How to open a bank account in Australia for foreigners
If you're migrating, studying or working in Australia, it's easy to open a bank account. It's even possible to open an Australian bank account when you live in another country.
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Opening an Australian bank account is fairly simple if you’re migrating, studying or working in Australia. If you live in another country and don’t intend to migrate to Australia, you can still open an account, but you’ll need to speak to a local bank that has international ties with a bank in Australia. If you're on a tourist or visitor visa, you can open an account simply by visiting a local branch.
How to open a bank account in Australia
1. Decide on the type of account you need
- Transaction account. This option is an everyday account you can use to pay bills, send and receive money, and manage your daily expenses.
- Savings account. A savings account pays you interest on the money in your account: the more you have, the more interest you earn. Because these accounts earn interest on which tax is payable, they generally require you to have an Australian Tax File Number and residential address.
2. Research account options
If you want to open an Australian bank account as a non-resident, you can start by researching different options online, such as by comparing the features and benefits in the table further down on this page. Here are a few of the main things to consider as a foreigner choosing a bank account:
- Low fees. Look for an account that charges low or no account keeping fees.
- Branch access. If you'll be making regular in-branch transactions (such as depositing foreign cash or cheques), make sure you select a bank with branches in your local area. Some banks are online only with no branches.
- International transfers. If it's likely that you'll need to send money back home from time to time, check what the fees are for transferring money internationally as well as the exchange rates.
- Multiple currencies. Some bank accounts let you hold several foreign currencies in the one account, which could be handy if you're going back home regularly and need the local currency there.
3. Open your account, online or in person
You can open an Australian bank account online before arriving in the country, on the phone or in person. If you do it online, when you arrive in Australia, you'll need to visit a branch with valid forms of identity verification that add up to 100 points of ID. This includes your passport, overseas credit card/student ID and letter addressed to yourself proving Australian residence. If you do it in the branch, remember to bring those documents with you.
It's important to note that until you have verified your ID, you'll be able to make deposits into your account, but you can't withdraw the money.
Do Australian banks have migrant services?
The major Australian banks including ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, NAB, Westpac, Citi and HSBC have migrant banking facilities, which streamline the process and make it possible to open a bank account online up to 12 months before you arrive in Australia.
This means they have staff who can speak a range of languages, and their documents are often available in different languages as well.
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What are the benefits to foreigners when opening a bank account in Australia?
While many services are now at foreigners' disposal to send and receive money internationally, there are some advantages to having a local account.
- Immediate access to your money. If you transfer money to your Australian bank account before you leave, you'll be able to withdraw from your account as soon as you land in Australia. You'll be asked to present positive identification when collecting your bank card.
- Lower fees when using domestic services. Moving or withdrawing money between international and Australian accounts incurs high fees, whereas you'd pay low transaction fees when using a local account. These kinds of fees are usually waived for students.
- Professional advantage. When you open an account before leaving, you can provide your future employer with your banking details ahead of time, saving yourself time on administration.
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