How can you open an Australian bank account from outside Australia?‘ is one of the more common questions asked on our forums
It makes sense that you have some Australian cash waiting for you once you arrive down under but how exactly do you go about opening an Australian Bank account when you’re not physically there.
Within this article we’ll try and provide you with some helpful hints, tips and links to enable you to do just this :)
As well as opening an Australian Bank account from the UK, a large portion of this article should also prove useful for those of you looking to move to Australia from other countries.
If you have first hand experience of opening an Australian Bank account from outside of Australia, please help us build on the usefulness of this article by posting a comment at the end of the article, detailing your own experiences.
From our own research, it appears that the folks over at Westpac appear to do a half decent job when it comes to providing easy banking facilities for new or wannabe migrants.
With this in mind we’ll base a large part of this article around opening a migrant account with Westpac.
Please keep in mind that this should not be seen as an endorsement of Westpacks services (we personally opened an account with Bankwest when we arrived in Perth and have been happy with Bankwest so far).
However as a starter for ten the Westpac account seems to tick quite a few boxes and you can always change to a different bank once you arrive down under.
How long before you get to Australia should you open a bank account?
I guess the answer to this question is really open to personal preferences. When we moved to Australia we didn’t have an Australian Bank account until we got here. We did however have UK bank cards linked to Visa which enabled us to basically utilise any ATM (displaying a Visa logo) for a nominal fee of £1.50 per transaction.
Obviously each time we used our cards we withdrew the largest amount we could to minimise the impact of this fee, and after we’d been in Australia for a couple of weeks we opened bank accounts of our own.
If you’re looking to open a bank account before moving to Australia, I’d suggest that you allow at least 4 weeks for everything to be processed for you. Although most of the process associated with opening a new account can be done over the telephone. There will still be forms which need to be signed and/or authenticated which might take a little time when being sent to you from Australia.
Do you need permanent residency to open an Australian Bank Account?
The answer to this question is no, however in reality, opening an Australian Bank account from outside of Australia can be pretty difficult. Don’t despair however, the information further down in this article will help. :D
If you get an opportunity to visit Australia before you get your visa’s then this could be a prime time to open a new bank account.
The news on the grapevine is that both ANZ and Westpac are happy to provide folks visiting Australia with banking facilities. Normally the cards are delivered directly to the branch for collection with further correspondence/cards etc being posted directly to the UK once the final paper work is completed.
Check out the links at the end of this article to see if either of these banks have branches in the location of where you’ll be visiting.
So how do I open a bank account from outside Australian?
Ok Ok, we’re getting there! :D
There are a number of banks offering Migrant Banking facilities, however one of the more popular banks for new migrants is Westpac.
The Westpac account offers online access from the UK. However you will only be able to pay monies into the account (and not withdraw) until you have been identified, either in Australia or via the acceptable referee method as further on in this article.
This is an important point as it means if you haven’t been identified you can’t get back the monies you’ve put in until you’re in Australia!
It’s probably worthwhile therefore not to put you’re life’s savings into your new Westpac account just yet!
Opening the account:
The account can be opened over the telephone. Simply phone Westpac on +61 2 9293 927 and the Westpac reps will run through the whole process with you (note this call terminates in Australia so check your call rates first!)
At the end of this process the Westpac rep will confirm your sort codes (or BSB Code as they call them here in Australia) and account number which will enable you to transfer money into the account.
They will also ask you which branch you want to collect your card/s from once in Australia
Remember, if it is a joint account, you will both need to be present to speak to the Westpac operator.
Identification is by turning up at your nominated branch once in Australia. They may also tell you that you cannot register for internet banking until you have been identified. It seems however that this is not the case with quite a few folks being able to register for internet banking before going through this identification process.
That’s it – jobs done, you now have Westpac bank accounts that you can pay money into.
When you arrive in Australia and go to the bank with your passport etc, (see Westpac site for documents required to confirm identity), you will get your cards and the account will be fully active.
After you have phoned to set the account up, they will send you a pack in the post. This will probably take 10 days or so to come through. The pack will include a form called, ‘Identification by an acceptable referee’.
This is a form that you can use if you desperately want to activate your account for withdrawals before you enter Australia.
An acceptable referee in the UK is someone that has personally known you for over 12 months, and works for a bank, and has the authority to open international accounts. Yes I know. Pretty hard to come by huh? :|
The form allows you to activate your account from the UK, allowing you to withdraw, as well as pay in money.
You can pay into your Westpac account by using the sort code, (BSB code), and account number that they gave you on the phone when you applied.
You can also check your balance by telephone or internet banking from the UK – see below.
Getting access to on-line banking:
Once you have phoned and opened an account, give it a few days and phone them again, this time on the telephone banking number – +61 1300 655 505 – ask them to register you for telephone banking.
They will ask you for one of your account numbers.
They will then give you an 8 digit customer number and a 3 digit ID number. These are what you use when you call telephone banking to check that your payments have gone it.
Then, ask them for a temporary password for on-line banking.
If it is a joint account, you will both need to speak to the advisor as you will have different customer and ID numbers, and your own temporary password. Just ask the operator if you can pass the phone over to your partner if you have a joint account.
Once you have your temporary password, you can go to Westpac online and click to ‘log-in’ to internet banking – (do not click on register for on-line banking – go straight to log-in), you will enter your 8 digit customer number and your temporary password.
The site will then ask you to choose a new password, along with a few other questions, and then voila – you have access to your Westpac account on-line.
Again, you should both do this if it is a joint account. You will both access the same account, but have your own unique log in number and password.
Once on-line, you can add all of your other on-line accounts to it, so you can see your whole financial situation at a glance from one access page.
Useful info/links (Links open in new window)
WestPac Migrant Banking: www.westpac.com.au/migrantbanking/
Westpac’s London switchboard: (020) 7621 7000
There is also an email address:
Migrant Banking, Level 2
63 St Mary Axe
London EC3A 8LE
It’s not all about Westpac though – The NAB offer Migrant banking to:
Check out there website www.nabgroup.com/migrantbanking/ for more information or
ANZ Banks website at: http://www.anz.com/
Please remember, this article will be made more useful if you have your own experiences opening an Australian Bank Account from outside of Australia.
If you have your own experiences, please post a comment.