Contract in South Africa

Contracting in South Africa - FAQ

What is the monthly cost of using an Umbrella Company in South Africa? 

USD 400


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 estimated net retention in South Africa for a contractor earning USD 500 per day?


What is the estimated net retention in South Africa for a contractor earning USD 1000 per day?


*doesn’t include fee for work permit or other immigration costs

More questions? See the rest of the FAQ for more information on the South Africa work permit process

Getting Started

Taking a contract in South Africa means tackling numerous administrative headaches. Before you even begin working as an independent contractor, there are complicated payroll, tax, and immigration issues to work out.

All this complex admin comes on top of any personal matters you need to sort, as well. Even worse, it can be a huge nuisance when you’re already in South Africa, trying to adjust to a huge relocation – and a new contract!

Streamlining even a few of these obstacles can dramatically improve your experience.

Luckily, there are ways to simplify more than just a few…

Freelance South Africa Requirements


One of your first hurdles will be securing the proper work permit. To get one, you usually need an employer to sponsor you. This means they take full responsibility for you while you’re working in the country.

That’s fine for full-time employees, but what about independent contractors?

Many clients won’t offer sponsorship for a temporary worker and, even if they do, you’ll need to apply for a new permit for each new contract. This creates a mountain of paperwork each time you want to work with a new client.


Additionally, you need to figure out what you owe (if anything) in taxes for your work in South Africa.

Of course, there’s also your country of tax residency; you’re likely to owe something on that front, too.

You can take advantage of certain tax structures, but doing so requires a strong familiarity with expat tax law in South Africa.

Benefits of working through an Umbrella Company in South Africa

You can outsource a lot of these admin problems to specialists at an Umbrella Company (or contractor management company).

An Umbrella Company basically becomes your full-time “employer,” even though you stay in control of your workload, clients, and schedule. The Umbrella Company simply collects and processes your payments, filtering out social security and any necessary fees.

They can also sponsor your work permit, meaning you get to take on new clients without the aggravation of applying for a new permit each time.

Even better, most specialise in tax law for contractors in South Africa and can ensure you’re keeping the largest amount of your earnings as possible. They can even assist you with reducing your tax liability back home.

In short, you get all the benefits of a working for an employer, without sacrificing your autonomy as a contractor.

How to get started with the right Umbrella Company

There’s a lot of Umbrella Companies out there; finding the right one for you can be daunting.

We’ve done the research on Umbrella Companies in South Africa, and know how to match contractors with the perfect company. If you’ve already secured a contract, get in touch with us and let us know your situation. We can get you started with the best Umbrella Company for you, or simply offer feedback on contracting in South Africa.

Oh, and we don’t charge anything. Drop us a line and get free, honest, simple advice.

Send your details for more information

Additional FAQ - work permits & payroll

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

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

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

What documentation is required for a work permit in South Africa?

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 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.

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.

Can we organise a business visa for South Africa?


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

14 days.

How much does a business visa cost in South Africa?


Can nationals of certain countries enter South Africa without a business visa (ex. on an entry visa or visa waiver)?

Yes. The list is found here

ZAR 20,000.

How does payroll work 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.

Client comment

"Great advice and excellent service on contracting and immigration solutions in the UK. I would highly recommend Tim and the team to assist you with accurate, clear and concise contracting advice in the UK or any other country for that matter."

Prishen Pillay,Global DBA Operations Lead

Shell International Trading & Shipping