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The financial emigration checklist for SA expats

By May 5, 2016July 25th, 2020Financial emigration

The financial emigration checklist for SA expats

May 5, 2016

Considering whether or not to emigrate financially is a rather big move for South Africans who have relocated abroad. However daunting it may seem, though, it’s important to consider this step if you’ve been living overseas for a while and have financial assets left in South Africa. And although the thought of a blocked bank account may fill you with dread, it really isn’t that complicated nor does it make your money inaccessible to you.

Why do people emigrate financially?

Financial emigration is a regulation set up by tax authorities for exchange control purposes. It is a way for SARS to monitor the money flowing across South African borders. Not all people need to emigrate financially, as you are allowed to transfer funds out of the country using your annual transfer allowances.

Financial emigration, however, changes your financial status to non-resident. It is the required route for those who wish to transfer the proceeds of their retirement annuities, trusts or South African inheritance offshore, and the preferred route for those who plan to stay overseas indefinitely or for a prolonged period. Once you take this route, all funds you transfer offshore will flow through a central account called a blocked bank or blocked rand account, which is monitored by a specialist banker at any of the flagship banks in South Africa.

How do I know if I should emigrate financially?

We’ve put together a handy checklist to help you determine for yourself where you stand legally and financially with respect to your assets in South Africa.


The South African expat checklist:

  • Do you still have financial assets in SA?
  • Do you still have an interest in a trust, partnership or company in SA?
  • Do you still have retirement annuities in SA?
  • Are you using SA credit cards?
  • Do you still have property in SA and are you unsure whether to sell?
  • Are you still registered for SA tax and obligated to submit returns?
  • Do you have SA funds or investments you wish to transfer abroad?
  • Are you expecting to be the recipient of an inheritance from SA in the future?
If you answered ‘no’ to all of these questions you have all your ducks in a row, well, done! If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to any of the questions above, you may still have financial responsibilities back in SA, and we are more than happy to help you finalise them and move your funds offshore.
It’s simple, just leave your details and we’ll contact you for an obligation free assessment.


  • Stephanus Meere says:

    I only have a tax number but for the last 4 years I was outside SA working in UAE. Submitted my Tax on e-filing and currently safe with 6 months out of the country law. The rest of the checklist is no. I want to financial emigrate before the new law coming 2020.

  • Martie says:

    We have pension in Stanlib and want to bring it to Australia we are here for ever. Want to finance immigrate. Is it possible?

  • Mel says:


    When one chooses to emigrate financially, does the type of residence in the expats ‘new’ country make any difference. In other words, if I’m currently on a temporary residency as opposed to permanent residency can I still emigrate financially.
    Also, I’m at retirement age(55) with my pension funds in a pension preservation fund, and have taken the 1/3 withdrawal at the time of the transfer to the preservation fund. Will I be allowed to financially emigrate by withdrawing the entire fund? If yes, is my understanding correct that the first R500K of the lump sum is tax free.

    Thanking you.

    • Byron Martin says:

      Hi Mel,

      Thank you for your query. If you can please submit your contact details via our website one of our financial consultants will contact you and explain the entire process. They will also be able to provide you with a free and no obligation quote if necessary :

  • denis green says:

    Once you have financially emigrated can you verify emigration is ligitimate and sucessfull? If so how is this done

  • Richard Vangelder says:

    I have been living in the UAE for the past 12 years. I have savings in the form of fixed deposits and insurance plans however no assets.
    I am supporting elderly parents in South Africa so need to have active bank account where I transfer required funds to for debit orders.
    What is your advise.

    • Byron Martin says:

      Hi Richard,

      Thank you for your query.

      If you can please submit your contact details via our website one of our financial consultants will contact you to explain the ins and outs. They will also be able to assist in regards with any tax obligations you might have in South Africa. Our financial consultants will also be able to provide you with a free and no obligation quote if you’re interested in any of our services:

  • David Clapperton says:

    i left south africa in 1997,I registered all investments with sars. prior to leaving.all are fica’d.Bank account,unit trust,endowments,annuitys,shares,ect.( iam 76 years old and can only cash !/3 d of pension),I have all records from problem is (I am British) i have misplaced my ZA ID book and know i wont get another,Must i write everything off.

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