How To Get Your Inheritance Out Of South Africa

get your inheritance out of South Africa

Are you struggling to get your inheritance out of South Africa? Many banks and executors can make the process of getting your inheritance funds paid out of South Africa a lot more overwhelming than it really is.

I’ve been helping South Africans overseas to get their inheritance funds out of South Africa since 2016, when I started working for Rand Rescue Australia. I’ve helped dozens of frustrated South Africans who have struggled for months and some even years, fighting with banks and assurers and lawyers to get their rightful funds paid out to them.

Here’s what you need to know about how to get your inheritance out of South Africa.

How to Get Your Inheritance Out of South Africa

Tax Emigration or No Tax Emigration

Since the process of tax emigration was introduced to replace financial emigration, the process of getting inheritance funds paid out has also changed somewhat.

Depending on whether you have completed financial or tax emigration or have not yet done so, the process is slightly different.

If You Have NOT Completed Tax Emigration

If you have NOT completed financial emigration or tax emigration, and still have your green barcode ID book, and had a South African tax number in the past, the process is actually quite simple.

You are able to open a bank account in South Africa, with your ID book or card, SA tax number and a recent proof of address for where you currently live.

Once open, the account details can be provided to the executor for payment. If your funds are under R1m, you can transfer the full amount with no need for an Approved International Transfer (AIT) from SARS (previously known as a Foreign Investment Allowance tax clearance).

If the amount received is more than R1m, you can apply for an AIT from SARS for the balance, showing proof of the funds available and their source. You will need to have all your South African tax returns submitted and up to date, with no debts to SARS owing, to get the transfer approval from SARS. If there is anything showing as owed or outstanding on your SARS profile, these will need to be addressed before applying for any AIT.

If you are married to a South African who also has a bar coded ID, SA tax number and recent proof of address, they may also make use of their R1m annual allowance.

If you have over R1m you can also choose to wait for each new calendar year and transfer R1m every January until all the funds have been transferred, if you don’t want to apply for an AIT.

At Rand Rescue, we use Capitec for our client accounts as they have low fees and excellent exchange rates. Even if you don’t have a record of your SA tax number, we can help trace this at SARS for you. The tax number does not even need to be active, we just need to have it in order to open the account. So if you have your green barcode or ID book, and worked in South Africa at some point, this is the simplest process for you!

If You HAVE Already Completed Tax Emigration

Now, if you have completed the financial emigration or tax emigration process, the process of getting your inheritance funds transferred overseas is a tiny bit different – but certainly not as impossible as some banks and lawyers make out!

If you opened a non-resident account when you completed financial or tax emigration, and did not close the account, you can always go back to this bank and ask to use that account for your inheritance funds to be paid into. This might be simple if you have a good intermediary or still have a contact at the bank who can help you. If you’re dealing with the automated email machine at your bank however, this could be a lengthy and frustrating process. In the past, this was the only option available to those who had completed financial emigration.

However, since the recent changes by SARS as to what accounts non-residents can hold, you can also now ‘shop around’ and if you choose, open a non-resident account with another bank to use to receive your inheritance funds. I’ve helped several clients with this recently, as we can usually offer a stellar customer service and better exchange rates through Rand Rescue and Capitec than many other big banks in South Africa.

In order to open a new non-resident (or emigrant) account with a different bank if you have already completed financial or tax emigration with another bank, you will need to show evidence of your financial or tax emigration though, so go back through all your emails and paperwork as a starting point to find your official letter from Exchange Control saying you have been placed on record as an emigrant financially.

But I Don’t Have My Barcode ID Book Or ID Card – What Now?

In the past, if you didn’t have your green barcode ID book (perhaps you surrendered it when you renounced your citizenship or lost it during your move), you would have been unable to open a bank account to receive your inheritance funds, and the only way to get them paid out was to complete tax emigration and get a non-resident bank account.

But with the recent changes at SARS, there’s now a new option, if you meet certain criteria, which include:

  • You’ve lived outside of South Africa for more than 5 years
  • You’ve been naturalised as a citizen of your new country for 5+ years and can provide evidence of this
  • You have a valid passport of your new home country
  • You have no other assets to get out of South Africa, just the inheritance funds
  • You can provide all the relevant estate documents for bank approval
  • You must declare non-tax residency in South Africa to SARS

In this instance, if you tick all the boxes above, you will be able to open an emigrant account and get the funds approved to transfer overseas without the need for an AIT.

If, however you do not meet these above requirements, you will need to complete tax emigration in order to get your funds paid out. It’s not a complicated process, but it is a little more time-consuming and costly, compared to just opening a bank account and transferring your funds.

I hope you’ve found this information about how to get your inheritance out of South Africa useful.

If you have any questions about getting your inheritance out of South Africa and how I might be able to help you with this process, as I have already done for many other South Africans living in Australia and around the world, you’re welcome to email me at You can also check out the Rand Rescue Australia website for more information.

About Author

Helping you move to, settle in, and explore your new home in Australia. Avid reader, beach lover, and horse addict. As someone who has emigrated, not once, not twice, but three times, I know exactly what you’re going through. The ups and downs of emigration are faster than a rollercoaster and I’ve been there – three times!

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