How to open a bank account in Australia for foreigners

Whether you're migrating, studying or working in Australia, it's pretty easy to open a bank account. Living in another country? Just speak to a local bank that has international ties with Australia.

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Opening a bank account in Australia bank is pretty 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’ll need to speak to a local bank who 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 do I open a bank account in Australia?

You can open an account online before arriving in Australia, on the phone or in person at the branch once you arrive. If you do decide to visit a branch, remember to bring valid forms of ID with you. This includes your passport, overseas credit card/student ID and letter addressed to yourself proving Australian residence. For more information, please see our 100 points ID article.

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HSBC Everyday Global Account
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If you live in a country that is part of HSBC's global network, visit a local branch to open this account prior to your arrival in Australia. Hold up to 10 currencies at a time and instantly transfer funds from one to the other at HSBC's competitive foreign exchange rates.
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Do Australian banks have migrant services?

Most major Australian banks have migrant services with staff who can speak a range of languages. This makes it a lot easier to open a bank account and avoid miscommunications.

These banks include (but are not limited to): Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, NAB, ANZ, Citibank and HSBC.

Moving to Australia? See our comprehensive guide here.

Which kinds of accounts are available to foreigners and expats arriving in Australia?

The type of account depends on your personal situation, your reasons for being in Australia and how much you’re willing to pay for additional services and add-ons. Students pay limited management fees since their accounts are quite basic. Professional people may require more elaborate account types, like those that allow for joint accounts and access to loan and investment facilities. Here are a few of the account types available to foreigners.

Transaction accounts

Also known as a current or cheque account, this option is an everyday account from which to pay bills, send and receive money, and manage your daily expenses.

Savings account

A savings account pays you interest on the money in the your account: the more you have in this account, the more interest you earn. Since these funds are not intended for everyday use, account holders are usually penalised with loss of interest when withdrawing from this account. Keep in mind, a lot of these accounts cannot be opened from overseas since they require you to have an Australian Tax File number and residential address. However, since you can open some transaction accounts from overseas, you should consider comparing these rates when choosing the right transaction account for your needs.

What are the benefits to opening a bank account in Australia?

While a myriad 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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What should foreigners and expats look for in a bank account?

The type of bank account you choose will depend on how you like to manage your money and what you'll be using the account for. Here's a few of the main things to consider when choosing an account:

  • Low fees. Make sure the account charges low or no account keeping fees.
  • Branch access. If you will be making in-branch transactions (such as depositing foreign cash or cheques), make sure you select a bank with lots of branches in your local area. Some banks are online only with no branches.
  • International transfers. It's likely that you'll need to send money back home from time to time, so check what the fees are for transferring money internationally as well as the exchange rates.
  • Hold multiple currencies. Some bank accounts let you hold several foreign currencies in the one account. This could be really handy if you're going back home regularly and need the local currency there.

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50 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    azzaAugust 9, 2019

    Hi,

    How many bank accounts I can keep open at the same time?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniAugust 10, 2019Staff

      Hi Azza,

      Thank you for getting in touch with Finder.

      You can open as many as you can.

      I hope this helps.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

    Default Gravatar
    ElzanneFebruary 27, 2019

    As a South African citizen, I would like to open a bank account in Australia, but I will not be living or working there.
    I just want ato save place to put myit money.
    Is that possible?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JohnFebruary 28, 2019Staff

      Hi Elzanne,

      Thank you for reaching out to Finder.

      Opening a bank account with an Australian bank is a simple process given that you’re migrating, studying or working. If you reside in another country and don’t intend to migrate to Australia, you’ll need to speak to a local bank who has international ties with a bank in Australia for you to be able to open an account. Hope this helps!

      Cheers,
      Reggie

    Default Gravatar
    BerniceAugust 1, 2018

    I entered Australia with an EB188 visa when I opened a saving account. I left Australia 4 months later and left the money in my bank account. I need to know how long can I keep the money there while I am abroad.

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniAugust 9, 2018Staff

      Hi Bernice,

      Thank you for getting in touch with Finder.

      It is best to contact your bank and check if you still have a balance. Some Australian banks charge an “inactivity fee” if no transaction is made within a month/a certain period – depending on the type of the account. If you still have the balance and your bank states that you are not charged an “inactivity fee”, your money can stay in your bank within 7 years. Your bank account becomes unclaimed after 7 years if the account is inactive (no deposits or withdrawals).

      Check out our guide about finding an unclaimed money for more details.

      I would also suggest that you contact your bank and close your bank account with or without a balance. This is simply because some banks may charge inactivity fees for not using your account. Others may continue to charge monthly fees on the account, which could put you in debt.

      I hope this helps.

      Have a great day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

    Default Gravatar
    agnesJune 6, 2018

    I am a non-resident of Australia thinking of opening a bank account in Perth, Australia.

    Is that allowed?

      Default Gravatar
      NikkiJune 6, 2018

      Hi Agnes,

      Thanks for getting in touch!

      You can open an account online before arriving in Australia, on the phone or in person at the branch once you arrive.

      If you do decide to visit a branch, remember to bring valid forms of ID with you. This includes your passport, overseas credit card/student ID and letter addressed to yourself proving Australian residence. For more information, please see our 100 points ID article.

      Here are the types of accounts you are eligible for:

      Transaction accounts
      Also known as a current or cheque account, this option is an everyday account from which to pay bills, send and receive money, and manage your daily expenses.

      Savings account
      This account pays you interest on the amount you have in your account: the more you have in this account, the more interest you earn. Since these funds are not intended for everyday use, account holders are usually penalised with high fees or loss of interest when withdrawing from this account.

      When you’re ready, simply choose the bank on this page above and click the GO TO SITE to get started.

      Hope this helps.

      Regards,
      Nikki

    Default Gravatar
    RochelleMarch 29, 2018

    Can you open a bank account in Australia if you have committed and been convicted of armed robbery (of a bank or otherwise)? This question is for Australian citizens/residents as well as foreigners.

      Default Gravatar
      NikkiMarch 29, 2018

      Hi Rochelle,

      Thanks for your message and for contacting finder.

      In general, having a negative standing (i.e. a criminal record), a person may lose all sense of personal identity and credibility.

      However, not all hope is lost as each case is determined accordingly. So you may direct your concern to the proper authorities on how to go about it.

      Please note that we’re a product comparison website and we hold no affiliation with any company we feature on our site. We provide general information on products to assist you in your buying decision process hence we cannot recommend product / service that is rightfully fit for you.

      Hope this helps!

      Best regards,

      Nikki

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