Living and working in South Africa - Expatriate and relocation guide to Cap Town, Le Cap, Guide for expatriates moving, living and working in South Africa, Cap Town, Le Cap, City Guide, international Movers, aparthotel, relocation, concierge services to Cap Town, Le Cap, Real Estate, with property search, relocation information, and shopping and services directories, Relocation in South Africa - The on-line magazine giving information to expatriates since 1996

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South Africa Welcome
The Guide for Living and Working in South Africa

A guide, with information, advice and useful addresses.
Expatriate and relocation guide to Le Cap, Pretoria, Cape Town, ...
A guide with information and recommendations to help you prepare your trip

South Africa Welcome

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Political Status Geographical situation
Economy & statistics


Other sectors
Weights, measures and voltages
Main towns


Working in South Africa
Entry formalities:
Health & medicine


Connections with France
Time differences
Car rental
Hotels & restaurants
Your suitcase
Your car
Schools & schooling
Cost of Living
in Johannesburg :

Go to South Africa

15 - Working in SA

It is advisable to take English lessons or brush up your level.

With a local company :
If you are employed by a local company your employer may take charge of the residence formalities and deal with the arrangements for your social cover.

With an international company :
If you are employed by a French or international company you will not have to worry about the formalities, usually the administrative services deal with all the formalities concerning expatriate staff, unless you should be the only representative of your company in the country (commercial representative or in charge of a liaising office ...). In this case you will have to deal with the formalities yourself.

Some administrative papers you will need to take with you:
- copy of your passport
- medical certificate
- police record
- birth certificate

Looking for a job in South Africa:
You could start looking for information by sending letters to French associations in South Africa, to Trade Commissions and to commercial services in French banks which have branches in South Africa.

The French Consulate has a service dealing with jobs and training and can introduce you to local companies wishing to acquire French personnel.

(See also the page in the Practical Guide for the Expatriate).

The French Chamber of Commerce can give you information about the job market and the most dynamic sectors of the local economy. They also publish a bulletin which is reserved for French companies and local members. You could put a job ad in this bulletin.

The Trade Commission in Johannesburg or the CFCE in Paris can give you a list of French companies set up in South Africa. The South African Embassy has also plenty of documentation about their country.

While you are looking for information you can contact companies directly by sending an application and proposing your services.

Where to look for job offers?
In the French press (Le Monde, Le France Soir, Figaro, Moniteur du Batiment, Expat Magazine..) for French companies sending people overseas.
In the local press (The Star, a daily paper, 200,000 copies, Johannesburg, The Sunday Times, a weekly,
500,000 copies, Johannesburg.)

The job market and unemployment :
There is a very high level of unemployment, nearly 40%, but most of these are unqualified workers.
There are a lot of openings in the market for specialists, but salaries are not very high.
South Africa has no social security system corresponding to the French one. You have to take out a good covering insurance to be able to get reimbursed for any medical expenses.
Working hours are similar to those in Europe - they tend to start a bit earlier and finish earlier. A working day is usually 8 hours.

Recruiting sectors :
Developing sectors are building, engineering, medical and social, teaching, water and environment, tourism and leisure activities and telecommunications.

Some advice :
Don' t forget before leaving France to get an copies of your diplomas which will be recognized and accepted in South Africa.
Your CV must be very clearly set out, highly detailled and accompanied by a handwritten covering letter.
All these documents must be written in English.
Whatever post you are applying for, be well dressed for the interview. Interviewers pay a lot of attention to your appearance.

Be careful not to seem to be pretentious about your knowledge and don't exaggerate your professional competence. The South African system of recruitment is based on the British one and their professional competence and their methods are well tried and tested.
Don't forget that the local market has a high rate of unemployment, be careful not to throw away an opportunity once you have already got as far as getting an interview.
Stress your real competence, your ease of adaption, your mobility, your ability to work in a team and your desire to bring in your experience.

In spite of the high rate of unemployment and an economy which is not doing very well there are quite a few possibilities for expatriation due to investment and foreign capital, private initiatives and big international projects. Big French groups are more and more present on the market, in tendering, partnerships and setting up companies e.g. Danone, Bouygues, ETPM, Lafarge, Degrémont, etc.
You will have a better chance of finding a job before you go as it's not easy to find one locally.
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Paris can help and advise you if you are thinking of starting up a company in South Africa.

Collaboration between foreigners and South Africans can take various forms :
-joint ventures (a foreign company must open a subsidiary in the country to form an association)
-for industrial production it is possible to sell a manufacturing licence to a partner already installed in the country
-it is also possible to simply set yourself up as an external company. In this case you have to register the company and deposit a copy of its statutes with the authorities

Investing in the country :
There are several good reasons to invest in South Africa :
-it is a democracy with a stable government
-the free trade between SA and the rest of southern Africa (SADC)
-the market needs, particularly due to droughts
-its natural resources and its strategic position
-the possibilities and opportunities that exist in SA
Since 1994 more than 70% of South Africa's industrial products are exported to Europe without any customs duties.
Most of the French enterprises have invested in the province around Johannesburg.

What kind of sectors offer opportunities :
- the manufacturing sector : plastics, paper, leather, wood, equipment, spare parts ...
- agriculture, energy, tourism
There are numerous fiscal advantages which can help you to offset your installation costs.

Since 1984 the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Paris has been working with its homologue in Johannesburg. The Joint Management Developement Programme has trained 360 executives since 1985 with the aid of 3 South African partners : the Urban Foundation, NAFCOC (the Federation of Black Chambers of Commerce) and the Black Management Forum.

French Presence in South Africa :
There are about 7,500 French people in SA, 5500 of whom are registered with the Embassy (about 4,000 in Johannesburg and 500 in Cape Town).
French companies only started to arrive in any numbers on the SA market as from 1994. It is hoped that from SA commercial contacts can be taken with over 33 other countries.

The short term risk for investors in the country is low and in the medium term SA is considered to be a good risk country.

16 - Formalities

Visa :
Citizens from over 80 countries don't need a visa to go to South Africa. French people are exempted from the necessity if you are going merely as a tourist. A valid passport is sufficient - it must be valid for at least six months after the date of return.
If on the other hand you wish to work or invest in the country you need to get a form from the Embassy and apply for a visa with the following items :
- a valid passport
- 2 identity photos
- a medical certificate
- a copy of your police record
- your work contract mentioning your function, the length of the contract, the salary and conditions, an attestation showing you are covered for repatriation
- a return airticket
- an address of residence
- a residents permit
- a stamped addressed registered envelope to return your passport to you

17 - Health

Vaccinations :
You must have your international vaccination certificate booklet with you and be vaccinated against Yellow Fever. No other vaccination is obligatory, but you should have had your regular shots against polio and tetanos.
If you are intending to stay for long it is a good idea to get a rabies shot. Some areas are high risk malaria zones, particularly near the Mozambique border.

Medicine :
Hospitals and clinics are of an extremely high standard and the personnel are well qualified.
Take precautions against AIDS. From 1,500 to 1,700 people are contaminated each day in South Africa! The rate of infection is 13%, by the year 2010 6 million South Africans will be sero-positive.
President Thabo Mbeki proclaimed that the VIH virus is not at the origin of the disease and in the rural areas they believe that traditional medicine can cure AIDS and that the main causes of the disease are poverty, malnutrition and unemployment!

Health precautions :
Zones infected with malaria are the Mpumalanga, the Northern Province and the north of Kwazulu-Natal.
You can get an anti-malaria treatment in South Africa, but most treatments have to be started a few weeks before your departure - see with your doctor or health centre and specify your destination (not all mosquitoes react to the same treatments).
Avoid perfume and perfumed toiletries which attract the little beasts (except citronella which they hate), wear long sleeves, pygamas to sleep in and sleep under a net.

Bilharzia is a disease caused by a parasite which lives in lakes and rivers in the southern hemisphere. Don't swim in water which is said to be infected.

Protect yourself against the sun :
An efficient cream and sunglasses, keep your shoulders and head covered if you are spending long periods out of doors.

Drinking water :
Tap water in the towns is purified and presents no risk.

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