How to open a bank account in New Zealand

Gabriela Peratello

Are you thinking of moving to New Zealand? New Zealand offers the ultimate experience for any expat, with a laid back lifestyle, vibrant culture and awe inspiring nature.

If you’re starting to plan your big move, you’ll need a way to hold, receive, send and spend NZD easily.

This guide covers how to open a bank account in New Zealand — plus we’ll also introduce Wise as a banking alternative for flexible NZD accounts you can open before you leave the US.

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What do you need to open a bank account in New Zealand?

For foreigners, New Zealand banks are relatively easy to deal with as long as you have the required documents.

These can vary but usually include:
  • A valid passport

  • A visa showing your legal residence status

  • One of the following proofs of residential address: utility bill; bank letter or statement; employment agreement

  • A minimum opening balance, depending on the bank

Note that there might be a specific validity for these documents, which can vary between 3 and 6 months.

Some New Zealand banks — like BNZ® — use RealMe as an online identification and verification process. If you don’t have access to this system you can still use a passport and normal proof of address, but you’ll have to visit a branch in person to get your account verified.

Can you open a New Zealand bank account from abroad?

If you’re planning on an extended stay, opening a bank account from abroad should be one of your concerns. In order to be eligible to do this, you’ll need a work or resident visa, regardless of where you’re coming from.

Fortunately, it’s straightforward to open an account online before you move — but the downside is that some banks don’t offer full account functionality until you’ve moved to New Zealand and confirmed your local address with them.

ASB®¹ does have an account you can open from overseas, with your passport, visa and proof of your overseas address. All documents need to be certified — but you’ll be able to set up online banking before you travel so you can get started more easily on arrival in New Zealand.

ANZ®² also has a similar service which means you can get an account set up, up to 90 days before you move to New Zealand.

Looking to work in New Zealand? Check our full guide to work visas

Get a Wise Account to hold, send, receive and spend NZD even before you move

Open a Wise account online or in the Wise app, before you move to New Zealand, to hold and exchange NZD easily, and get instant access to NZD account details you can use to pay and get paid by others.

You’ll be able to top up your Wise Account in USD or the currency of your choice, from around 20 supported currency options, and then you can convert to NZD with the mid-market exchange rate, or get a linked Wise card to spend in the US, New Zealand, and around 170 other countries too.

Wise currency exchange uses the mid-market exchange rate, with low, transparent fees from 0.41% which you’ll see before you pay.

See if Wise can help you hit the ground running in New Zealand, with simple ways to manage your money across borders.

Get started with Wise

Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information

Top New Zealand banks

New Zealand has plenty of local banks to choose from. However, after opening an account from overseas, you won’t usually get full account access until you visit the bank in person on arrival. After providing identification and proving residency, you’ll get full access to your new bank account.

Below is a breakdown of the most popular banks in New Zealand, along with quick facts on what they offer specifically and how it may benefit you.

ANZ

ANZ⁴ (Australia and New Zealand banking group) is the largest banking provider in New Zealand with over 800 branches and ATMs worldwide.

They offer expats everyday banking, business banking, investments, insurance, foreign exchange and additional services like credit cards, subject to meeting eligibility criteria. Online banking is possible with all accounts.

ASB

ASB⁵ (also known as Auckland Savings Bank) has a range of accounts for expats including support from relocation experts who can help you access the services you need. Student accounts are also available for those who qualify, and there are over 100 branches and 300 ATMs. Applying online can be done through their website.

BNZ

BNZ⁶ (Bank of New Zealand) offers a broad selection of accounts and support services specifically designed for expats.

However, they have a steep minimum balance requirement for some of their products, so make sure to read the fine print. Customers must be at least 18 years of age, and there are over 250 branches and 650 ATMs within the country.

Westpac

Westpac®⁷ Banking Corporation (more commonly known as Westpac) offers a Migrant Banking Package, International Student Account, Investment opportunities and over 1400 branches and 400 ATMs worldwide. Online and mobile banking make it all easy and convenient.

Fees and charges for New Zealand banks

Though many banks provide access to opening an account overseas, it’s easy to forget about the fees. It’s almost impossible to avoid bank fees entirely, but being aware of them in advance can certainly help avoid surprises.

Reading the fine print is a necessity when trying to avoid banking fees and charges. These add up over time for even the smallest of actions, like taking money out of an ATM. Being aware of every charge will ensure that you and your wallet stay happy.

One of the traps many travelers fall into is when they need to send money abroad either to or from their New Zealand bank account.

A single international bank transfer (using a method called SWIFT) can be especially expensive if you’re only sending a small amount of money as there can be a fixed transfer fee, intermediary charges, and a markup on the exchange rate used.


If you’re looking for a way to transfer money internationally with low, transparent fees, consider Wise. Wise allows you to move money between accounts using the mid-market exchange rate, with low fees from 0.41%.

That means no markup, and no hidden fees, giving you less to worry about, and more time to focus on the real issues — like where to set up your new home and office in New Zealand.

Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information


Sources:

  1. ASB — moving to New Zealand FAQ
  2. ANZ New Zealand — moving to New Zealand
  3. Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information
  4. ANZ
  5. ASB
  6. BNZ
  7. Westpac

Sources checked on 05.30.2023


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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