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This week's post is from two questions about transferring money to Australia and taxes from an SMG email subscriber. I'm sure a lot of expats have the same questions, especially since we often transfer large sums of money to Australia from overseas.

Do You Owe Tax on Money You Bring with You to Australia?

The first is easy to answer and on the Australian Customs website.

There is no limit to the amount of currency you can bring in or out of Australia. However, you must declare amounts of A$10,000 or more in Australian currency or foreign equivalent. You must disclose any promissory notes, travelers’ cheques, personal cheques, money orders, postal orders, or other bearer negotiable instruments, regardless of value, if requested by a Customs and Border Protection officer or police officer.

You won't be taxed at the time of transferring the money, but will be taxed on the interest earned once in your bank account in Australia.

What About Money You Transfer After You Move?

If you transfer money into your bank account later from your savings back home then that also won't be taxed, but if that money is income earned back home and you qualify at tax time as a resident you will have to declare it on your Australian Tax return. This goes for income from rental properties back home too as that is foreign income earned according to the Australian Tax Office (ATO).

Australian Banking and Taxes

In Australia, your Tax File Number is linked to your bank account which means the Australian Tax Office has records of all your bank activities.

I would suggest opening your bank account before for you leave for Australia so you'll have your accounts ready to transfer money as soon as you verify your identification and activate your bank account in Australia.

You will also need your bank statement in Australia when filling out your first rental application as proof of residency. The real estate market in Sydney is very competitive. Not having all your paperwork ready to fill out your rental application may cost you the perfect flat in Sydney. I have several posts about renting in Sydney that cover all the documents you're going to need.

Australian Customs and Traveling with Cash

The other advantage is not having to carry your life's savings with you when you travel to Australia. That way you don't even have to worry about customs when you arrive.

Even so, you just have to let customs know that you have more than $10,000 AUD with you.

Opening an Australian Bank Account is super easy, you can do it all online in about 10 minutes. And you can open your account 12 months before you move. I don't think anyone really plans that far ahead but nice to know.

Once you have your account details, you're ready to transfer funds. All you need is your account number, bank address, branch number, and the bank SWIFT code.

The Best Way to Transfer Money to Australia

Most banks will try and sell you on using them for your money transfers, telling you how easy it is to do.

Don't fall for it!!

Transferring money from your bank account at home to your bank account in Australia is one of the biggest mistakes people move make. They make it sound so easy that it is hard to resist.

The same goes for international bill pay. Don't even consider that.

Instead, I always suggest using a forex company. My two favourites are OFX and XE Money Transfer, both offer good rates. OFX offers free transfers for LIFE for SMG readers. You can find out more about that offer and my referral link here.

OFX is an Australian-based company, but don't worry, you can open an account with them and transfer money from anywhere in the world.

These aren't your only options as far as transferring money to Australia.

Many people really like Transferwise and, if you're located in Europe, CurrencyFair. Both of these are good options for transferring money quickly but, if you are transferring a large sum, then go with a forex company.

Why? Because you can lock in your rate and, if you choose not to lock in a rate of exchange, they can offer you a better rate of exchange.

Transferwise is great for transferring money quickly and in smaller sums. CurrencyFair exchange marketplace is a fantastic idea, but again best for smaller sums.

If you are transferring over a large sum, over $5000 then go with one of the forex companies.

If you forget a payment back home that's due, this happens to me more often than I would like to admit, then Transferwise or CurrencyFair is a better option.

Ok, so I've added in a lot of extra info. Just to sum things up.

1. Not taxed on savings transferred, but on income earned back home if you are classified as an Australian resident for tax purposes.
2. Claim $10,000 AUD or more.
3. Open bank account before moving to Australia.
4. Transfer large sums with forex company. For small sums and for quicker transfers, use Transferwise or CurrencyFair if located in Europe.

International Moving Companies Near You

What are you taking to Australia when you move? Do you know yet?

The truth is you don’t need to know right now, for sure, what’s going with you.

But you do have to get a shipping quote ASAP, especially now.

Why? Because international moving companies need to schedule your move to Australia far in advance, some ask for 6 months in advance. Yes, COVID has changed everything, including international shipping.

When filling out the form below…

  1. You don’t need a street address for where you’re moving to, only the city and country. What they really want to know is the main shipping port.
  2. Moving date is an estimate. You don’t need exact dates right now. Go with your best guess.
  3. Estimate volume is an estimate. Don’t bother with calculating your volume. Use one of the estimates below for your estimated volume.
    • Studio or 1 Bedroom —> 20 m3
    • 2 Bedroom —> 25 m3
    • 3 Bedroom —> 30 m3
    • 4 Bedroom or 3 Bedroom + Car —> 50 m3
  4. Use your “real” contact details for BOTH phone and email. Yes, the form is secure. If you don’t use your real contact details, then they can’t get in touch with you for your quote. Makes sense, right?