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Understanding your South African foreign investment allowance

South Africans living abroad and in South Africa, who have not financially emigrated, are entitled to the South African foreign investment allowance of R10 million and the discretionary allowance of R1 million per calendar year. There is often a lot of confusion about the amounts one can send, both as an individual and as a family unit. If you’re looking for clarity on these issues and more, read on.

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The rates we display here are mid-market and indicative.
Actual rates will vary depending on your transfer amount.

Understanding your R1 million discretionary allowance

South Africans are allowed to transfer up to R1 million offshore per calendar year without having to obtain a Foreign Tax Clearance Certificate. This amount is covered by your annual discretionary allowance. The annual discretionary allowance applies to all South African residents over the age of 18 years.

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Your discretionary allowance is applicable for the following reasons:

  • Monetary gifts and loans: South African resident to non-resident
  • Travel allowance: South African resident within 60 days before departure date
  • Donations to missionaries
  • Maintenance and alimony payments, as per court orders
  • Wedding expenses, if backed up by documentary evidence
  • Study allowance, if supported by proof of registration
  • Foreign capital allowance
  • Travel allowance for minors (R200,000 per calendar year)
  • Any use of your South African debit or credit card abroad

If you need to make a transfer for any of the above reasons, then please, don’t hesitate to get hold of us. We can make sure your transfer is processed as efficiently as possible. We’ll also make sure you get the best rates and lowest fees. It’s what you deserve after all.

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Understanding your R10 million individual South African foreign investment allowance

Resident South Africans, or South African citizens living abroad who have not yet formally emigrated in terms of exchange control (also known as financial emigration) are entitled to make use of the R10 million foreign investment allowance. This allowance is not as easy to use as the single discretionary allowance, but it is by no means impossible to apply for.

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The R10 million foreign investment allowance may be invested into offshore investment portfolios, property, bank accounts or other investments. The allowance has not always been this high, but in 1 April 2015, the foreign investment allowance increased from R4 million to R10 million per person per calendar year and R20 million per family unit.

To send more than R1 million offshore, you’re going to need a Foreign Tax Clearance (FTCC) from SARS. This certificate is valid for 12 months and it allows you to transfer up to R10 million. As part of our forex service, we can apply for your FTCC, greatly reducing the amount of time you will have to wait for your certificate.

We can help you make use of your allowances, free of charge, and if you wish to exceed the amounts above, we can assist you with applying to the SARB for special dispensation. These applications can be complex, and are judged on a case by case basis, so having the right partner in your corner can make all the difference.

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Are there limits to transferring money out of South Africa?

Should you wish to exceed this R11 million amount, we can assist you in applying for a Letter of Compliance from SARS. This will allow you to transfer more than R11 million in a year. Once this letter has been delivered, it must also be sent to the SARB for approval. Once approved, you will be able to externalise your funds.

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There is no limit to how much money you can send out of the country with such an application, but each application is judged on its own merits. We have experience with these applications and can assist you through the process to ensure your application had the greatest chance of success.

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How to transfer more than your yearly limits without a letter of compliance

Financial emigration, also known as formal emigration, is the process whereby you change your status with the SARB and SARS to non-tax-resident. It is vital you do this if you plan on emigrating permanently from South Africa, as it will allow you to send funds out of the Republic in excess of your yearly allowances.

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Consider the following example: If you left South Africa to go and work in Australia for two years on a contract, and then 10 years later you are still living Down Under, you’ll most likely want to move all your assets to your new home. If you don’t financially emigrate in terms of exchange control, the SARB will designate you as a South African Resident temporarily abroad. This means you will only be entitled to the R10 million foreign investment allowance and the R1 million single discretionary allowance.

These yearly limits can become costly and frustrating, especially if you want to send large sums of money out of South Africa. This often becomes an issue when South African expats receive a large inheritance or sell a property.

If you’re planning on emigrating, we can help with all the paperwork and logistics so that your funds reach your new destination without hassle.

You’ll need the following documents to transfer your money out of South Africa:

  • Form MP 336(b)
  • South African ID or passport
  • SARB Formal Emigration Number
  • Proof of address

Whether you’re an expat living in South Africa, or a migrant worker on a short-term work contract, your personal account manager can help you send your money home.

Read more about financial emigration

Why transfer with us?

We are an established foreign exchange service with over a decade of experience, as well as offices across South Africa, the UK and Australia. As your forex partner, we can ensure you are always compliant, and you get the most competitive exchange rates and lowest transfer fees. What’s more, we pride ourselves on exceptional customer service, and our South African team is always on hand and will be happy to assist you with any query you may have along the way.

Forget about your bank

Many South African’s first port of call when thinking of making large international money transfers is the bank. However, the bank falls short when it comes to advice, competitive pricing and attractive rates. A trusted forex provider can save you a considerable amount on every transfer you make and advise you on how to make the most out of every transfer.

Our forex division offers international money transfers at bank-beating exchange rates and low transfer fees. What’s more, our core focus is on providing exceptional customer service. With us, you won’t ever think about using your bank for international money transfers again.

Why thousands of people continue using our forex service

 

Great rates, low fees

We transfer your money at fees that banks can’t compete with, we'll make sure you always get a great exchange rate.

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Fully regulated

We are fully compliant with South African Reserve Bank, Financial Services Conduct Authority and South African Revenue Services.

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No obligation consultations

We offer all prospective clients free no obligation consultations on their personal or business forex needs.

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Expert advice

We always provide a personalised service and all our solutions are tailored to our clients’ needs.

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Let us answer your questions about transferring money

You may have some questions about transferring your hard-earned money, and we understand. You are right to want to know more about our service before you choose to transfer with us.

Below are the answers to the questions we get asked most regularly. If you still have questions after reading the FAQs below, you can contact our South African based team on +27 (0) 21 657 2153. If you’d rather keep things online, you can email saforex@sableinternational.com and we’ll help you out.

1. Once registered, how long does it take to activate my account?

As soon as we have received a copy of your passport and proof of residential address (signed and dated by yourself), we will activate your account on the same business day.

If your remittance request exceeds +/- R180,000 (or the equivalent in another currency), we will request a few additional documents.

2. How long does a transfer take to be processed?

Once we have received all the necessary documentation associated with the transaction and your funds have cleared in our client account, the converted funds will be credited to your nominated overseas account within one to three working days.

3. What are the minimum and maximum amounts that can be transferred?

There is no minimum or maximum amount when you transfer money online with us. There are, however, certain benefits to sending larger amounts. To find out more about the benefits of sending larger amounts pop us an email, or give us a call, and tell us how much you’d like to send and we’ll walk you through the currency conversion process.

When transferring +/- R180,000 (or foreign currency equivalent) or more in a single currency transaction, or R540,000 (or foreign currency equivalent) in a number of transactions over a 12-month rolling period, we require proof of “source of funds” as prescribed by international money laundering regulations.

4. What methods of payment can I use to transfer the funds to your account?

We accept internet banking payments. Your name and surname must be used as the reference when paying via internet banking. If a name and surname are not supplied, proof of payment must be emailed to us so we can allocate your funds for transfer.

5. What happens when I use internet banking as my preferred payment method?

If you have chosen internet banking as your preferred payment method to transfer money abroad, you will need to complete two stages to effect a transfer. Firstly, you will need to upload your transfer instruction onto our website. This tells us the amount of money, destination to which and date on which you want the funds to be sent. After this, you will have to log in to your internet banking account and transfer the requested amount to the relevant Sable International client account, using your name and surname as the payment reference.

The appropriate details for our client holding account will appear when you upload your transfer request on our website.

6. How can I be sure that my funds will be correctly allocated?

If you are using internet banking, it is imperative that you ensure that your funds will clear under your name and surname. If you use your name and surname as the payment reference, we will know that the funds are from you and we can process your transfer as soon as the funds clear.

If the funds will be clearing under a reference other than your own name and surname, please send an email to saforex@sableinternational.com informing us as to what name the funds should clear under. Following these guidelines will decrease the likelihood of a delay.

7. Are there any hidden charges or receiving bank charges?

Not at all. One of the main advantages of using our money transfer service is that we charge a flat fee. You should also know that there are no receiving bank fees when you transfer from South Africa to accounts in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Poland and Eurozone-based accounts.

8. How secure is the site?

Our site uses Secure Socket Layer (SSL) 128-bit encryption to protect your transaction details. This 128-bit encryption is the latest and strongest data encryption technique commercially available for securing information between you, our client, and our website. SSL works by encrypting/scrambling data from our website to your computer.

The data is encrypted on our web server and can only be decrypted/unscrambled by the person with the correct decrypt/unscramble key. You can visually verify our site’s use of SSL in two places: The "s" in https in the site’s web address and by the padlock on the left-hand side of the address bar.

9. How can I be sure that my funds will be correctly allocated?

If you are using internet banking, it is imperative that you ensure that your funds will clear under your name and surname. If you use your name and surname as the payment reference, we will know that the funds are from you and we can process your transfer as soon as the funds clear.

If the funds will be clearing under a reference other than your own name and surname, please send an email to saforex@sableinternational.com, informing us as to what name the funds should clear under. Following these guidelines will decrease the likelihood of a delay.

10. What are the requirements of a registered Money Service Business?

The law requires us to monitor any unusual or suspicious transactions of any size taking place where we have reason to believe the money is derived from illegal activity. We will report any suspicious international money transfers to the authorities.

The law also requires us to keep full records of all transactions, together with copies of identification provided. We are unable to process any transaction where this information is withheld. Proof of address and proof of funds may be required in certain cases – please see our “know your customer” guidelines for more information.

11. How secure is the site?

Our site uses Secure Socket Layer (SSL) 128-bit encryption to protect your transaction details. This 128-bit encryption is the latest and strongest data encryption technique commercially available for securing information between you, our client, and our website.

SSL works by encrypting/scrambling data from our website to your computer. The data is encrypted on our web server and can only be decrypted/unscrambled by the person with the correct decrypt/unscramble key. You can visually verify our site’s use of SSL in two places: The "s" in https in the site’s web address and by the padlock on the left hand side of the address bar.

 

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Compliance and regulations

We are fully regulated and registered in South Africa, the UK and Australia. In South Africa, we have an FSB licence (FSP licence number 41900). Our Australian Financial Services Licence (AFSL number 335126) was issued by ASIC.To find out about our certifications and security procedures, visit our compliance page. 

South Africa

Cape Town

Regent Square
Doncaster Road
Kenilworth 7708 +27 (0) 21 657 2120

Durban

201 The Annex
Ridgeside Office Park
Umhlanga +27 (0) 31 536 8843

United Kingdom

London

Castlewood House
77/91 New Oxford Street
WC1A 1DG +44 (0) 20 7759 7514

Croydon

5-7 Selsdon Road
South Croydon
CR2 6PU +44 (0) 20 7759 7581

Australia

Melbourne

9 Yarra Street
South Yarra
VIC 3141 +613 (0) 8651 4500

Sable International is a trading name of 1st Contact Money Limited (company number 7070528) registered in England and Wales. Sable International is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK (FCA no. 517570), the Financial Services Conduct Authority in South Africa (FSP no. 41900) and holds an Australian Financial Services License issued by ASIC to deal in foreign exchange (AFS License number 335 126).

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