New Zealand Banking
New Zealand banks generally welcome new customers, and opening an account is quick and simple.
Opening a New Zealand Bank Account
The documents you will generally need to open an account with a New Zealand bank are
- photo ID (such as your passport) and
- proof of your address (such as a utility bill).
You can also set up a New Zealand bank account from the UK. You will be asked for your IRD number, but can supply it later if necessary – although any interest you earn will be taxed at a very high “no notification” rate.
Before you leave the UK…
- Make sure you let your UK bank know your new address before you leave the UK; they will generally be happy to send your statements to New Zealand at no extra cost.
- Ask your bank for the forms you need to fill in to have interest paid to your accounts without tax being automatically deducted.
- If possible, set up and test internet and/or phone banking before you leave.
- Keep at least one account open in the UK – it can come in handy, and it is hard to open an account in the UK once you have been out of the country for a while.
- If you think you may have lost track of any accounts, you may like to take a look at the Lost Accounts tracing service – it is free, and you can do it all online.
If you’ve been to New Zealand in the past and deposited money with a bank or other financial institution but have subsequently lost the details of the account, try checking the Unclaimed Money page of the NZ Inland Revenue website.
Interest Rates and Bank Charges
New Zealand banks offer higher interest rates than their UK counterparts on deposits, but mortgages and other lending rates are a couple of percent higher than in the UK. Most New Zealand banks charge fees on current accounts, some of them flat fees and others per-transaction fees – but banks will often give you discounts on fees (or even most transactions free) for receiving all your statements online or maintaining a specified minimum balance in your account. It is well worth periodically asking your bank whether there is a more appropriate account for you. Be especially aware of fees if you are setting up a business account, as they vary widely.
Online banking is widely available, but unfortunately generally not as secure as in the UK. While fraud is comparatively rare, keep your anti-virus and spy ware software up to date, avoid doing your online banking on public computers, and never supply your passwords to anyone.
Money machines are widely available at banks, along main shopping streets and in shopping malls. You may be charged a fee of around $0.50 – $1 for using a card from one bank at another’s ATM.
Eftpos is the widely available debit card system, which you can use almost anywhere. Some retailers also allow you to withdraw cash on Eftpos with a purchase, and there is generally no minimum purchase. A pin number is used rather than a signature.
Which bank is best?
Most New Zealand banks have migrant banking services, which specialise in helping new residents to get their banking all sorted out. Based on our own experience and recommendations we have received from clients, there is one that we are happy to recommend – Westpac.
To find out more, request a free copy of our Financial and Pension guides for New Zealand.