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Opening a bank account in Australia before coming over

Posted: Tue Mar 29, 2016 6:08 pm
by TassieDevil
Hi, I was wondering about opening an Australian bank account before I come over to study there. I know that Westpac does that (I can open an account online without having to have an Australian address). Because I am trying to figure out a way to pay bills / education fees etc. without having to pay a high credit card fee. Or are there any other options for paying money for example from Germany to Australia without fees?? Thanks for your help :)

Re: Opening a bank account in Australia before coming over

Posted: Wed Mar 30, 2016 2:33 pm
by Rebecca
Hi TassieDevil,

Most Australian banks do have a Migrant Banking division, and are familiar with the challenges and needs of new arrivals trying to get their banking sorted. I assume you want to pay a deposit for your course? Unfortunately, I don't think you can avoid paying international transfer fees while you are still overseas! Even if you do open up an account, it is unlikely that you will be able to use it, as most banks require proof of identity and residential address before you can activate the account.

But there are huge differences between banks and fees, and here are some of the things you will need to consider when deciding on which bank to choose.

• Some Australian banks don’t allow you to open the account before you are physically in Australia without proof of a residential address. However in this case, you can get your documentation organised and get through as much of the process as possible before you leave home, such as organising your identity documents.

• Most banks will require that you provide primary photographic identification, such as a passport or drivers licence. If this is not possible, you may need to supply two pieces of secondary documentation, such as birth certificate or tenancy agreement, or mortgage documentation. Some banks ascribe points to certain pieces of identification, and will require that you provide 100 points worth, for example a passport might be worth 70 points and a foreign drivers licence worth 40. Please note that documents (including cards like a drivers license) in a language other than English may need to be translated by a NAATI registered translator.

• Some banks will allow you to open a bank account up to 12 months prior to your arrival. That means, once you have proof of a residential address, you can take your identification documentation into the bank to open your account. Some, but not all banks will allow you (or your mum!) to make a deposit into your new account prior to your arrival.

• If you can’t get your bank account organised before you leave home, make sure you don’t wait more than 4 weeks after arrival to do so. Once you have been here for between 4 and 6 weeks, banks may request proof of Australian residential address or a tenancy agreement which could be difficult for travelers or Working Holiday makers to provide.

Once you are in the country it is much easier, of course. You can withdraw your maximum amount at an ATM and deposit into your Australian bank account, and you will not incur international transfer fees this way. This is easy and common, just make sure that you choose a bank that is associated with your bank/credit card provider that will not charge you to use their ATM.

I hope this helps.

Re: Opening a bank account in Australia before coming over

Posted: Thu Apr 14, 2016 1:42 am
by TassieDevil
Hi Rebecca,

thank your for that information! What I have found out in the meantime is that Westpac offers an account, it's called "Westpac Choice" and it's especially for migrants! Here's the link: ... -migrants/

You can open up the account online up to 12 months before you go to Australia but need to send them your customer identification documents. Then you can put money on that account and work with it from Germany.

So far the theory, I am still waiting for my ID to be approved, I sent in my documents and am waiting for that now...

Lets hope it works :)

Re: Opening a bank account in Australia before coming over

Posted: Mon Apr 25, 2016 5:39 pm
by Rebecca
Keep us posted Tassie Devil!