How to open an international bank account
Opening an international bank account will vary depending on the financial institution you choose, but typically these are the steps to opening an account:
1. Research the best international bank account for your needs.
Choose an international bank account that's right for your purpose: whether you're thinking of investing overseas or you travel and spend a lot overseas.
2. Check eligibility.
Some international bank accounts require you to be over a certain age. If you're opening the account from Australia you may also need to be an Australian citizen or permanent resident.
3. Apply online.
Due to the international nature of the bank account you will typically need to submit an application online, but you may be able to visit a branch to provide proof of ID.
4. Submit the required documents.
You will need to provide proof of identification such as a driver's licence or passport.
5. Fill out personal details.
You will need to provide information such as your full name, date of birth and address.
6. Submit application and wait for approval.
You will typically be contacted within a couple of business days with the details of your new account and a card will be sent out to you.
Five reasons to open an international bank account
International bank accounts are an option for combining a lot of different benefits into one package. Do any of these sound good to you? It might mean that an international bank account is the right choice.
Domestic banking in Australia is typically done all in Australian dollars, but international accounts let you use overseas currencies more easily, often with more preferable exchange rates and fewer fees. International banking can get you more value for money if you use a lot of foreign currencies. International bank accounts can get you similar benefits to multi-currency bank accounts, with other useful differences too.
- International money transfers
If you frequently send money overseas then an international bank account might be able to get you better rates, lower fees and more benefits. Enjoy some perks of international money transfers with more ease and convenience.
- Access to foreign markets
Having a domestic bank account only might inhibit you when making foreign investments, while an international bank account may let you more easily access this part of the market. If you have a keen interest in forex trading or international share trading then it may be worth considering an international bank account.
Are you making investments overseas? Some Australians, feeling squeezed by the domestic market, are buying property overseas and enjoying the benefits. If you are interested in doing this then opening an international bank account is worth consideration.
International banks bring opportunities to enterprising account holders in the form of applied local tax laws, or “loopholes” as some might call them. If you want to manage your bank account for optimal returns then an international bank account, rather than a domestic one, provides more options.
Which banks offer international accounts?
Two of the most widely known international banks operating in Australia are HSBC and Citi, both of whom offer options to facilitate offshore banking. Compare the benefits of their international accounts to see which might be more preferable for your needs.
|Features||Citibank Plus Everyday Account||HSBC Everyday Global Account|
|Overseas ATM access||No fee at overseas Citi ATMs||No fee for overseas ATM withdrawals (may depend on ATM provider)|
|International transfer fee||Free transfers to Citi accounts in many countries||Transfer money anywhere for $8|
|Overseas shopping||No fee charged on international purchases||No fees charged on international purchases|
|Interest earnt||Earn interest with linked Citi savings accounts||Earn interest with linked HSBC savings accounts|
|Currency options||All major international currencies, and more||Buy, hold and spend in AUD, USD, GBP, EUR, HKD, CAD, JPY, NZD, SGD, CNY (currency restrictions apply to CNY)|
|Learn more||Learn more|
What are the benefits of having an international bank account?
- Tax: Take advantage of overseas tax rates, conditions and privacy laws with an offshore bank account. For example, you might open up an international bank account based in a country that has lower tax on investment income than Australia.
- Privacy: Sensitive financial information may be safer overseas, in an anonymous account, than in a standard domestic bank account.
- Multiple currencies: International bank accounts typically use more types of currency with more fluidity, saving you the fees and exchange rates you'd pay with a standard account.
- International money transfers: An international bank account typically lets you transfer money with preferable rates and at a lower cost.
- Linked accounts: Depending on your preferences, you may link other accounts to your international bank account to earn interest on them or enjoy other benefits.
- 24-hour service: Domestic Australian banks usually run on standard business hours, but international accounts need to be manageable and accessible 24 hours a day.
What are the risks of having an international bank account?
- Different laws: It is your responsibility to remain within the applicable laws when holding overseas accounts. It may be advisable to use an experienced tax accountant to help you.
- Fewer guarantees: Money held in Australian bank accounts is protected by the Australian Government Guarantee Scheme, but money held overseas does not have that protection.
- Fees and rates: There may be additional costs involved with international banking, and these can vary between providers.
Moving to Australia from Eastern Europe
Given the ongoing unrest in Ukraine and Eastern Europe, moving to Australia may be something many are considering. While the National Bank of Ukraine is encouraging Ukrainians to put their cash into bank accounts and use their cards overseas, you can also open up an account in Australia.
While many banks will require you to have a residential address in Australia, some will allow you to open a new account before you arrive.
Take a look at Finder's list of bank accounts for overseas arrivals.
Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of futures, stocks, ETFs, CFDs, options or any specific provider, service or offering. It should not be relied upon as investment advice or construed as providing recommendations of any kind. Futures, stocks, ETFs and options trading involves substantial risk of loss and therefore are not appropriate for all investors. Trading CFDs and forex on leverage comes with a higher risk of losing money rapidly. Past performance is not an indication of future results. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before making any trades. Read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) and Target Market Determination (TMD) for the product on the provider's website.