Companies Sending Staff to South Africa

At the bottom of this page we have detailed information about our solution for South Africa, including management fees, work permit fees & processing times, payroll, taxation, and social security levels.

If you’re looking to send staff to South Africa for an overseas project, it can be difficult to find clear information on an unfamiliar jurisdiction, much less efficient solutions. You’re facing complicated issues, in addition to a host of problems you may not have even considered yet. To compound these difficulties, you’re likely under sizable time and budget constraints.

Contractor Taxation offers a comprehensive solution to these concerns, helping companies extend into new markets and rapidly deploy expatriate resources. Read more about the kinds of goals your company could be achieving, instead of using time and resources to research South Africa’s intricate tax and immigration information.

Taxation in South Africa

One of a company’s biggest concerns will be guaranteeing total compliance with any and all tax requirements. In order to safeguard both itself and the end client, a company needs to consider:

  • Personal income tax for their employees in South Africa
  • Social security costs
  • Payroll tax in South Africa
  • VAT/Sales tax in South Africa
  • Withholding tax in South Africa (if you’re in the U.S., learn more about withholding tax here)
  • Permanent establishment

Work Permits for employees in South Africa

Another major concern will be your ability to secure the appropriate Work Permit for your employee.

Employees need to be sponsored for a permit. To sponsor an employee yourself, you will need to be incorporated locally and be licensed to sponsor foreign workers. If you’re not already at that stage, organising a permit is an impossibility until you complete the (often lengthy) process of local incorporation and licensing. Depending on your project’s time frame, you might need employees on site quickly, making a Work Permit even more problematic.  

The end client may or may not be willing to sponsor a temporary worker, but this raises complicated payroll and employment issues. Sponsors often need to pay the sponsored employee, adding another layer of complication to the already-complex process of taking on a project in South Africa.

You might be able to explore alternate visas for your employee, or even use one visa and transfer to a Work Permit in order to expedite secondment. However, missteps can cost even more time (and money). If an employee is working on the wrong visa, you could be opening the end client to serious legal and financial risks.  

What is a management company and how can it help send your staff to South Africa?

Essentially, a management company operates like an outsourced employer. They sponsor your staff on local Work Permits (where required), employ your staff and payroll them locally. They deduct all local taxes and social security from the assignees’ pay at source, and then pay these to the local tax authorities. In short, they reduce your administrative burden, while mitigating the business risks of employee secondment.

Taxation: As specialists in local tax law, they ensure that an employee 1) is compliant with all regulations, and 2) keeps the largest possible portion of his or her earnings. This reduces your administrative work, along with any risk of tax violation in South Africa.

Immigration: Management companies can sponsor Work Permits for staff, eliminating one of the largest barriers of project work in South Africa.

If you urgently need staff on site, a management company can also help organise a Business Visa for the employee. They can then help the employee transition to a Work Permit, assuring that your employees start work faster while maintaining compliance with South Africa’s immigration regulations. 

Your company’s role: Although a management company involves a fee, you typically save money and time by reducing your administration, as well as potential liability. Why not get a quote and compare the total cost of employment?

South Africa payroll services

Firstly, do you have a local company in South Africa? If so, is it appropriately registered to run a payroll, or to deduct and file taxes? Does it have the right administrative staff and is it capable of staying up-to-date with local tax requirements? Is it able to sponsor international hires for Work Permits?

Without a suitable local company already in South Africa, you need to consider a few different options.

Setting up payroll in South Africa

You can incorporate locally, get registered, and hire staff to handle payroll in South Africa. This option depends on your circumstances; will your project justify the cost of incorporating locally? Will you be able to incorporate within the time limits of the project? Is it even possible to set up a company yourselves with local ownership requirements? Will this company be able to sponsor international hires on local Work Permits?

If you believe this is the correct route for your company, you likely need to consult a local accounting advisory firm. Time and budget permitting, you can also consult an international tax specialist like PWC or KPMG. Some of our partners offer assistance to foreign companies incorporating locally; check with us if you are interested.

Even if you decide that establishing a local payroll in South Africa is the right option for you, you should still consider using a local payroll provider.

Using a local payroll provider

The time frame of your project may not justify local incorporation. In that case, a payroll provider is a more efficient solution. Even if you plan on incorporating in South Africa, you can reduce security risks by using a payroll provider while you get set up. This solution is simple and only requires a monthly, commitment-free operational cost.

Payroll providers versus management companies

Outsourcing payroll can mitigate the risks and liabilities of sending employees to South Africa, but it’s prudent to consider using a management company rather than just a payroll provider. A management company specialises in all of the same payroll tasks, plus a multitude of other services.

Most notably, they are able to sponsor Work Permits for your staff. This means a management company can reduce immigration-related liability, in addition to their specialist tax and payroll solutions.

Getting started with a management company in South Africa

Co-employment eliminates your legal responsibility and dramatically lessens your administrative load. This frees your company to devote its resources to higher value business objectives, and helps maintain consistency across borders. However, different management companies offer different expertise, making it important to find the right company for your project.

Let us know your goals and we can give you easy, concise information on sending your staff to South Africa.  Our advice is free and doesn’t obligate you in any way.

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Work Permits in South Africa: Frequently Asked Questions



Yes it is possible as long as they have a confirmed contract offer and it is within the IT/Telco/Finance/Engineering fields.

Can a management company sponsor Work Permits for foreigners in South Africa? 


How long does it take to get a Work Permit in South Africa?

Process takes around 45 to 50 days dependent somewhat on how quick the visa is processed in the South African Consulate of the candidate's home country.

What is the work permit process in South Africa?

The company sponsoring the visa needs to run a SAQA Evaluation (Salary Benchmarking, Advertisement) for 14 days. Once this time has elapsed it takes a further 30 days for the visa to be processed. The candidate has to be out of the country for this period of time.

What documentation is required for a South Africa work permit?

Certified original document of the passport, medical certificate, radiology report, police clearance certificate, marriage certificate, certified original copies of all qualifications, CV, registration with professional body (if required), yellow fever certificate (if required).

What is the cost of a Work Permit in South Africa?

R15,360 (currently $1,770 USD) all inclusive.

Can you transfer from a Business Visa to a Work Permit in South Africa?

No – The Consultant will need to leave SA to apply for a work permit in
their country of residence – that process will take max 30 working days
(and additional 2 weeks for the process of certain documents – as set by
the SOUTH AFRICAN Government.

ZAR 20,000.


Business Visas in South Africa: Frequently Asked Questions



Can we organise business visas for South Africa?


How long does it take to process a business visa in South Africa?

14 days.

What is the cost of a Business Visa in South Africa?


Can nationals of certain countries enter South Africa without a Business Visa (for example, on an entry visa or visa waiver)?

Yes. The list is found here.


Management Companies in South Africa: Frequently Asked Questions



What is the monthly cost of using a management company in South Africa?

USD 400. 

What is the estimated net retention for an assignee in South Africa earning USD 200,000 per year?


What is the estimated net retention for an assignee in South Africa earning USD 100,000 per year?



Payroll in South Africa: Frequently Asked Questions



How does payroll work for employers of foreign nationals in South Africa?

Much the same as it does globally. Your employer (the company sponsoring your visa) pays the candidate on a monthly basis, social security and tax is taken at source and paid to the South African tax authorities. Candidates are able to offset their taxable income with relevant business expenses. The World Bank estimates it takes employers in South Africa 50 man days per year to ensure compliance with payroll / labour taxes.

What is the monthly cost to outsource payroll in South Africa?

$250 USD per month.