Emigration is the act of moving away from a country, but few people understand that Physical Emigration and Financial Emigration are two entirely separate issues, or that you can do one without necessarily having to do the other.

Physical emigration is more than just packing your bags, jumping on the first flight and leaving South Africa. It’s a formal process, done through the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), to obtain citizenship in another country. The application process can be daunting for some, which results in many people not properly submitting their applications.

Financial emigration is the process of cutting financial ties with South Africa. This means that, for exchange control purposes, the South African Revenue Services (SARS) changes your residency status from resident to non-resident. Because SARS requires a tax clearance certificate before considering financial emigration, it is wise to consult a specialist who can help you with this procedure.

By doing a financial emigration, you do not alter your status as a South African citizen. You retain your passport and your citizenship until you have done a physical emigration process through the DHA.