What information and documentation do you need to provide to open a new bank account? Find out here.
In today’s world of online and mobile banking, opening a bank account is easier and more convenient than ever before. But that doesn’t mean it’s as simple as just clicking “Apply” – you’ll need to provide a range of personal information and important documentation before a bank will take you on as a customer. So, what information do you need to apply for a bank account? Read on to find out.
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You’ve found the perfect savings account and you’re ready to open one to start saving – so how can you get started? Well, that depends on your bank and the type of account you open. Generally speaking, there are several ways to apply for a bank account. You can:
- Apply online. You can open an account by filling out an online application form or, if you’re already a customer with the bank, through your Internet banking account.
- Apply via mobile banking. Many banks allow you to apply for a new account by following the prompts through their mobile app.
- Apply by post. You may have the option of downloading and completing an application form, then submitting it to your bank via post (or potentially by fax or email).
- Apply in person. You can visit your nearest bank branch to apply for an account in person.
Before you apply for a bank account, you’ll need to make sure that you meet any eligibility criteria that apply. These criteria vary depending on the type of account you would like to open but can include the following:
- Age requirements. You will often need to be at least 18 years of age to open an account. However, different age limits apply to special accounts, for example you must be under 18 years only for kids accounts or over 55 for a pensioner’s account.
- Residency requirements. You will typically need to be an Australian resident to open an account, but in some cases it is possible to open an account from overseas.
- Deposit requirements. Some accounts require a minimum deposit in order to open an account, such as $500 or $1,000.
Other criteria may apply, so check the terms and conditions before beginning an application.
What information do you need to provide to open a bank account?
If you’re an existing customer with a bank, they’ll already have all your relevant personal information on file and you most likely won’t have to supply any extra details. The only exceptions to this may be if you’re opening an account for a child or perhaps setting up a business bank account, in which case some extra information may be required (see below for more details). However, if you’ve never held an account with that particular bank before, you’ll need to provide a wide range of information, including:
- Personal details. You will need to supply your gender, full name, date of birth and residential address.
- Contact details. The bank will require your phone number and email address.
- Tax File Number (TFN). While it’s not mandatory for you to supply your TFN, doing so will ensure that you don’t have to pay withholding tax on the interest earned from your savings account.
If you’re opening a joint account, you’ll need to provide the above information for all account holders.
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Depending on the type of account you open, there may also be circumstances where you need to supply some additional information. These include:
- Kids bank accounts. If opening an account for a child you will need to provide their birth certificate. You can find out more about the requirements of opening kids bank accounts in our useful guide.
- Student accounts. If you’re applying for a student bank account, you may need to provide proof of enrolment at a TAFE or university or a copy of your student concession card.
- Pensioner accounts. You may need to provide proof that you receive a government pension or that you have a Health Care Card if opening an account for pensioners.
- Overseas accounts. If you’re currently based overseas but you are about to move to Australia and need to open a bank account, you may need to provide passport and visa details, as well as your expected arrival date and city.
- Linked accounts. Some banks require you to also have a linked account when you open a high-interest savings account, so that you can transfer funds from your transaction account into your savings account. If this is the case, you’ll need to provide the BSB, account number and name of your linked account.
What ID do you need to set up a bank account?
Before agreeing to open your account, your bank will need to confirm that you are who you say you are. To do that, you’ll be required to provide proof of ID. The exact proof of ID requirements can differ slightly between banks, so it’s worth checking with your financial institution for their guidelines on acceptable forms of ID. However, you will generally have to choose one of the following options:
- One form of primary photographic ID, such as a driver’s licence, passport or proof of age card
- Two forms of primary non-photographic ID, such as a birth certificate, citizenship certificate or pension card
- One form of primary non-photographic ID (such as a birth certificate, citizenship certificate or pension card) and one form of secondary ID (such as a government financial benefits notice from the past 12 months, an ATO notice of assessment from the last 12 months, or a rates notice or utility bill issued in the last three months)
Any ID you supply when opening a bank account must be valid (i.e. make sure your passport hasn’t expired) and must exactly match the name you provide on your application. Facts to know when opening a bank account.
How can I provide photo ID?
Some Australian banks, such as Westpac and CommBank, allow you to verify your ID online. You will need to have your driver’s licence, passport, Medicare card or birth certificate handy when applying for an account online, and then follow the prompts to have your ID confirmed. However, with many banks it’s often not possible to provide the necessary proof of ID online; instead, the only way to open a new account is to provide proof of ID in person, even if your bank provides a fast online application process. The easiest way to confirm your ID is to take the necessary document(s) to your nearest bank branch. However, if there are no branches close by, you may be able to get your identity confirmed at an Australia Post Bank@Post outlet – you’ll need to take along your ID as well as a form supplied by your bank. Alternatively, your bank may require you to provide a certified copy of your ID document(s) by mail. A certified copy of a document is a copy of an original document, for example your driver’s licence, that has been authorised as a true copy of the original by a specific person. People who are eligible to certify a document include:
- Justices of the Peace
- Notaries public
- Medical practitioners
- Ministers of religion
- Police officers
- Australian consular or diplomatic officers
- Australian Defence Force officers
- Full-time teachers
Your bank will be able to provide a comprehensive list of people authorised to certify documents.
What if I’m opening a business bank account?
Application requirements are a little different if you’re applying to open a business bank account. In addition to your name, contact details and proof of ID, you may also need to supply:
- Details of how your business is structured. For example, are you a sole trader, applying on behalf of a company, or does your business have some other type of structure?
- Your Australian Business Number or Australian Company Number (ACN). Your business will need to be registered in Australia in order for you to open an account, and you’ll need to have your ABN or ACN handy when filling out an application form.
- The business/company address. Your bank will require the full address and contact details of your business or company.
- Other details. You may need to provide the personal details of any directors or shareholders who own more than 25% of the company, as well as the details of anyone else who will be a signatory on the account.
What is a Smart Access Account?
A Smart Access Account is a flexible everyday transaction account from CommBank. You can find out more about this account in our comprehensive review.
Do you have to have a business bank account if you are a sole trader?
There is no legal requirement for sole traders to open a separate business bank account. However, opening a separate account for your business can make it easier to monitor business spending and manage your tax affairs.
I’m about to move to Australia from overseas – can I open an Australian bank account before I actually arrive in Australia?
Yes, many Australian banks allow you to open an account from overseas. You can apply online and start depositing funds into your account, but you will need to visit your bank to provide proof of ID when you arrive in Australia. Find out more in this handy guide.
I’m opening a bank account for my child – are there any tax implications I should be aware of?
Yes, but the way interest income from a child’s savings account is taxed depends on who provides the money for the account and how it is spent. Find out more here.
How do I know what forms of ID my bank accepts?
You should be able to find this information at the start of your bank’s online application process. Alternatively, you can phone your bank directly for details.