Starting a business in South Africa

5 things you need to know about starting a business in South Africa

1. Do you need a business visa?

Starting a business in South Africa
Starting a business in South Africa

There is a common misconception that individuals or companies that are starting a business in South Africa always require a business visa to be applied for.

  1. If you are seeking to establish a business which you own in full or part, which you intend to work in whilst living in South Africa, you will need to apply for a business visa and meet the South African business visa requirements.
  2. Where the business is being set up as part of a wider group. For example an international company that is starting a business in South Africa as a branch or subsidiary of their wider operations. In this case a business visa would not be required.
  3. Where an individual is investing into a business that is being started in South Africa but is not going to be working in the business. In this case a business visa is not required.

2. How do you go about starting a business in South Africa?

Aside from any business visa requirements, the first step in setting up a business in South Africa is to decide on a company structure. This is of particular importance for foreign owners of businesses as it carries with it tax implications and foreign exchange control implications.

3. Sending over international staff

It is very common for foreign companies starting a business in South Africa to have a requirement to relocate some of their existing staff to South Africa, especially in the set up and early stages. Staff relocated will require a work visa of some description and there are various options for securing these.

Intergate Immigration has a dedicated corporate department that advises international businesses on the most appropriate work visa routes for the employees they are relocating to South Africa.

4. Can foreign owned businesses repatriate profit abroad?

Of course there is little point setting up a business in South Africa if the profit cannot be repatriated abroad. The simple answer is yes you can but the ease of doing so is greatly effected by the structure you choice in the first place. It is paramount importance that you seek expert help at an early stage before decisions are made.

5. Setting up a business that is a service or outsourcing centre

In many cases, due to language, labour costs and time zones the businesses that Intergate assist are not income generating but an outsourced function for their international parent. The most obvious example of this being call centres but we have assisted with Marketing, IT and administrative centres to name but a few.

There is no requirement for the business (branch or subsidiary) to create profit and the setting up of the business can purely be on an ‘outsourced function’ function basis.

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