As a country that sees many immigrants arriving on its shores each year, the New Zealand banking system is well-placed to help you get set up before you even land.
Different banks have different criteria by which they decide whether they will open an account. Generally, you would need to have no adverse credit events recorded on your credit report and be able to show appropriate documentation to prove your identity.
A number of banks have a process to help new migrants set up with a bank account before they arrive. Setting up your bank account from overseas ticks one thing off your to-do list, and makes it easy to transfer funds to New Zealand before you arrive.
Keep in mind that most likely you won’t be able to access this money until you physically identify yourself in a New Zealand bank branch. As your account isn’t fully active until then, you won’t be able to use it to apply for a tax identification number with Inland Revenue (IRD number) until you finalise the process. But don’t worry, even if you haven’t received your IRD number yet, you will be able to start employment. However, tax on any salary payments you might receive will be deducted at the non-declaration rate.
New Zealand banks are required to have strict “Know Your Customer” (KYC) processes in place for opening an account for anyone – including those coming from overseas. Ensuring you have the correct documentation will help you avoid any delays in getting your New Zealand bank account set up.
Generally, banks will require new migrants to meet with a banker to fulfil the identification requirements in person. When that’s completed, the account will be activated, allowing you to make withdrawals and transfer funds. The bank might also be able to help you obtain the required documentation to apply for an IRD number and assist in any other banking needs you might have.
Most large banks will have a dedicated Migrant Banking team that is specialised in helping customers get set up financially when they are moving to New Zealand. Major banks also offer Private Wealth banking services in addition to retail banking, as well as dedicated Business and Institutional banking teams.