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

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 to-do list as long as your arm. One of the most important tasks for recent migrants is setting up a local bank account – so how do you go about doing that in Oz?

At Remitly, we get that the process can seem intimidatingly complex. So, here’s our quick summary of what you need to know, whether you’ve moved to work or study. 

Documents Needed to Open a Bank Account in Australia

It almost goes without saying you’ll need to prove your identity to set up a bank account in Australia. Widely accepted documents include:

  • Birth certificate 
  • Passport
  • Student ID 
  • Driver’s licence
  • Utility bill
  • Tenancy agreement

What makes Australia distinct is that the banks here assign different values to different forms of ID. This system was implemented to combat fraud, and the good news is it’s not as complicated as it sounds. It just means 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 well 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. Just bear in mind there will probably be restrictions put on the account until you get to Australia. For example, you might not be able to make withdrawals, transfers or payments using the account until you can confirm your identity at a branch by submitting the required documents. Check the specific terms and conditions of the bank to be sure of what’s involved.

Choosing a Bank in Australia

In Australia, there’s a range of big banks that 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, this 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 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.


National Australia Bank, or NAB, is – as the name suggests – one of the largest financial institutions in the country. Conveniently, it will allow you to set up the “NAB Classic Banking” account online up to 12 months before relocating to Australia. All you’ll need to tell them is your passport number, visa details, and what city you’ll be arriving into. Again, you’ll have to wait until you pass in-person ID checks before being able to use your account fully. Perks include zero account and withdrawal fees.


Founded way back 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’s no service fee for the first 12 months, and it can be opened online in a matter of minutes. As usual, you’ll have to verify your identity in a branch before being able to withdraw funds. The Westpac mobile app offers a smooth on-the-go banking experience too.


Technically named the 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 (with other services unlocked once you do the whole in-branch verification thing). On opening the account, you’ll also receive a courtesy call from their multilingual “International Concierge” who’ll answer any questions you might have. 


Dutch banking giant ING has a significant presence in Australia. When you establish yourself as a resident, you can apply for the “Orange Everyday” account. It 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 withdrawal 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.

Transferring Money into Your Bank Account in Australia

Once you’re all set with your Australian bank account, you can transfer over money 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. Download Remitly here

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, too or we’ll refund your fees.