Moving to South Africa - Britannia Movers

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Moving to South Africa

With South African tourism growing year on year, it is no surprise that immigration is following suit. Every year, thousands of people move to the Rainbow Nation; a term coined by Desmond Tutu to describe the country’s melting pot of cultures.  Diversity aside, it is the enviable climate, 3,000 kilometres of beaches, breath taking landscapes, and game reserves that draw many to the expat life in South Africa.

Whilst South Africa is rich with its own traditions and cultures, its multi-cultural society means that the cities are becoming dynamic and forward-looking. The government is investing heavily in infrastructure, the economy, and education. For this reason, it is a compelling option for many who are seeking a better quality of life abroad.

Removals to South Africa

Being so different from the UK, moving to South Africa can be a nerve-racking prospect no matter how excited you are. Much of the stress of emigrating is linked with moving your belongings abroad and ensuring you have the correct visas and paperwork. However, you need not worry.

Whether you have a few pieces of furniture or an entire home’s worth of belongings, you can rest assured that Britannia International Movers will get them safely to South Africa for you. We have the expertise and the local knowledge to tailor the move to your individual needs. From our expert teams on British soil to our South African partners, from A to B your worldly possessions will be in the safest hands and you will be kept up-to-date at all times.

International Removals to South Africa

Once you have reached out to Britannia International Movers, the process will begin with one of our international removals experts visiting your property. The purpose of this visit is to understand the scale of your move and to discuss any questions you have and recognise your requirements. At this time, we will also conduct an international moving survey which will help you decide what is staying, what is being sold or recycled, and what is going into storage.

Your international removals representative will be able to discuss dates, timeframes and budgets with you, as well as any additional services you may need. They will then go away and put your bespoke South African moving plan together before forwarding to you for approval. You can then make doubly sure that your needs are being catered to.

Additional Removals Services to South Africa

Getting yourself, your family, your pets, and your belongings into South Africa can seem completely overwhelming if you go it alone. Britannia International Removals have over thirty years of experience moving people from the UK to far flung corners of the globe. Whatever country you are moving to, we know the paperwork you will need to complete and the visa you require – we will even help you fill everything out correctly. At Britannia International Movers our aim is to take as much off of your plate as possible, so you can concentrate on your new life abroad. Britannia will make sure a detailed inventory accompanies your shipment and will make you aware of any prohibited and restricted items that cannot enter South Africa.

Worried about not packing your items safely? Want your pet in South Africa with you? Want your own car overseas? Don’t worry, Britannia International Movers have it covered. Get in touch with us today or check out our additional moving services below.

Storage

At Britannia, we are able to provide national and international storage solutions that can be tailored to fit your needs.

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Groupage Shipping

Did you know you can reduce shipping costs to South Africa by sharing a container with other mover’s belongings?

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Arriving in South Africa

Whilst most flights for passengers get to South Africa in around 11 hours from the UK, your belongings will take significantly longer. However, if you gave us plenty of notice, we can schedule your belongings to arrive just after you do!

Container shipping is the safest and most affordable way of getting your belongings to South Africa. However, it can take several weeks door to door. Flying items over is much quicker but comes with a significantly less budget-friendly price tag. Customs clearance usually takes around 7 to 10 days if all the relevant documents are in check and this is something we will help you with pre-move. Once on South African soil, our partner will ensure the efficient and safe arrival of your belongings to your new home.

If you are moving to South Africa and need removal services then give Britannia Movers International a call today on 0845 600 661. One of our international removal specialists and find out how easy it is to move to South Africa. We’ll give you a full breakdown of the process and an idea of the costs of emigrating as well.

“A very sincere thank you for the outstanding service that you provided in moving our goods from the UK to South Africa. Your service was outstanding and I cannot praise you enough. You kept us fully informed every step of the way and the service was impeccable. Once again, our sincere thanks for making something very stressful less so and for the incredible service that we received.  I will definitely recommend you to others and should we move again, we not hesitate in contacting Britannia.”

South Africa Facts

Time Zone:

SAST (UTC+2), EAT (UCT+3)

Currency:South African Rand (ZAR)
Distance from UK:6,146 miles
Flight Time from UK:11 hours 30
Language:Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans, English
Capital City:Cape Town, Pretoria, Bloemfontein
Population:55.91 million
Annual Sunshine Hours:2,500
School Year Starts:January

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Emigrating to South Africa

Whether you are moving to South Africa for a job opportunity or are simply drawn to life in the country, moving to the Rainbow Nation is never a blasé decision. Whilst there are countless positives of emigrating to South Africa, it must be remembered that every country has its downsides too. However, the 2 million expats which call the country home are testament to the country’s benefits.

Moving to South Africa from the UK

Regardless of why you are moving to Australia, we know that no home is complete without your belongings. With our thirty years of international removals experience and our South African partner, we can have you and your things safely settled in no time. Our knowledge of South Africa customs and visas is extensive and there is nothing we cannot help with when you move to South Africa from the UK.

Transit Options

Your possessions can be sent by a variety of methods, largely dependent on the urgency with which they are needed. Container shipments usually take several weeks door to door and we often suggest around two to three months if a shared container, or three to five months if filled only with your belongings. However, if you need some or all of your possessions sooner, it is possible to have them transferred by air.

South Africa Imports

Immigrants, returning residents, and temporary residents are permitted one duty-free importation of used personal and household effects into South Africa. You will need to produce a full inventory and import documentation, which Britannia will happily help you complete. You must also hold a valid passport and residency visa, and in the case of temporary residency, you will need a valid work permit. You should enter the country before your shipment is cleared through customs, and clearance usually takes 7 – 10 days following presentation of the documents.

South Africa Customs Restrictions

When bringing items into South Africa, you should be aware of the prohibitions and restrictions placed upon certain items. South Africa has these rules in place to protect their country, the people living there, and its ecology.

The following items are prohibited in South Africa:

  • Ammunition and explosives
  • Pornographic material
  • Agricultural products
  • Honey
  • Meat and meat products
  • Narcotics and medicines
  • Furs, finsm and tusks of protected species

The following items require a license or import permit and may be subject to duty:

  • Firearms
  • Liquor
  • Plants, seeds, and bulbs

Pet Relocation to South Africa

Many expats in South Africa brought their pets with them and, whilst it can be more complicated for other animals, cats and dog are relatively easy to bring into the country if you complete the necessary actions and paperwork.

All pets will need to be cleared through Cape Town or Johannesburg airports, where all veterinary paperwork will be checked. Your animal is then free to continue their journey to their new home. If all the correct paperwork has been completed, your pet will not be quarantined in South Africa. Your pet will only be quarantined if you have not completed the paperwork correctly.

Britannia work in partnership with a specialist shipper of animals who will be able to assist you in getting your pets to South Africa, including all required vaccinations and documentation needed. Utilising the skills of our trusted partner will save any anguish or quarantine tim.

Most pets will require the following:

  • To be a minimum of 12 weeks of age
  • Import permit from the Department of Agriculture
  • Microchip
  • Pet passport
  • Rabies vaccination
  • Tapeworm treatment (dogs only)

Importing a Car into South Africa

If you want to take your car to South Africa, this can be arranged with Britannia. However, this is only possible if you are a returning national or have a permanent residence visa – you must have the correct permit and be ready to pay any applicable duty or tax.

Money Transfer

When relocating, you will almost certainly need to transfer money from the UK to South Africa or make international payments before your arrival. Britannia International Movers can recommend reputable foreign currency exchange services to help protect you from exchange rate fluctuations, and save you time and money on international payments.


Travelling to South Africa from the UK

Flight times from the UK TO Australia vary dependent on stopovers. The majority of direct flights take 11 to 12 hours and are usually overnight. You can fly from London Gatwick or Heathrow to Tambo International Airport (Johannesburg) or Cape Town International Airport. Airlines offering non-stop flights include British Airways, South African Airlines, Thomas Cook and Virgin Atlantic. From Tambo or Cape Town, you can hop on internal flights to Durban or Port Elizabeth.

Often, flights to South African are cheaper from airports other than Heathrow or Gatwick. However, all flights will have at least one stopover. Emirates fly to Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban with a stopover in Dubai. Air France, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, KLM and Ethiopian Airlines

South African Visas and Permits

If you are a UK citizen you can visit South Africa for up to 90 days without a visa, subject to proof that you can support yourself during that time. If you want to stay longer, or are relocating, you will need a visa.

Work Permits

Visa regulations are designed to find a balance between protecting the South African workforce, and enabling employers to recruit workers from abroad where necessary. There are several different types of work permit, two of which are available to individuals without a job offer, three of which you will need to have already secured a position.

Quota Work Permit

If you are qualified and experienced in a profession or occupation which appears on the Published Skill Shortage List, you may be granted an initial three months in which to secure a suitable position.

Exceptional Skills Permit

If you possess rare or unique skills, experience or education, you may qualify for an exceptional skills permit. Each case is judged on its individual merits and you may need to demonstrate academic references, industry authority support and/or published works to support your application.

Intra-Company Transfer Visa

If you are transferring to a South African branch of a company from a branch in another country, an intra-company transfer visa enables you to relocate for the purpose of undertaking employment for a specific period of time, solely for the specified employer.

Corporate Work Permits/Visas

These are applied for by organisations. Once they are in place, individuals who then apply under the organisation’s corporate visa are exempt from meeting many of the requirements normally associated with a work permit.

General Work Permit/Visa

If you don’t meet any of the above criteria, you can apply for a general work permit if you have a conditional offer of employment from a South African based employer. The employer will have to demonstrate that they have previously endeavoured to recruit a South African citizen or resident for the position.

Most work permits allow for partners and dependants to accompany them to South Africa, although if they wish to work they will need to apply separately for the right to do so. Residency can usually be applied for, after five years in the country, but do check the up-to-date rules for your specific circumstances.

Retired Persons Permits and Visas

Many retirees are heading to South Africa, and being greeted with open arms. Retirees can apply for a temporary residency visa, which is valid for a total of four years (renewable) or for a permanent residency visa. The processing time for permanent residency can be up to 24 months but applicants are permitted to apply for a temporary visa at the same time and convert to permanent visa at a later date.

Business Permits and Visas

Business Permits are available to individuals investing up to 2.5 million Rand, subject to meeting certain criteria. Individuals investing more than 2.5 million Rand can apply directly for permanent residence. If you are financially independent and can demonstrate a net worth of 7.5 million rand, you may apply for permanent residence without making an investment. However, a large fee is payable for the processing of such applications.

Study Permits and Visas

South Africa is a popular destination for foreign students, offering low tuition fees and a low cost of living. Study permits are available to “stand-alone” applicants, as well as to those who are accompanying their families in emigrating to South Africa.

Other visa options are available for spouses, life partners and relatives of South African residents. Rules are subject to review and can change at any time, so be sure to research your options carefully before you commit to your move.

If you are at all confused about your visa options for South Africa get in touch with us today on 0845 600 6661 or visit the South African Department of Home Affairs website.


Living in South Africa

South Africa is a colourful country that has an open and multi-cultural society, combining many ethnic groups. It also offers some of the most inspiring landscapes in the world and a plethora of wildlife. Despite the racial tensions and strong inequalities just of a few decades ago, South Africa has a competitive global economy, and is classed as a developing, middle-income country nowadays, with great potential for future growth.

Situated at the southern tip of Africa, between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, South Africa is an ethnically, culturally and linguistically diverse country that also offers amazing and varied landscapes. Eleven official languages are recognised in the constitution, including Afrikaans, English, Sotho, and Swazi, just to name a few. The country is also characterised by a high level of ethnic diversity. Almost 80% of the country is of African ancestry, from different ethnic groups, and speaking different Bantu languages, and South Africa also contains the largest European and Asian communities on the continent. While the general quality of life in South Africa is not as high as in Europe or the USA, crime is high in certain areas, and education standards can be poor in certain schools, there are fully developed areas such as Cape Town or Durban, and a good quality of life is certainly attainable.

The amazing diversity of South African culture, and wildlife, the varied scenery ranging from deserts to lush forests, and the relatively low living costs make South Africa a very attractive destination. South Africa has a huge potential for future growth, and if you are planning to settle down permanently, you can definitely have a great lifestyle, enjoying what the country has to offer.

South Africa Weather

The majority of South Africa sits inside the temperate zone, which means that annual temperatures are pleasant year-round with little in the way of extremes from hot to cold.  However, South African summers (spanning from November to March) are beautiful, with temperatures ranging between 21°C and 32°C. Low season, South Africa’s winter period, varies between 10°C and 21°C, with the parts of the country at higher altitudes hitting below freezing at night. During this period the Western Cape experiences a rainy season.

South Africa’s climate is influenced heavily by the ocean, which is not surprising considering that the country is surrounded by the coast to the east, south, and west.

Cape Town

 JanFebMarchAprilMay JuneJulyAugSepOctNovDec
Temp °C222321181613131314161820
Rainy Days65691214141412977

Port Elizabeth

 JanFebMarchAprilMay JuneJulyAugSepOctNovDec
Temp °C222221191715151516171921
Rainy Days121211108991111131213

Johannesburg

 JanFebMarchAprilMay JuneJulyAugSepOctNovDec
Temp °C212029161410111416181920
Rainy Days151312832124121517

South Africa Jobs for Expats

A large proportion of expats working in South Africa have been relocated by an employer. However, the cities have become highly developed over the years and multinational companies have created bases and headquarters in the likes of Pretoria and Johannesburg.

This is a large job market for qualified foreigners in South Africa. Much of this is due to a native brain drain; many graduate and professional South Africans heading abroad to work. However, this is very positive for expats as there are openings in many lucrative roles and positions. Many expats who have found employment in South Africa have seen a significant career boost due to the immense opportunities available.

Finding a Job in South Africa

Traditionally in South Africa, many find jobs through networking and recommendations. Alternatively, there are a number of job websites, with the most popular being:

Those seeking work can also find classifieds in local newspapers online, such as Mail & Guardian South Africa (https://mg.co.za/), or The Times South Africa (https://www.timeslive.co.za/).

South Africa Education

Education is compulsory for children aged seven to 15 in South Africa. However, there are nurseries, infant schools, colleges and universities for both South African nationals and expats children should they want to be part of all three tiers of the education system.

Standards in public schools vary throughout South Africa as each province is responsible for how they spend their budget- education isn’t always a priority for those in charge. Generally speaking, those who attend public schools receive a low standard of teaching. However, the public schools in the wealthier areas of larger cities have much better reputations and many expat children attend these to make South African friends and learn about the culture first-hand.

Despite these excellent public schools, the vast majority of expat parents choose private or international schools for their children. Fees for international school are higher but both institutions offer internationally-recognised exams and fantastic levels of teaching and facilities.

Interestingly, children who attended private or international schools in South Africa have excellent acceptance rates into further education worldwide.


Cost of Living in South Africa

Taking private education costs out of the equations, many expats are surprised at how affordable food and other essential items are in South Africa. However, petrol and electricity can be more on the expensive side. Generally speaking, many expats find their salaries stretch further in South Africa.

South African Currency

The South African Rand is the country’s official currency and is often shown as ZAR or R. Each rand is subdivided into 100 cents. Currently there are five rand notes in circulation; R10, R10, R50, R100, and R200. Coins include R1, R2, R5 and 5c, 10c, 20c, and 50c.

Opening a Bank Account in South Africa

If you are over 18 and have your passport and proof of address to hand, opening a bank account in South Africa is relatively easy. The only stumbling block expats may face is obtaining a credit card without having a South African credit record.

Cost of Everyday Items

Check out some of the items you are likely to purchase regularly whilst living in South Africa below. Prices are shown in South African Rand and converted to UK pounds so you can see how prices match up.

ItemPrice ZARPrice Converted to £
Milk (1 litre)13.640.74
Loaf of white bread12.600.69
Eggs (12)23.131.26
Bananas (1kg)16.760.91
Chicken breasts (1kg)65.053.55
Bottle of wine553
Pair of quality jeans689.7737.65
Ladies chain store dress461.7625.20
Nike Trainers1,079.9658.94
Cinema tickets (2)703.82
International Primary School (1 year)63,296.853,454.70

The Cost of Healthcare in South Africa

The vast majority of expats in South Africa invest to private healthcare to benefit from higher standards and better staff-to-patient ratios. However, routine costs are relatively affordable, even for those without cover. However, expenses can rise quickly if you need to visit Accident and Emergency or see a specialist.

Private care providers may ask for payment up front, so it’s a good idea to take out private health insurance in South Africa.

Renting a Home in South Africa

South Africa has a vast array of rental accommodation, from flats in apartment complexes to modern townhouses and Victorian cottages with beautiful gardens. The rental process in South Africa is relatively straight forward and expats have the option of utilising an estate agent or researching in newspapers and online.

For expats going via an estate agent, a great idea is to visit one in an area you desire to live, and inform them of your budget and the type of property you are looking for. They can then keep their eyes out for you and schedule viewings of potential properties. Once an expat settles upon a property, they fill out a lease application and wait for it to be processed.

Expats will likely be expected to prove their monthly income is enough to afford the rent and a deposit of one or two months’ rent will usually secure the property. Typical lease lengths are one or two years, although it may be possible to rent for a shorter time.

Buying a Property in South Africa

Many expats, especially those who plan on living in South Africa for the foreseeable future, end up buying a property in South Africa. There are no restrictions on non-residents owning property in South Africa, there are only restrictions on the amount of financing non-residents can apply for. Expats can only borrow 50% of a property’s value. Expats on a work visa in South Africa are considered to be residents and, therefore, do not face this restriction.


South African Culture

A land of diversity, South Africa is known as the Rainbow Nation. South Africa’s colonial past is the reason for the large number of Afrikaans (descendants of Dutch settlers) and English speakers. A large number of French, German and Portuguese descendants also reside in South Africa, their ancestors having arrived in the 1600s. There are also large amounts of Indian and Indonesian descendants due to slavery during British rule.

Supplementary to South Africa’s melting pot of nationalities, the tribal cultures of native South Africans also have a huge part to play in everyday life. The different tribes all have rich traditions, from arts and literature to food and dress.

Languages of South Africa

There are eleven official languages in South Africa: Afrikaans, English, Zulu, Xhosa, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana and Venda. 98% of South Africans speak one of the official languages as their mother tongue.

The most common language, spoken by 23% of the population is Zulu. This is followed by Xhosa (16%) and Afrikaans (14%). English is the fourth most common language but is understood by most in the more urban areas and is often used in business, government, and the media.

South African Food

Whilst the majority of dishes in South Africa are influenced by the indigenous population, there are obvious Dutch, French, Malaysia, and Indian flavours enhancing many dishes. What stands out with the majority of South African cuisine is created using the freshest ingredients and seasonal produce.

The best foods for those wanting to delve into South African cuisine:

  • Biltong – dried meat that originated in South Africa
  • Sosaties – marinated meaty kebabs that are cooked over the open flame
  • Bobotie – a Cape Malay version of Shepherd’s Pie
  • Boerewors – seasoned farmer’s sausages
  • Potjiekos – an Afrikaans stew cooked in a three-legged cast-iron pot
  • Melktert – milk tart
  • Koeksisters – a syrupy-rich braided pastry
  • Samosas – a triangular Indian pastry filled with meat or vegetables

Public Holidays South Africa

There are 12 national public holidays per year in Australia:

  • New Year’s Day – 1st January
  • Human Rights Day – 21st March
  • Good Friday – changes annually (usually March/April)
  • Easter Monday – changes annually (usually March/April)
  • Freedom Day – 27th April
  • Workers Day – 1st May
  • Youth Day – 16th June
  • National Women’s Day – 9th August
  • Heritage Day – 24th September
  • Day of Reconciliation – 16th December
  • Christmas Day – 25th December
  • Day of Good Will – Friday 26th December

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