How to retire to South Africa

Today we’re going to tell you how to retire to South Africa. It’s not just for people over the age of 65.

You can ‘retire’ to South Africa at any age, which makes South Africa’s retirement visa a popular option for those from the Northern Hemisphere who seeks the sun during the European winter.

Your options to retire to South Africa

You have two options should you wish to retire to South Africa:

  • Retired visa or permit: The visa grants temporary residency while the permit grants permanent residency.
  • Financially independent permit: This permit grants immediate permanent residency.

Which option is the best for you?

You can use the below to help you decide which visa or permit would be best for your needs:

1. Do you simply want to spend summers in South Africa?

If this is your goal, the retired visa could serve you well. It’s a much better alternative than having to apply for visitor visas time and again.

2. Do you want to visit often but don’t want to continuously have to renew a visa?

Visa renewals, whether it’s a visitor visa or temporary residency, are time consuming tasks. That’s why we recommend applying for permanent residency if the plan is to visit South Africa. It’s valid indefinitely.

All you have to do to retain your permanent resident status, is visit South Africa at least once every three years.

Unfortunately permanent residency applications can take up to two years to finalise, which means you’ll have to start with an application for a retired visa. Once you have your visa though, you can immediately apply for a retired permit.

3. Do you want to have the option of operating a business, working or studying while in South Africa?

The retirement visa only allows you to reside in South Africa – you’re not allowed to work, study or start a business.

In order to conduct any of these activities, you’ll have to consider applying for permanent residency. This means an application for either a retired permit or a financially independent permit.

Once you have permanent residency, you are free to study, take up a job or start a business, just like every other South African.

Your alternative is exploring other South African visa options which would allow you to work, study or start a business.

4. You want to retire in South Africa, but can’t prove the life-long income

When you can’t prove a life-long income, as required by the Immigration Act, you should consider the financially independent permit. This permit only asks for proof of a certain sum in net wealth.

More about this in the next section.

Qualifying for retirement to South Africa

Each of the available visas and permits have certain requirements applicants must meet. These requirements are set to ensure that only people of good standing receive South African residency.

Additionally, the criteria for the retired visa and permit category is in place to ensure that the applicant can support themselves financially while in South Africa.

You can speak to one of our consultants about the complete set of criteria for each visa, but herewith the main requirement for each visa or permit:

  • Retired visa: You’ll need to be able to demonstrate either R37,000 per month in guaranteed income, a capital sum equal to R444,000 per annum, or a combination of both.
  • Retired permit: You must be able to prove a life-long income of R37,000 per month.
  • Financially independent permit: You are required to have a net worth of at least R12 million and you must pay a once-off fee of R120,000 to the Department of Home Affairs if your application is approved. Just like with the retired permit, you’ll have to visit South Africa once at least every 3 years to retain your permanent resident status.

The processing times for applications

The Department of Home Affairs take between 8 and 12 weeks to process temporary residency applications.

Permanent residency applications, on the other hand, takes much longer. Applicants wait on average between 12 and 24 months for outcomes at the moment.

Want to know if you qualify for retirement to South Africa?

If you’d like to have your eligibility assessed for any of the visas or permits discussed, submit your details here.

As soon as we have you enquiry, one of consultants will contact you do an assessment. Following the assessment, the consultant you’ve chatted to will advise you on the best way forward and explain how we can help with your application.

Our immigration assessment is not only non-obligatory but also done free of charge.

More questions first?

Of course, if you’d like more information on how to retire to South Africa, you are more than welcome to call us on either +27 (0) 21 424 2460 or +27 (0) 11 234 4275. Also feel free to pop into our Cape Town or Johannesburg office. Our doors are always open.

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