How to Open Your Bank Account in Australia Before You Leave Home

by | Apr 2, 2018 | Finances for Expats

Open Your Bank Account 12 Months Before You Move to Australia

Yes, you can open your bank account in Australia 12 months before you move with Westpac Bank.

I know that sounds crazy, and I have yet, in the six years of running Sydney Moving Guide, to hear of anyone opening their account that far in advance, but you can if you want to.

Note: After six months you will be required to deposit funds into your Westpac Account to keep it active. Nothing huge, just something like $50AUD.

What I like about Westpac is that they have made it as easy as possible for you. Nice to have something on your moving to-do list that you can cross off today and forget about it until you’re closer to your moving date.

Seriously, it will take you no more than three minutes max to open two bank accounts, one savings and one they call an everyday account, aka checking.

Three Easy Steps to Opening Your Westpac Bank Account in Australia

  1. Fill out the online form to open both a savings and checking account.
  2. A Westpac Bank representative will email you with the account information either later that same afternoon or the next morning depending on what time of day you open your account.
  3. When you arrive in Sydney, stopped by the bank branch you selected to be your branch (most SMG readers pick one of the two city locations, see locations table below) and either verify your ID or pick up your bank cards if you have already verified your ID back home.

What You Need to Open Your Bank Account in Australia Before You Move

There’s nothing that you cannot Google for yourself, but I thought I would go ahead and list everything here, that way you have it all in one place and can refer back if you need to.

What's your international calling code?

Besides the basics like your current address and email, you’re going to need the International Calling Code for your preferred phone number.

If you’re in the US: + 1 + City Code + Local Number. For example, Seattle would be 0011+1+206+Phone Number.
If you’re in the UK: + 44 + City Code + Local Number. For London, 0011+44+20+Phone Number.
If you’re in Ireland: + 353 + City Code + Local Number. For Dublin, 0011+353+1+Phone Number.

From someplace else?

The try Country Calling Codes for your international calling code.

Bank locations to pick up your bank cards at when you arrive.

You will also need to select what location you want to pick up your bank cards from.

The branches that are downtown, or in the city as they say in Australia, are the George Street and Martin Place branches. They are both marked (City) on the pull-down menu when you fill out the online form.

The George Street Branch might be less busy than the larger Martin Place Branch but either is fine, and they are within walking distance from each other. It’s kind of a “six of one, half dozen of the other” type of situation.

All the other Westpac Bank Branch locations are farther away from the city center.

I have Google mapped a few of the branches so you can see where they are in case you are staying outside of the downtown area when you arrive. Most SMG readers end up staying at a hotel in the city for the first few weeks. If that’s the same for you, then go with either the George Street or the Martin Place branch locations.

Westpac branch locations outside the city.

North Sydney Branches
Macquarie Centre

North West Branches

West Sydney Branches

South Sydney Branches

South East Sydney

West of Sydney, like way out west.


How to verify your ID when opening your bank account.

Verifying your ID before moving will make things much easier when you arrive in Sydney mainly because you will not have to wait for your ATM card and will be able to access your cash immediately, even while still at home.

Unfortunately, it is easier for those moving to Australia from certain locations than others.

There are three ways to verify your identity: two for those present in Australia and one for before you arrive in Australia.

One of the two ways while in Australia is online, but you will need your passport and either an Australian driver's license or Medicare card. Since you will most likely want to access your bank account asap and not want to wait for your Medicare card or driver's license, I'm not going to go over this way.

The second way to verify your ID while in Australia is to stop by the Westpac branch you selected when you opened your account online with your passport and your residential address in Australia, this can be the hotel's address or your short-term rental address since this is where you are currently residing. When you have a permanent address, you can change it online in your account settings.

You will also need to show them that you have a valid visa, your confirmation email from the Department of Immigration and Border Control, and confirmation of your arrival in Australia within the last six weeks. Since they no longer stamp passports upon arrival in Australia, be sure you keep your boarding pass from your flight and have your flight details readily such as a confirmation email.

If you wait for longer than six weeks from your arrival date, you will need to show them additional forms of identification. For most, getting access to their bank account is priority number one. I have yet to hear of anyone waiting longer than six weeks.

Special Note for US Expats: Having an Australian Bank account means that you may need to file a few extra forms each year when you file your tax return.

Verifying your ID BEFORE you arrive in Australia.

As I mentioned before, this is easier for some than for others, depending on where you are moving from.

You can visit one of Westpac's offshore locations listed below to have your ID-verified. They recommend calling first to set up an appointment.

The offshore Westpac representative will need to see the following documents.

  • your passport, birth certificate or national identity card
  • a document that displays your residential address, such as a driver's license or utility bill
  • the Certified Copy Certificate. You will need to complete the certificate in front of the Westpac Representative. Do not fill it out beforehand.

If any of the documents listed above are in a language other than English, you will need to present an English translation prepared by an accredited translator.

Afterward, you will send your certified copies along with the Certified Copy Certification to the Westpac Branch you selected in your online application form when you opened your account.

How to verify your ID without visiting an offshore Westpac location.

If you cannot make it to one of Westpac's offshore locations, you can get your Certified Copy Certification completed at a foreign bank that has a certifier or notary services, or an Australian Consular location that has notary services. You may need to make an appointment.

Also, check if there are charges for getting your copies certified. I know that all the Australian Consular locations with notary services charge a fee. For us, Wells Fargo, our bank in the States did not charge a fee. If you're moving from the States, most larger banks have notary services.

Please note that the certifier must have two or more years of continuous service as a notary. And it needs to be at a bank or financial institution, not at the post office or a hospital.

Westpac offshore locations for ID verification.

Beijing Branch
Room 9-11, 14/F West Tower,
World Financial Centre
No.1 East 3rd, Ring Middle Road,
Chaoyang District
Beijing 100020
Ph: +86 10 8587 7339
Shanghai Branch
2IFC Tower
L27, 8 Century Avenue
Pudong, Shanghai
Ph: +86 21 6165 7688
Hong Kong Branch
Level 16 York House
The Landmark
15 Queen's Road, Central
Hong Kong
Ph: +852 2842 9888
Singapore Branch
12 Marina View,
#27-01, Asia Square Tower 2
Singapore, 018961
Ph: +65 ­6530 9898
Mumbai Branch
1201, 12th Floor
B Wing, The Capital
C-70 G Block
Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC)
Mumbai 400051, India
Ph: +91 22 6627 1000
Auckland Branch
Level 8, Westpac on Takutai Square
16 Takutai Square
Auckland 1010
Ph: + 64 9 912 8000
London Branch
Ground Floor
23 Camomile Street
London EC3A 7LL
Ph: +44 (0) 20 7621 7222

Transferring Money into Your New WestPac Bank Account

When you transfer money into your Westpac Account this is the info you will need to know. Be sure to ask the bank customer representative that contacts you for the branch name and BSB code.

For example, if you wanted to transfer money to the George Street Branch.

Bank Name: Westpac Banking Corporation.
Branch name: 275 George St Branch.
Account Name: Your name (as it appears on your passport).
Account Number: The bank account number that will be in your confirmation email.
BSB (Bank/State/Branch) code: BSB 032-044.

That is just an example. Double-check with the customer rep that contacts you for your money transfer information.

Fantastic Promotion for SMG Readers ONLY! SMG readers get Free Money Transfers for LIFE from OFX! Click here to find out more.

Westpac Bank Reviews from Other SMG Readers

Westpac Bank has always been the bank I recommend, mainly because I’ve heard so many good things from SMG readers that have opened their accounts with Westpac.

It has only been about four years that SMG has partnered up with Westpac. To be honest, all of the other banks have approached me for partnerships, but I have chosen to only work with Westpac Bank based on reviews like these.



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Moving to Australia Banking for Expats

Open Your Bank Account

In 5 minutes or less, you can open both a checking and savings account BEFORE you move to Australia. There are only 3 things you need to get started.
1. Your passport and visa details.
2. Know where you're going to live.
3. Be arriving within the next 3 months.

*This link will take you to Commonwealth Bank of Australia's special accounts for newly arriving expats and migrants. Commonwealth Bank is a sponsoring partner of Sydney Moving Guide.

Hi, I’m Lauren.

Lauren Owner of Sydney Moving GuideAnd I’ve helped thousands of people from all over the world move to Australia since starting my blog back in 2009. You can read more about me here, but Sydney Moving Guide isn’t about me. IT’S ABOUT YOU. So, I have one question for you. How can I help you with your move to Australia? Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to grab my moving checklist before you go.