Whether you’re a resident looking for work or a non-resident wishing to live in South Africa, establishing a bank account is one of the primary things you must do to make financial transactions more convenient. Banking services have a large impact on your current and future financial options, so setting up an account early on must be a top priority.
Requirements for Opening a Bank Account in South Africa
There are mainly two types of bank accounts in South Africa, namely resident and non-resident accounts. These accounts cater to specific purposes like retirement and savings.
To open a bank account in South Africa, you must be at least 18 years of age. Other requirements are listed below for residents and non-residents.
You can open a resident bank account If you’re a local issued with a South African ID or a tourist given a permanent residency visa. You can enjoy all the features that banks offer without restrictions.
To open a resident account, provide the following documents to your chosen bank:
- South African ID or a valid passport
- Work or study permit
- Proof of residence such as utility bills
- Most recent bank statements
If you’re a foreign national who wants to open a resident bank account in South Africa, you must:
- Declare all assets brought from your home country into South Africa
- A written declaration stating that the assets will not be given to a third-party resident in SA
- Complete both the Foreign National Declaration and the Confirmation of Employment forms
It’s possible to open a bank account in South Africa from abroad so long as all forms and documents are accompanied by a signature from a lawyer or a solicitor.
If you’ve been issued with a tourist visa, you can open a bank account in South Africa as a non-resident. Non-resident accounts offer the same features as an ordinary resident account, but with some restrictions like being prohibited from depositing in Rands.
The requirements for opening a non-resident bank account in SA are:
- Proof of income
- Bank statements for the past 3 months
- Certified copy of passport
- Minimum opening deposit
Unemployed individuals in South Africa can still open a bank account, but they may be required to pay account management fees.
Opening a bank account means you’re allowing the company to conduct a credit check to assess your personal financial history.
You can submit the requirements online or by personally visiting any branch. Offices usually open from 9 AM to 5 PM on weekdays and 9 AM to 12 PM on Saturdays.
Choosing the Right Bank
There are many banks in South Africa where you can open an account in online. Each has its own unique offers to customers such as higher interest rates or lower bank fees.
Here’s a list of the top banks in South Africa:
- Absa Bank
- African Bank
- Barclays Africa Group
- Bidvest Bank
- First National Bank (FNB)
- FirstRand Ltd.
- Standard Bank
Aside from local banks, there are also branches of international banks spread throughout the country.
To help you narrow down your choice of which bank to open an account with, here are the pointers to consider:
- What are the minimum opening and maintaining balance requirements?
- How much do they charge monthly or annually for using their service?
- How much can you withdraw daily?
- Where and how can you deposit cash to your account?
- Is your ATM card valid on all ATM and EFTPOS facilities?
- How much will your money earn in interest annually?
- Do they offer telephone and internet banking options?
- What are the transaction fees for transferring or withdrawing funds?
- What are their options for direct debit and overdraft facilities?
- Do they have a stellar performance in security, financial counselling, and customer service?
Aside from these factors, also consider the bank branches nearest your location. You’ll never know when you need to personally go to a branch and do a face-to-face transaction.
In choosing a bank, ask yourself first how you plan to use the account. Will you be using it for daily transactions, monthly wages, international transfers, or for saving up retirement money? The fees and interest rates of each bank differ, and these can affect your financial targets.
Make sure you always read the fine print before signing up to know about your rights and responsibilities as an account holder.