Yes. Foreigners migrating, studying or working in Australia can open a bank account.
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. Those on a tourist or visitor visa can open an Australian bank account by visiting a local branch and providing your passport.
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Australia enjoys an excellent reputation as one of the top destinations for holiday-making, but also for foreigners considering studying and/or working overseas. Foreigners in Australia constitute 28% of the general population, which includes 1.2 million from the UK.
Thanks to the sheer volume of emigrants studying and working in Australia, banks often have migrant services to help make the transition as smooth as possible.
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.
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.
Which kinds of accounts are available to foreigners?
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 little or no withdrawal and/or management fees since their accounts are quite basic. Professional people would 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.
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.
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. 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.
Sometimes called a fixed deposit, this type of account is ideal for people who want to lock away a large amount of money for a fixed period. The length of the fixed period depends on the bank, and terms can last from as little as one month to over five years. As far as the interest rate goes, it pays to shop around for a bank that offers a decent rate over the fixed term. At the end of the fixed period, you can either roll over the amount plus interest for another fixed term, withdraw just the interest or make a full withdrawal. Most of these accounts cannot be opened from overseas, you need to have arrived in Australia to open them.
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.