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SA Expats – Financial Information

By October 1, 2014October 10th, 2023Unclaimed policies

SA Expats – Financial Information

October 1, 2014

By Ryno Viljoen

Moving money from South Africa is subject to Reserve Bank exchange control regulations and in most cases SARS tax clearances.

The underperformance of the Rand against the Australian Dollar and other world currencies is a critical factor when wanting to move money from South Africa.

South Africans, living in country or abroad, have one opportunity per calendar year to transfer money offshore using their:

  • Discretionary Allowance (DA) – Personal allowance, up to R1 million per adult, per annum, in the year they decide to permanently leave South Africa; Tax Clearance Certificate not required.
  • Foreign Investment Allowance (FIA) – R4 million per adult, per annum; subject to SARS Tax Clearance Certificates.

To convert your Rand allowances into maximum AUD value it’s best to use the services of a licensed foreign exchange broker for the best FX rates and fees.


Transferring policies, retirement annuities and pension funds

Changes in legislation allow expats to withdraw, for international transfer, the full capital value of their policies before retirement age 55. Other policies e.g. retirement annuities and preservation funds can be cashed-in for transfer on the same terms and conditions.

For maximum after tax return, expats should think about the short term and post retirement tax implications. The latter will be treated differently in Australia than in South Africa – it’s always a good idea to get professional advice when making decisions that can have an affect on your retirement money.


+R1 billion in unclaimed South African policies

Reality checks relevant to unclaimed policies in South Africa:

  • Do you have paid-up policies that you’re not aware of?
  • Are you perhaps the beneficiary of a policy from a deceased testator?
  • Maybe the beneficiary of a third party policy that was ceded to you?


Think back and make time to double check whether there could be policy money owing to you because such a windfall can support your finances in Australia.


Emigration from South Africa in plain English

Financial emigration is not a service provided by an emigration agency. It is an application process driven by the South African Reserve Bank.

Emigration is a misunderstood word – the common belief amongst expats?
“I emigrated from South Africa when I received my visa to enter Australia.” Which is not the case – emigration is the word used when, for exchange control purposes, the South African Reserve Bank changes a person’s status from resident to non-resident. Emigration (also called formal or financial emigration) does not affect ones birthright, citizenship or the right to retain a South African passport.

What it means is you have to emigrate in order to cash-in a retirement annuity policy in South Africa.


On Death and Taxes

To leave South Africa on a clean slate you need to know that:

  • Receiving a South African income may have tax implications in Australia.
  • Holding assets in different countries will have an impact on your estate.
  • Inheriting assets in South Africa may be blocked by the Reserve Bank.
  • Having a last will and testament in both countries is an absolute must!


Professional financial advice will avoid unnecessary surprises from both SARS and the ATO.

For more  information on how to trace your South African retirement annuities and other policies we offer a free personal financial report with an indication of the cash values you can look forward to transfer to Australia – safe, simple, secure.

To register for this service go to and click on the free report button.


Telephone:   +61 7 5665 8518

South Africa:
Telephone: +27 28 312 2764



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