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A Comprehensive Guide to Opening an Australian Bank Account (Even For Non-Residents Online)

Byron Mühlberg, writer at Monito.com
Jarrod Suda

Reviewer

Sep 14, 2023
Affiliate disclosure

Opening a bank account in Australia as a non-resident is a relatively straightforward process. Unlike opening bank accounts as a non-resident in the UK, the US, or Canada, Australian banks have straightforward, online application forms you can use to create an account from outside the country.

Australian banks operate under the assumption that you will start residing in Australia shortly after opening the account — if you don’t intend to move there, your options are more limited. Take a look at our in-depth guide to explore your options for opening an Australian bank account from abroad if you plan to reside there in the next 12 months:

recommendation icon

In short, here's our recommendation for opening a bank account in Australia:

  1. Without proof of residence: Wise Account, which comes with Australian bank details and a Visa debit card to spend in 50+ currencies, including AUD. Spend and get paid like a local.
  2. With proof of residence: Both Hay and Up are excellent choices for residents. Up is fully licensed and can issue you credit products. Hay has an impressive no-fee schedule, especially for travellers.

Key Facts About Banking in Australia

🏦 No. of Banks

±95

👨‍⚖️ Regulatory Bodies

APRA, ASIC, RBA & AUSTRAC

🏆 Best Account for Residents

Hay or Up

💸 Best Money Transfer to Australia

It varies. Compare now.

💻 Best Account for Non-Residents
💷 Average Running Costs

A$5 /month

Overview of Opening a Bank Account in Australia From Overseas

Michael Marais on Unsplash

Unlike many other countries, Australia's banking system allows foreigners to sign up for bank accounts abroad. Non-residents must simply find the bank of their choice, navigate to their account opening web portal, and begin the application process.

Banks will generally set limits on your basic account until you move to Australia and become an official visa holder or permanent resident. Upon verification of your residency and identity, you can enjoy your bank account services in full.

If you intend to open an Australian bank account, it's helpful to know what the advantages are:

  • You can deposit money from outside the country and have it available as soon as you arrive in Australia,
  • You'll be charged lower fees for accessing domestic banking services in Australia than if you bank internationally,
  • You can easily provide your bank information to employers so they can pay your earnings directly into your account,
  • You can also provide your banking details to utility companies, rental agencies and others to make it easier to manage your bills.

Types of Bank Accounts in Australia

Most banks in Australia offer everyday transaction accounts (checking or current accounts) and savings accounts. We recommend starting with an everyday account and then opening a savings account when you arrive. Many banks will also offer credit card accounts, but these can be difficult to open from outside the country as you won't have a credit history.

Australian everyday transaction accounts provide services like:

  • online banking,
  • bill payment,
  • other payments,
  • account transfers,
  • direct entry and direct debits,
  • recurring payments,
  • debit cards,
  • ATM withdrawals.

What Documents Do I Need To Open an Australian Bank Account as a Foreigner?

Although the types of documents and information you need to open an Australian bank account will vary between banks, you will be asked to provide one of the following:

  • your passport,
  • your home country driver's license,
  • your national identity card.

Secondary items that you may need to support your application:

  • proof of address in Australia,
  • recent utility bill,
  • current tenancy or lease agreement,
  • registration from the Australian Taxation Office,
  • Australian marriage certificate,
  • Australian higher education ID card.

Option 1: Traditional Australian Banks

The good news about the Australian banking system is that it is pretty open to allowing foreigners to open accounts online. Before entering the country, you may choose an Australian bank and sign up for an account online or over the phone.

Upon arrival, you will need to go to your local branch to confirm your identity. Until this happens, you may not have access to the bank's complete financial services. Several prominent Australian banks will allow you to open an account as a non-resident:

  • The Commonwealth Bank of Australia, also known as CBA or CommBank, is the country's largest bank and has the most branches, with over 1,000.
  • The Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ), commonly called ANZ, serves over six million customers from over 800 branches and over 2,500 ATMs.
  • National Australia Bank (NAB) is another large financial services provider with hundreds of branches.
  • Westpac rounds out the "Big Four" banks in the country and serves millions of customers from its 800 branches.

Let's explore how to open an account from overseas with each of these banks.

Photoholgic on Unsplash

Opening a CommBank Account From Outside Australia

You can open an account with CommBank up to three months before you arrive in Australia. When you visit a CommBank branch after arriving, they will fully activate your account, and you can use all the regular account services.

  • You can open an account online or contact CommBank's international team
  • CommBank requires that you are aged 14 years or older, that you have arrived in Australia in the last three months or will arrive in the next three months and that you are opening the account in your name
  • You will need to complete a short application form, visit a branch when you arrive in Australia and provide your tax information and passport

Here's some additional information from CommBank:

  • "You should complete the application form with your Australian details if you know them ahead of your move. For example, if you know your new Australian address, apply using that. If not, use your overseas address."
  • "Once you have completed the application form, you can immediately transfer money into your account. However, you will need an ID check in the branch to take money out of the account and have full access to NetBank and the CommBank app."
  • "If any of your documents are in a foreign language, you'll need to get them translated into English by a professional translator accredited by the National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) or an equivalent accreditation."

Opening an ANZ Account From Outside Australia

ANZ allows you to open an account online from outside the country, which takes around five minutes. Once you've opened your account, you can use limited services until you visit an ANZ branch and have your account fully activated.

  • You can apply for an ANZ account online,
  • There are two types of accounts available: ANZ Access Advantage (an everyday account) and Online Saver (a savings account),
  • You will need your tax information,
  • ANZ will email you within two days and provide account details,
  • You can transfer funds into your account before you arrive,
  • ANZ will call you to set up internet banking,
  • When you activate your account by visiting a branch, you will get a debit card and full access to account services.

Opening a NAB Account From Outside Australia

NAB makes it easy for migrants to get a new bank account. You can open your account up to twelve months before you arrive, and you'll need to be at least 18 years old.

  • You can apply for a NAB account online,
  • You can get a NAB Classic Banking account for everyday transactions and a NAB iSaver account for savings,
  • You will need your passport number, email address and travel documentation / Visa information,
  • You will need to know the date of arrival and the city you'll arrive in,
  • Opening a bank account with NAB takes up to three business days,
  • Once you've opened your account, you can deposit funds and view your balance through NAB Internet Banking,
  • When you arrive in Australia, visit a NAB branch to activate your account and get a debit card.

Opening a Westpac Account From Outside Australia

Although the information on opening an account with Westpac is more limited than the other banks, they still allow people outside Australia to set up an account.

  • You can apply for a Westpac account online,
  • You can get a Westpac account up to 12 months before you arrive in Australia,
  • Once opened, you can deposit money into your account,
  • You can withdraw funds once you've completed an identity check in Australia.

Option 2: Digital Banks

Digital or online banks are fintech companies offering all or most banking services. The main difference is that they don't operate out of branches. By saving costs from delivering banking services online instead of physical branches, digital banks are generally free to open and charge zero monthly maintenance fees. They often offer a more limited range of services than traditional banks but at a fraction of the price.

Let's take a look at some of the major digital bank offerings available to Australian residents:

Revolut

Perhaps the world's best-known online bank, Revolut is available in Australia. It's not yet licensed as a bank there, so your account will not have an Australian account number. You can use it to send money to friends, spend without international transaction fees, and invest in stocks and other securities. Opening a current account doesn't require proof of residence in Australia.

  • Account Name: Standard
  • Account Type: Current (Lithuanian bank details).
  • Total Cost: A$0 per month.
  • Noteworthy Features: Multi-currency balances, 0% foreign transaction fee.
  • Proof of Address: Australia (or the UK, EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland).
  • More Info: See our full Revolut review.

Up

Up is a licensed digital bank in Australia whose mission is to help young people gain control over their finances. The account is accessible from their mobile app, which comes with automated savings features, budgeting, and bill payments. They also offer a home loan service and provide advice on how to save up for a mortgage.

Up Australia Mobile App

  • Account Name: Up Everyday
  • Account Type: Current (Australian bank details).
  • Total Cost: A$0 per month.
  • Noteworthy Features: 0% foreign transaction fee, budget tracking.
  • Proof of Residency: Australia.

Hay

Hay is a fully-mobile bank account that offers several perks to everyday spenders and frequent travellers. In addition to zero monthly fees, transfer fees, ATM fees, and set-up fees, Hay and its Visa debit card charge absolutely no exchange rate margin when you spend abroad. Also, receive 1% cashback on everyday purchases worth $10 or less.

Hay Visa Debit Premium Card Australia

  • Account Name: Standard
  • Account Type: Current (Australian bank details).
  • Total Cost: A$0 per month.
  • Noteworthy Features: Multi-currency balances. No exchange rate margin from either Hay or Visa.
  • Proof of Residency: Australia.

Option 3: Wise

The bank accounts we’ve mentioned above require you to move to Australia to get full access to your account. If you’d like an Australian account without moving there, you have another option — the Wise Account.

How To Open an Australian Bank Account Without Living There

The main advantage of the Wise Multi-Currency Account is that it gives you unique and personal local bank details in several countries including Australia, but also the US, UK, Eurozone, New Zealand, Canada, Singapore, and 4 others. This means you can use a Wise Multi-Currency Account to be paid like a local in various countries and currencies without the usual fees.

Once you get paid in AUD in your multi-currency account, you can either use Wise's powerful money transfer services to send money to your principal bank account wherever in the world or start spending your AUD balance with Wise's Multi-Currency debit card in your currency with only small foreign exchange fees.

Product Features

Regardless of whether you have a virtual or physical card, once you're signed up for Wise, you'll be able to take advantage of the following unique features:

  • local bank details in the EU, the USA, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Romania, Canada, and Hungary,
  • hold, exchange, and top-up up to 56 currencies,
  • a multi-currency Visa debit card that's handy for paying in foreign currencies without hidden fees,
  • access to Wise's powerful international money transfer service right from your account balance.

How To Send Money to Australia

Foto di LeutherCommerce da Pixabay

Sending money using your domestic high-street bank to an Australian account will be one of the most expensive options. Banks typically have high fixed fees and offer exchange rates worse than you can get elsewhere.

Instead, we recommend using a specialist currency exchange provider. You’ll almost always pay lower fees, and you’ll get more competitive exchange rates. 

Fees and Weak Rates With High Street Banks

For example, if you’re sending a transfer from Citibank in the U.S. to Australia, you can expect to pay a wire transfer fee of $25 to $35. You’ll also pay more in hidden exchange rate fees:

  • For example, the market interbank rate for converting USD 500 to AUD means you’d get AUD 724,
  • Citibank offers a weaker rate that would get you AUD 711, not taking into account their wire transfer fee,
  • The Citibank exchange rate is around two percent worse,
  • With an AUD 35 transfer fee, you’d only get AUD 662, which means you’d pay about $50 in fees.

Citibank fees and exchange rates are similar to what other banks charge. Fortunately, you’ve got plenty of alternative options for sending money overseas to an Australian bank account.

How to Send Money Cheaply to Your Australian Bank Account From Overseas

We provide a simple, easy-to-use comparison tool to find low-cost providers and great exchange rates.

For example, the total amount you could deposit in AUD if you’re sending USD 500 would be as follows with various providers, including fees and exchange rates:

  • Wise: $718 AUD, $56 more than Citibank,
  • WorldRemit: $713 AUD, $51 more than Citibank,
  • PayPal: $695 AUD, $37 more than Citibank,
  • Xoom: $677 AUD, $15 more than Citibank .

Make your money go further when sending money to Australia:

FAQ About Australian Bank Accounts For Non-Residents

Banking Guides for Non-Residents, Expats & Travelers

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