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Setup Your New Zealand Bank Account Before You Leave
Opening a bank account in New Zealand is one of the easiest things you will do as part of the migration process – some banks can set you up in just minutes!
Unlike the UK system, New Zealand banks don’t want your life history and generally you won’t even need to provide a local New Zealand address. Once you’re set up however, you’ll find everyday banking in New Zealand is quite similar to the UK. Most New Zealand banks have a UK presence and can readily assist you with setting yourself up. The advantage of opening a bank account before you arrive is the ability to easily transfer money into your new account – so there are instant funds waiting when you land. Some banks can even organise a debit card to be ready for you on arrival.
There are four ‘big banks’ in New Zealand (all Australian-owned), plus a number of smaller ones, (often you’ll find that the smaller banks are actually owned by one of the big four). Just like the UK, there are also credit unions and building societies that you can choose to bank with.
There are two main differences to be aware of when banking in New Zealand. Firstly – banks charge monthly account fees, unlike the UK where a Basic Account is free. It is advisable to ask exactly what you are getting for your monthly account fee, as it will vary from bank to bank, and is also dependent on the type of account you open. In almost all cases, you can waive this account fee by depositing certain amount or, for select providers, changing your statements to ‘online’.
The second main difference from UK banking – fees apply when withdrawing money from an ATM machine that is NOT of your own bank, credit union or building society. To avoid this fee, we recommend choosing a large bank with an equally large ATM network across New Zealand.
Compare NZ Banks
When choosing between New Zealand banks – there’s a lot to look through. Choosing the bank that suits you really comes down to your personal preference, but it never hurts to do a little research first. Fortunately for you, most Kiwi banks are pretty upfront with what they offer, and it is a well-regulated industry. We’ve pointed out a few essential pieces of knowledge below…
Snapshot of Fees and Charges:
Generally most companies offer an initial FREE analysis of your situation, with no obligation to proceed. Once you proceed past that point – they will start charging. An upfront fee may be requested for the preparation of a detailed Statement of Advice (SOA) after which you could be charged anywhere from 2-5% of the total amount transferred, plus GST (Australian Goods & Services Tax).
What To Look For:
The most vital thing to be aware of are the fees and costs associated with New Zealand Banks.
It is best to opt for a bank with a Migrant Banking service. These guys better understand the constraints a migrant has in terms of credit history and no previous experience using banking products.
If you are considering lending and going directly through your bank, first find out if they will actually lend to migrants, as it’s not always a given.
To activate your account you will be required to visit the bank’s branch in New Zealand with your ID documents (passport & address verification).
If you establish your account prior to departure, then some banks allow you to use your current address in the UK, which you then update when possible.
Helpful Info For Migrants Heading To New Zealand
The national currency is the New Zealand Dollar (NZD$). Coins have values of 10, 20 and 50 cents and $1 and $2. Notes have values of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100.
Banks are generally open from 9:30am – 4pm Monday – Friday. Some bank branches will open on a Saturday.
Automated Teller Machines (ATM) are widely available from New Zealand banks, also along main shopping streets and in malls.
There are many international banks operating in New Zealand, mainly located in the financial district of Wellington, the country’s capital city. They don’t offer an extensive branch network throughout the country.
There is no restriction on the amount of foreign currency that can be brought in or taken out of New Zealand. However, every person who carries more than NZ$10,000 in cash in or out of New Zealand is required to complete a Border Cash Report.
All goods and services are subject to a 15 percent Goods and Services Tax (GST) included in the displayed price. Visitors cannot claim this tax back, however when a supplier ships a major purchase to a visitor’s home address the GST will not be charged.