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Is Forex Trading Legal in South Africa?

FX Scouts By Jeffrey Cammack Updated: July 11, 2019

It is legal to trade Forex in South Africa as the South African Government doesn’t have any laws governing the legality. The South African Reserve Bank control international monetary exchange overseeing outgoing cash-flow from the country(1). Trading Forex is legal as long as you abide by financial laws that prevent money laundering(2) and you declare your income tax.  While using a regulated broker is not a legal requirement, there are brokers that are regulated by our own FSCA(3) and others that are regulated by other recognized organizations around the world.

Legally Funding Forex Accounts

Funding an account is fairly straightforward in South Africa if you are using a credit card connected with a major bank.  That said, South African financial regulations can sometimes get in the way when we try and fund international accounts from South African bank accounts(1) or local lesser-known credit cards.  This is happening less and less, but we are still hearing that this problem persists. As of 2010, it became easier for South Africans to legally move more money to offshore bank accounts, making funding a Forex account easier. While there is still a limit on the amount each South African citizen can transfer overseas, an allowance of 10 million Rand is possible(3).

Discretionary Foreign Currency Allowance

Another way to get funds offshore is to apply individually for a discretionary foreign currency allowance, available up to 1 Million Rand.  On October 27, 2011, the annual R1 Million discretionary allowance law changed to include foreign investments. This, along with the initial R10 Million, must be cleared by the South African Revenue Service (SARS). To start this process, complete the MP 1423 form for the 1 million travel allowance.

Transferring over 10 Million ZAR per year

In order to get permission for the transfer of up to 10 Million ZAR per year, your bank will need to submit an application to the Financial Surveillance Department of the South African Reserve Bank for approval – contact them from here. A Tax Clearance Certificate is needed in order for this application to be complete.

If you are planning to transfer larger amounts to a brokerage, it may well be worth setting up an offshore bank account first and then funding your Forex and offshore investment accounts from there. It does mean that if you want to open additional accounts with other brokers you will not be required to repatriate the funds and then go through the process of getting clearance and transferring the funds again.

KYC – Anti-Money-Laundering

Banks and financial institutions globally have signed up to a program called KYC.  It is a law set in place to stop money laundering by anonymous actors.  When you sign up for a Forex trading account, and before you will be allowed to make a deposit, you will need to complete your KYC documentation.  It is very easy.  It requires you to submit:

  • A colour copy of a valid ID – this can be a passport, drivers license or ID Card.
  • A recent utility bill (e.g. electricity, gas, water, phone, oil, Internet and/or cable TV connection, bank account statement) issued in the past three months and confirms your home address.
 

References

  1. South African Reserve Bank – Currency and Exchanges documents
  2. University of South Africa – Aspects of money laundring in South African Law
  3. Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) – Vision and Mission
  4. South African Reserve Bank – Currency and Exchanges guidelines for individuals 2019-04-18

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Trading Forex and CFDs is not suitable for all investors and comes with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 75-90% of retail investors lose money trading these products. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.