Access your South African bank account as an emigrant

Emigrating is a challenging experience with many components to manage. Moving to a new country means leaving behind a life you have built and starting over on unfamiliar soil. Between navigating the legalities and the paperwork, it can seem overwhelming. 

It is a good idea to get professional help from a tax consultant, who will help you report your intention to emigrate to the South African Revenue Service (SARS), along with the documents needed to relinquish your tax residency status in South Africa. 

You will then need to inform your bank, who will ring fence your accounts and investments until you request an international transfer into accounts abroad. In most cases, you can do this as soon as you emigrate, but there is a 3-year waiting period before you can transfer capital from a retirement annuity or a provident or pension fund.


Getting your finances in order before you emigrate

Emigrating means making some financial changes – you are relinquishing your tax residency status with SARS. The most important step is to notify your South African bank of your intention to emigrate, so that they can guide you on how to access and transfer funds abroad. Settle and close any South African credit cards, overdrafts, store accounts and subscriptions. It is also a good time to discuss the best ways to manage your money when you are abroad.


Nedbank Non-resident and Embassy Banking

If you emigrate, you can still transfer money and investments from your South African bank account even after you’ve resettled in another country. However, there are some changes you need to be aware of.


Different countries have different regulations governing financial management, especially when it comes to tax


When you formalise your emigration and provide your bank with the certificate from SARS confirming that you have relinquished your tax residency, your bank will redesignate your South African bank account as a capital account – called a non-tax-resident (NTR) account. Your account number will remain the same, but the designation on the account will change.

Happily, as a Nedbank client you can leave the required changes in the hands of our Non-resident and Embassy Banking (NREB) team. You will be able to view your existing profile via the Nedbank Online Banking platform and transact domestically using the Nedbank Money app. Whenever you need to manage, liquidate, or redeem the proceeds of South African assets – for example, properties, investment or portfolios – your NREB banker will help you transfer such proceeds abroad. 

An NTR account is especially important for the withdrawal of retirement funds (lump sum benefits from pension preservation, provident preservation and retirement annuity funds). When South African residents cease to be residents for tax purposes in South Africa, payment of lump sum benefits to such individuals will be allowed by the bank only if the individual member of the respective retirement or provident fund has remained non-tax resident for at least 3 consecutive years. An NTR account can help you manage this process and keep your finances organised as you plan for retirement. 

Tips to make the process easier

Consult a non-resident banker

If you’re unsure about how to manage your finances after emigrating, consult a financial adviser who has experience working with expats, like a Nedbank NREB banker. They can help you understand your options, manage your investments, and ensure that you’re complying with South African laws. Send us a message and we will call you.

Familiarise yourself with local laws 

Different countries have different regulations governing financial management, especially when it comes to tax. Make sure you do your research and familiarise yourself with the laws of your new homeland to avoid any legal issues.

Keep your information updated

Once you have settled in your new country, contact your South African banker to update your information, including phone numbers, email addresses and your new residential address.