Opening up a bank account in New Zealand, is one of the first things you need to do, when you arrive on a NZ Working Holiday Visa.
It can be quite daunting thinking about the different bank account options, account charges, ATM charges, deciding which bank account is actually the best.
How bank accounts in New Zealand work
When opening a bank account in New Zealand, there are a few points to consider:
- Some everyday bank accounts charge a monthly fee (around $4 nzd)
- Banks will charge for ATM withdrawals if you withdraw cash from a different bank’s ATM (that’s cash-point to you Brit’s)
- You’ll get an EFTPOS card (electronic funds transfer point of sale) with your account and this is used as your debit card
- You can pay by Chip & Pin or Paywave/Paypass with your EFTPOS debit card and you can get cashback free of charge from most places
Which New Zealand bank account should you choose?
There are five main big banks here in New Zealand. They are Westpac, ANZ, BNZ, Kiwibank and ASB.
As with all banks everywhere, there are different account types to suit everyone. The main thing you should look for when you’re travelling is a hassle-free account that is easy to open and doesn’t charge fees when you leave the country.
Some banks in New Zealand offer accounts which you can open online, some don’t charge the monthly account fee and a few have excellent online banking facilities and awesome apps. All this is super important when you need to check your account balance on the move.
But which one do I pick?!
No worries! I’ve done the hard work for you, you lucky person. Below I have detailed a couple of bank account options from two of the main big banks, that are both easy and simple to use if you’re travelling here.
- Westpac’s Everyday Electronic Account is so simple to use. Bank online or at their ATM’s, no monthly account fees, no paper statements, excellent online banking website and for the even lazier, their ‘Westpac One’ app for mobile banking.
- Westpac also offer an Access Account for those who prefer not to do their banking online and like a bit more flexibility. You still get all the same features, online, phone and mobile banking, an EFTPOS debit card and choice of statement options, however this account does have a monthly account fee.
Once you’ve setup the app, you can access your account balance with just a 5-digit code …and you’re in! Anyone remember those cumbersome Pinsentry readers?
Keep in mind because the Westpac Everyday Electronic Account is exclusively an ‘electronic account’, if you visit a branch and carry out transactions, it may cost you a fee.
Both of these Westpac accounts come with access to Smart Services such as CashNav and Westpac One.
And if you’re on a student visa or a longer work visa, you can open a Westpac bank account before you arrive in New Zealand.
Kiwibank is a completely kiwi-owned bank and they are located in most PostShops nationwide. This means they have convenient opening hours and some are even open on weekends.
So you can do your banking, bill payments and postage tasks all in one place.
Yay for multi-tasking.
- Kiwibank offer their Free Up account which is again, an online electronic based account. Bank online, by phone, by ATM or by TXT. You get an EFTPOS visa debit card and can open the account online, by phone or in branch. Choose to receive your statements by email and there are no monthly account fees.
- Kiwibank also offer their Now account which is their standard, everyday account. Their features include all the usual stuff, phone, online and mobile banking, an EFTPOS debit card, choice of statement options and a choice of fee plans. However, you will get charged some kind of monthly fee for this account.
Both of these Kiwibank accounts offer Smart Services such as PayStream, Sweep and Alerts and both Kiwibank accounts can be opened online.
As with all Post Offices around the world, expect queues, always.
If you’re on a student visa or a longer work visa, you can open a Kiwibank bank account before you arrive in New Zealand.
How to apply for a bank account in New Zealand
In these current days of technological bliss, opening a bank account isn’t a tedious task anymore. Especially not in New Zealand.
Go into the bank, as you’ll need an appointment and ask what documents you’ll need. Usually there are basically 3 or 4 things you’ll need to open a bank account in New Zealand:
- Photo I.D (Your passport is the best, drivers licence is sometimes accepted. To be sure, take both
- Proof of address
- Copy of your current visa (not always required)
- Around $10 to deposit as an opening balance (also not always required)
Hmm. I know what you’re thinking. “I just arrived in New Zealand and I’m at hostel/hotel – how the frick am I supposed to show proof of address?
The first thing you should try to get ‘proof of address’ is the hostel you’re staying at. A lot of hostels are very understanding about problems that travellers encounter when trying to settle in.
Some hostels won’t do this, but some are more than happy to provide a letter stating you currently reside at that address. Some charge a small fee but it’s worth it.
Tip – You may have more luck with this at independent hostels or hostels in the suburbs rather than the city central ones.
Details to give employers
In the UK, the banks print your sort code and account number on your debit card. So I just used my card and never needed to carry around my account details.
However in New Zealand, the details are not on the front of your EFTPOS debit card. So I had to get used to keeping a note of it, so I could fill out forms or job applications wherever I was. Keeping it somewhere in your smartphone is handy, but remember never to write PIN numbers down anywhere – not even in your phone.
All New Zealand bank account numbers follow this pattern:
00 0000 0000000 000
- The first two numbers show which bank manages the account. Westpac is 03.
- The next four digits show your branch.
- Then the next seven digits show your account number.
- Finally the last three digits (or two digits for some banks) show your account suffix. You can have several “Sub accounts” from one main account. If your account suffix has two numbers and you’re being asked for three, add a zero before it.
If you’re unsure what to write when you’re entering your account details for a new job, just enter the whole 14 digit number in the format above.
When you’re in the branch opening your bank account, they will set you up for online banking and phone banking. They’ll also give you a print-out of your account details for you to keep and a letter with your account details on, to give your employer.
Applying for your IRD number
The bank will probably ask you for your IRD number. It’s all good if you don’t have it, you can still open and use your account. Although as soon as you receive your IRD number, let the bank know so they can apply the correct tax code.
Have you got your IRD number or are you thinking, what the frack is one of those?
The Inland Revenue website is the tax authority for New Zealand. To work in New Zealand, you need an IRD number, this number is unique to you and will remain the same always.
You can apply online and your IRD number will be sent to you in 8-10 working days after they receive your application.
When you start working, your employer will give you a tax code declaration form IR330 to fill in. Make sure you give your employer your IRD number.
You’re a non-resident for tax purposes if you’re staying in New Zealand for 183 days or less in any 12-month period. If you’re here for the whole 12 months, you’ll be classed as a resident for tax purposes.
Use the IR742 form to apply for your IRD number online now.
You need to have a New Zealand bank account to apply for your IRD number first. So after getting your bank account, apply for your IRD number next and you’ll be sweet!