Whether you’re buying U.S dollars or any major Forex currencies to go on holiday, to send money to family abroad, or if you’re would like to invest to leverage yourself against the ZAR, then you’ve come to the right place.
I’ve scraped the google results, and along with my personal knowledge, I’ve recorded some of the best places you can buy U.S dollars and other major Forex currencies right here in South Africa.
Since there are so many different ways you can buy U.S dollars, I’ve broken the options up into two main groups.
- “In-store methods” – The best methods to get dollars in your hands before you go on a holiday at a location where they use U.S dollars as a currency. You’ll usually need a flight ticket or proof of travel to use this method.
- “Online methods” – Generally, the best methods you can use to either send dollars abroad to family members or to buy U.S dollars online as an investment.
How Many U.S Dollars Can You Buy?
Before I get stuck into my list, you need to understand how much dollars you’re allowed to buy as a South African citizen. You options are broken up into three different categories:
- Travel allowance for South Africans under the age of 18 – Allowed to spend no more than R200,000 per year on U.S dollars. No extra documentation will be needed.
- Single Discretionary Allowance for South African residents OVER the age of 18 – Here you’re allowed to spend no more than R1 million rand on U.S dollars in a 12 month period. No extra documentation will be needed.
- Foreign investment allowance – This method allows you to invest between R1 million and R10 million rand in U.S dollars in a 12 month period. However, for this, you would need to provide extra documents. You will need to source and provide a valid SARS Tax Certificate for Foreign Investment Allowance (referred to as FIA-001).
For most people, an R1 million rand limit will be more than enough, so if you fall in that category you won’t need to provide any extra documentation.
Right, ready to see your options? Here’s 6 methods you can use both in-store and online to buy U.S dollars or any other major Forex currencies.
01. Standard Bank Shyft Global Wallet Mobile App (Online method)
This is an award-winning app created by Standard bank that can be used by anyone in South Africa whether you bank with the standard bank or not.
The Shyft global wallet app allows you to buy and store major Forex currencies which include dollars right from the comfort of your own phone.
The app is really simple to use. First, you need to download the app to your phone. Once it’s installed, registration is pretty quick and simple.
All you’ll need is a valid I.D number, and email address, and a phone number. Once that’s done, the next step is to log in to the app and go through a quick verification process by uploading the two documents mentioned below.
Now you’ll be free to top up your account and start buying dollars.
Documents you’ll need:
Once you’ve downloaded and installed the Shyft app they’ll request two documents which can be uploaded within the app.
- Proof of identity which can be either South African green I.D book or the smart I.D card.
- Proof of address that’s not older than 3 months old. For this you can use a bank statement, a utility bill, or even a tenant contract.)
Payment methods you can use to fund the Shyft mobile app:
- The only way you can top up your account with rands by using the EFT payments feature.
To get started, download the Shyft global wallet app:
- To download the Shyft mobile app for your android phone, click here.
- To download it on your iPhone, click here.
02. Inter Africa Bureau de Change (In-store method)
You’ll need a valid flight ticket before using the Bureau de Change, that said you can only use this service if you’re trying to buy dollars for an upcoming holiday.
To avoid the stress, I recommend you buy your dollars a few days before your travel date. That way if you don’t bring the right documents at-least you’ll have time to get your documents in order so you can purchase dollars at a later date.
The Bureau de Change allows you to buy Forex up to 60 days before departure, so the sooner you can buy your dollars the better.
Documents you’ll need:
- Valid passport or a South African I.D
- Proof of address that’s not older than 3 months. For this you can use a bank statement, a utility bill, or even a tenant contract.)
- Flight ticket.
Payment methods Inter Africa Bureau de Change accepts:
- Cash with a limit of R50,000
- Electronic Fund Transfers (EFT’s)
- Debit or credit card
To get started, find a store near you:
Click here to find an Inter Africa Bureau de Change store near you or to enquire online.
03. Travelex Worldwide Money (In-store method)
Travelex is another currency exchange that’s usually available at most airports. If you need to get U.S dollars before you go on holiday then this is probably the right option for you.
Once you’ve booked your flight or travel plans, you have 60 days before the date of departure to buy U.S dollars. So if you want to be on the safe side I highly advise you buy dollars at-least a few days before you leave on holiday. Just in-case you take the wrong documents.
Documents you’ll need:
- Valid passport
- Air ticket
- Proof address – You can use a utility bill, a bank statement that’s no older than 3 months, lease or rental agreement that’s less than 1 year old, fixed-line provider account that’s less than 3 months old, payslip with a physical address, and employee number.
To get started, contact Travelex or find a store near you:
04. First National Bank Global Account (Online method)
Unfortunately for this option you’ll need to have an FNB cheque account. If you do, then keep reading! If you don’t then skip over this option and head on to the next one.
What makes this a great option for FNB cheque account holders is that the Global Account connects to your online banking profile which makes buying and selling dollars extremely easy.
Once you’ve set up your Global Account, all you’ll need to do is transfer rands straight from your cheque account into your Forex account by using your online banking profile.
Documents you’ll need to transfer funds from Cheque account to Global account:
The documents you’ll need to buy USD, in this case, depends on how much money you’re trying to convert into USD.
- Amounts of R1 million or less in a single year is known as a Single Discretionary Allowance for Investment. In this case, you won’t need to provide any extra documents.
- For an amount of over R1 million or below R10 million, you’ll need to provide a valid SARS Tax Certificate for Foreign Investment Allowance (referred to as FIA-001).
To get started, register for an FNB Global Account:
If you’re an FNB account holder with a valid cheque account, then you can apply for and FNB Global account by clicking here.
If you don’t have a FNB cheque account yet then you can apply for one here.
05. EasyEquities (Investment Only Method)
EasyEqutities is an online trading platform that is situated in South Africa that allows you to buy dollars and international stocks.
The only major drawback for me with this platform is when you buy dollars, the transaction takes extremely long. Usually, when I buy U.S dollars, it takes around 7 to 10 days for the transaction to finish.
Documents you’ll need:
You’ll need standard FICA documents which includes a valid South African I.D as well as proof of address.
To get started, sign up to EasyEquities:
To sign up to EasyEquities online trading platform simply visit their website here, then follow the registration process.
Initially, all you’ll need is some basic information, however once you’re in the platform you’ll need to FICA your account by providing the documents I mentioned above.
06. Incompass Financial Solutions (Online Method)
This is a more hands-on approach that allows you to buy dollars either for investment or travel purposes. As far as I know, Incompass Financial Solutions is only situated in two locations at the moment, Johannesburg and Cape-town.
That being said you can contact via their phone line and all transactions can be done via the phone and email. You don’t need to go into one of their locations which makes it a lot easier.
Documents you’ll need:
They don’t really mention anywhere on their website which documents you’ll need, however, as with all forex exchange companies you’ll need FICA documents which generally includes a proof of address, and a valid identification document.
To get started, contact Incompass online:
Follow this link to see Incompass Financial Solution’s contact details, and to find out where they are located.
What Do You Need To Buy Foreign Currency In South Africa?
Since this is such a commonly asked question I though it would be worth dedicating an entire portion of this article to answer it propely.
To buy foreign forex currency in South Africa, you’ll need proof of identification, and proof of residence. If you’re buying foreign currency for traveling purposes, you’ll also need to provide proof of travel documents.
Keep reading to find out precisely the kind of documents you can use for each category.
Documents you can use as proof of address.
- A utility bill (Less than 3 months old)
- A bank statement (Less than 3 months old)
- A bank profile from a local bank, this document must contain the bank and date stamp.
- A lease or rental agreement (Less than 1-year-old)
- A municipal rates and taxes invoice (Less than 3 months old)
- A mortgage statement (Less than 6 months old)
- A telephone account or other fixed-line provider (Less than 3 months old)
- An official tax return (Less than 1-year-old)
- A recent life insurance policy issued by an insurance company
- Recent correspondence from a body corporate or share-block association
- A valid television license document (Less than 1-year-old)
- A recent short-term insurance document
- A retail account statement/invoice (Less than 3 months old)
- Payslip or salary advice must be the current month (Must have the clients physical address and employee number as well as employer)
- Recent motor vehicle license or documentation
- Student registration letter from a tertiary institution (Less than 3 months old)
Councillor Letter – Can only be used if the client is employed and have no other document available. It must be on the municipality’s letterhead and must contain the client’s full name, surname, ID number and residential address, the date when the letter was issued, an official stamp from the municipality, and the name and signature of the councilor who completed and certified the letter. An original salary slips less than 3 months old is needed to prove employment.
Tribal Village/Traditional Authority Letter – Can only be used if the client is employed and no other document is available. It must contain the client’s full name and surname, the name of the designated official (tribal chief or leader), what legislation, ordinance, or regulation authorizes the designated official, confirmation by the designated official that you live on the communal property under the control of the traditional authority, the date when the letter was issued, and the signature and stamp of the designated official. An original salary slips less than 3 months old is needed to prove employment.
Document you can use as proof of identification.
South African resident:
- South African passport
- Foreign Passport along with South African Bar Coded ID
- Valid Foreign Passport
- Valid permit
- Foreign Passport along with valid visitors permit.
Documents you can use as proof of travel.
- Flight ticket with an e-ticket number if you’re flying.
- Vehicle registration number if you’re travelling over land.