Access your local bank account from another country

Going abroad can be an exciting experience. However, there are so many factors to consider when organising a trip that between packing, planning and making travel arrangements, it’s easy to overlook important details – like accessing your bank account while overseas.

Luckily, whether you travel on a business trip or on holiday, with a little preparation it’s possible to stay connected to your finances no matter where you are in the world.


Understanding forex

Forex, or foreign exchange, involves converting your South African currency into the currency of your destination country, such as dollars, pounds or euros. South African citizens aged 18 or older are legally allowed to exchange up to R1 million per calendar year for personal use, under their Single Discretionary Allowance (SDA). You can apply for an additional limit of up to R10 million under your Foreign Investment Allowance, but you will need a tax clearance certificate from the South African Revenue Service (SARS).

For personal travel, the SDA includes various international transactions, like funds converted to forex, funds invested in a foreign currency account, funds sent abroad as a gift, and funds spent abroad using a debit card from your normal Nedbank account.

Business travel does not affect your personal SDA. A business entity can apply for a separate allowance for travel abroad and select an individual to act as the business’s proxy to make transactions with the allowance.

How to access your money when travelling abroad

If you are a South African citizen and need to access your account while travelling, you can use any of these options:

Travel Card

A Nedbank Travel Card allows you to conduct international transactions without the need to carry foreign currency. You can load up to 8 currencies with locked-in exchange rates. This prepaid card automatically switches to the currency it is being charged in, and you can manage it effortlessly – topping up your balance or converting foreign currency back to rands – on the Money app or Online Banking.

Whether you have a work visa, are travelling on business or are just on holiday, the same rules will apply


Activate your debit or credit card for online travel

To do this, simply log in to the Money app and:

  • go to Cards,

  • choose the card(s) that you want to activate,

  • scroll down to the bottom and select Use card overseas,

  • follow the rest of the prompts, and you’ll be able to use your card for transactions abroad.

To calculate the conversion rate for these transactions, you’ll have to add the current exchange rate to the commission you’ll be charged on the transaction.


Direct international deposits

You can make a direct deposit into an international account from your phone. You must provide the name, surname, sex and complete physical address of the person you’re paying. If you’re paying a company, you’ll need its name and physical address. You will also need the recipient’s banking details, including their bank’s swift code, account number or routing (sort) code, or an international bank account number – depending on the region you’re sending the payment to.

Whether you have a work visa, are travelling on business or are just on holiday, the same rules for accessing your South African bank accounts will apply. The only time the rules would change is if you have formally emigrated or are living abroad as a permanent resident – in other words, you have applied to SARS to relinquish your tax residency status in South Africa. Regardless of what permits, residency certificates, or passports of different countries you have, if you have not relinquished your tax residency status, you will still be considered a South African resident when it comes to banking and exchange control. So, make sure that you’re aware of the regulations and options available to you for accessing your South African bank account while abroad.


Tips for accessing your bank account abroad

  • Always inform your bank of your intention to use your account in another country. This helps with fraud prevention and a smoother travel experience.

  • Make use of your banking app or online banking platforms. The Money app allows you to control your account even if you’re not in South Africa. Provided you have a secure internet connection, you’re good to go.

  • Use virtual private networks as additional protection against hackers to help prevent fraud.

  • Never share your passwords or personal information – the same rule applies, no matter whether you’re banking abroad or at home.

So, the next time you find yourself planning a trip abroad, don’t forget to add your banking to that checklist.

Nedbank offers multiple options for personal and business travel, so get in touch with your banker to discover which suit you best.