How to move to

South Africa


Find A Job

To apply for a work permit in South Africa, foreigners are required to get a job offer from a company. Therefore, it is advisable to begin your job search before you plan to move there. Unless you have a couple of job offers, it is difficult to enter South Africa and begin your job search. Once you get a call for an interview in South Africa, submit an application for a work seeker’s permit to visit South Africa to attend the interview or seek other offers.

There are plenty of ways to find a job. However, many South Africans rely on referrals and recommendations to find jobs. Beware of offers that promise you to make a fortune while working from home. Such offers are often from conmen out to defraud unsuspecting jobseekers.

You can begin your search through job websites such as:

You can also search for jobs in the classifieds section of local newspapers. In addition, sign up to professional networking sites such as LinkedIn. You may also get additional information about job vacancies in South Africa from industry publications such as Forbes.

Recruitment agencies and trade organizations

Recruitment agencies are alternative places to search for jobs. You can find their contact details on Ananzi Examples of trade organizations in South Africa include:

• SAIMECHE, also known as the South African Institution of Mechanical Engineering
• SAICA, also known as the The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants
• ABASA, also known as the The Association for the Advancement of Black Accountants in Southern Africa
• FEDUSA, also known as the The Federation of Unions of South Africa
• COSATU, also known as the The Congress of South African Trade Unions

How to apply for a job in South Africa

There are two types of curriculum vitae that you can create for your job search in South Africa: the Comprehensive CV and the Brief Profile CV. These CVs are usually sent out in different stages of the job search. A cover letter alongside your CV is also necessary.

Expats often find it difficult to get jobs in South Africa because many people find jobs through referrals. It is often “who you know” and not “what you know” that will get you a job in the country. Consider one of the hardest parts of your move to South Africa over once you manage to get a job offer from an employer in South Africa.

To apply for a South African work permit in your country of residence, you have to gather the correct paperwork.

The following are some steps you should follow to increase your chances of landing a job.

• First, send a “Brief Profile” (a summary of the “Comprehensive CV”)
• Send a cover letter if you are applying for general consideration
• Since most applications are sent by email, it is important to follow up your application with a phone call.

Brief Profile

This is a one-page CV that contains a chronological list of all your previous jobs, your education, and your personal information. Your most relevant position should be emphasized.

Comprehensive CV

This CV must include your complete contact information: phone number, first name, and address. It must have every detail of your education and employment history. The education section of your CV must include the following:

• A list of schools you have attended and the period within which you attended the schools
• The location of the schools you attended
• Your areas of specialization
• Your diploma and degree certificates
• It should also include a brief list of your extracurricular activities, and prizes awarded

In the work experience section, include:

• The dates you were employed
• The names of your current and former employers
• Your job location
• Your job position
• Your job responsibilities
• Your professional achievements

Use power words and action verbs to highlight your skills, experience, and why you feel you are the best candidate for the job.

List your volunteer experience, hobbies, and professional affiliations. Include some personal information (date of birth, marital status, nationality, and languages). Also, include references and their contact information in the final section.

The comprehensive CV should be no longer than five pages. If you did not send a cover letter with the brief profile, you must send it with the comprehensive CV.

Cover letter

Cover letters must never exceed one page and should ideally be three or four paragraphs. They must be written professionally and should be concise and straight to the point. Express your willingness to explain everything in a personal interview when closing your cover letter. Copies of your diplomas should not be included.


The annual vacation period for employees consists of 21 days. There are twelve public holidays each year, which are not included in the leave period. An employee is entitled to an hour’s leave for every 17 hours worked, or 1 day for every 17 days worked.

Recruitment Agencies

Frogg Recruitment SA
Telephone number: +27 21 556 5598
Fax: +27 86 539 5272

Manpower South Africa Head Office
Tel: (27) 11 465 6020

Robert Walters Johannesburg
Telephone number: +27 (0) 11 881 2400
Fax: +27 (0) 11 881 2499

TRASA Recruitment
Office +27116780212
Cell: +27 73 235 4096

Quest Recruitment
Bloemfontein +27 51 447 7618
Cape Town +27 21 413 4700
Durban +27 31 279 9000
East London +27 43 726 2523
Rand +27 11 823 3213
Johannesburg (Head Office) +27 11 628 0300
Mbombela/Nelspruit +27 13 752 2819
Old Mutual Park +27 21 504 4500
Polokwane +27 83 869 3250
Port Elizabeth +27 41 373 1183

Apply For A Visa/Permit

It is important to know your visa eligibility status before you make plans to travel to South Africa. Depending on your country of origin, you might need to obtain a residence permit, a temporary visa, or a work permit to travel to South Africa.

Not every foreigner requires a visa to travel to South Africa. You can find a list of these countries on the website of the South African embassy online. In addition, some passport holders of certain countries can visit South Africa for a holiday or a business trip for 90 days without a visa.

If you are not a citizen of any of the countries that do not require a visa, then you need to apply for a South Africa visa before traveling into the country. If you plan to stay in South Africa for longer than the exemption period, you will require a visa. People who want to work, take part in a sports event, or study in South Africa require a visa.

You must also apply for a visa if you want to move to South Africa and stay there permanently. Having a visa does not necessarily mean that you will gain access to the country. You will be able to proceed to the South African port of entry where an immigration officer will confirm that you meet the basic requirements to enter the country. To be granted entry, you will need to provide proof of financial stability, a valid passport, and a travel ticket.

Visa Application Process

Visit your nearest South African consulate or embassy to apply for a visa. If you are physically incapable of going to the embassy, you can hire an immigration lawyer to represent you at the embassy. However, you will be required to provide your passport to the immigration lawyer to bring to the embassy.

Although it usually takes about 10 days to process a visa, it can take longer. The cost of processing a visa is 30 USD or 28 Euros. However, the price keeps changing so check with the South African embassy to find out the current price. The foreign exchange rates also determine the price of the visa. If you are submitting your visa application from South Africa, you will have to do it through the visa facilitation center. In that case, you will be required to pay a fee of 1350 Rands

Once you finish filling in the visa application form, submit it to the South African embassy together with two passport photos, the application fee, the passport, and the full details of travel arrangements such as accommodation details and financial resources for the period of stay. If a minor is traveling alone, their visa application should come with consent from both parents and signed before a public notary. Applicants over 60 years need to provide proof of medical insurance in addition to other documents. A yellow fever certificate may also be required.

Short stay visas are for individuals wishing to visit South Africa for a period that does not exceed 90 days. A default visitor’s visa is valid for 90 days, but one can apply for a three-month extension. This type of visa can be applied for by anyone who wishes to visit friends or family, research or study, marry, participate in charitable activities, join a spouse working or studying in South Africa, conduct business, and for children to join their parents for medical reasons.

You can apply for a visitor’s visa using a passport with two unused pages, a completed DHA-84 application form, a yellow fever vaccination certificate, a document stating the purpose and period of visit, travel tickets, two color passport photos, and required fees. If you are travelling with children or if they are joining you in the country you will need to submit proof of custody or consent from the parents.

You will be expected to provide proof of financial stability showing that you can take care of yourself once you arrive in South Africa. This is often in the form of bank statements, medical cover, salary advances, or the bank statement of the host.

There are three categories of work visas:

• Critical skills visa
• General work visa
• Intra-company transfer visa

The most commonly applied work visa is the general work visa, valid for five years. However, this type of visa becomes invalid every six months and every year after if the holder does not submit proof of employment to the Director-General. To get this visa, the company employing you needs to prove that the position cannot be filled by a citizen of South Africa. This means that the position needs to be advertised locally to prove that the citizens are not being denied employment opportunities. Proof of the applicant’s qualifications and skills need to be submitted and the qualifications have to be examined by the relevant South African authority body.

You will require a valid passport, a completed DHA-1738 application form, a vaccination certificate, medical and radiology reports, proof of financial means to cater for living expenses, prescribed fee, a police clearance certificate from every country you have stayed in for more than a year since you turned 18, a written undertaking by the employer indicating that they are responsible for costs related to deportation if necessary, proof of qualifications evaluated by the SAQA and translated to the official language of the country, an employment contract signed by the employee and employer, the full details of employer plus proof of company registration, required documentation for spouse and children if they are accompanying you and an undertaking to inform the Director-General if the employee is no longer a member of company.

An intra-company work visa is for applicants who are transferring to a branch or subsidiary of the parent company in South Africa. The candidate has to have been employed at the foreign branch for about six months before the transfer. The visa is valid for two years but can be extended within South Africa for an extra two years. The only added requirements for this visa are letters from the South African company and from the foreign company confirming the transfer.

A critical skills work visa can be applied by anyone whose skills and qualifications are seen as exceptional by the government. An applicant does not need to have a specific employment position during the application time. The visa is valid for three years with a possible extension. It requires the same documents as the other two work visas except for proof of application for certificate of registration by an accredited professional body recognized by the South African Qualifications Authority.

Get Health Insurance

Many expats take out private medical insurance, even if this is not a requirement of residence, because healthcare is expensive in their destination country or because certain treatments and procedures are not available.

When taking out health insurance, be sure to check factors such as the annual and lifetime policy limits, whether there are any exclusions which are likely to affect you, whether you are limited to treatment from specific types of healthcare providers, and whether the policy covers emergency evacuation for medical treatment.

Too frequently, potential buyers of health insurance look only for the lowest cost of premiums before really considering the specific benefits and areas of cover they may actually need. Some plans are cheaper for a reason. Often they include large voluntary deductibles on any claim you might make in the future and may severely cap the benefits received under the plan. Clients should define their needs first, establish the particular area of cover they need, then determine their annual healthcare insurance budget. Only then should they look to premium comparisons, last of all.

Do not buy a plan without studying the policy wording carefully. If in doubt, ask, and only when completely satisfied complete all application forms fully, to the best of your ability.

Important questions to ask the insurance provider:

1. Does the plan allow for cooling off periods, cancellation and then repayment of premium in full?

2. Does the plan offer "Moratorium" or is it "Full underwriting" and do you need to have a medical examination before joining?

3. Does the insurer offer a 24 hour help line, 7 days a week, available from anywhere in the world (freephone)? Most insurers now offer this facility.

4. Are pre-existing conditions excluded when joining and if so, for how long are such conditions excluded?

5. Are all and any nationalities accepted or are there restrictions which apply to local nationals? Some insurers will only take expatriates abroad and not local nationals into an overseas plan.

6. Does the plan allow you to continue cover unbroken through your lifetime? In most cases insurers will continue to offer existing clients cover year on year, irrespective of age or claims history, although premium rates charged can increase dramatically with age.

7. Does the insurer allow for any doctor or consultant or hospital within the plan? Are there any restrictions in this respect? Most international plans do not place restrictions on either hospitals or doctors, but almost all demand that their help lines are called first, prior to approval of any inpatient care.

8. Does the insurer provide for the direct settlement of bills presented by hospitals worldwide, regardless of location (or do you have to pay first)?

9. What are the insurers procedures for outpatient claims? Do these require any pre-authorization or if stated in the plan can you just pay and claim? How long before you get money back from the insurer? 14 days? 28 days?.

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Rent Or Buy Property

Renting Property

If you are looking for a rental property for a considerable period, it is advisable to rent a holiday apartment for a week or two to allow yourself time to look around for a long-term rental. In addition, avoid renting property sight unseen.

You can find properties for rent in South African newspapers and magazines. You may also find one by contacting real estate agents, who usually have the best information about the properties that are available for short or long-term rental in their neighborhoods. In addition, consider searching for properties for rent in South Africa while planning your trip to the country. You may ask your travel agent if they know of any properties for rent in the country.

Rental Housing Act

Once you find the rental property you want, you will be required to make an offer in writing. An estate agent will usually draw up a lease for you to sign asking you for credit references or proof of income if they are handling the transaction. The Rental Housing Act provides a template lease contract that you can use to draft your own lease contract, or you can seek an attorney to draft a lease contract on your behalf if you are not buying property through an agent. A rental lease contract must have all the features provided by the Rental Housing Act including:

• The name and address of the property owner
• The name and address of the tenant
• The property’s address
• The cost of rent as well as any escalation or increases in rent over a period of time
• Additional costs that the tenant is going to pay
• The period within which rent must be paid
• The required amount of any deposit
• The lease period
• The obligations and responsibilities of both the property owner and the tenant
• A list of the existing defect within the properties

Tenants are required to abide by house rules at all times. In addition, a receipt must be issued to the tenant by the property owner once payments for rent have been made by the tenant. The property owner must keep the deposit in an interest-bearing bank account and the tenant has a right to receive a written statement of the interest earned whenever they demand it.

The tenant and the property owner must inspect the property and compile a list of all structural defects before the tenant moves in, and all the findings must be attached to the lease. In addition, the property owner and the tenant must inspect the property again at the end of the tenancy to assess whether there was any damage done to the property during the tenant’s stay. If the property was not damaged, the property owner must reimburse the tenant’s deposit and interest within a week. However, if there are any damages on the property, the owner can pay for repairs using the tenant’s deposit before refunding the balance and interest within 14 days.

Long and Short-Term Rentals

The quality of a property, its age, and the facilities provided determine the rental costs. The major factor that determines rent in South Africa is the location of the property. Some property owners prefer to lease out their properties to expats because they usually charge them higher rates. Therefore, research rental costs of properties in various neighborhoods to avoid being exploited by property owners.

Short-Term Rentals

There are many self-catering accommodations for short-term periods in South Africa, especially in the coastal areas of the country. There are thousands of villas, bungalows, chalets, mobile homes and even castles to choose from. These homes are not easy to find during the peak tourist season, especially during summer. However, some people with holiday homes prefer to let out their properties when they are not using them.

Most self-catering accommodations are self-contained apartments or small cottages with:

• A large living-room/kitchen with an open fire or stove
• One to two rooms that accommodate two to four
• A living room sofa/bed
• A toilet
• A bathroom

If you are planning to rent during the winter check whether the house has some sort of heating, preferably central heating. Make sure that the short-term rental you decide to rent has all the features you need.

Charges for short-term rentals are usually set on a weekly basis from one Saturday to the next and differ widely according to the amount of beds in the rental apartment, standard, facilities provided, and location. For example, a two-bedroom house or apartment in an average neighborhood may cost R1,600 (€160) per week to rent. However, It may cost up to seven times as much during the high season for a similar property in a popular area like Camp’s Bay.

Other housing alternatives

Living in a hotel is the most practical form of accommodation for short-term stays, especially if you do not want to buy additional items that you need for accommodation during your stay. Hotel rates in South Africa are determined by individual establishments, the location, and time of the year. However, the rates may be negotiated if you plan to stay for a considerable period.

A three-star hotel room may cost around R330 (€34) and double rooms may go for R410 (€42) per night in most rural towns. In major cities, the cost is at least twice as much. Some people live permanently in cheap hotels. Luxury hotels in South Africa charge the similar rates as those in New York, London, and other expensive cities.

Motels that offer bed and breakfast are also available. They charge about R140/€15 per night. You may choose to stay in a hostel or residence similar to a hotel but contains self-catering apartments or studios.

Home Exchange

Exchanging your home abroad with one in South Africa for a certain period is an alternative to renting. If you use an agent, you may save yourself the expense of long-term rental costs. This will allow you to experience comfortable home living in South Africa at a fraction of the cost.

Buying Property

South Africa is known for its beauty and diversity. The country has a good share of breath-taking sceneries and landscapes. It is known for its diversity and is affectionately referred to as the rainbow nation. Endowed with breathtaking beauty including imposing mountain ranges, wildlife, miles of stunning beaches, beautiful vineyards, and untouched countrysides, South Africa is good place to buy property and settle with your loved ones.

You can purchase holiday or retirement homes, or even live permanently in your house in beautiful South Africa. South Africans are drawn from different cultural and racial backgrounds. They are friendly people who welcome tourists and expats to their country. There are various types of properties in South Africa for people for investment or residential purposes.

Estate Agents

There are close to 36,000 registered estate agents in South Africa. The agents usually charge a commission of between 4 and 8 percent. Properties for sale in South Africa vary from small bungalows and chalets to big condominiums. There are many types of agents in South Africa including local, national, international, and multi-national. You can find an agent of your choice through ads in the local publications, internet search, or through the yellow pages. South African real estate agents perform the same duties as their counterparts in the United States, Australia, or Europe.

Most South African agents are very organized and professional. The real estate industry in South Africa is regulated by the Estate Agency Affairs established by the government. Estate Agency Affairs requires all estate agents to be registered. To be registered, an agent should comply with the Board’s Code of Conduct. All South African real estate agents are awarded with a fidelity fund certificate annually.

All real estate agents must sit an examination in the field of estate agency or complete a year’s practical training. The training is usually supervised by a qualified estate agent. The Estate Agency Affairs welcomes any complaint against South African estate agents, whether it is over mismanaged funds or any other complaint.

Many people, especially from the United Kingdom prefer to work with real estate agents in their countries with offices in South Africa. Others prefer estate agents who work with one or more South African agents. Foreign estate agents are usually expensive because the property buying and selling process may involve a handful of professionals who all must be paid. In addition, some local property owners hike prices when dealing with expats because of a common misconception that expats are usually rich.

South African estate agents charge different commissions. However, the national standard range between 5 and 7.5 percent including VAT (Value Added Tax). It is important to know that some sellers charge a fixed commission. Cheap properties attract higher fees as far as the percentage of the entire sale is concerned. Expensive properties attract negotiable fees. You have the right to negotiate the agent’s commission because there is no set rule governing commission rates.

Many real estate agents in South Africa ask their clients if they have an idea of where they want to purchase property. It is important to inform the agent if you do not know where to find good properties or if you are not sure about the type of property you need. You may also inform the agent if you are simply window shopping and not really interested in making a purchase.

Some agents will personally take you to the properties, but may not give you keys especially to furnished properties. Some real estate agents in South African require clients to make appointments to view properties. However, other agents may allow clients to drop by unannounced to check available properties. Most real estate agents in South Africa will be ready to help you find the property you need even during weekends.


A lawyer will help you carry out important searches as far as debts, right of way, and ownership are concerned. Avoid using a vendor’s lawyer because his/her main aim is to protect the interest of the vendor and not you. You must make enquiries to make sure that the vendor has a registered title to the property and does not have any debts against the property.

Your lawyer will also help you confirm that the property has the necessary building licenses, corresponds to local planning restrictions, have planning permission and that all charges have been approved by the local authorities. A good real estate lawyer may advise you not to buy property owned by several members of a family unless you are sure that all owners have given their consent. Research and compare fees charged by different lawyers and obtain quotations in writing before hiring one.

Check to see what is included in the fee and if it is a ‘full and binding’ transaction or just an estimate. A number of lawyers charge hourly or a percentage of the value of a property. A lawyer will help you by checking the preliminary contract before you sign to ensure that is has no errors and includes all important details.

Finding details of property for sale

Nearly all South African real estate agents deal with property for sale. Most real estate agents are members of the Institute of Estate Agents of South Africa. This means that you can easily find a listing of different housing services and real estate agents in South Africa by browsing the list of estate agents on the Estate Agents of South Africa website.

Land and Registration

South Africa has one of the most sophisticated and efficient systems of land registration. All registration of rights in land and other immovable property is overseen by the Deeds Registries Act, 1937. All parcels of land are clearly recorded, and ownership of property recorded in one of the regional Deeds Registries. This system gives property owners the security of title.

Foreign Ownership Limitations

Foreigners who want to purchase properties in South Africa need to be cautious when dealing with real estate agents to avoid being defrauded. Work with certified and reputable real estate agents. It is also important to know about property laws in South Africa. All property purchase or sale contracts must be in writing and signed by both the seller and the buyer. They must also include a full description of the property, buying price, and terms of the agreement.

Move Your Belongings

Consider if you want (or are able) to transport your belongings yourself or whether you will need the services of a removals company that deals with international moves. Unless you are travelling very light, or making a fairly short move by road, you will probably need professional help to ship your possessions. Ask for quotes from several companies first, ensuring that they visit your home to carry out a survey of your requirements. It may be worth paying extra for the removals firm to pack your possessions for you, particularly if they are going to be transported to a distant country and need special protection for the long journey. Make sure you bring to their attention anything fragile or precious that needs particularly careful wrapping and packing.

Before agreeing to a quotation, ensure that you are fully aware of exactly what is covered in the price, and that the service to be provided meets all of your requirements. For example, does the service include both packing and unpacking of your household effects? What about disassembling and reassembling of furniture? If you are planning to put anything into storage in your destination country while you find accommodation, does the price include final delivery and unpacking at your home, or will you need to arrange collection of the items? Obtain a firm estimate of the likely arrival date of your items and obtain contact details for any agents that will be dealing with the removal in your destination country. Ensure that the removals company is aware in advance of any practical considerations such as the lack of an elevator to your apartment, or likely parking problems.

If using a removals company, you may be required to take out their insurance cover for your possessions. Whether or not this is the case, ensure that you have adequate insurance for anything of actual or sentimental value that could get lost or damaged during the move. Take the time to accurately complete or check an inventory of your possessions to be moved, as this will form the basis for any insurance claim for losses or damages. Find out if insurance is included in the price quoted by the removals company, or whether you are required to pay extra for this.

The removals company should arrange any customs and importation documents on your behalf, but if you are arranging the move independently you will need to find out what documents are required and what import duties and taxes are payable (and whether you are eligible for exemption from these).

Make sure that you set aside the important documents you will need for the journey, such as passports and air tickets, and keep these easily accessible in your hand luggage.

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Register For Healthcare

QUICK LINK: South Africa health insurance

The healthcare system in South Africa is quite developed with excellent hospitals and affordable health insurance plans. However, despite the high standards of healthcare, there are many health problems affecting people in the country. Some of the major public health concerns in South Africa include tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and smoking-related diseases. Most of these health complications affect an increasingly high number of people in poor neighborhoods that lack proper sanitation facilities.

The life expectancy for native black South Africans is 46.56 years. However, the life expectancy of white South Africans is much higher than that of black South Africans because of better access to healthcare facilities. In addition, black neighborhoods typically have higher crime and murder rates, which lower the life expectancy of black South Africans. On the other hand, most white South Africans live in relatively secure neighborhoods with lower crime and murder rates, which increases their life expectancy.


Although it is not mandatory for visitors to be immunized before coming to South Africa, it is advisable to ensure that you get your tetanus and polio shots before traveling. Citizens of countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, and South America where yellow fever is endemic are required to provide documentary proof that they have been vaccinated.

In addition, it is advisable to talk to your doctor about your intended visit to South Africa at least six weeks before travelling, especially if you are pregnant or have certain health complications including heart diseases and asthma. Vaccinations against hepatitis B are required only by those who will be working in healthcare or hospitality industry.

Public Healthcare

South Africa’s healthcare system is a representation of the country’s position as a blend of people living in both first and third world conditions. Big cities and towns such as Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban have big and modern healthcare facilities with modern amenities and state-of-the- art medical equipment. This is quite a contrast from facilities in rural areas that have very basic medical equipment and are understaffed. Although there are some healthcare facilities whose standards match those of medical facilities in Europe and North America, many hospitals in South Africa are understaffed, inadequately funded, and inefficient.

Contact the Health Professions Council of South Africa (Tel. 012-338 9300 or 6680) to find a general practitioner (GP) in your area. This council has records of all registered medical practitioners. In addition, it is advisable to visit reputable healthcare facilities in South Africa to avoid falling prey to fraudsters who pose as professional medical practitioners.

Although public hospitals and clinics in South Africa are often overcrowded with long queues, they are well equipped and have qualified staff. However, you will have to wait for a long time to be attended to. Expats are required to pay for their own medical care by either cash or medical insurance. It is advisable to contact as many medical insurance companies as possible to compare their rates. Choose a policy that will best serve your interests and those of your family.

South Africa’s healthcare system has to serve eight percent of the population and yet it only gets forty percent of the total expenditure from the government. Only 11 percent of the country’s budget expenditure is allocated to healthcare. In addition, allocated resources are usually divided among the 11 provinces. This makes public healthcare in South Africa expensive, inaccessible, and of lower standards. Healthcare services in poorer provinces such as the Eastern Cape are of much of lower standards.

The South African health care system consists of healthcare institutions in 162 health districts and 42 health regions. In recent years, there have been considerable improvements in the South African healthcare system. Currently 125 mobile clinics have been introduced and over 700 clinics have been built or upgraded. In addition, over 2,300 clinics have been given new equipment and 125 mobile clinics established. Moreover, children under the age of six as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women receive free healthcare in over 3,500 public clinics.

Close to 500 expat doctors have been hired by the South African government to offer various healthcare services to South Africans. This has helped mitigate the doctor’s shortage problem.


All non-residents who visit public hospitals in South Africa are required to pay for their medical care because South Africa does not have reciprocal health agreements with other countries. Citizens also pay for medical services in South African hospitals, but at a subsidized rate. Hospitals have a rating scale that determines the amount of money that South Africans can pay for healthcare services based on their income.

Charges for healthcare services in South Africa are often low by western standards. For example, R13 (1.30 euros) is what pensioners are charged for consultation, drugs, and for tests in some cases. Top income earners pay about R55 (€5.70) for consultation. However, they often pay extra for drugs and tests. R485 (€50) per day is what top-earning patients pay for hospital stays excluding drugs and theater costs. Although the waiting lists can be very long, state hospitals offer specialist treatment. Nevertheless, it is advisable to opt for private treatment if you can afford it.

Private Healthcare

Private healthcare is a much better choice for those who can afford it. Costs for private hospitals and clinics are actually lower than in many western countries, especially the US. Health care schemes cover around 18 per cent of South Africa’s population, which gives them access to private facilities.

With around forty three hospitals and eighteen day clinics throughout South Africa, Netcare is the largest private healthcare provider, followed by Medi-clinic with fifty three hospitals. South Africa’s high rate of road accidents has severely stretched the state’s ambulance system. Therefore, it is advisable to ensure that your insurance includes cover for private rapid response emergency services. Netcare 911 is one of largest private rapid response company with the country’s the biggest fleet of response ambulances, vehicles, helicopters, and jets. In addition, their emergency medical services are offered by trained paramedics.

Open A Bank Account

South Africa’s banking system is one of the most developed in the world. However, there has been a decline in the number of financial institutions operating in South Africa in recent years. Some gave up their banking licenses while others, such has the Merchant Bank, ING Bank NV, PSG Investment Bank, BOE Bank and the Brait Bank, have had to make drastic staff cuts to minimize operating expenses. However, appetite for bank loans and mortgages remains high.

There are around six foreign-owned banks, 15 locally controlled banks, 50 registered foreign bank branches and representative offices, and two registered mutual banks operating in South Africa.

Standard Bank, Nedcor, Absa, and the First Rand Bank, are the ’big four’ banks that dominate the retail market. They share 15 million customers including almost 1 million internet banking subscribers and operate over twenty-five million accounts.

Internet Banking

The South African internet banking sector is projected to increase steadily in the next few years. However, reports in the media about clients’ bank accounts being hacked have made many people in South Africa wary of internet banking.


Poor levels of customer service, over-regulation of foreign-controlled banks, and high banking charges are some of the problems associated with some South African banks. However, these problems are not unique to South Africa; they have been experienced in many other developed countries including Australia and the US. Before signing any contracts or taking out a loan, you should always shop around and compare rates to find the most suitable banking service.

Opening hours

Bank opening hours are generally from 9 am until 3.30pm from Monday to Friday and from 9 am to 11 am on weekends. However, this varies depending on the bank.


An independent body known as the Banking Adjudicator (Tel. 011-838 0035), provides a free, informal, confidential problem-solving service to people with complaints regarding banking services or specific banks. Therefore, if you have a complaint about a banking service or product or an unresolved dispute with your bank you can contact the Banking Adjudicator. The Adjudicator may require copies of all correspondence between you and the bank and your complaint reference number.

A nonprofit body established by the government known as the Micro Finance Regulatory Council was set up to protect the interest of customers and their doors are always open in case you have a problem concerning a loan.

Credit Bureaux

South Africa’s two major credit bureaux, Trans Union (Tel. 0861-482 482) and Experian (Tel. 011-799 3400), are used to check a customer’s credit rating (for a small fee). They also provide advice regarding credit.

The Credit Information Ombud (Tel. 0861-662 837) is a voluntary, independent association reporting to the industry council. If South Africa’s two major credit bureaux are unable to solve your credit problem, report the matter to the Credit Information Ombud for further assistance.

How to open a bank account in South Africa

Citizens, residents, and non-residents can open bank accounts in South African. However, it is advisable to open a South African bank account in person instead of trying to open one from abroad.

You can choose to go to the bank of your choice and introduce yourself, or you can ask your friends, colleagues, or neighbors for their recommendations. The banks will require you to be at least 18 years old. You will also be required to provide other details including your address in South Africa, (or a utility bill as proof) and proof of identity, e.g. a passport.

Be sure to compare the fees charged for international money transfers because some banks charge higher fees than others. Although many banks provide details of their banking fees on their websites, many clients find it difficult to go through all the details in banks’ websites trying to find the information they need.

If you wish to open a bank account in South Africa from abroad, you will be required to obtain an application form from a branch of a South African bank (either in South Africa or your home country). You will also be required to provide a photocopy of the relevant pages of your passport and a letter of reference from your bank.

Most banks in South Africa provide their clients with debit and credit cards so that their clients can transact using the cards wherever they are. In addition, expats can use NYCE networks and CIRRUS to obtain cash from abroad. However, it is advisable to carry enough cash around because some banks’ ATM machines often run out of cash or go out of service. Some banks limit ATM card withdrawals to around R2,000 (€206) per day for security reasons.


The Rand (R) is the official currency of South Africa. The value of coins minted is in the following denominations: 1 cent, 2 cents, 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents 50 cents and R1, R2, R5. Notes are printed in denominations of R10, R20, R50, R100, and R200. The South African currency denominations have been designed to reflect the country’s diverse fauna. They have depictions of various animals including antelopes and birds.

It is advisable to exchange some of your money for South African coins and banknotes before arriving in South Africa to familiarize yourself with the currency. This will also eliminate the need for exchanging currencies at unfavorable rates on arrival at a South African airport. In addition, avoid high-value notes like R200 because they are not widely accepted in most public transport vehicles and when making small purchases. They are also easy to counterfeit. You may also pay for goods at higher rates if you pay for them using the high value notes as sellers exaggerate the prices of their goods and services to exploit you.

Transfer Money

There are many ways of sending money from one country to another. As always, expats can save themselves a lot of trouble and expense if they do a little research and shop around for the best deal.

International Bank Transfers

For most expats, currency transfer involves transferring small to medium sized amounts regularly from an existing bank account back home into a new overseas bank account in the local currency. These may be pension payments, benefits, or any other form of income.

Your home bank will usually be glad to oblige. You can set up facilities with them "on demand" whereby you fax or call them on the phone, provide a secret code or two, tell them the amount in question, and they will transfer it to your new bank, automatically converting it into the relevant local currency. Some banks also allow you to make international payments online. Whatever method you choose, transfers normally take between 3-7 days although 1-2 day transfers are often available but be prepared to pay more for these.

You can also set up regular transactions that are processed automatically on a fixed day of each month. Many state pensions and benefits can be paid directly into your new bank abroad without going through your home bank at all. Some private pension organisations may also offer the same facility.

When you first set up a transfer of funds abroad, the sending bank or institution will ask you for various codes that identify the destination bank. Often they will ask for IBAN (International Bank Account Number), BIC (Bank Identifier Code) or SWIFT codes but don?t panic - your new bank will give these to you and they may even already be listed in your new chequebook or bank statements.

As far as charges are concerned, you will probably be required to pay a flat fee per transaction. Additionally a percentage fee is often charged for the currency conversion itself. You may also find that your receiving bank charges you for receiving the transfer. Charges vary by bank but can quickly add up - ask your bank(s) for an indication of the fees involved.

As a general rule, transferring larger sums less frequently usually works out cheaper than transferring smaller amounts more often. However, if you need to transfer regular amounts of at least a few hundred pounds/dollars or need to make a larger one-off payment (e.g. for a house purchase) you should consider the services of a currency broker.

Cash Machine/ATM Withdrawals

Thanks to modern technology, most people abroad can go to a cash machine/ATM and withdraw local currency funds directly from their home bank account. This is a useful option to have for expats but exercise caution - many banks make hefty charges for using this type of facility. You may also find that withdrawal limits are in place (as a security measure) even if you significant funds in your account back home.

You can also use VISA or Mastercard credit cards to obtain cash in this fashion and if you pay the amount off quickly and avoid interest charges then fine - but once again credit card charges for cash withdrawals can be high. Check the rates carefully.

Currency Brokers

Currency brokers (also called foreign exchange brokers) offer significant advantages over traditional banks. Firstly, brokers will often be able to offer you a better rate than your bank. Secondly, the entire process is more transparent - many banks require you to accept the exchange rate available on the day they process your transaction, whatever and whenever that may be, but a specialist broker will offer greater flexibility, even allowing you to specify the rate you want in advance.

Currency brokers are smaller companies than major banks so always check their background carefully. Ask existing expats for their own experiences and recommendations before choosing a firm to handle your own foreign exchange requirements.

A good broker will discuss all the options with you and enable you to make the best decision for your circumstances. Using a broker will typically off the following advantages:

1) Currency brokers generally provide superior exchange rates to the high street banks. The currency brokers have access to the interbank rate and do not have the high costs that the banks have. This means that they can usually offer better exchange rates.

2) Use of a free Market Watch/Order Service: This allows you to tell your currency broker your target or budget exchange rate and they will ring you if that exchange rate level is reached. As the rate moves every few seconds, currency brokers can act as your eyes and ears on the market.

3) Ability to fix the exchange rate in advance using a Forward Contract. If you know you need to convert/move funds in the future but don?t yet have the money you can reserve a rate in advance using a Forward Contract. During this period, you are exposed to exchange rate movements and therefore, a forward contract is ideal if, for example, you have agreed to buy a house and want to fix the rate now but will not be making payment for a couple of months.

Savings from currency brokers can vary from between 1 and 4 per cent on the exchange rate alone, and specialists do not typically charge any fees for transmitting the funds abroad, unlike banks which often levy expensive fees or charges. If you are emigrating and transferring a large sum of money - such as the proceeds of a property - a foreign exchange company could potentially save you thousands.

Save On Money Transfers

Compare quotes from leading foreign exchange currency brokers

Learn The Language

One of the most difficult challenges that expats face in South Africa is learning the local languages. Although it may not be easy to learn the local languages in South Africa, learning Afrikaans can help you get the most out of your stay.

Languages spoken in South Africa

South Africa has 11 official languages all considered equal under the law. In terms of the number of people speaking a language, English is the fifth most spoken language in South Africa. However, English is the unofficial language of business, administration, media, and politics and is widely spoken by many people in South African towns and cities.

Many South Africans are multilingual and it is common to find some inhabitants knowing six languages or more. White inhabitants usually only speak two languages: English and Afrikaans. In addition, most documentation in the country is printed in English and Afrikaans. Most people in South Africa who speak Afrikaans also speak English.

Close to half of white South Africans use English as their mother tongue. However, as is the case with various English styles all over the world, South African English has its own accents and characteristics, mostly due to the influence of other local languages including Afrikaans.

South African English grammar, spelling, and vocabulary are based on British English rather than American. South Africans use repetition to emphasize certain things. For example, a crowded bar or pub is said to be “full, full” while a freezing winter night is “cold, cold”.

South African English uses words from Afrikaans and other local languages, which gives it an interesting and varied vocabulary. To learn more about South African English consult the Oxford Dictionary of South African English or visit the Afrikaans Language Museum (Tel. 021-872 3441) in Paarl, located in the Cape Wine Region.

Contrary to common misconception, Afrikaans is not spoken exclusively by descendants of Dutch settlers in South Africa but by both white and non-white South Africans. The total number of Afrikaans speakers in South Africa is about 6 million. Afrikaans originated from Dutch in the 17th century. When the first settlers arrived, they gradually acquired certain words from English, French, and indigenous African languages and slowly dispensed the complex grammar and vocabulary of their Dutch language. Afrikaans is the most spoken language in the Western and Northern Cape. In addition, it is widely used by the media.

It is easier for Dutch expats to quickly grasp Afrikaans than expats from other countries. To learn Afrikaans, you should understand a few things about the language. Unlike English words, Afrikaans words are usually pronounced the way they are spelled. In addition, there is some Germanic influence in the pronunciation of some Afrikaans words. The letter “g” is pronounced as “kh”; “oe” as “oo”; and “v” as “f”.

English Teaching Jobs

The demand for English teaching jobs in South Africa is not very high because English is one of the eleven official languages of the country. However, students from underprivileged, rural communities often do not have access to quality learning institutions like those in urban areas do. Therefore, there is demand for volunteer English teachers to help students in rural areas learn English. In addition, expats with special skills in sciences, maths, and technology are usually in high demand.

Language demographics

Zulu is the most spoken language in South Africa, with 23 percent of the people in South Africa speaking the language. It is followed by Xhosa with 16 percent of the population speaking the language. Afrikaans is spoken by 14 percent of the people in South Africa followed by English, which is spoken by 9 percent of the people in South Africa. Most people in urban areas understand English. In addition, it is the most dominant language in government and the media.

Most people in South Africa speak a language from the either of the principal Bantu languages represented in South Africa: the Sotho-Tswana and the Nguni. The languages within each group are for the most part intelligible to native speakers of any other language within the group. For example, Sesotho speakers would find Tswana and Northern Sotho languages comprehensible. Likewise, Zulu speakers would find Ndebele, Swazi, and Xhosa intelligible.

There are nine indigenous languages in South Africa. These languages originate from two main geographic zones. Nguni languages are predominant in southeastern part of the country while Sesotho languages are predominant in the northern parts of the country as well as Botswana and Lesotho. Gauteng is the most linguistically diverse province with roughly equal numbers of both Nguni and Sesotho language speakers. It also has Indo-European language speakers.

Afrikaans is mostly spoken in the western parts of the country (Western and Northern Cape). Afrikaans is also predominant in the central and northern parts of the country as a second or third language by black South Africans.

Other significant languages spoken in South Africa

Other languages spoken in South Africa include Fanagolo, Lobedu, IsiNdebele, and Siphuthi. Many people claim Lobedu is an autonomous language of Northern Sotho. Fanagolo is a form of pidgin common in the mining communities.

South Africa has a high number of immigrants from Europe, the Indian subcontinent, and other countries in Africa. This means that there is a wide variety of foreign languages spoken in South Africa including Italian, Greek, Yiddish, Urdu, Hindi, Portuguese, Dutch, Gujarati, French, and German among others. These languages are not officially recognized in the constitution but are often used in limited unofficial ways where it has been determined that they are prevalent.

Portuguese is the fastest growing non-official language in South Africa. It is widely spoken by both black and white settlers from Angola and Mozambique. These countries were colonized by Portugal and have many Portuguese-speaking citizens. Immigrants from the two countries continue to use Portuguese to communicate with each other. French is also growing fast due to the influence of immigrants from French-speaking countries in Central Africa.

Choose A School

South Africa has more than 27,000 schools accessible to over 12 million students. Of the 27,000 schools, only 1000 are private. During apartheid, black students only had access to limited education, also known as Bantu Education, while white students had access to quality schooling, which was practically free. Although the system was scrapped in 1994, the legacy remained. Currently, schools in rural areas have fewer resources than those in urban areas and big cities, which has led to high level of illiteracy among the adult population in South Africa. However, the South African government is working hard to improve the quality of the education in the country.

Education is mandatory for children aged 7 and above regardless of their religious beliefs, color, creed, or race. Children over the age of 7 have to go to school until they either finish their 9th school year or turn 15. Children also have the option of attending Grade O or Grade R. This is referred to as the reception year. The first grade begins at the age of 5 or six years.

South Africa has three main stages of education:

• General education and training: This is compulsory and usually includes kids between grades 0 and 9. Adult Education and Training is also included in this category.
• Further education and training: This category covers grade 10 to 12. It includes training at private, technical and community colleges. Qualifications recognized at this level are certificates and diplomas.
• Higher education and training: This level is also referred to as tertiary education. Certificates, diplomas, undergraduate, postgraduate degrees, and doctoral degrees are covered in this level. Home schooling is accepted in South Africa.

Schools in South Africa

There are three types of schools in South Africa: public private schools, public fee-free schools, and private schools. The quality of education in the aforementioned schools varies widely.

All public fee-free schools are funded by the government. Public fee-free schools are mainly found in the poorest areas where the National Schools Nutrition Program (NSNP) is also offered. The program feeds over 1.6 million children daily and has instituted about 2000 school gardens.

Public private schools are also funded by the government although they charge school fees. The fee paid is used mainly for basic tools like uniforms, books, and other things depending on the facilities, teaching quality and class size. Public private schools allow parents to apply for fee exemptions and reductions in some cases.

Independent private schools have been in existence for some time now and are preferred by a large number of students. Independent schools are privately owned. Other traditional private schools were founded by missionaries who are still funding them. Expatriate children can join international schools that follow similar curricula to their home countries.

School times and holidays

South African students go to school from Monday to Friday. Classes run from 8.00am to 2.30pm. Students are allowed to engage in after school activities or visit the local after care center after 2.30pm. The South African academic year begins in January and ends in December. The period is split up into four terms:

• The first academic term commences in Mid-January and ends in April. Students break for the Easter holiday, which normally lasts 10 days.
• The second term runs from mid-April to June. Students break for the winter holiday, which lasts 21 days.
• The third term begins in Mid-July and runs through to September. Students then break for the spring holiday, which lasts 10 days.
• The fourth term runs from October to December. Students break for the Christmas holidays, which lasts about 40 days.

The teaching system

The South African teaching system is known as Outcome Based Education (OBE).The system is designed to impart formal knowledge with day-to-day knowledge and requires students to carry out research and find information themselves. Students are asked to analyze and criticize the information collected on their own rather than taking up and repeating what they have been taught.

South Africa’s teaching system also offers computer-based education in some parts of the country. However, the South African government is working hard to implement this in poor communities too. South Africa allows parents to decide whether they want their children to attend preschool or not. While primary school is mandatory, secondary education is optional.


Public preschools are established by some of the provincial departments of education. Preschools are mainly for children of up to 7 years of age. There are two grades in preschool:

• Grade R for children who are 5 or 6 years old
• Pre-Grade R for children up to 4 years of age

Both grades teach culture, language, arts, mathematics, technology, and life skills classes

Primary education (General Education and Training)

Junior primary class takes 3 years to complete. This stage will ensure that children learn to write, read, calculate, and master the basics of a second language. The subjects included in the 3 years of senior primary stage include mathematics, science, history, and geography. This stage also requires students to acquire oral and reading proficiency in their first and second languages. Students also go through handy-craft classes like woodwork, art, or needlework. Students must follow the school’s code of conduct and wear uniforms.

School enrolment

South Africa allows children to attend any school of their choice as long as there are vacancies. In some cases, the Feeder Zone System can determine acceptance. Students whose parents work or live within feeder zones (the areas near the school) are considered for admission first before children from other zones can be considered. Other applicants are considered on a first come first served basis.

For you to get your child accepted to a South African school, you will be required to provide:

• Your child’s immunization card
• Child’s birth certificate
• The last school report or a transfer card

It is important to know that a school can turn down a student’s application because of various reasons including policies set by the body that governs it.

However, you child cannot be rejected because of the following reasons:

• If the parents defaulted in paying school fees in previous schools
• If the parents delayed to apply for admission
• If the parents cannot buy the books or uniforms
• If the student is not a South African
• If the student is pregnant or HIV positive
• Because of cultural, racial or religious differences

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