Opening a bank account in South Africa

Updated 2012-02-23 13:23

Opening a bank account is one of the very first things you should do upon your arrival in South Africa. Many other services you will want to sign up for, such as a mobile phone or an internet connection will depend on your having a bank account, or at least it will make things a whole lot easier.

But which bank to pick? This is probably not as important as you might think. South Africa's four largest banks are ABSA, FNB, Standard Bank, and Nedbank, their services are all similar, and the fees quite steep compared to some other countries. It's probably a good idea to pick a bank that has a branch fairly close to your home, and ATMs in places that are safe and that you frequent often, like your closest shopping centre.

Opening your account is best done in person. Make sure you plan some time for this, as South African bureaucracy is never easy nor fast. You will receive an application form to fill out, and you will have to submit numerous documents to be copied.

Most likely you will need:

Proof of identity (passport, including visa/work permit)

Proof of residency (i.e. utility bill, but if you have just moved here a copy of your lease agreement is best)

Application form

Rand bank draft to put money into your account

Possibly a reference from your existing bank

While you're there, make sure you also get someone to help you set up internet banking, a necessity in South Africa. Businesses and individuals rely heavily on Electronic Funds Transfer and once you're set up to use it your life will be so much easier, be it to pay for a class trip for your kids, the lawn service, or making a deposit on your first safari.

Setting up a South African bank account may seem a hassle compared to some other countries you've lived in, but it will be well worth it to have one.

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