Many banks in New Zealand allow an account to be opened by telephone, Internet or post without the need to visit a branch in person. Some banks offer an international or migrant account and have multi-lingual staff to help foreigners arrange and manage their accounts. These can be opened before arriving in the country. For most banks an application form can be downloaded from their Internet site. The following documents are generally needed:
Many banks insist that these documents are provided in English, translated if necessary, and certified. Certification is usually accepted from a solicitor, Justice of the Peace, notary public or the Consulate or Embassy of the country of origin. Exact requirements vary with each bank and should be checked. A deposit of New Zealand dollars is required in most cases. An account is usually opened within three to five working days.
An international account allows a range of secure banking services, such as transferring large amounts of money between countries or having accounts in more than one currency. International accounts often have very competitive exchange rates. In most cases money cannot be withdrawn from the account until the account holder is in New Zealand. Accounts are usually activated by the account holder visiting a branch of the bank and presenting photographic identification. Most accounts are closed, and any funds returned to where they came from, if an account is not activated within 12 months of being opened. There are no restrictions on the amount of foreign currency which can be moved into or out of New Zealand.
Opening a current or savings account once in New Zealand is generally quick and straightforward, and can be done in any bank branch. Two forms of identification are usually needed and many banks insist on one of these being a passport or driving licence. Proof of residency in the country, for example in the form of a recent utility bill which includes the applicants name and address, is also required. Some banks require a cash deposit in order to open the account. In many cases the account is opened and debit card issued on the day the application is made.
The National Bank of New Zealand has a service dedicated to new residents. Their website provides information on moving to New Zealand and banking options.
Most financial services and products incur a bank charge. Some current accounts charge a fixed monthly fee and there may be a fee for individual transactions. The amount charged can vary markedly between banks and as many offer introductory rates to new customers it is worth checking the rates at different banks before making a choice.
It is usual in New Zealand to be charged to use an ATM (Automated Teller Machine), or withdraw money in any way from a bank other than that with which the account is held. It is advisable to take this into consideration when choosing a bank.
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