcher specilising in banking, cryptocurrency, and general personal finance issues in Africa. Daisy is a graduate of Chuka University in Nairobi, Kenya.