NarraPulse

How To Open an Australian Bank Account as an Expat

March 17 , 2021 by: Leigh Connelly

Whether you plan to work, study, or migrate to Australia, you will be pleased to know that most banks in Australia won’t make you jump through hoops to open an account. In fact, it can be surprisingly easy to get your Australian bank account started, even if you haven’t yet stepped foot in the country, and even if you don’t have an Australian address. Here’s everything you need to know to open a bank account in Australia as a foreigner.

Choose an Australian Bank

Before you open an Australian bank account as a foreigner, a little research will tell you which one will suit your needs the best.

The larger banks tend to be more lenient than smaller ones when it comes to non-residents, mostly due to the extra risk involved. Many smaller banks also don’t have the experience or resources to accommodate foreigners. However, larger banks, like any of the Big Four, will happily take you on as a customer.

You can get started opening an Australian bank account by visiting the bank’s relevant web page. Here are the links to the Big Four banks for your convenience:

National Australia Bank (NAB) – https://www.nab.com.au/personal/travel-and-overseas-banking/open-account-from-overseas

Commonwealth Bank – https://www.commbank.com.au/moving-to-australia/banking.html

Westpac – https://www.westpac.com.au/personal-banking/bank-accounts/moving-to-australia/

ANZ – https://www.anz.co.nz/promo/moving-to-new-zealand/#mbp

What to Look For In An Australian Bank Account

How you prefer to manage your money, and the purpose of the account will factor heavily in your decision. Here are a few things to keep in mind when deciding which Australian bank to use.

Low fees – look for low or no-fee bank accounts or features that allow you to waive the fees easily.

Accessibility – There are many Australian banks with an online-only presence, but you may prefer one with physical branches in the area you plan to live.

Mutliple currency features – A bank account that lets you hold your funds in multiple currencies is convenient if you need to visit home occasionally.

International transfers – You may need to transfer money back home on occasion, so check the fees associated with this feature before signing up.

Opening a Bank Account In Australia Application Process

The process is straightforward, but you will need to make sure you select the correct residency and visa status when filling out your application. The application process between banks is similar and will ask you for:

Your arrival date in Australia – If you haven’t yet arrived, you will need to provide an arrival date. Most banks will require that you arrive anywhere from 3 to 12 months after starting your application.

Know where you will be living – If you aren’t in Australia already, you will need to provide an address for where you will be staying once you get into the country. Banks will accept an overseas address if you don’t yet have one.

Be 18 years or over – Most banks in Australia have this requirement. Westpac and Commonwealth do have account options for younger customers.

Salary and Employer Information – Some banks will ask for this information when you are applying online, but it’s mostly dependent on the type of Visa on which you are travelling.

Upload Your Documents

The bank will ask you to supply them with relevant documentation, which you can scan and upload. Here’s what you will need to upload when applying for an Australian bank account as a foreigner:

What Sort of Accounts are Available?

The type of account you open will depend on the fees you are willing to pay and your personal situation. A student will pay minimal fees because the accounts come with fewer additional services and add-ons.

Professionals may require accounts with more features, such as joint accounts, or loan and investment facilities. Here are some of the more popular account types you may consider opening with an Australian bank.

Savings Accounts – You can earn a small amount of interest on the funds you keep in your savings account. These are generally not suitable as everyday accounts as most banks will penalise them with fees and interest penalties if you make withdrawals. You will also need an Australian Tax File number and residential address.

Transaction Accounts – Also known as a cheque or current accounts. These accounts are popular options as an everyday account to pay bills and send and receive funds.

Stephen Phillips on Unsplash

Credit – You will need to have been in Australia for a few months before you can apply for a credit card. You will also need to have some financial history so the bank can review your financial habits.

Australia uses the EFTPOS (Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale) system for electronic funds transfer. It’s a convenient means of buying goods that allows you to transfer funds from any of the primary account types available: cheque, savings, and credit.

Fees for Opening an Australian Bank Account

The fees for Australian bank accounts are minimal. However, you don’t want to be caught with any surprises. It pays to know what the costs are, so you don’t unwittingly overdraw your account.

You will need to check the current rates, but at the time of writing the fees for standard everyday accounts were as follows:

Westpac – $5 per month for Everyday banking. This fee is waived for customers who deposit $2,000 per month and customers under 21. it’s also waived for 12 months for Expatriates or new to Australia customers.

NAB – National Australia Bank has no fees or minimum monthly deposit requirements for their classic banking account.

ANZ – A charge of $5 per month applies, which is waived for deposits of at least $2,000 per month.

Commonwealth Bank – $4 per month fee on their Everyday Account. The fee is waived for people under 25 or customers who deposit $2,000 or more a month.

Due to the number of different accounts available at each bank, we cannot cover all fees here. Checking the relevant terms and conditions for the type of account you are opening is highly recommended.

Will I need A Translator When Visiting the Bank in Person?

Most major Australian banks have in-house migrant services with staff who can speak a range of languages. In many cases, taking along someone who can translate may not be necessary when you finally land on Australian shores and visit your bank in person.

Advantages of Opening an Australian Bank Account

There is now an exciting range of services for foreigners to send and receive money internationally and having a local Account in Australia comes with a lot of advantages.

Starting an Australian bank account before you arrive in Australia will give you access to your funds as soon as you land. Still, you will need personal identification when taking possession of your bank card.

Transferring money between Australian and international services incurs excessive fees. Transferring between local accounts comes with much lower costs, and they are often available to students for free.

If you will be working in Australia, a local bank account makes it more straightforward for your future Australian employer to transfer your payments.

 

 

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