August 11, 2011

Going to the Bank in South Africa

I had some Euros from a recent trip to Germany to put into our South African account, so I thought I'd swing by the bank quickly on my round of errands. But of course I should have known better. Afterwards, I wasn't sure if I'd just bought a house.

Documents I needed:
  • 2-page form filled in with all my details
  • my passport with the visa page (at least by now I know to bring that with me on such occasions)
  • affidavit that I don't own any foreign assets that I'm planning to sell here (?)

Time I spent:
  • 30 minutes

It was mostly spent watching the guy retyping the entire form I completed, copying my passport - by now our bank must have at least 25 copies of it floating around - printing out a series of receipts and then energetically stamping all of them before filing everything away and handing me my own copy.

And the fee was horrendous. It  now occurs to me that I should have held on to those Euros. They always come in handy when paying equally horrendous visa fees in other African countries. Oh well.


Miss Footloose | Life in the Expat Lane said...

Always love reading a story like that because it is so familiar. Sorry ;) Just think about how many mouths are being fed by all that work generated by that transaction.

Euros are so handy if you do any traveling at all, even just for airport food or layovers on your way back to the US. Just hang on to them. said...

I can't believe the bank actually CHARGES you to deposit cash here. And also to withdraw money when you get it from the bank teller rather than the ATM. I mean, I know you were depositing forex so maybe that should cost something (although not the horrendous fee you had to pay). But charging to deposit rand just seems downright ridiculous.

Stephanie said...

Don't even get me started about bank fees here. Drives me absolutely nuts every month. The only thing that kind of makes me happy is that all the money I spend at Pick N Pay comes back to me in my account and about covers the monthly service charge. Totally agree about the charging to get cash. Can't quite believe it.

Jozie Days said...

Hi Sine, we were lucky when we came to SA. I went to Standard Bank and they were very unhelpful ( like most of the banks in SA) They gave me piles of forms to fill in and were generally difficult. The thought of opening an account filled me with dread and despair. Then one of my husbands work mates told us about Investec. They are brilliant. They deliver our foreign currency for holidays and business trips. They deliver credit cards, petrol cards etc. We have a personal banker who is exclusively assigned to us, she sorts out any problems. We have a reasonable monthly bank charges fee. You can draw cash from any ATM without being charged. The only down side is that they don't have cheque books (which is actually a positive for me as I hate trying to balance my cheque book). They do not have any retail outlets - but deposits can be made at ABSA.

Sine said...

Wow, now that sounds almost too good to be true and exactly what we should have gotten when moving here. I'll have to put your comment up as a post for future expats (if you don't mind)!

Jozie Days said...

Yes, please feel free to put this comment up :)

Emiko said...

Hello All! Here is just a comment on how to transfer money from SA to other countries (specifically USA, but I'm sure some stuff applies if sending elsewhere).

If you want to wire money to an actual person, you can use money gram or western union. If you want to send money to a US bank account, I don't think you can use these services and you will have to do it through a bank.
Fees: The fees are pretty much the same at all banks (~R200) The part that really killed me was the exchange rate. I tracked the rate from different banks and there are pretty similar and some do better than others depending on the day. I use as a reference.
What you need: US banks address, SWIFT code and BIC code. US account holders address and account number. And the usual passport/work contract/proof of residence (not sure if you need all of this, but i carry it all anyway). The tricky thing for me is that my US bank doesnt have a BIC code. The key is to use the routing number instead. All US banks have a routing number. Swift code is 8 or 11 characters made up of:
4 letters: Institution Code or bank code.
2 letters: ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 country code
2 letters or digits: location code
3 letters or digits: branch code, optional ('XXX' for primary office)
Example: I bank with FNB. For the Foreign Bank/Swift Institution (BIC Code) use the SWIFT CODE and for the Recipient Branch Code use the ROUTING NUMBER.

If it is your first transfer, be prepared to wait a few days. Mine had to get sent to the head office, but once the cleared whatever they needed to clear, the transfer was in my US account same day!

Sine said...

Emiko, thanks for the detailed instructions! It is very helpful to know which exact code and number you need, I remember always being confused between routing number and SWIFT code and then your money can sit in the "netherworld" of banking forever if you get it wrong!

W. A. Jeffrey said...

I was going to mention Investec too but the other poster beat me to it. Investec is one of three banks that Intergate Immigration partners with to provide a variety of financial services. They (Intergate) even have their own company called Incompass that in a joint venture with Investec offers a high interest account for those with R250,000 or more. The neat feature of this account is that it can be set up before you leave your home country.