South Africa

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Expat Business Info South Africa

Operating in South Africa has not only been a favorite option for multinational companies for a number of years now — the country also holds great opportunities for expats, provided they have the qualifications it takes! Get a glimpse of what to expect of working in South Africa on InterNations.
Although agriculture plays a rather marginal role, South African wines are enjoyed worldwide.

The Big Quest for a Job

If you are not in the fortunate position of being transferred to a South African subsidiary or affiliate of your company, you have to tackle the task of finding a suitable job yourself. Obviously, your first stop should be Internet job portals. South Africa has quite the selection when it comes to these portals. Good starting points may include Career Junction and Job is Job.

In contrast to countries such as the USA, having an existing network of contacts to get access to the most lucrative and best employment offers is not necessary in South Africa. As the nation is actively trying to attract highly qualified personnel from abroad, the most decisive factors when looking for a job in South Africa are your work experience and qualifications.

Some of the temporary residence permits for expats allow you to enter the country and look for employment in your field of expertise directly, freeing you of the hassle of finding a job from another country. See our article on moving to South Africa for details.

The Social Security System

Both residents and non-residents have to make social security contributions when working in South Africa. These contributions are subtracted from their monthly paycheck by their employer. As most social security services and programs are funded by either the employer or the South African government, the only fund employees contribute to directly is the unemployment fund. Contributions are quite low at 1% of the employee’s earnings, currently capped at about 148.72 ZAR per month.

Social security services are generally only available to citizens and permanent residents of South Africa. If you have entered the country on one of the temporary residence permits we have discussed in our article on moving to South Africa, you are not eligible to receive any social security services. Unfortunately, there are only very few social security agreements between South Africa and other states, so chances are that most expats will not be seeing much of their contributions. However, they should be negligible to most expats, as the contributions will probably not amount to a breathtaking sum.

The South African Social Security Agency offers a complete overview of their services and terms in this informational pdf file.

Taxation in South Africa

All South African residents have to pay income tax. Expats are treated as residents for the purpose of taxation if they have spent at least 91 days in a specific tax year within South Africa.

Any income below 181,900 ZAR per year is taxed at a flat rate of 18%. Salaries exceeding this limit are taxed based on six income levels. The sum of taxes to be paid for each level consists of a fixed sum plus a certain percentage of the amount you earn in excess of the lower threshold for the level.

For example, if you earn 400,000 ZAR a year, you fall into the category for incomes exceeding 393,201 ZAR but below 550,100 ZAR. You will have to pay the fixed sum of 93,135 ZAR plus 36% of the amount above 393,201 ZAR.

For further, more detailed information on the tax system, see the website of YourTax.

How to Communicate with Your Business Partners

Greetings are an important part of daily life and, of course, conversations in particular. This is also true at the workplace. Before starting to discuss any kind of business or, in fact, starting any conversation on any topic whatsoever, take the time to greet your counterparts and inquire about their personal and their family’s wellbeing.

It might seem almost needless to say, but please abstain from discussing or even mentioning any controversial topics such as the problems the nation has to endure. Also, do not discuss topics such as religion or politics in a business environment. In this regard, South Africa is no different from any other industrialized country.

While punctuality is held in high regard in South Africa, it is often somewhat hard to get everyone assembled on time. This is obviously not caused by a laid back approach to appointments, but by transportation and traffic issues. Try not to schedule back-to-back appointments, as chances are slim you are going to make more than one or two.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

If there’s something you’re still not sure about, check out the InterNations Forum.

Sandro Pedace

"With InterNations, you'll meet interesting expats wherever you go - both online and offline."

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"InterNations provided me with an "entrance" to the expat circles of Pretoria, so to speak, and helped me get to know other French expatriates. "

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