South Africa’s banking system is sophisticated, and electronic banking is well established. All the major banks offer a broad range of services, products and internet banking. There are a great many ATM’s (Automatic Teller Machines) situated throughout the country in shopping centres and garage stores. Cash withdrawals, inter-bank transfers, account payments can all be made at ATM’s. When selecting a bank it is advisable to select one of South Africa’s well-established national banks with international affiliations. In addition, if the company you are transferring to has a local established banking relationship, it is recommended that you have your personal account with the same bank. The four largest retail banks in South Africa are:
First National Bank
Monday to Friday - 09h00 – 15h30
Saturday - 09h00 – 11h00
Although the country’s banking system is sophisticated, opening a bank account can be time consuming, bureaucratic and not particularly user friendly!
If you have not already started the process of opening a bank account, Corporate Relocations will contact a VIP/Mobile bank consultant to meet you to outline services offered, establish your requirements and then make the necessary arrangements to open an account at a branch closest to work or home. As electronic and Internet banking are well advanced, the only reason you will need to go to your branch will be to collect your cheque books.
South African banks will not open separate accounts for an expatriate spouse/partner who is not employed or with no proof of local income. This is a source of great irritation to many partners used to operating their own checking accounts! The best option is to open a bank account in the name of the contract worker with full signing powers for the partner. This allows the partner to make the same transactions as the principle account holder.
Documents required by an ‘expatriate contract worker’ to open a bank account
Your bank will mail you a monthly bank statement – if you set up internet banking, your bank statements will be available online. We suggest you check your statements on a regular basis, as instances of fraud are not unheard of, and the sooner the bank is informed the better.
The maximum daily amount you can normally draw from an ATM with your cash card is R1 000 – this is for your own protection. If this amount will not meet your requirements, you will need to make arrangements with your bank to raise the limit.
Ensure that your cheque book is sealed when handed over to you and that the number that appears on the first and last cheque corresponds with those noted on the form you sign when collecting it.
When writing out cheques, cross them by marking them “Not Transferable”, and avoid writing cheques to cash unless you are cashing them yourself.
It is important that you write out the amount in words commencing in the far left-hand margin of the cheque to avoid anyone inserting a higher amount in front of the amount you have written.
Please note that South African banks will not accept even the slightest alteration on a cheque, even if the alteration is initialled or signed.
The currency unit is the Rand (ZAR), divided into 100 cents. The following denominations are in circulation:
Notes: R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200
Coins: 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, R1, R2 and R5.
The ZAR is currently quite volatile, but very approximate exchange rates:
$ 1 = R8.18
€ 1 = R12.61
₤ 1 = R10.40
Previously strict foreign exchange controls have been steadily relaxed over the past several years. There is no restriction on the amount of foreign exchange that may be brought into South Africa. However, should you wish to bring R50 000.00 or more into the country the SA Reserve Bank requires you to complete and sign a ‘Form E’ (provided by your bank) for the transaction, indicating the source of the funds.
There are also no restrictions on the amount of money that you may remit when you leave the country, provided these funds were either legally earned (and tax paid thereon), or were remitted into South Africa. Please note that it is advisable, to expedite this process, to keep a personal record of all monies imported (copies of Form E), earned and moved to offshore accounts.
All local bank accounts must be closed at the end of your contract.
All major credit and cash cards are accepted in South Africa and foreign Cards can be used to draw cash at Automatic Teller Machines (ATM’s). For your security reasons the maximum daily amount you can usually draw from an ATM is R1000.00, but that limit can be increased by arrangement with your bank. Please take precautions to protect your card and PIN, and only use ATM’s in shopping malls or filling stations.
Restaurants and bars 10% - 15% of the bill is customary. Restaurants do not include the gratuity on the bill, unless there are more than eight people at the table, in which case they will usually add 10%.
Taxi drivers expect a 10% tip.
Hotel porters R5 per bag.
Petrol pump attendants and security guards in shopping centre car parks R4 – R5 is the norm. There are no self-service petrol stations in South Africa.
Hairdressers it is not expected that you tip the stylist at a hairdressing salon, however, R10 – R20 to the staff member who washes your hair is appropriate.