Opening A Bank Account In New Zealand

Opening A Bank Account In New Zealand
Banks in New Zealand offer a welcome to new customers, with the country's slightly less stringent money-laundering regulations making opening an account less of a stressful experience than in most Western countries. Migrants can set up an account from their country of origin or choose to wait until they arrive and are more settled.

Most New Zealand banks offer several types of account to migrants, including specialised services aimed at helping incomers understand the different systems. The two leaders in the field are Kiwibank and WestPac, and deposits of up to NZ$500,000 are covered by an extension to the Crown Retail Deposit Guarantee Scheme first launched in 2008.

The paperwork involved in opening an account with a New Zealand bank is reassuringly straightforward, requiring a photo ID or passport and proof of your address, normally a utility bill. If you intend setting up an account from abroad, you will be asked for your IRD tax number, although this can be supplied later without problems.

Banks in New Zealand apply a fixed charge to current accounts, with most using flat fees and few charging on a fee-per-transaction basis, although discounts or even free banking can be had by using the bank's internet services or keeping a minimum balance in your account. New-style accounts are frequently introduced, making it well worth your while to enquire about what's now on offer. If you're opening a business account, keep a close eye on fees and be prepared to change banks if necessary.

Online banking is common, although security systems are not as strong as in the West, with users advised to regularly update their anti-virus and anti-spyware software programmes. Internet caf├ęs are not the place to access your online banking service. ATM machines are plentiful, although cardholders may be charged for using another bank's machine. Eftpos is the NZ banks' debit card scheme, with cards universally accepted and some allowing cash withdrawals while making a purchase.

New Zealand banks normally offer better rates of interest than their Western counterparts, although lending rates on loans and mortgages are two to three points higher than those in the West. Unless you intend to close all your accounts in your home country, you should inform your bank of your New Zealand address and request redirection of your bank statements. At this point, internet banking and phone banking become useful tools for making your transitions less stressful.