Everything You Need To Know About Emigrating To South Africa

Everything you need to know about emigrating to South Africa

Emigrating to South Africa is a big deal, and it’s crucial you’re prepared. Whether you’re wondering why you might want to move, what you should know before relocating, how to emigrate, and the top places to move, we’ve got you covered.


In this article:


Why emigrate to South Africa?


A concoction of cultures, South Africa offers a little bit of everything at every turn, whether you’re looking for foodie hotspots, places to meet new people, or local schools to send your kids.

South African wine is also among the most sought after across the Southern Hemisphere and the globe, so why not make the most of the nation’s famous vineyards right on your doorstep.

Upon moving to South Africa, you’ll also find your money goes a long way, with the cost of living considerably cheaper than that of the UK and Europe.


With an astonishing 1,600 miles of gorgeous coastline, stretching round from the Namibian to the Mozambiquan border, the magnificent Drakensberg Mountains complete with snow-capped peaks, and the breath-taking Kalahari Desert, South Africa offers a truly diverse landscape.


While the nation boasts a more temperate climate than many of its continental neighbours situated nearer the equator, South Africa is by no means a cold country; moving to South Africa means year-round warmth and beaming suns.

To put things into context, the wintery months still reach an average temperature of around 16 degrees Celsius, while the mean summer temperature is around 26 degrees. At night, the temperature does drop a notch, though, making for comfortable sleeping conditions wherever you base yourself.

Things to know before moving to South Africa

Visas and permits

As a tourist, you are able to visit South Africa for up to 90 days without applying for any kind of visa; your UK passport will get you in and out of the country no problem.

However, if you’re emigrating to South Africa, you’ll be required to apply for a temporary residence permit which allows you to live and work in-country for up to three years. There are various types of temporary residency permits, but Brits most commonly apply for:

  • Business permit: a business permit allows you to set up your own business upon moving to South Africa, and invest in other businesses across the country.
  • Work permit: this visa will likely apply to most Brits moving to South Africa, as it allows you to find standard work within the country. To apply, you will require general qualifications and skills.
  • Critical skills work permit: a critical skills permit is given to individuals moving to South Africa who have the skills to undertake an occupation that is in demand across the country.
  • Study permit: these permits are given to individuals looking to spend time in South Africa for study, whether at school, college, or university.

If you’re emigrating to South Africa indefinitely, you’ll want to apply for a permanent residency permit; this is usually granted if you’re in full-time employment, have exceptional skills that the nation is short of, qualify as a retired person, or have relatives who are South African citizens (this includes a spouse).


If you’re emigrating to South Africa, it’s only natural that you’ll want to bring your pets with you. Fortunately, cats and dogs coming from the UK don’t have to quarantine upon arrival, nor are they required to pass a rabies antibody test. However, as South Africa isn’t rabies free, it’s recommended you vaccinate your pets regardless.

While the import regulations for British pets are relatively relaxed, you should apply for a pet import permit via the Director of Animal Health; these are usually issued within 5 days.


While it’s true that South Africa has many official languages, English is the most common in urban areas, across the media, and in parliament. Put simply, moving to South Africa doesn’t require you to learn a difficult second language, and adapting to life should come with relative ease.


Just like in the UK, cars in South Africa drive on the left-hand side of the road. In fact, the only difference between British and South African driving is that speeds are represented in terms of kilometres instead of miles. In terms of paperwork, you are able to drive using your current UK license, but, within 12 months of moving to South Africa, you should exchange this for a local version.

How to emigrate to South Africa

Finding a home

Upon emigrating to South Africa, the first thing you should consider is where you’re going to live. One thing worth noting is that property in South Africa is relatively cheap to buy, especially compared to the UK, whereas rent can be a great expense (especially in city and urban areas).

Give yourself time to find the perfect property in South Africa, without the stress of selling your home back in the UK; get in touch and we’ll give you an instant cash offer with no chains or estate agent fees clogging the deal.


Moving to South Africa doesn’t have to mean leaving all your home comforts behind; if you’re emigrating with the family, it can be hard to start completely afresh. It’s important to find the right removal team for you and your belongings, though, which means starting to look for shipping companies long before you make the move. Generally speaking, however, a three-bed property will often cost around £1,000 to ship, while a four-bed home will cost in the region of £1,800.

Registering for healthcare

When it comes to healthcare in South Africa, you are welcome to access the public system, but most expats choose to take out private insurance. This is more expensive than public care, but is still relatively cheap in UK terms.

For instance, a private appointment might cost the equivalent of ~£18, compared to a public appointment costing ~£2.50. importantly, though, private health insurance allows you to choose your own doctor and gives you a shorter wait time for an appointment.

Registering at the bank

To receive money in South Africa, you’ll need to register at a local bank account. This is fairly straightforward, doesn’t require too much hassle, and you can open an account whether you’re on a tourist, temporary residency visa, or have citizenship. Registering at a bank as a resident requires you to:

  • Declare any assets or money that you bring into the country.
  • Complete two forms: the Foreign National Declaration and the Confirmation of Employment.
  • Declare that any assets or money will not be distributed to third parties after moving to South Africa.

In addition to the above, you’ll also need to provide a copy of your passport, a permit or visa, proof of your address, and evidence of your banking history.

Moving to South Africa: where to live?

Cape Town

A vibrant and safe city, rich in culture, dining opportunities, and landscape, Cape Town is among the most popular destinations for Brits moving to South Africa. Whether you spend your days exploring the mountains or coastline sights, relaxing on the sandy sun-kissed beaches, or enjoying the local people, you’ll not get tired of this peninsula location.


From hiking and cycling to fishing and surfing, Durban caters to all hobbies and lifestyles. With a broad Indian community in the city, too, Durban dining is some of the most vibrant and diverse across South Africa, making it the ideal location to settle down for anyone who loves their food.


Thanks to a series of urban projects running through the city, Johannesburg is becoming increasingly popular among Brits moving to South Africa. An arty destination fit for Brits looking for a vibrant home, you’ll never get bored of living in Johannesburg. And at night, the city really comes alive; with bars and restaurants catering to all tastes, there really is something for everyone.


Wherever you choose to settle down upon moving to South Africa, you’re sure to enjoy the year-round warmth, welcoming people, and glorious landscape environments. For even more helpful guidance, head on over to our blog.

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