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Complete guide to obtaining a South Africa retirement visa, the required documents, and the best places for retirees

Surround yourself with breathtaking landscapes and numerous wild animals by moving to the Republic of South Africa for your retirement. With its beautiful beaches, forests, deserts, and savannahs, the African country makes the perfect destination for nature lovers.

If you wish to retire in South Africa, you have to get a South Africa Retirement Visa before entering the country.  

Retirement Visas in South Africa

There are two available retirement options in South Africa that you can choose from:

  • Retired Person Visa
  • Independent financial person’s permit

Retired Person Visa

A Retired Person Visa is a type of temporary residence and is the most popular option among retirees. There is no age requirement to be eligible for this type of visa, and all you need to do to obtain the visa is meet the financial requirements.

Independent financial person’s permit

The financially independent visa allows you to apply for permanent residence directly, giving you the opportunity to work, study or run your own business in South Africa. This type of visa is issued to individuals who can sustain themselves without benefiting from an income within the country. You need to prove a net worth of at least R12.000.000 (approx. $785.000) and pay a once-off fee of R120,000 (approx. $7850) to the Department of Home Affairs on receipt of the Permit.

Who Is Eligible For a Retirement Visa in South Africa?

To qualify for a South African Retirement Visa, you must be able to prove that you receive a monthly passive income of R37.000 (approx. $2410) from a pension fund or an irrevocable retirement annuity or you have a net worth or a combination of assets of a minimum monthly income of the stated amount (R37.000). 

Documents Required for a South Africa Retirement Visa

You are required to submit the following documents when applying for a South Africa Retirement Visa:

  • South Africa Retirement Visa Application form. Provide the required information and sign the application form at the end before submission. 
  • Passport. Your passport must be valid at the time of the application and must have at least one blank page for a visa.
  • Two photographs. Enclose two recently taken passport-size photographs of yourself.
  • Proof you have medical insurance coverage.
  • Photocopy of a valid residence permit. (if applicable)
  • Proof of medical cover. Proof you have medical coverage within the South African territory.
  • Medical report. Provide a medical and radiology report to prove you are in good health conditions.
  • Police clearance. A police certificate from each country you have resided in for the last 12 months or longer since you were 18 years old stating that you have a clear criminal record.
  • Proof you have paid the required visa fee
  • A vaccination certificate. This is requested only if you have traveled through or plan on traveling to the yellow fever belt (areas where the virus is present in monkeys and is a potential risk to humans).

How to Apply For a South Africa Retirement Visa?

Since May 2014, applications for a South Africa Retirement Visa must be made in person at any regional office of the Department of Home Affairs or the nearest South African embassy, mission, or consulate abroad. So, to get a South African retirement visa, you are required to go through these steps:

  1. Make sure you are eligibile to apply for a retirement visa.
  2. Collect all the required documents. Before visiting the South African diplomatic missions, you must compile all the required documents for a retirement visa application. You can find the complete document checklist under the “Documents Required for a South Africa Retirement Visa” section.
  3. Submit the application. After you gather every document, you must attach them to the application form and submit it to the competent authorities. In case there is no South African diplomatic representation in your country, you can apply at any South African diplomatic representation in a neighboring country. 
  4. Wait for an answer. The foreign offices of the Department of Home Affairs are responsible for processing and finalizing the visa applications.

NOTE: If you have entered the country on a visitor’s visa, you will not be able to apply for a retirement visa. In such cases, you will be required to return to your country of residence and apply for a South African Retirement Visa because South Africa does not allow you to make applications that involve a change of status while in the country. 

How Much Does a South Africa Retirement Visa Cost?

As of April 2022, the tariff for a South Africa Retirement Visa will be R425 (approx. $28). 

What Is the Duration of a South Africa Retirement Visa

The South Africa Retirement Visa is issued for a period of up to four years with the possibility of extending it. You can extend the retirement visa within the country by applying online at the VFS center 60 days before your visa expires

Can I Bring my Dependents to South Africa with a Retirement Visa?

Yes, your spouse and children can also apply together with you and may be issued an appropriate visa. 

Can You Work in South Africa With a Retirement Visa?

Whether you are allowed to work or not depends on the type of retirement visa you apply for. For example, a Retired Person Visa does not allow you to work or gain any profit from any type of employment.

If you want to work or run your own business, you must apply for an Independent Financial Person’s Permit. 

Healthcare for Retirees in South Africa 

South Africa has a two-tiered healthcare system, with the public system being the dominant one, serving the vast majority of the population. 

The South African Constitution grants access to medical services to everyone, including expats, but medical care is not free. The public health sector categorizes different fees for every type of patient and medical situation using the Uniform Patient Fee Schedule (UPFS). 

The medical staff is trained in the public sector, but more than 70% of them work in the private sector. There are more than 400 public hospitals and more than 200 private hospitals in South Africa where residents can seek treatment. 

The annual price for the public health sector is approximately $150 per head, whereas the private sector is more expensive and costs about $1500 per head.

Although it costs more, around 20% of the population has private health insurance.

How Much Money Do You Need to Retire in South Africa?

South Africa is not as expensive as most people think. You can live comfortably for about $1000 to $1500 per month. Depending on what part of the country you accommodate, rent will be one of the things you would spend more on. The rent prices for apartments in the city center are higher and can go from $300 to $1800, whereas the average rent price for apartments outside the city center is from $300 to $1300.
The estimated monthly costs for a single person would be around $590 without rent.

Here is a presentation of the average living costs in South Africa: 

ACCOMMODATIONMonthly Cost
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre$505
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre$420
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre$940
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre$835
FOODCOSTS
Milk$1.08
Rice $1.50
Eggs$2.01
Tomato$1.48
Potato$1.21
Apples (kg)$1.60
UTILITIESMONTHLY COSTS (85m2)
Electricity, Water, Heating, Cooling, Garbage$115

Why Retire in South Africa?

Here is why South Africa makes a great retirement destination:

  • Healthcare.  South Africa offers access to both public and private healthcare. You will benefit from high-quality healthcare but will be required to pay a certain fee depending on the medical treatment you receive.
  • Tax agreement. South Africa has tax treaties with many countries to ensure that foreigners who want to retire in the country will not get double taxed on the income they receive from their home country.
  • Living costs. One of the perks of living in South Africa is the low costs of living. Besides accommodation, everything else can be relatively cheap therefore, you can spend a comfortable retirement without spending much money.
  • Multilingual community. South Africa has 11 official languages, and English is one of them. You will not find it difficult to communicate with the locals or make new friendships.
  • Climate. Enjoy your retirement under warm temperatures while taking a sunbath or swimming on one of the many beautiful beaches of South Africa. The country experiences a high degree of sunshine with rainfall about half of the global average. 

Best Places to Retire in South Africa

South Africa ranks high on quality of life, which is why is a popular place among expats. The country offers many cities and rural areas where you can reside and spend your retirement.

Here are some of the best places to spend your retirement in South Africa.

Cape Town

Choose the vibrant coastal city as your retirement place if you have an adventurous soul because you will never have a dull moment in Cape Town. Although it is more expensive than other cities, Cape Town has everything one can wish for. In Cape Town, you will find a mixture of culture, numerous restaurants, beautiful mountains, and wildlife. 

Durban

Durban is the third most populous city in South Africa. Durban is known to have some of the best surf spots in the world, therefore, life in Durban will bring you many sporting adventures. You will also enjoy the humid subtropical climate on the beautiful beaches of Durban and the food market, which is a paradise for food lovers.

Pretoria

If you are looking for a cheaper alternative place to accommodate, Pretoria might be perfect for you. The flower-filled metropolis is famous for its streets lined with jacaranda trees and the beautiful nature surrounding it.  Pretoria is a thriving city with diverse cultures and cuisine.

Port Elizabeth

The beautiful port city is one of the most affordable places to live in South Africa. The numerous pristine beaches, quiet lifestyle, and affordable living costs, make Port Elizabeth an ideal place to spend your retirement. While enjoying a boat tour, you will have the opportunity to see whales and rare seabirds, whereas outside the metropolitan area, you can see elephants, rhinos, and other wild animals.

Johannesburg

Johannesburg is the largest and wealthiest city in South Africa. It is a city filled with green spaces, and there is a strong love for sports, so if you have trouble making friends, a small sport-talk will help you out. There is so much to see and do in Johannesburg, from visiting museums and memorials to taking a trip to the lion and safari park, spending the day in one of many shopping malls, or visiting botanical gardens.

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