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Australian Bank Accounts & Money Matters

How to open a bank account

Bank accounts & money matters are an important consideration when planning your move Down Under. There are many different banking options and in addition to the four bigger banks listed below, there are also smaller banks that offer all the same products and services, such as Bendigo and Adelaide Bank, Bankwest, St George and Bank of Queensland. Switching banks is really easy and you can move your banking to a smaller bank when you arrive if you would like to.

It is no longer easy to open a bank account in Australia before arrival however, when you’ve arrived any one of the four larger Australian Banks (often referred to as the “Big 4” locally), which are ANZ Bank, Commonwealth Bank, National Australia Bank (NAB) and Westpac will allow you to open an account in a branch or online once you are in Australia with an Australian address.

Currently only Commonwealth Bank of Australia has an online account opening process for new migrants that allow you to open an account up to 2 weeks before you arrive Australia though there are some restrictions:

    • You can only open an account 2 weeks before you arrive in Australia.
    • Your account is opened for deposits only until you arrive in Australia.
    • You do not need an Australian address to open an account as it is opened using your current address overseas.
    • You need to provide your passport details and present the same passport when you arrive in Australia.
    • You cannot make any withdrawals or transfers out of the account until you are identified in Australia.
    • CBA usually charge you a monthly fee if you do not transfer $2,000 into the account per month.
    • The account fee is sometimes waived for the 1st year after you arrive in Australia, though can be charged after that.
    • None of the other banks allow account opening before arrival, in Australia, though most can assist you when you get here.

It is advisable to open an Australian bank account as soon as possible after you arrive.

For extensive details on the Big 4 banks’ services for migrants as well as the links to the websites where you can open your accounts online after arriving, visit the Opening Bank Accounts Section under The Moving Process part of the website.

South Africans: Keeping a South African Bank Account

South Africa’s strict regulatory environment and exchange controls make it extremely difficult for high street banks to provide a facility with the same functionality you enjoyed as a resident. Moving to Australia can present some significant challenges when it comes to your banking arrangements in South Africa.

Before you leave, discuss your move with your South African bank to see if they can assist you with non-resident facilities or consider switching to another bank that offers a specific expat focussed solution. This may mean that you change banks to ensure continuity and maximum functionality which is obviously important given the 10,000KM between you and your money.

Don’t forget that exchange controls restrict the amounts and methods of moving money out of South Africa, so it makes sense to work with a provider that can assist you with this. Currencies Direct South Africa has a facilities to provide non-resident bank accounts and can assist with funds transfers to Australia within the exchange control limitations. Visit the Currencies Direct SA for more information and assistance.

Take or transfer money to Australia?

One of the most important considerations of your move is transferring your money to Australia and how to go about this. There are Australian Customs restrictions on how much cash a traveller can bring into Australia and all amounts over AUD 10,000 must be declared to Australian customs. Purchasing physical currency generally also attracts the worst exchange rate and should be avoided where possible. By far the best option is to arrange a foreign currency transfer into an Australian bank account and preferably using a foreign exchange (FX) company rather than your bank.

For extensive information on currency transfer, an example of how it works and some FX companies that can assist you with this, please visit the Transferring Money section under The Moving Process part of the website.

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