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Foreign exchange and banks – Advice for travellers

Foreign exchange and banks - Advice for travellers

South Africa enjoys having an efficient and liberalised economy.The financial services sector and in particular the foreign exchange market has different players such as banks, bureaux de change and automatic tellers.These registered players all contribute in the robust trading of currencies.

South Africa’s unit of currency is the rand, which is divided into 100 cents.Notes are divided into denominations such as R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200. Coins come in 5c,10c, 20c, 50c, R1, R2 and R5. All legal transactions are rounded to the nearest 5c.

It is important to note that to exchange cheques for cash at foreign exchange dealers, you must present a valid passport. In terms of exchange control regulations, it is illegal to buy or sell foreign currency to anyone except an authorised dealer.Thomas Cook and American Express travellers cheques can be cashed at all banks, bureaux de change and at some hotels.

Visitors to South Africa will be glad to know that the country’s financial systems are easy to work through. Major banks in the country have established branches as well as automated teller machines all over the cities.These ATMs are linked to all major international networks, and it is possible to draw currency from them.These institutions have been designed to accept major credit and debit cards and you are not charged any fees over and above those levied by your bank.

When it comes to credit cards, all major credit cards can be used in South Africa with American Express and Diners Club enjoying less universal acceptance than MasterCard and Visa. International travellers are quite often advised to notify their banks before travelling.These credit cards can also be sued to pay for fuel or road tolls.

Tax in South Africa is well regulated under the laws of the country.The Value Added Tax (VAT) in this country is included in the price of most goods and services and its currently set at 14%.This therefore means as you buy any product,VAT is in the price you see on the product. If you are a foreign passport holder, the law allows you to claim it back on the items you are taking out of the country if their value is more than R250. In this regard, it is important to always request a tax invoice when buying goods.

For a quick look at some of the authorised dealers with limited authority, which means they are authorised by the Treasury to deal in foreign exchange for the sole purpose of facilitating travel related transactions.These are some of them, Ace Currency Exchange, Albaraka Bank, EuroDollar Foreign Exchange, Forex World, Global Foreign Exchange, Imali Express, Inter Africa Burea de Change, Master Currency, Sikhona Forex,Tourvest Financial Services trading as American Express Foreign Exchange Services,Tower Bureau de Change and Travelex.

From the above, it’s clear to see that this sector is well organised and ready to serve your currency and financial needs as you travel across South Africa.


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