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How To Open a Bank Account Online in Australia Without Proof of Residency

Byron Mühlberg, writer at Monito.com
Jan 20, 2020

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’re going to 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 find out more:

In this guide, we'll explore below the options to open an Australian bank account from abroad if you plan to reside there in the next 12 months. But first, here's a clever solution if you need Australian banking details now, but are unable to open an Australian bank account for some reasons:

How To Open an Australian Bank Account Without Living There

All of 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 Multi-Currency Account.

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 and Poland. 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.

Open an account now or read our in-depth Wise Multi-Currency Account review

The Benefits of Opening a Bank Account in Australia From Overseas

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 be 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
  • Bank transfers and direct debits
  • Recurring payments
  • Debit cards
  • ATM withdrawals

Choose the Australian Bank That You Want To Open an Account With

There are several major Australian banks that will allow you to open an account as a non-resident:

  • The Commonwealth Bank of Australia, also known as CBA or CommBank is the largest bank in the country and also has the most branches, at 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.

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’ll be able to use all of 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 personal 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 will be able to transfer money into your account immediately. However, you will need to have an ID check in 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, and it 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 account 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 setup 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

NAB Foreign Exchange Rates

Opening a Westpac Account From Outside Australia

Although the information on opening an account with Westpac is more limited than the other banks, they do 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 when you arrive in Australia

The Documents and Information You’ll Need To Open an Australian Bank Account as a Foreigner

The types of documents and information you need to open an Australian bank account do vary between banks, but here’s a general list of what they might ask for:

  • The date you are going to come to Australia
  • The city where you will be arriving
  • The address where you will live in Australia
  • Your tax information in Australia and overseas
  • The type of Visa you will be entering Australia on
  • Your passport number
  • Other forms of identity

Save Money Depositing Money Into Your Australian Bank Account From Overseas

You have a few options to send money to your Australian bank account once you’ve opened it, and these vary widely in terms of the fees you’ll be charged and the exchange rate you’ll get. Typically, sending money using your domestic bank to an Australian account is going to be one of the most expensive options. Banks typically have high fixed fees, and offer exchange rates that are somewhat 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. 

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 base, midrange, interbank rate for converting $500 USD to AUD means you’d get $724 AUD
  • Citibank offers a rate that would get you $711 AUD, not taking into account their wire transfer fee
  • The Citibank exchange rate is around two percent worse
  • With a $35 AUD transfer fee, you’d only get $662 AUD, which means you’d pay around $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. We provide a simple, easy-to-use comparison tool that lets you find providers with low fees and great exchange rates.

For example, the total amount you could deposit in AUD if you’re sending $500 USD 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 

Try our comparison tool to help your money go further when you want to send money to Australia. 

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