Opening a bank account
Before you leave your home country
You can open a bank account with an Australian bank before you leave home. EQI recommends you do this, as you only need your passport as identification and you can withdraw funds as soon as you arrive in Australia, rather than carry around large amounts of cash, which can be a risk to your personal safety.
Once you open a bank account in Australia you can transfer funds from overseas to be ready for you when you arrive. Please note you can only access these funds once you have arrived and have provided identification.
It is not recommended that you carry a large amount of currency into Australia as this can mean longer delays in clearing customs.
In Australia, there are four major banking organisations:
There are many other banks, credit unions and building societies that all provide the same services but may operate slightly differently. It may be best to start with a bank account from one of the major banks listed above because their relationships with overseas banks are longer established and there are usually fewer complications as a result.
After you arrive in Australia
Within six weeks of your arrival:
To open a bank account in Australia you will need to take your passport into a bank. If you do this within six weeks of your arrival, you only need to show your passport.
Six weeks or more after your arrival:
If you apply for a bank account more than six weeks after you arrive, you will need to take photographic identification into the bank, including your passport. You are required to show 100 points of identification (e.g. passport = 60 points, Student ID = 20 points, credit card = 20 points).
Useful banking information
Ask about student accounts which attract much lower account-keeping fees. Some banks will exempt students from fees for the duration of their course. You will need to show your Student ID, CoE or Enrolment Agreement.
You can also minimise banking fees by checking the fine print of any terms and conditions attached to your account (e.g. transaction costs - check the number of free transactions per month, or any charges for using other banks' ATMs).
All Australian banks offer Internet banking so that you can transfer funds between accounts, pay someone without having to go to the bank, pay bills, receive money from others, check your balance, download statements and much more. In Australia, the trend is away from in-branch service and banks encourage their customers to use their online services.
Banks in Australia are generally open Monday to Thursday 9.30am-4.00pm and Friday 9.30am-5.00pm although some branches do open on Saturdays. There are a number of days throughout the year when banks are closed. These are known as 'public holidays' (sometimes known as 'bank holidays' in other countries).
Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs)
Money can be withdrawn from Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) 24-hours a day. There is usually a daily withdrawal limit of around AUD$1,000. We advise you to only carry as much cash as necessary for a few days at a time.
You can withdraw cash, deposit cash, coins and cheques and conduct several other transaction types via ATMs.
The fees and charges are different between banks and even between account types. You may have to pay a $2 fee to use an ATM that is not owned by the bank you use.