As of 1 March 2021, South Africans need to prove that they have been non-resident in South Africa for three years before they can transfer their RAs out of the country.

Taxation laws have changed to remove the distinction between residents and non-residents when it comes to the SARB. Now that distinction is only made by the South African Revenue Service (SARS).

Tax emigration is the process of informing SARS that you are no longer resident in South Africa and it has a variety of requirements and a range of implications. You can learn more about tax emigration here.

Three different scenarios

If you have an RA that you’d like to encash and are wondering how these new rules affect you and what you should do, these are the three possible scenarios:

  1. You haven’t left South Africa yet

    You need to tax emigrate and wait the required period, prove yourself three years non-tax resident and only then encash your RA.

  2. You left South Africa within the past three years

    Proceed with your tax emigration process if you haven’t already, back-dating to when you became a non-tax resident in SA, and wait for the three years to be up before withdrawing your RA.

  3. You left South Africa more than three years ago

    If you have not tax emigrated you should do so, back-dating to when you became a non-tax resident in SA. Then you should be able to withdraw your RA.

There’s still a lack of clarity regarding the new process and we will keep our clients up to date with everything we learn.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss your options, please fill in this form below and a consultant will be in touch as soon as possible.

Get in touch

Fill in your details below and one of our expert advisors will be in touch as soon as they are able.


Take your financial assets out of South Africa

In 2008, legislation changed to allow financially emigrated South Africans to access and transfer financial assets out of the country. These include retirement annuities, pensions and retirement funds. The extracted funds can then be transferred offshore to a destination of your choice. If you’re emigrating from South Africa, you should consider undergoing financial emigration.

We have offered financial and immigration solutions to South Africans abroad and at home for more than two decades. This makes us uniquely equipped to help you navigate the complex and time-consuming processes that are financial emigration and pension scheme withdrawal.

Whether financial emigration is right for you will depend on what kind of retirement savings and assets you hold. All South Africans have the annual R1 million single discretionary and R10 million (which requires a SARS tax clearance certificate) foreign investment allowances. These can be used for foreign investment and asset transfer without having to financially emigrate. However, if you have a retirement annuity that you would like to cash in, then financial emigration is the only option.

We specialise in:

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Financial emigration from South Africa

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Transferring South African RAs and other pensions abroad

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Transferring South African inheritances offshore

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Setting up non-resident Rand bank accounts

Our financial emigration process:

  1. We conduct an assessment of your financial assets, as well as any tax implications.

  2. We assist you with collecting the necessary documents for submission.

  3. We file your application for the change of residence status with SARB.

  4. Your retirement annuities and policies are liquidated and withdrawn.

  5. A non-resident bank account is set up or designated to receive your retirement annuity proceeds.

  6. These funds are withdrawn and transferred to your bank account.

  7. You have now formally financially emigrated.


The key benefits of our financial emigration service include:

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We are registered with the FCSA (South Africa), HMRC (UK) and the FCA (Australia)


We are an established player in the financial services and immigration industries.

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Individual service

You will have a dedicated specialist who will take care of you throughout the process.

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Tax services

Experienced tax experts will ensure that we find the most tax-efficient solution possible.

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Easy withdrawals

Our good relationship with insurance houses will ensure a straightforward fund withdrawal.

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Forex experts

You will have access to great currency rates when you transfer your funds abroad.

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Investment advice

Our wealth division can help you invest your funds in the UK or anywhere else.

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Complimentary report

Receive a report on your position with regard to financial emigration and pension recovery.

smiling woman with dark hair

Meet Lisa

Lisa left South Africa a few years ago and settled in the UK with her family. She has been very happy with the move, but she was forced to leave some financial assets in South Africa.

Lisa thought that these assets were unrecoverable and impossible to access.

Lisa's remaining assets:

bag of money

Retirement policies

bank card

Bank account

small white house

A small apartment her parents live in

What Lisa didn’t know is that the South African Reserve Bank implemented a law change in 2008 that allows South Africans who have financially emigrated the ability to access their retirement savings before the age of 55.

Lisa can keep her property in South Africa and still proceed with her financial emigration.

How financial emigration helped Lisa:


We conducted initial assessment to confirm the number and value of her policies and any tax implications.


We applied to change her resident status with the SARB to that of a non-resident.


We set up a non-resident bank account for her to receive the RA proceeds and continue to finance the property maintenance.


We facilitated a hassle-free fund withdrawal utilising our solid relationships with South Africa’s insurance houses.


Lisa transferred her retirement fund proceeds to the UK, where she has re-invested for her family’s future.


She is now able to receive future inheritance from South Africa, which she can easily transfer.


As her whole family were included in the same application, it will be also easier for her children to receive any future inheritance.

The result

Lisa recovered all her retirement policies in South Africa and has successfully financially emigrated.

Her financial affairs are now in line with her intentions to permanently live overseas.


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Please do not act in reliance on information published or advised without consulting a suitably qualified independent legal or other professional adviser of your own choosing. Sable International will not be liable for any direct, indirect or consequential loss or damage suffered by any person as a result of their use or reliance on any of the advice provided by any one, or all, of the professional advisers identified by Sable International.

Please note: Financial emigration has been phased out from March 2021. To learn more about tax emigration please check here.

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