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Emigration – To Be (Late) Or Not To Be (Late): That Is The Question

Updated: Nov 24, 2020

Is it your intention to emigrate from South Africa, or did you leave many years ago and never quite got around to sorting out your ‘emigrant’ status, from an Exchange Control (Financial Surveillance) point of view?

Whatever situation is applicable to you, BeztForex is well positioned to provide you with all relevant guidance and to help you through the administrative complexities, from start to finish.

Just remember, changing your status with the SA Reserve Bank, Financial Surveillance Department to ‘emigrant’, does not disenfranchise you from your South African ‘roots’, but merely revises your residency, so that going forward, you can be treated as a non-resident, for cross border currency transacting purposes. Going through the process is necessary and can result in some simplification of your financial affairs, in the future, but I will explain why shortly.

It is not unusual for a person, or for that matter a family unit to have left the country years ago, perhaps to fulfil an employment contract overseas, or to simply undertake extended travel and then choose not to return permanently to South Africa, as you have now obtained the right to reside elsewhere.

Unless they are made aware of your circumstances, the SA Reserve Bank will likely not recognise your revised status, as well as future residential intentions and will naturally continue to assume that you are still a South African Resident, albeit currently temporarily abroad. In such circumstances all your Bank accounts and investments in South Africa will continue to be designated as ‘resident’, bringing with it limitations on accessing funds from South Africa.

The problem is that you may have assets in South Africa, which earn useful amounts of income, payable on a regular basis, for example rental on a property, or dividends from quoted or unquoted shares. You might prefer not to liquidate the assets, but need regular income payments overseas, possible to help with day to day living costs, or even to purchase a luxury item or two. Unfortunately and until you make arrangements to formalise your residential status to that of ‘emigrant’, regular income receipts, from a variety of local sources, would not be automatically transferable to you, on the basis that the SA Reserve Bank and no doubt your own commercial Bank would still regard you as resident in South Africa, from an Exchange Control point of view.

You might also have recently become the recipient of an inheritance from a South African Estate, or be aware that in the future there is the prospect of being named as a beneficiary in a local Estate, with a cash inheritance likely accruing to you, in time to come. Formalising your residential status, albeit on a ‘belated’ basis, could well simplify the Exchange Control processes relative to the transfer of current or future inheritance proceeds, as you would, of course, no longer be deemed to be ‘financially resident’ in South Africa.

So, whether you left the country many years ago and now need to formalise your new residential status, on the basis of a ‘belated emigration’, or your emigration is perhaps upcoming, in the short term, you may decide that some professional help would be useful, in order to navigate all the related administrative arrangements.

Taking advantage of professional assistance will also help to remove some of the stress associated with necessary communications with The South African Revenue Services (SARS), or for that matter the commercial Bank, handling your Exchange Control procedures. Relax, we can guide you through everything! However, it is fair to say that you will still have to provide some detailed information and sign a few forms, along the way!

In addition should you require assistance on the financial requirements pertaining to the granting of Citizenship, Residency/Permanent Residency in various countries around the World, inter alia via their respective ‘Investment Programmes’, we can also refer you to professionals who can initially establish eligibility and thereafter guide you through the necessary administrative processes.

Irrespective of whether your emigration is ‘belated’ in nature, or it has yet to happen, it will be necessary for an Exchange Control Form MP 336(b) to be completed and signed. This form once completed, will present a summary of the nature and value of all your remaining assets in South Africa and provide some essential personal detail, as well as information evidencing your right to live permanently, in your new country of residence. This latter issue must always be supported by the presentation of appropriate documentary proof.

It will also be necessary to liaise with SARS in order to obtain satisfactory verification of your Tax Compliance Status (TCS), since the Bank mandated to advise the SA Reserve Bank, of your emigration, will only be able to finalise this piece of administration and deal with related currency transactions, once your tax affairs are officially confirmed to be in order and they have verified that fact. BeztForex can of course undertake the necessary liaison with SARS, on your behalf.

Once all documents have been completed and related administration finalised to the satisfaction of all parties, the following facilities can be provided, by our ‘Partner Bank’.

  1. If a ‘belated’ emigration, up to R10Million, in the case of a single person, or up to R20Million, if a family unit. A family unit can consist of a divorced parent, plus accompanying children. Should you have lived overseas for longer than five years and your only remaining local assets consist of an inheritance and/or insurance policies, then as an exception you will not need to go through the Tax verification process, but nonetheless still place your emigration on record with the SA Reserve Bank.

  2. If your emigration is still to happen, then upon date of emigration you will be entitled to transfer up to R10Million as a single person, or up to R20million as a family unit. In addition, a travel allowance may be provided to each family member within applicable annual limits, being R1Million per individual 18 years or older and R200000 per family member under 18 years of age.

  3. In the case of both a) and b) above, income transfers accruing from various local assets may be transferred to you, on a regular basis.

  4. Any requests for capital transfers in excess of the amounts referred to above, will need to form the basis of a fully motivated application, to be submitted to the SA Reserve Bank, via our ‘Partner Bank’ and will be subject to the ‘Authorities’ final decision, in the matter.

In conclusion, should you currently be busy with your emigration arrangements, with plans to leave the country on or after the resumption of International travel, or you already left the country some years ago, remember it would be an excellent idea to do the correct thing and make sure that all Exchange Control requirements are correctly addressed and in place, thereby removing a troublesome weight from your shoulders, as well as potentially simplifying your future financial affairs.

- Written by Keith White - Head of Financial Surveillance


Herman Bezuidenhout | +83-700-8076 |

Rudi Bezuidenhout | +27-83-573-6203 |



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