Banking in Australia and New Zealand

When sending money to or from Australia or New Zealand, you’ll need an Australian or New Zealand bank account in order to receive and send funds, and to make transactions whilst in either country. It will also make paying bills easier as you will be able to set up Direct Debits.

The banking systems in both Australia and New Zealand are highly sophisticated, with most major banks offering a large network of branches and ATMs that can be accessed nationwide or online. However, charges and tariffs can vary widely depending on which bank you choose.

Australian banks

Notably, Commonwealth Bank of Australia are one of the bigger banks down under – they have a widespread ATM network and have a UK-based office that can introduce you to a Premier Relationship manager in the UK and to a financial planner once you arrive in Australia.

New Zealand banks

New Zealand’s major banks are ANZ Bank New Zealand, ASB, Bank of New Zealand, Kiwibank and Westpac. But again, there may be another group that is more suited to your individual banking needs.

Selecting a bank

There are a number of considerations to bear in mind when deciding which bank is best for you and so do your research and select a bank that suits your needs.

Consider some of the following points to help you choose the right bank:

  • Check to see if the bank offers free banking or charges a monthly or annual fee
  • See if there are any withdrawal restrictions
  • Will you be free to make withdrawals and deposits from any cashpoint?
  • Are all ATMs and EFTPOS facilities accessible?
  • How much interest does the account offer?
  • What telephone and internet banking services are available?

When searching for a bank account, always aim to compile a checklist of what is important to you.

  • Consider the main features – will you be charged for transactions or withdrawals? What interest rates are available? Is there a minimum opening balance?
  • What services are available? – From internet to telephone banking, what features are available? What’s required to set up a Direct Debit? Is there an overdraft facility?
  • Protect your cash – what fraud preventions are available?

Have a look at various banks – visit different branches in person and search online – and check out the special products available.

Applying for a bank account in Australia

You can apply for most Australian bank accounts on the condition that you:

  • Are due to enter Australia to migrate, study or work
  • Plan to arrive in Australia within the next 12 months
  • You have been in Australia for less than 6 weeks

Before applying you should read the bank’s Privacy Information, Terms and Conditions, Interest Rates and Fees and Charges for your choice of account.

To apply you will need: 

  • Your passport number and expiry date
  • Your e-mail address
  • To know your planned arrival date and city

Applying for a bank account in New Zealand

Just like a new Australian bank account, overseas nationals moving to New Zealand are generally advised to open a NZ bank account before you arrive in the country; a relatively straightforward process. You can even set up a bank account up to a year before you arrive.

An application can be made online, via telephone or by post. But this will need to be done at least 10 days before you arrive in New Zealand.

However, even once your account has been opened and you have transferred funds into it through a currency transfer company, you are unlikely to be given full access to your account from overseas. This means that will almost certainly not be able to make withdrawals until you arrive in New Zealand and your identification verification is complete.

The benefits of setting up an account before you arrive in New Zealand:

  • You won’t have to worry about finding sufficient identification, which can be difficult after you landed in New Zealand
  • If you are planning to work in New Zealand and already have a job line up before moving to the country, you can get paid in the first pay cycle of your new job by giving your employer a NZ account number in advance
  • You will have money ready and waiting for you when you arrive by transferring money into your account through your FX specialist before you leave (See section Currency exchange to Australia and New Zealand for more details)
  • Avoid paying unnecessary fees and charges by using your NZ account from day one.
  • Start building your savings and credit history from day one

For security reasons, most banks will not send cheque books and ATM/debit cards to overseas addresses. If you don’t yet have an address in New Zealand to send them to, they will need to be collected from the branch.


Currency exchange to Australia and New Zealand


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