Tax Consulting South Africa and Xpatweb, South Africa’s largest tax and international mobility practice respectively, returned this week from the Netherlands after hosting tax and immigration planning sessions with recently emigrated South Africans.
The sessions reaffirmed that the Netherlands has emerged as one of the new frontrunners as a destination for emigration of join professionals and their families. The career opportunities, secure lifestyle and value placed on South African professionals appears the main attractions for this becoming a most favoured destination.
Netherlands: home away from home
Director of Xpatweb, Marisa Jacobs, said skilled South African professionals are in high demand in the Netherlands.
“Not only is the Netherlands attractive in terms of their work / life balance, but the Dutch government offers enticing tax incentives for highly skilled migrants, especially in the financial, engineering and information technology (“IT”) fields”, Jacobs added.
Xpatweb also met with the Deputy Ambassador of the South African High Embassy at the World Trade Centre in The Hague.
Marisa added that, “we always make it our aim to meet with the South African Embassy during these trips to nurture and build essential relationships which ensure a smooth process for business and investment into South Africa”.
“What was interesting to learn is that the Deputy Ambassador confirmed that there are 35 000 South Africans currently in the Netherlands, of which 20 000 are working and the balance are spouses and children”, Jacobs concludes.
These numbers show that Netherlands has truly become “home away from home” for South Africans moving abroad.
Why the Netherlands?
Covid-19 and its far-reaching effects have not deterred the economic growth of the Netherlands. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), economic growth rose to 4.8% for 2021. With the economy growing at such an exponential rate during a pandemic, the Netherlands has now been facing a different type of dilemma, job vacancies are now outnumbering the number of unemployed people. This means that there are roughly 123 vacancies to 100 unemployed people according to the CBS.
It is not just the growing pool of vacancies that’s attractive for South Africans. The Dutch work / life balance is another contributing factor to why the Netherlands is seen as an emerging hub for skilled migrants. The Dutch put a lot of emphasis on “family / leisure time” and working hours are fewer than in most European countries. Most Dutch professionals work on average 35 hours per week where a few of those days can be used for remote working.
The Netherlands also has fantastic “soft landing” programmes for expats, with efficient government agencies such as the international Expat Centre that offer on the ground assistance to expatriates who have just moved into their country. The assistance entails a detailed smooth onboarding of individuals and businesses into the Netherlands, ranging from customs, arrival, orientation and housing tour, and real estate to the most practical matters of registering in the Netherlands for social security, health insurance, banking and even as to finding relevant child carers/education.
The importance of a roadmap
Although the soft-landing programme provides a great entry into the Netherlands, that is only one piece of the puzzle.
Dr Dylan Price, Head of Client Engagement at Tax Consulting South Africa, added that “we found that many South Africans, in the haste of moving abroad, did not take into consideration pertinent financial, tax and healthcare issues related to their emigration”.
Good planning will include reviewing your South African medical aid, life policies and insurance, looking at your assets and retirement annuities, banking strategies to move funds offshore, and closing off your tax affairs with SARS.
Where this is not planned optimally, you can land yourself in a precarious position both financially and with the local authorities.
“These items will form part of a client’s roadmap when planning their exit from South Africa. It is important to work with a provider that has relevant experts in-house that can pull this all together for you – and avoid being sent from pillar to post seeking advice”, concludes Dr Price.
Any professionals in the finance, IT, taxation, engineering or someone with a high degree of qualification and experience are welcome to contact Dr Price, who indicated that we have been requested to hold a focussed webinar for South Africans who want to find out more about the Netherlands opportunity.