Opening a bank account in South Africa


If you are new to South Africa and wondering whether you can open a bank account, find all that you need to know in this article.

On moving to South Africa, whether to work or set up a business, opening a bank account will probably be one of your main concerns. This should not be complicated as the country hosts several banks providing various services to expatriates. Indeed, you can choose from 11 national banks such as ABSA, FNB, Standard Bank and Nedbank, as well as some 50 international banks.

In all cases, make sure to inquire about relating formalities as these may vary from one bank to another. Note that some major banks apply quite high fees to basic operations while same can be free of charge in smaller banks.

Types of accounts

Foreign nationals in South Africa can choose between two main types of accounts, namely resident accounts and non resident accounts. Indeed, banks are easily accessible, regardless of the intended duration of stay. Some banks also offer special accounts to expatriates. In fact, each type of account is adapted to specific needs and resident status in the country.


Some South African banks provide e-services allowing foreigners to open a bank account remotely. In case there is a branch of the chosen South African bank in your home country, you will have to be assisted by a legal representative or lawyer who will be responsible of formalizing your application by signing relating documents. In general, the following documents have to be produced:

  • your identity card or passport
  • proof of address
  • a reference letter issued by your bank in your home country
  • a letter issued by your employer proving that you are working for him and indicating your monthly salary.

Note that a minimum deposit is required to open a bank account in South Africa. This amount can be deposited either in cash or by check.

 Good to know:

If you are not employed in South Africa, the chosen bank may request for additional fees for account management.

Facilities and services

All banks provide credit cards, payment and debit cards, as well as checkbooks, etc. However, ATMs are not quite as common as in Western countries, except in major South African cities. Moreover, you are allowed to withdraw a maximum of R 2,000 a day.

 Useful links:

South African Reserve Bank
First Rand
Standard Bank
The Banking Association South Africa

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