How to Open a Bank Account in Australia: A Guide for Non-Residents

Last updated on August 3rd, 2023 at 01:18 am

Whether you’re currently planning to relocate to Australia or you’ve already made the big leap to a new life there, you’re bound to have a long to-do list to tackle.

One of the most important tasks for recent immigrants is to open a bank account – so how do you go about doing that in Oz?

At Remitly, we get that the process can seem intimidatingly complex. However, you can easily open an Australian bank account if you take things step-by-step. This guide will walk you through the process of opening a bank account, whether you’ve moved to work or study. 

Deciding what type of Australian bank account is right for you

Most Australian banks offer many different types of bank accounts. However, there are two main categories of accounts in Australia’s banking system for you to consider: transaction accounts and savings accounts. Let’s take a look at each type.

Transaction accounts

A transaction account is a type of everyday bank account that you can use to pay bills and make purchases. With most transaction bank accounts, you can receive a debit card that you can present in place of cash when shopping at brick-and-mortar stores or online.

Although they look similar, debit cards are not credit card accounts. The money you spend gets deducted from your transaction account rather than a line of credit. If you spend more than you have in your account, you can overdraw your account and may be subject to overdraft fees.

You can also use the debit card to withdraw and deposit money at ATMs. Some banks charge fees for using ATMs outside of their networks.

Everyday transaction accounts allow you to set up direct debits to pay bills and send money domestically and internationally. You can also arrange to have your employer direct deposit funds from your paycheck into your bank account if they offer that service.

To set up a direct deposit or debit, you’ll usually need to provide your bank account number and the bank state branch number or BSB for your bank. The BSB is a six-digit number identifying individual banks in the Australian banking network.

Savings accounts

The purpose of a savings account is to put aside money for the future. Unlike everyday accounts, they usually don’t come with debit cards.

Many banks in Australia make savings accounts available through Internet banking so that you can transfer money into it from your everyday account. There are often limits on the number of times you can withdraw money from savings accounts each month to encourage you to save.

How to choose a bank in Australia

Once you decide whether you prefer a transaction or savings account as your first bank account in Australia, it’s time to choose a bank. Here are some things to consider when comparing your options.

Bank fees

Before opening a new bank account, find out what fees you may be responsible for paying. Some banks charge monthly fees simply for having an account with them. In some cases, this monthly account fee may be waived if you meet specific requirements like maintaining a minimum balance or completing a set number of transactions with your debit Mastercard or Visa monthly.

We already mentioned ATM fees and overdraft fees. Other fees that may be assessed include account-keeping fees for receiving paper statements and inactivity fees for not using accounts for a set length of time.

Although monthly account fees and other fees are common, not all bank accounts come with them. Some Australian banks do offer no-fee bank accounts that don’t carry a monthly fee. However, even with these accounts, you may still be assessed fees in some instances, such as if you overdraw your account or use your debit card while traveling internationally.


Some banks in Australia have locations all over the country. Others are regional. There are also online banks that have no branch locations at all.

When deciding where to open your Australian bank accounts, think about how you prefer to do your banking business. If you like to stop into branches, look for one with locations near where you live and work or go to school.

People who withdraw cash frequently may be more interested in the bank’s ATM locations. For those who like to do all their banking online, how easy it is to use the website or mobile app may be the most important consideration.

Customer service

Whether you will most often access your Australian bank account online or visit a branch, the customer service that the financial institution provides is an important consideration.

Read online reviews written by Australian residents to get a feel for the bank’s reputation. Find out what customer service options there are.

Can you get help via online chat? Email? By phone?

During what hours are customer service professionals available to help you? Can you get assistance at night? On holidays and weekends?

Top Australian banks to consider

In Australia, a range of big banks are hugely popular with Aussies and newcomers alike. Let’s take a quick look at what’s on offer.

Commonwealth Bank

Also known as CommBank, Commonwealth Bank is the biggest bank in the whole of the Southern Hemisphere. As you might expect, it has a reliable customer service team in place for international customers and a user-friendly banking app you can download.

The bank lets you create a “Smart Access” account online up to three months before you set foot in the country. You’ll be able to transfer money into your new Commbank account straight away, though you’ll have to go through the in-person ID check at a branch before you get full access to account services.


The National Australia Bank, or NAB, is one of the largest banks in Australia.

Conveniently, this bank will allow you to set up the “NAB Classic Banking” account online for up to 12 months before relocating to Australia. All you’ll need to tell them is your passport number, visa details, and in what city you’ll be arriving.

Again, you’ll have to wait until you pass in-person ID checks before being able to use your NAB account fully. Perks of the NAB Classic Banking account include zero account and withdrawal fees.


Founded in 1817 as the Bank of New South Wales, Westpac has a formidable pedigree as Australia’s oldest bank. Its “Westpac Choice” account is ideal for anyone who’s moved to Australia within the past year.

There are no monthly fees for the first 12 months, and an account can be opened online in a matter of minutes. The bank’s mobile app also offers a smooth on-the-go banking experience.

As usual, you’ll have to verify your identity in a branch before being able to withdraw funds if you set up the bank account online.


Technically named Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, ANZ is another looming presence on the Aussie banking landscape. You can open the “ANZ Access Advantage” account online up to a year before moving.

Once the process is completed, you can go ahead and transfer your money over immediately. Like other Australian banks, ANZ Bank requires you to wait until you complete in-branch verification before you can fully access your accounts.

On opening the ANZ Access Advantage account, you’ll also receive a courtesy call from their multilingual “International Concierge,” who will answer any questions you might have.


Dutch banking giant ING has a significant presence in Australia. When you establish yourself as an Australian resident and have an Australian residential address, you can apply for the “Orange Everyday” account.

This traditional bank account comes with no monthly service fees, and if you deposit at least $1,000 and make five card purchases every month, you’ll be entitled to other perks like rebates on international ATM fees.

As it’s a purely online bank, there’s no need to make in-person verifications, so it’s a great choice in terms of pure convenience alone.

Flag of Australia

Gathering the documents needed to open a bank account in Australia

Once you know which bank account you want to open in Australia, the next step is to make sure you have the documents required to verify your identity.

Although you typically don’t need an Australian address to open a bank account at most banks, you need to prove that you are who you say you are for security purposes.

Australian banks may have different policies regarding what types of identification documents are acceptable. However, some widely accepted documents include the following:

  • Birth certificate 
  • Valid passport
  • National identity card
  • Student ID 
  • Driver’s license
  • Utility bill
  • Tenancy agreement

Verifying identities when opening a bank account is commonplace in many parts of the world. What sets the banking system of Australia apart from international banks is that banks in the country assign different values to different forms of ID.

This system was implemented to combat fraud, and because of it, you might be asked to provide a specific combination of documents to pass the verification checks.

An official piece of photographic ID, such as your passport, counts as a high-value document and may be sufficient on its own. You may also have the option of submitting two lesser-valued documents, such as your birth certificate plus your tenancy agreement. Just bear in mind that if your documents aren’t in English, they’ll need to be translated by an accredited translator.

Many banks will let you open your account online up to a year before you actually move to Australia, as long as you can verify your passport and visa details. However, restrictions will probably be put on the account until you get to Australia.

For example, you might not be able to make withdrawals, transfers, or payments using the bank account until you can confirm your identity at a local branch by submitting the required documents. Check the specific terms and conditions of the bank to know what’s involved.

Transferring money into your bank account in Australian

Once you’re all set with your Australian bank account, you can transfer money into it whenever you like. This is where Remitly comes in handy.

As we’re an entirely online remittance service, we can keep costs low and pass those savings onto the millions of customers who rely on us to transfer their funds across the world. 

You can take advantage, too, by creating a Remitly account and adding your Australian bank details. Then, you can simply send over your chosen amount, enjoying a fee-free first transfer with a boosted foreign exchange rate. We guarantee delivery of the funds within the specified time frame, or we will refund your fees.  

Start setting up your bank account in Australia now and Download Remitly to begin making transfers.