How to open a bank account in South Africa


You can open a bank account in South Africa whether you’re a resident or a non-resident. It’s best to open a South African bank account in person, rather than from abroad.

Ask your friends, neighbours or colleagues for their recommendations and just go along to the bank of your choice and introduce yourself. You must be at least 18 and provide proof of identity, e.g. a passport, and your address in South Africa (a utility bill usually suffices). Before choosing a bank, it’s wise to compare the fees charged for international money transfers and other services, which can be high (a bank’s website usually has details of charges, although it can be tedious wading through the long lists of charges for the many services offered).

If you wish to open an account with a South African bank while abroad, you will need an application form from a branch of a South African bank (either in South Africa or in your home country). If you open an account by correspondence, it is likely you will need a reference from your bank, including a certified signature (or a signature witnessed by a solicitor or lawyer). You will also probably need a photocopy of the relevant pages of your passport and a rand draft to open the account.

All banks provide credit cards and debit cards to obtain cash throughout South Africa and also abroad, usually via the CIRRUS and NYCE networks. However, it’s unwise to rely solely on ATMs to obtain cash, as they often run out of money or are out of operation (and occasionally swallow your card!). Note also that daily withdrawals with an ATM card are generally limited to around R2,000 (€206).

Further reading

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