Skip to main content

The Future Expat’s Guide To South African Exchange Control

By May 22, 2020September 4th, 2023Newsletter

The Future Expat’s Guide To South African Exchange Control

May 22, 2020


South African exchange control regulations are there for a reason: to control the flow of money in and out of South Africa. These rules apply to every transaction that crosses our borders, no matter the value or who is involved. Our exchange control regulations are made and enforced by the South African Reserve Bank through power delegated to authorised dealers (banks) to regulate the market on their behalf, in line with the regulations. So what do future expats need to know about South Africa’s exchange control regulations?


How South African exchange control regulations work

  • The rules apply to every transaction, no matter the size/value.
  • No resident may execute a cross-border transfer without prior approval.
  • No company/legal entity may execute a transfer without prior approval.
  • Only authorised dealers are allowed to carry out a currency transfer.
  • Outgoing payments can only be made for stipulated reasons and under authorised dealer conditions.
  • All payments made to foreign parties must be reported to the Reserve Bank.
  • There are limitations on personal transfer that must be adhered.

Read more about your foreign investment allowance and single discretionary allowance here to weigh up your exchange control options.


How do exchange control regulations affect me?

On a personal level, the South African exchange control regulations stipulate exactly the conditions you need to meet and how much money you are allowed to transfer out of the Republic. These regulations apply only to South African residents, not to permanent resident holders or citizens. This means that if you are considered a South African resident for exchange control purposes, the rules apply to you. 


What are permissible reasons to transfer money abroad?

  • Monetary gifts and loans
  • Donations to missionaries
  • Maintenance payments
  • Travel allowance
  • Study allowance
  • R 1 million foreign capital allowance
  • R10 million individual capital allowance


What do I need to know about exchange control regulations when I emigrate from South Africa?

Before leaving on a jet plane, you’re going to need to register your valuables. This is so that you can prove you took valuable items  such as jewellery, watches, cameras, video cameras, laptops and the like with you out of South Africa – this means  registering them for re-importation before departure. This registration can be done at the Customs office in the international departures section before you check your baggage.

This is especially important when you’re not flying directly to your destination. Where you board a connecting flight to an international airport from where you will depart for a further international or regional flight, please ensure that your goods are registered for re-importation before handing in your baggage for the first flight.


How much foreign currency can I carry when leaving the Republic?

According to exchange control regulations you’re allowed to take foreign currency out of South Africa to the value of R1 million per adult and R200 000 000 per child (under the age of 18) in one calendar year. It’s important to note that you’ll need prior clearance in order to roll with such a large amount of moolah; this in the form of clearance from an authorised dealer on an official letterhead. Without this paperwork, you’ll only be allowed to leave the country with the equivalent of R25 000 in currency per person. 


Are there any exchange control restrictions on Kruger Rand coins?

These shiny bad boys are a big deal, and the Reserve Bank will not permit South African residents to export any Kruger Rand coins from South Africa without their consent. Only foreign visitors or travellers may carry up to 15 coins with them out of the Republic as long as they can prove that the purchase was made using foreign currency they brought into the country upon entry.


FinGlobal: financial services for South African expats

We’re here to help you navigate the complexities of South African exchange control regulations to ensure you stay on the right side of the South African Reserve Bank. 

No matter what you need to get done; or what financial move you’re considering FinGlobal is ready and willing to help, our specialists  provide impartial, objective advice and expertise along with a full suite of financial services for South African expats, assisting every step of the way with retirement annuity encashment, tax clearance certificates, financial emigration, foreign exchange or exchange control advice.

To find out how we can help make your financial life easier as a South African expat from an exchange control regulation perspective, contact FinGlobal today.