RELOCATING TO SOUTH AFRICA
Official name: Republic of South Africa
Population: Over 59 million
Capital cities: Cape Town (legislative), Pretoria (executive), Bloemfontein (judicial), largest city is Johannesburg.
Neighbouring countries: South Africa is bordered by Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe it surrounds the small Kingdom of Lesotho. It has a coastline on both the South Atlantic Ocean in the west and the Indian Ocean in the east.
Geography: South Africa has a long coastline of 1,600 miles (2,500kms) that hugs the country from east to west. The inland area of the country is characterised by a vast plateau, while a large portion of the south is occupied by a semi-desert shrub land called the Karoo.
Political system: Constitutional parliamentary republic
Freedom of religion is enshrined in the South African constitution. Christianity, Islam and Hinduism are the most prominent religions.
South Africa has 11 official languages, though English is the standard form of communication. Afrikaans, Xhosa, Zulu and Sotho are also widely spoken and vary in prevalence depending on geographic location.
The South African Rand (ZAR) is divided into 100 cents. ATMs are widespread but might be scarcer in some rural areas. Internet banking is widely available.
Banking in South Africa
The four major banks are Absa, First National Bank (known as FNB), Standard Bank and Nedbank. Banks are generally open from 8.30am to 3.30pm Monday to Friday, and till 11am on Saturdays, although branches in airports often have extended hours. All four have good online and mobile banking systems for customers’ day-to-day banking needs.
ATMs are plentiful throughout the country and all of the main banks have their own ATMs, although certain brands may be lacking in smaller towns. Customers can use any ATM no matter which bank they belong to, although fees will be slightly higher for withdrawals from other banks’ ATMs.
The four main banks also provide facilities to make some bill payments or cell phone airtime purchases at their ATMs, and certain machines also accept cash deposits.
Opening A Bank Account
If you have a South African residence visa, you can open a bank account in the same way as South African citizens. Official residents can open an account by completing an application form coupled with showing proof of residence, employment status and a declaration of any assets you’ve brought into the country. Bank accounts usually charge fees and you can find a range of deals or packages.
While it’s sometimes possible to open a resident bank account in South Africa before entering the country, it can be a more complicated process as some banks will require your application form to be signed by a notary, and possibly other requests. However, if you bank with a major international provider in your home country that has branches in South Africa it may be possible to open an account without this extra verification.
REQUIREMENTS TO OPEN A BANK ACCOUNT IN SOUTH AFRICA
South African Bank Account for Residents
- Passport/birth certificate
- Work or study permit
- Proof of address (such as a utility bill)
- Three months of bank statements
Non-Resident Bank Account
- Passport/birth certificate
- Proof of address (such as a utility bill)
- Three months of bank statements from your previous country’s bank
- A certificate of introduction from your home country’s bank, signed by a bank official
Tipping: 10 percent (or more for good service) is common
Electricity: 230 volts, 50Hz. typically, three-pin round plugs are standard.
Internet domain: .za
International dialling code: +27
Emergency contacts: 10111
TRANSPORT AND DRIVING
Cars drive on the left. Roads are generally of good quality, but certain rural roads may be in disrepair.
Local public transport in South Africa is very limited and most expats moving to South Africa purchase a car.
Steps to buying a car
- Decide what you can afford. It may seem like a given, but working out how much you can afford to spend on car payments every month is a crucial first step to buying a new vehicle.
- Decide what type of car you need.
- Secure financing.
- Choose a dealership.
- Go for a test drive.
- Sign the paperwork.
- Take a tour of your new car
Finding a car in South Africa
If buying a used car, one should check used car websites and online classified portals to get a better idea of what’s out there.
Another option for more knowledgeable car buyers is auction houses. Auctions are an opportunity to pick up a real bargain, with discounts on retail price ranging from 20 to 60 percent.
New cars, as is the case in all countries, are found at car dealerships.
Documents needed to buy a car in South Africa
If you buy a car in South Africa from a registered dealership, it should come with a roadworthy certificate, its previous owner’s details and proof of payment. In addition to these documents, you’ll also need your passport, foreign driving licence, proof of residence and your traffic register number
Foreign licences are perfectly fine, as long the licence is issued in one of South Africa’s eleven official languages (most likely in English), has a picture of the applicant attached to it, and has not expired.
Contrary to popular belief, expats will not even need an International Driving Permit in addition to their licence, unless of course, their original licence isn’t in English.
Consider a diesel car, as they typically run more efficiently. Diesel is widely available throughout South Africa and diesel fuel is also slightly cheaper than petrol.
Unfortunately, given the high rates of theft from within cars in South Africa, one added amenity to look for when car-shopping is smash-and-grab protection. This film protects the windshield and windows against smash-and-grabs which may occur while cars are stopped at traffic lights. Most higher-end cars come already equipped with smash-and-grab protection, but if not, it can be added later
Registering a car
In South Africa, a buyer gains possession of their car once they pay for it, but they still need to register the vehicle to formally gain title ownership. The place to do this is at the nearest Licensing Office.
Sandton Licensing and Testing Department
Address – 8th Street & 9th Street, Marlboro Gardens, Johannesburg, 2063
Telephone – 011 321 6354
Randburg Licencing Department
Address -Bram Fischer Dr &, Jan Smuts Ave, Blairgowrie, Randburg, 2194
Telephone – 011 919 5734
Midrand Licencing Department
Address -Cnr Dale and Rainbow roads, Halfway House, Midrand, 1685
Telephone – 011 256 8570
Once the car has been registered, buyers will need to cut out the car’s licence disk (which is renewable every year) and affix it to their windshield from the inside. For new cars, licence plates should be ordered (the dealership will usually do this on behalf of the buyer) and must be affixed to the front and back of the car. While waiting for licence plates to be made, a temporary car licence certificate is placed inside the car’s rear windshield.
Once the car has been registered and the licence plates affixed, you will still need two things: insurance and a tracking service.
Most car insurance companies in South Africa will insure a vehicle over the phone and will book an appointment for the car to be inspected at a registered dealership.
The price of car insurance in South Africa, as in most countries, varies according to a number of factors, including the make of the car, the age and sex of the driver, and whether one has off-street parking, etc.
When obtaining insurance quotes, expats should make sure they enquire about roadside assistance. Most insurance companies do provide it, and it will take one more item off the checklist to have this already covered. It is also recommended that one asks the insurance company for guidelines on what to do in case of an accident. Typically, if an accident occurs, expats should exchange contact details with the other driver involved and take pictures of their licence as well as of both cars from various angles to document the damage. The accident would then need to be reported at a police station in order to get a case number. The case number is then used to make claims from insurance. If the accident is of a serious nature, expats can call their insurance provider while at the scene. The insurance provider will then contact emergency services on the expat’s behalf.
Some insurance companies will also give customers a discount on their monthly premium if they have a tracking service that electronically keeps tabs on the location of one’s car through a GPS system. This service has evolved due to the high incidence of carjackings in South Africa. Most tracking companies offer various levels of support, like the addition of a panic button or upgraded tracking services.
If an expat is buying a new car and opts for this service, the dealership will fit their car with a tracking device. If buying a used car, you will need to find out whether a tracking device is already installed, and if there is, they should call the respective provider to set up an account and test the device to ensure it is working.
Healthcare in South Africa is very much divided along socio-economic lines. A massive gap in quality exists between the private and public sector and, in practice, these systems cater to different populations. The public healthcare system mainly serves a lower-income bracket while those who can afford it use the private healthcare system.
It’s strongly recommended that you take out health insurance and opt for treatment in private facilities, which generally provide world-class levels of care.
Much of the South African population uses the public healthcare system, which is heavily affected by a lack of resources and funding. The system is not yet universal, although fees are charged according to a patient’s income and number of dependants.
Public hospitals, though usually manned by highly qualified professionals, are often badly maintained. You will find minimal creature comforts, and will likely come across long queues, dingy exam rooms and overworked staff members.
In contrast to the public health sector, South Africa’s private health sector is excellent. Most cities and towns have a selection of clinics, hospitals and general practitioners, although in rural areas you might have to travel to the nearest town to see a doctor.
The standard of treatment in South African private hospitals is some of the most highly regarded on the continent and on par with that of Europe. The medical tourism industry has shown steady growth and many foreigners travel to South Africa for plastic surgery and dental work.
Private healthcare in South Africa comes at a price, especially for those earning a local salary. Although it’s possible to pay per treatment, medical costs can quickly add up.
You should take out private health insurance to protect against the hefty bills that accompany emergency situations, repeat consultations and specialist treatment.
An assortment of local medical aid providers and international health insurance companies are available.
Local providers offer various schemes and charge monthly premiums on a progressive scale. Most local health insurance providers in South Africa require that claims be pre-authorised; a stipulation which makes it necessary for people to keep their medical aid card in their wallet.
Most providers offer a basic hospital plan which includes hospital cover and ambulance transport, but insurance holders may be limited to a list of specific private hospitals. These are essentially emergency plans which don’t cover day-to-day medical expenses such as doctor consultations and treatment, dental treatments, prescription medications and specialist consultations.
Applicants interested in getting coverage for day-to-day expenses should compare the different packages offered by local insurance providers. Alternatively, expats may opt to use international insurance providers. Emergency evacuation insurance is unnecessary, as private South African facilities are adequate.
Pharmacies & Medicines
Pharmacies are readily available in urban centres and are generally well stocked, when travelling to outlying rural areas for extended periods one should pack basic medications. Those living in rural areas may need to travel to larger towns for prescriptions.
Contrary to popular belief, malaria is not a wide-scale problem in South Africa. But there is a narrow high-risk area that stretches across the extreme northeast of the country along the borders with Mozambique, Swaziland and Zimbabwe where taking anti-malarial medication would be wise in peak season. It should be noted that the Kruger National Park is considered a moderate-risk area.
The tap water in South Africa’s cities and towns is generally safe to drink and often of good quality but caution should be exercised in rural areas.
Though decreasing, prevalence rates remain high for HIV/AIDS. However, expats who take appropriate precautions against the disease need not be concerned.
Public ambulance services in South Africa are run provincially and standards and response times vary. The close co-operation of fire and ambulance services is the norm, although they are technically separate entities. Emergency paramedics are employed by the government and often work with volunteers, especially in outlying areas.
The South African Red Cross and St John’s Ambulance are run by volunteers and supplement the national system. There are also two private, profit-making national ambulance services, ER24 and Netcare 911, which are contacted via their own emergency numbers. Health insurance providers will have a preferred ambulance service and provide their customers with the corresponding contact numbers.
Ambulance contact details
- Public ambulance services: 10177
- Netcare 911: 082 911
- ER24: 084 124
Taxes in South Africa
Your tax residency status is assessed by SARS using two tests: the ordinarily resident test and the physical presence test. If you meet the requirements of either, you will be classified as a South African resident for tax purposes.
The ordinarily resident test takes into consideration the location of your primary home and where your assets are held, and where your family is based. If all signs point to South Africa, you will then be considered a South African tax resident, regardless of the number of years you’ve spent overseas.
The physical presence test evaluates the amount of time you spend in South Africa. To meet the requirements of this test, and be considered a tax resident, you will only need to be physically present in South Africa for:
- 91 days or more in the year of assessment
- 91 days or more in each of the previous five years of assessment
- 915 days in total during the five previous years of assessment
Failure to meet these requirements means that you will not be presumed to be physically present in South Africa, which obviously then means that you’re considered a non-resident for tax purposes, you are still liable for tax on South African assets and income.
Johannesburg has a wide range of nursery schools, private schools and government schools as well as university to further education institutes. Securing places at schools can be difficult so it is advisable to try and make your choices as soon as you can.
Most expats moving to Johannesburg and working in the Sandton or downtown Johannesburg areas will more than likely be living in the Northern suburbs? Depending on your expat contract or whether you have just decided to move to Johannesburg, there are government school options that are much cheaper than private schools and are just as good. It is important to know that no school here is free, you have to pay fees for government schools and private schools.
PRIVATE NURSERY SCHOOLS
Field & Study Montessori – Parkmore – www.montessoripreschool.co.za
Land of Oz – Fourways & Broadacres – www.landofoz.co.za
Parkmore Primary – Parkmore – 0117832416
Riviera Primary – Melrose – 011 442 9691
Stepping Stones – Parkmore – www.stepping.co.za
GOVERNMENT NURSERY SCHOOLS
King Edward Prep (Boys) – Houghton – www.keps.co.za
Montrose (co-ed) – Parkmore – www.montrose.org.za
GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS, PRIMARY
Brynevan (Only to grade 8 – 12/13 yrs old) – Bryanston – (011) 4631429
King Edward School VII Preparartory (Boys) – Houghton – www.keps.co.za
Montrose (Only to grade 8 – 12/13 yrs old) – Parkmore – www.montrose.org.za
Rivonia (Only to grade 8 – 12/13 yrs old) – Rivonia – www.schoolsrus.co.za
GOVENMENT HIGH SCHOOLS & BOARDING SCHOOLS
King Edward VII Boys, Day & Boarding, Houghton – www.kes.co.za
Parktown Boys – Parktown – www.parktownboys.com
Parktown Girls – Parkview – www.parktowngirls.co.za
GIRLS PRIVATE SCHOOLS, PRIMARY & HIGH SCHOOL
Brescia House (Roman Catholic) – Bryanston – www.brescia.co.za
Kingsmead – Melrose – www.kingsmead.co.za
Roedean, Day & Boarding – Houghton – www.roedeanschool.co.za
St Marys, Day & Boarding School – Waverley – www.stmaryschool.co.za
St Peters (Girls Primary & High School) – Bryanston/Petervale – www.stpeters.co.za
St Stithians Girls College – Bryanston – www.stithian.com
St Teresa’s (Roman Catholic) – Craighall – www.stteresas.co.za
BOYS PRIVATE SCHOOLS, PRIMARY & HIGH SCHOOL
Pridwin – (Primary Only to grade 8 – 12/13 yrs old) – Melrose – www.pridwin.co.za
St Davids (Roman Catholic – Day & Boarding) – Inanda – www.stdavids.co.za
St Johns Day & Boarding – Houghton – www.stjohnscollege.co.za
St Peters Boys – Sunninghill – www.stpeters.co.za
St Stithians Boys College, Day & Boarding – Bryanston – www.stithian.com
The Ridge (Primary Only to grade 8 – 12/13 yrs old) – Houghton – www.ridgeschool.co.za
CO-ED PRIVATE SCHOOLS, PRIMARY & HIGH SCHOOL
British International School (High School) – Bryanston – www.bicollege.co.za
Crawford Lonehill (Primary & High School) – Lonehill – www.crawfordschools.co.za
Crawford Sandton (Primary & High School) – Sandton – www.crawfordschools.co.za
Dainfern College (Primary & High School) – Dainfern – www.dainferncollege.co.za
The Dutch International School – Aukland Park – www.dsj.co.za
French School – Sandton/Morningside – www.lyceejulesverne.co.za
Grayston Prep (Primary only to grade 8) – Sandton– www.graystonprep.co.za
Reddam (Primary & High School) – Kylami – www.reddamhouse.org.za
Redhill (Primary & High School) – Morningside – www.redhill.co.za
JEWISH PRIMARY & HIGH SCHOOLS
King David Linksfield – Linksfield – www.sabje.co.za
King David Sandton – Woodmead – www.sabje.co.za
King David Victory Park – Randburg – www.sabje.co.za
SPECIAL NEEDS/SUPPORT SCHOOLS
As with mainstream schools, there are many options available in Johannesburg to help children with remedial and special needs.
The Talk Shop – www.thetalkshop.co.za
The Talk Shop is an exciting specialised environment for pre-school children with special speech and language development needs.
Bellavista – www.bellavista.org.za
Bellavista School is an independent preparatory school for children with learning potential who are experiencing specific or generalised learning difficulties, which prevent them from achieving success in a mainstream school environment.
Admissions – email@example.com
Assessment – firstname.lastname@example.org
Crossroads – www.crossroadsschool.co.za
Crossroads provides “specialized education” through a multi-disciplinary team approach ultimately with a view to returning learners to mainstream schools.
Japari – www.japari.co.za
Japari is a small, independent, multi-denominational, multi-cultural school. At Japari, they strive towards developing well-rounded individuals who display optimum growth and progress on a physical, intellectual, scholastic, emotional and social-interpersonal level. This has been their aim since Japari first opened in 1966.
Address – 1 Dundalk Avenue, Parkview, Johannesburg, 2193
Out of Town Schools
A lot of local Johannesburg folk send their children to boarding schools out of town once they reach high school. There is a huge choice. Hilton and its big rival Michaelhouse, both boys’ schools are in the Midlands with both being set on huge beautiful estates.
Hilton College, Boarding – Hilton, KwaZulu-Natal – www.hiltoncollege.com
Michaelhouse, Boarding – Balgowan, KwaZulu-Natal – www.michaelhouse.org
St Anne’s Diocesan College, Girls Boarding – Hilton, KwaZulu-Natal – stannes.co.za
CAPE TOWN SCHOOLS
American International School Cape Town – (AISCT)
The American International School of Cape Town is a private, non-profit co-educational institution founded in 1997. The school educates 500 students from over 50 countries, ranging in age between 2 and 18 years and instructed by teachers from around the world. The school has an average class size of 16 students with a student-to-teacher ratio of 10:1.
The school is located on 12-acres in the heart of Constantia Hills with Table Mountain National Park towering in the background. Cape Town is a dynamic, modern city of 4 million people and is continually ranked as one of the best places to live in the world.
AISCT follows curriculum out of the USA and offers College Board Advanced Placement (AP) courses in the high school, including the AP Capstone Program. Following the northern hemisphere calendar, the school year begins in August and ends in June. AISCT students are able to experience a wide range of classes, from traditional core subjects to innovative classes such as robotics, design technology, musical theatre, band, and vocals. In high school, students have 65 different classes to choose from during their 4-year experience
Address – 42 Soetvlei Avenue, Constantia 7806, South Africa
Admissions Enquiries – email@example.com
General Enquiries – firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone – (27) 21 713 2220
Website – www.aisct.org
German International School – Deutsche Ernationale Schule Kapstadt (DSK)
This bilingual coeducational institute is divided into primary, middle and high schools. It offers South African and European university entrance qualifications, and its students are exposed to a highly European, cosmopolitan environment where students are taught by German as well as local teachers.
A feature unique to this academic institute is that all learners obtain one of these two double qualifications:
- The National Senior Certificate (NSC, South African degree) and the German language diploma of level B2 / C1 level
- The combined degree with NSC and German International Abitur.
Keeping in line with the current trends, DSK has adopted diverse teaching methods and modern facilities in order to cater to learners of all types, and places its focus on academics, music, sports, and other extracurricular activities
A small boarding school for children from grade 9 who are attending the upper school offers an opportunity to become acquainted with Cape Town and South Africa as well as improve their English for a semester or longer.
The school is situated in the Tamboerskloof district below Lions Head with a view of the Waterfront and Table Mountain.
Address – 28 Bay View, Tamboerskloof, Cape Town 8001
Telephone – +27 21 480 3830
Website – dsk.co.za/?lang=en
The Cape Town French School
The French School in Cape Town was established in 1985 and offers internationally accredited education, giving access to the best schools and universities in the world in a co-ed and secular environment from 2 years old to the end of High School, age 18 (grade 12) with the French “Baccalaureat” Diploma.
The school is based on two centrally-located campuses, a Primary School in Sea Point and a High School in Gardens offering a wide choice of extra-mural activities and creative holiday programmes. A dual-medium education in French and in English with dedicated teachers and staff and a proud member of the Eco-School programme for sustainability
The school is part of a network of 492 schools in 137 countries operating as the AEFE Network of French schools abroad. From Cape Town to Shanghai, from London to Buenos Aires, from Los Angeles to Vancouver, our learners can move smoothly from one school to the other just about anywhere in the world. All AEFE schools follow exactly the same curriculum, which provides a seamless, stress-free process when transitioning between schools within the network.
Address – Kings Road, Sea Point, Cape Town 8005, South Africa
Telephone – +27 (0)21 434 12 78
Website – email@example.com
Address – 101 Hope Street Gardens, Cape Town 8001, South Africa
Telephone – + 27 (0)21 461 25 08
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org