The Australia banking system is recognised as being one of the strongest banking systems in the world. Whilst currently dominated by the “big four” banks the landscape is becoming increasingly competitive and you should be able to find a range of transactional and savings accounts that will suit your initial needs.

The market has been historically dominated by what are known as the “big four” banks – the National Australia Bank, Westpac, ANZ and Commonwealth Bank (CBA). These established and internationally recognised banks are a good place to start your banking arrangements in Australia as they are likely to have strong existing links to banks in your home country.

These established links should make it easy for you to establish a bank account with one of the big four prior to moving to Australia. This practical move will make your financial affairs much easier to manage in the initial stages of your move and give you access to cash without having to cope with the intricacies of arranging international money transfers from your home country or dealing with the government restrictions on bringing cash into the country.

Once you have your bank account established there are some key things key points you need to know.

  • Bank Accounts in Australia are issued in the same format for each institution. There are three key components that uniquely identify your bank account;
  • The account title – usually your full name;
    • the BSB (bank state branch)- a six digit number, and;
    • the account number itself – usually an eight or nine digit number.

You will need these details to arrange for all authorised direct debits and regular payments to be applied to your bank account.

  • Banks usual trading hours are Monday to Friday from 9.30 am until 4.00pm (5.00pm on Fridays). Some weekend services are available in selected high traffic areas and in the major cities.
  • All banks within Australia offer internet banking services and custom made smart phone apps, making most banking transactions available 24 hours a day.
  • Most employers make salary payments directly into your bank account. If you are offered payment of your wage by cash, ensure that you receive a salary slip detailing the amount paid and the tax withheld. This will help to protect you from any unscrupulous employer practices.
  • You can set up a bank account in Australia up to three months before you arrive in the country. This gives you plenty of time to arrange any transfer of funds for when you arrive. You will usually be able to pick up your debit card at the nominated branch when you arrive.
  • If you have been living in Australia for longer than 6 weeks and have not set up an Australian bank account, you will need to comply with the usual account opening requirements in Australia. This will require you to supply sufficient documentation to satisfactorily identify you. Various documents carry points weighting to establish your identity. You will need your passport and one other recognised ID document to do this. You will also need to provide proof of your current address.

Once you become familiar with the Australian banking system you will find that is easy to use, convenient and very safe. Once you have been in Australia for several months and have used your bank account responsibly, you should be able access lending facilities such as credit cards with most of the big four banks and some other providers.

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