Opening a bank account in New Zealand is rather straight forward and easy compared to other places in the world and is a similar process to obtaining an IRD number. Actually, it’s a lot easier than even that. A bank account is required in order to receive you pay from work. Gone are the days of receiving a cheque in New Zealand, it is all direct deposit these days. In this article, I will walk you through the process of opening an everyday banking account, called Free Up, at KiwiBank. This is the most common and inexpensive option so it is perfect for a backpacker or expatriate. KiwiBanks are also located in every PostShop so you can set up your bank account after applying for your IRD number.
Firstly, you do not need a working holiday visa to open a bank account or any type of work permit. Anyone may open a bank account in New Zealand. However if you are not here on a working holiday and don’t have a work permit, you may just want to say you have one so no one raises any eyebrows. Ideally, this is a good place to store money offshore in case shit hits the fan back home.
To open the bank account, it is best to do it in person. You will need to find a PostShop that has a KiwiBank as well. You can use this handy locator tool to do so. Before heading down, you will need one form of picture identification, a passport is usually best, and a piece of mail to confirm your address. This piece of mail must be marked within the last 90 days. If you do not have a piece of mail, as most won’t, a letter from your hostel or landlord confirming when you arrived and the address will suffice. $10 New Zealand Dollars is also the minimum required to open the account so be sure you at least have $10 to deposit into your new bank account.
Head on down to the local KiwiBank to open up your new bank account. Inform the account person that you would like a Free Up bank account as this one has no monthly fee or minimum balance. The process takes about 15 minutes and they will go over the fees along with terms and conditions of your bank account. Once you are all set up, they will give you a temporary debit card and a quick access wallet note card containing your account numbers and pins. Do not lose either of these.
In about a week, you can head down to the post office’s General Delivery, also called Poste Restante, to collect your permanent debit card that works anywhere Visa is accepted. You can also have them deliver it to where you are currently staying if you plan on being there a while. I find it best just to have them do poste restante. That’s it, you should be good to go with your new bank account. Just remember to go online to set up online banking as well to keep track of your balance as they do not send out account statements.
As far as other New Zealand banks are concerned, I do not know their process, only the KiwiBank one. I will try and open up another bank account here soon to find out if the process is the same or different. I should also have an article up soon on opening a bank account in Australia up soon but it is very similar to opening one in New Zealand.