How to transfer your South African inheritance when you’re living overseas

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Many people will get some form of monetary inheritance in the form of a trust or deceased estate at some point in their lives. Emigration is common for many families, but this adds a complication when it comes to inheritance. How can you access your funds when you no longer live in South Africa? Here’s how you can receive your funds abroad.

If you’re living overseas and need to get your inheritance out of South Africa you must consider: your status as an emigrant, limitations on how much you’re allowed to transfer and the impact of exchange control regulations.

If you’re living abroad, you’ll generally be in one of the following South African Reserve Bank (SARB) categories:

1. Non-resident

Non-resident means you are not a South African citizen and have never been one – you were born abroad and never had a South African ID. It’s considered the easiest category as you’re not subject to tax or exchange controls within South Africa. To transfer your funds, all you’ll need is a certified copy of your current ID or passport and proof of your address overseas.

2. Financially emigrated (classified as an emigrant)

If you have already financially emigrated and are classified as an emigrant, you’ll need to provide proof of emigration from South Africa. You should have received this when you initially filed your emigration with the SARB.

I don’t have proof of formal emigration

If you don’t have proof of your emigration, a request can be lodged with the SARB to retrieve these details. When the details are received, you will then able to transfer your funds abroad.

3. South African resident temporarily abroad

Many South Africans fall into this category. Although you’re living abroad, you’re still classified as a resident in South Africa and are subject to the same laws and financial regulations as people living in the country.

I have my South African ID

If you have access to your South African green barcoded or new smart card ID, you can transfer R1 million using your annual allowance, and an additional R10 million with a tax clearance certificate from the South African Revenue Service (SARS).

I don’t have my South African ID

There are many cases where a person was born in South Africa but left when they were very young. Or they may have been out the country for so many years that they didn’t think they would ever need their ID document again.

In these cases, you can go through a belated emigration process. This involves backdating your emigration with the SARB to reflect when you left South Africa. It varies in complexity depending if you have any financial assets in South Africa other than your inheritance.

Am I taxed on my inheritance?

In South Africa, there’s no tax on money received from an inheritance. You also won’t be subject to Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on your inheritance. All relevant taxes would be paid by the estate of the deceased person as estate duty, currently amounting to 20% for estates over R3.5 million. After this has been settled, there’s no longer any tax due.

If you need assistance claiming your South African inheritance, our forex team can help. Our services cover every aspect related to the transfer, such as filing a belated emigration application, checking your status with the SARB, requesting proof of emigration and getting your money where it needs to go.

Inheritance payments can often be delayed by months and even years due to bureaucracy between executors, banks and beneficiaries. We’re able to expedite your transfer and clear up any issues that may arise.

Sable International’s money transfer experts can get your inheritance or trust to you no matter where you’re living. If you’re receiving inheritance from South Africa, speak to us at [email protected] or call +27 (0) 31 536 8843.