Getting your PayPal on – here’s how to link a PayPal account to an SA bank account

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So here’s a fun bit of information – using PayPal in South Africa is a little more complicated than you might think. In order to conform to South African exchange control regulations, you’re not actually permitted to use PayPal funds sent to you to pay other PayPal users or make purchases. In fact, you’ve got to withdraw your PayPal funds to a South African bank account within 30 days of receipt. And there’s only one way and one bank you can use to accomplish this little task.

The bank in question is FNB, because of course it is, but you don’t actually have to bank with them in order to withdraw funds from a PayPal account. You do need to sign up for an FNB Withdraw Service account, which’ll let you link a PayPal account to a South African bank account. It could be an FNB account (and you can bet that First National Bank will badger you about switching just as soon as they have all your lovely, lovely info) but it could also be any other SA bank – you’ll just be using FNB’s platform to get the job done.

Banking on it working

According to PayPal and FNB, there are a few steps needed to getting a functional (and regulator-compliant) PayPal account working in South Africa. First up [Step One] you need to head over to PayPal to create and verify your account (if you haven’t already). From there, you need to pop over to the FNB website [Step Two] to register for the FNB Withdraw Service. Part of this involves making an FNB Online Banking profile (which is free). Complete this and then [Step Three] you’ve got to send FNB your FICA documents. Next [Step Four] is to wait till FNB gives you the all clear on your documentation. Of course, if you’re already banking with FNB then you don’t need to do any of this. Because you’ve already done it.

The final step [Step Five, or Step One if you’re an FNB customer] is to log in to your FNB Online Banking account, select PayPal Services and then choose Link PayPal Account. From there, you can link your PayPal to your bank account (yes, even if you bank with Standard, NedBank or ABSA, for some mad reason).

There are a couple of terms and conditions to go with it, and your transactions to your SA bank account might take up to six days to go through so keep that in mind. You will also be charged to transfer funds from PayPal into SA (as if having PayPal take a bite of every transaction wasn’t enough). The charge varies based on transaction so just bear it in mind. If you run into issues, you can contact FNB’s PayPal call centre on 087 572 9725, or email them on paypalenquiries@fnb.co.za.

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26 Comments

  1. Thank you for this succinct instruction list, Brett! So good of you to condense this complicated process down onto one easy-to-read-and-follow page. There is just one snag in getting the first step done for Nedbank users though, and that is that PayPal ask for a 9-digit routing number in order to register one’s account but Nedbank only uses a SWIFT code that is 8 letters long and I have been told by them that they do not use any other kind of digital recognition code for international transactions and so you’re pretty much dead-ended from the get-go. I cant speak for any of the other banks’ processes yet.

    • Hi Bronwyn

      Did you ever resolve this issue as I’m with FNB and have the exact same problem.
      As you’ve mentioned, South Africa use Swift code and not routing numbers

    • If i understood Brett’s instructions right you are not supposed to add your account to paypal at all. You must follow the instructions he gave at the top of this page and you are good to go! Therefore you will basically have an account with FNB witch is not really an account but just a platform that you use to receive your paypal money from over seas to an SA account (FNB) and from there to your account. Hope this helps.

  2. I’m with ABSA, also a much shorter code. I simply added enough zero’s at the start of the number to take it up to 9 characters. It looks like it’s worked.

  3. Good day,I have a problem these was some money transfer in to my PayPal account which I can’t see it since last week.they just said my balance is 00:00 so I’m cnfused

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  6. Seriously, I have tried 11 times this year alone to try link my fnb account to my paypal. Every instructional youtube tells me certain steps but when I log onto fnb’s website a whole lot of those necessary tabs do NOT exist. I have gone into branches and they only have intranet so loging onto their website to help me link my fnb account to my paypal can’t be done at all! I have phoned them no help. The calls either get put down on me or just simply cut off. They outright lie and say that they have a 24hr call centre service and yet have only specific operating hours, how the hell is that a 24hr call centre service?! They want me to verify my account details no link exists but you can verify banking letters. How the hell does that help? I go to FNB’s Forex page the paypal services link is nowhere to be found. So please tell me exactly how in the hell am I supposed to do this step seeing as this the paypal services link does just NOT exist. I’m at my wits end, I literally want to shoot myself! We all know finding work here in South Africa is next to impossible. I want to do online English teaching but they will only pay me via paypal. How exactly do I access that money if I can’t link my FNB account to paypal? Someone explain that to me. I am desperate for work and willing to do anything. I can earn a good income doing online teaching via other countries but can’t access my money. How the hell does that work?! I’m sorry but I’m frustrated beyond belief. Honestly FNB is literally the worst bank in South Africa. Someone please kill me now!

  7. Think the routing numbers are just USA banks. Like it’s says add USA ACC…
    Go to tab next to it then add your card details and ur bank card will b linked

  8. Frustrating. FNB (PayPal) offered me l0ittle help, correction no help with my isses withdrawing money.

    I called and emailed the PayPal help Center numerous occassions to be told their offices were closed due to Covid!!!h

    Finall I went into our local FNB branch, not a customer in site, and interupted a tea and coffee break.
    I was informed that they could not help me to follow the instructions on their own webpage to link my Nedbank account to a FNB profile.
    No, it would not help to open a FNB account either. I’d thought this may help with not having to do interbank transfers.

    So, as I just kept going in circles with South Africa’s PayPal ‘connection’ and got not much further with the USA,
    I’m guessing PayPal is laughing at their good fortune ?

    This has been months now and as much as I need the money, can anyone tell me if there is any purpose but to throw in the towl?

    And incase you are wondering, PayPal would not reimburse the sender either!!

    Why on earth is this option even being offered when Zoom is out there.

    Any advise please?

  9. Hi Brett,

    Thank you for the article.

    Do you (or one of the friendly stuff.co.za readers) know if a South African citizen can specify a US (United States of America) bank account to which PayPal funds can be withdrawn? OR are South Africans forced by PayPal to withdraw to a South African bank account only?

    I would be very appreciative for your response.

    Thank you.

    • Brett Venter – I am under debt review with FNB. I have a bank account with another bank. I tried to open a PayPal account – to receive money being sent to me as a gift by a relative and FNB would not allow me to open a PayPal account in order to receive this money (because I am under debt review) and I now need to open a PayPal account in order to receive money for doing work which I would like to do online – which will be done to assist my making payments towards my debt review – It seems incredibly unfair that FNB would NOT allow me to open a Pay Pal account which can be used to improve my financial situation.

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