Working In South Africa

Whether you’re in IT, oil and gas, software development, or telecommunications, working in South Africa requires a lot of forethought. Will you be subject to any visa restrictions, and will that affect future contracts in South Africa? How will you know what you owe in taxes, and how will you pay them?

Sometimes it’s hard to find reliable answers to questions like these. Keep reading to learn more about the issues that go along with contracting in South Africa, as well as how you can address them efficiently.

Getting Started: Do You Have a Contract Lined Up in South Africa?

If you don’t already have a potential contract in South Africa, you have a couple extra steps.

First, you need to research the demand in South Africa for your skillset. This is a crucial step; without it, our help is premature and you’ll lose out on time that would be better spent looking for work.

After you’ve extensively researched your prospects, check out our guide for finding work.

If you’re already negotiating or considering a contract and want to skip to how we can help you, jump here.  

Are There Any Restrictions on South Africa Work Permits?

Once you have a potential job, it’s time to start thinking about work permits. To work in South Africa, you need a sponsored work permit

If you’re living outside South Africa, you’ll need a work permit before you can begin contracting (you can read more about South African permits here). To get a work permit, you typically need an employer to “sponsor” you, meaning they take responsibility for your presence throughout the contract period.

This can be a massive headache for contractors. It gets even stickier if you want to take on a new contract, since each one will require a new sponsor. Each new permit requires a several-step application process, and documentation like:

  • Certified copies of your passport, birth certificate, and qualifications
  • Certified copies of passports and birth certificates for any accompanying spouses or dependents
  • Marriage certificates
  • Police clearance certificates
  • Letters from previous employers
  • Medical reports
  • Radiological reports

In other words, there’s a lot to prepare. Additionally, there are fees that vary from consulate to consulate.

These obstacles are a lot simpler if you’re a full-time employee; their employers can simply sponsor their permit. However, end clients are less likely to sponsor temporary workers.

Moreover, even if the client can sponsor you, you’ll need a new sponsorship each time you take a new contract in South Africa.

How Does the Tax System in South Africa Work?

As an independent contractor, taxes can be a headache even if you’re already familiar with the tax system.

When contracting in South Africa, you face both a foreign tax system and potential tax liability in your home country. You’ll want to ensure tax compliancy (while not paying more than you have to), but that can be difficult without specialist advice.

Facing these issues on your own is a huge time commitment and can distract from the reason you’re there in the first place: your contract.

Is There a Way to Make Working in South Africa Easier?

Yes. A popular solution for contractors is to use a contractor management company (or an “Umbrella Company”).

An Umbrella Company acts as your “employer,” despite the fact that you maintain your independence as a contractor. The Umbrella Company collects and processes your payments, deducting the necessary amounts for tax or social security. They can also sponsor you for a work permit, allowing you to take on different contracts without having to seek new sponsorship each time.

Furthermore, as specialists in tax law in South Africa, they can assure that you’re keeping as much of your earnings as you legally can.

How We Help with Working in South Africa

If you’re already negotiating a contract in South Africa, an Umbrella Company is often the most effective way to eliminate the headaches of working in South Africa.

Unfortunately, there are many different Umbrella Companies in South Africa, each with their own advantages, fees, and structures. Finding the right company for you can be just another chore on an increasingly long list of things to sort.

For free, we help match contractors with Umbrella Companies. With a broad database of contractor management companies and years of experience working with local partners in South Africa, we can put you in contact with the best company for your position.

We listen to your individual circumstances and offer straightforward feedback. We will never forward your information without your permission, and we don’t charge anything, ever. Get in touch with us, let us know your details, and cut through the hassles of working in South Africa.

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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