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If you thought that formal emigration meant leaving South Africa on a jet plane wearing a tuxedo or a ballgown, you’d be sadly mistaken. While there is no formalwear involved in formal emigration, there is a lot of paperwork and many official state organisations to deal with; so it pays to be prepared and know what you’re getting yourself in for if you’re considering formal emigration from South Africa.

What is formal emigration from South Africa?

Formal emigration is simply financial emigration with a fancy name. It means that you are officially informing the South African Reserve Bank of your intention to change your status from resident to non-resident for exchange control purposes. Formal emigration from South Africa does not change your citizenship status, nor relieve you of your duty to pay taxes back home.

Because of the exchange control implications, this process is also known as South African Reserve Bank (SARB) emigration – and all that happens once you’re done is that SARB will apply a different set of exchange control rules to any cross-border financial moves that you might want to make thereafter. In short, financial emigration is the conclusion of your financial affairs back home. Let’s take a look now at how to formally emigrate from South Africa and what the benefits are in doing so.

What is the formal emigration process from South Africa?

Formal emigration is not compulsory. It’s possible to live abroad and still maintain your South African residency for exchange control and tax purposes, and there are still ways and means for you to move money abroad as necessary. If you’ve been thinking about how to formally emigrate from South Africa, we’re here to tell you that no two financial emigrations are the same. Every person’s familial and financial situation is different, and will require a unique approach to meet those individual circumstances. This is why it’s a good idea to seek impartial objective advice when considering how to formally emigrate from South Africa.

How to formally emigrate from South Africa, step by step:

Financial emigration can take place at any time and the formal emigration process consists of the following steps:

Step 1: Make the application through your bank

Application to the South African Reserve Bank for formal emigration must be done through a South African bank of your choice.

This application will require you to:

  • Complete and submit a Form MP336(b), together with a Tax Clearance Certificate – Emigration, if applicable, to your bankers.
  • Collate and submit any other supporting documentation that Form MP336(b) deems necessary, which could include documents like a copy of your permanent residence permit, if you have been granted permanent residence abroad.

Step 2: Get your tax clearance application in

You will need to apply for and receive tax clearance. SARS likes to know everything that’s going on moneywise, so that they can be sure that they get their tax cut. Here’s everything you need to know about getting a tax clearance certificate, easily.

Step 3: Submit your financial emigration application

Once you’ve got your tax clearance certificate in hand, you can submit this together with your financial emigration to your bank to process for you, to change your status to a non-resident.

Remember: your emigration is only formalised and your status will only change from resident to non-resident once approval has been granted by the South African Reserve Bank and the South African Revenue Service.

If you’re a visual person, this is what the formal emigration process looks like:

financial-emigration-process
Formal emigration process explained

What are the benefits of formal emigration from South Africa?

Once you have completed the process of formal emigration and the Reserve Bank no longer considers you a resident for exchange control purposes, a number of advantages become available to you.

  • It will be much simpler to transfer money out of South Africa, including capital and income, by means of your blocked bank account.
  • This makes it easier to transfer your money out of the country in order to protect your savings from the volatility of the Rand.
  • You will have unprecedented access to your retirement annuity funds before your retirement date.
  • You will be able to withdraw the full proceeds of your retirement funds (less penalties and tax) and transfer this abroad.
  • You can then use this money for any purpose (travel, property, education), you are not obliged to reinvest in another retirement savings product.
  • Transferring abroad any South African source inheritance or any passive income (such as rental income, share dividends, director’s fees or the proceeds of the assets declared in your emigration application) will be a straightforward process.
  • Income from a discretionary or vesting trust will also be easier to transfer from South Africa under specific conditions.

FinGlobal: cross-border financial specialists

Still puzzling over how you’re going to formally emigrate from South Africa? Perhaps you’re too close to the challenge to find the solution. Take a step back and get impartial advice on your unique situation by partnering with the experts on formal emigration from South Africa.

The benefits of partnering with the experts on formal emigration:

  • Impartial, experienced advice will help you determine whether or not financial emigration is the right option for you.
  • You won’t have to handle a single piece of paperwork; we’ll do it all. We’ll complete, collate, check and double-check everything and provide you with signature-ready documentation.
  • We’ll submit all the paperwork to the necessary institutions and hustle the documentation flow to prevent delays and ensure the shortest possible turnaround time for you.
  • You’ll get our expert assistance with complex exchange control matters, as well as the peace of mind that comes from knowing we’ve got all the right credentials to ensure everything is compliant with  exchange control and tax authorities.
  • We’ll be your tax agent and engage with SARS on your behalf to save you the time and effort it would usually require to deal with South African bureaucracies externally.

What are you waiting for? Get started with your free, no-obligation formal emigration assessment today. Leave your details and we’ll call you back.

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