Can I open a South African bank account if I live in another country?

Everything in life comes at a price, whether a cash price or emotional cost. Emigration is no exception. Life abroad is expensive, and the price you pay for peace of mind could be high. You may be struggling with issues swirling around in your mind.

Life requires from emigrants, just like anyone else who wants to have a healthy life, to be moneywise, but there are some finer details that one has to attend to in order to be successful in this regard. A major question for expats is, “Can I open a South African bank account if I live in another country?” This is the question we intend answering here. Keep reading.

Opening a bank account as a non-resident

At most South African banks one may open an account as a resident or as a non-resident. However, the application processes differ, since residents may turn up at the bank’s front door at any time, but it is not that simple for emigrants.

The basic requirements are the same: you have to be older than 18 and have an identity document with you to open a bank account. To open a South African bank account while you are living abroad, however, a certified letter from a lawyer is required as part of your application.

What else do I need?

To get things going at any bank, you will need certified copies of the following documents:

  • Your passport
  • Proof of residence not older than three months
  • Three months’ bank account statements, issued by your bank in your country of residence
  • Proof of income

Further requirements may vary from bank to bank, so make sure you have access to the bank’s contact details.

Select the bank that is right for you

Selecting a bank is like starting a new relationship: your needs should agree with what the other party offers you. It would therefore be wise to use this list as a guideline when you decide on what bank to use:

  • What are bank charges like? Do you have to pay annual fees or monthly fees?
  • Can you make frequent withdrawals or are you limited?
  • Can you withdraw or deposit money at any cash point?
  • Will you be able to use an ATM?
  • What is the interest rate on your money?
  • Are there electronic or telephonic services available?

Do your homework thoroughly

Before opening a bank account in South Africa, it is extremely important for you to become familiar with the bank and its unique requirements. Our advice to you therefore is to do thorough research on South African banks, because although you are living abroad, it still is possible for your money to stay where it is.

Photo: andrew-neel-unsplash

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