Growing your money in NZ

One of the things that needs to be sorted by international doctors coming to NZ is banking, so our friends at BNZ have summarised the process.

If you’re moving to New Zealand, you’ll want to know about the banking system and how it can help you settle into your new life. The New Zealand banking industry is well-regulated and enjoys a high level of trust from the public. While a Deposit Guarantee Scheme is not yet in place, banks are well-capitalised, and there are several regulators involved in the financial sector. These include the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, the Financial Markets Authority, and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

Setting up your NZ bank account

When it comes to opening a bank account, different banks have different criteria. You may be able to set up a bank account from overseas and deposit funds into it before you arrive, but keep in mind that you likely won’t be able to access your money until you physically identify yourself in a New Zealand bank branch. Banks are required to have strict “Know Your Customer” (KYC) processes in place, so make sure you have the correct documentation to avoid any delays.

Generally you will be required to provide your passport as well as a form of proof of address. Your NZ bank may accept proof of your overseas address. When the identification process has been completed, the account will be activated, allowing you to make withdrawals and transfer funds. At that point 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.

Some banks 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 Banking services in addition to retail banking, as well as dedicated Business and Institutional banking teams.

Transferring funds to New Zealand

Most overseas banks have a process in place to transfer funds into your new NZ bank account. You’ll likely need account holder name, residential address, and account number (16 digits for NZD accounts – NN-NNNN-NNNNNNN-NNN) for the receiving bank account. You’ll also need your NZ bank’s SWIFT code which serves as the bank identifier.

Unless you opted to hold funds in a foreign currency, normally the funds are converted to Kiwi dollars by either the sending bank, the receiving bank, or an intermediate bank along the way. Before you send the funds, check which fees may apply. In some cases, international sanctions may affect international payments.

New Zealand has not adopted the IBAN format, BSB, Sort Code, ABA Routing Number, Clearing Code or National Clearing Code. If you’re asked to input a clearing code, you’ll likely have to enter the NZ bank & branch number – the first 6 digits of the NZD account number.

How to do your banking

New Zealand is advanced in the use of technology, and digital banking is widely adopted. Using a card is the most common way to pay, even for small purchases, and contactless and mobile payments are popular. Make sure you always have a little cash on hand for those roadside fruits and veggie sales though! There are several types of cards available, including debit cards, credit cards, and Eftpos (electronic funds transfer at point of sale) cards. When you first visit the bank, you may be able to obtain a temporary card. A personalised card can take up to a week to reach you.

Bank branches are located throughout New Zealand in larger towns, but may have limited hours. Most banking services can be done online, through internet/mobile banking self-service, or over the phone.

Some services you may be able to access via internet/mobile banking:

  • Opening additional transactional or savings accounts
  • Closing accounts
  • Opening a term deposit
  • Transferring funds between accounts and to third parties
  • Making one-off and recurring payments
  • Transferring funds overseas
  • Updating your details
  • Accessing statements
  • Contacting your bank
  • Applying for other products
  • Notifying your bank of upcoming international travel

You might be able to organise other services over the phone, such as:

  • Completing a credit card application
  • Obtaining a home loan
  • Completing transactions above your transaction limit

In summary, the banking system in New Zealand is well-regulated and can help you manage your finances as you settle into your new life. Make sure you have the correct documentation to open a bank account, and take advantage of the digital banking options available. Don’t forget to plan for your future; your bank can help you get set up.

Thanks to BNZ’s Chantal Groothengel for putting together this information. She’s happy to answer any further queries you might have and can be contacted at  

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