Banking - Australian Expatriates & Migrants
As an expatriate you are likely to have three or more banking relationships:
- Your existing retail banking relationship in Australia. It should be maintained so that you have the facility to pay and receive money in Australia. The banks have no problem retaining you as a customer, even though you are non-resident. Just remember that any interest earned will automatically attract a withholding tax of 10%. Accounts are easily operated via the internet.
- You will need to establish a banking account in your host country. In most cases, this can only be done after you arrive in the country - the setting up of accounts has become appreciably more difficult in recent years as a result of money-laundering regulations, and
- You may need to establish an Offshore bank account - because of the flexibility they offer in terms of any later international moves, or because they offer a superior environment for holding cash or investments.
Moving to the UK
Prior to September 2014 Australians could establish a bank account in the UK in advance of their arrival with either the Clydesdale Bank or Yorkshire Bank - both owned by the National Australia Bank (NAB). However, with the sale of these two banks, this access has disappeared and with the exception of HSBC customers, expats will generally need to wait until they are resident in the UK before establishing accounts.
At the present time, we do not believe that any of the Australian banks have the geographic spread or capacity to provide a true International banking experience to Australian expatriates. The exceptions are expatriates in New Zealand, PNG and some countries in the South Pacific where some Australian banks retain a retail presence - and in South East Asia and China where ANZ has a small footprint, although not always as a retail bank.
You have a very wide choice of large, global financial institutions that are experienced in dealing with expatriates and often have dedicated units or "Clubs" to deal with their specific requirements. Unless you have a specific need that can only be met by Australian banks we think that broader, more competitive services are usually available elsewhere. We also remain disappointed by the lack of support Australian banks provide for Australian expatriates offshore - often limiting their services to individuals who meet their (very) "high net worth" criteria.
Two banks we would mention at this juncture, of which we have had some personal experience, include:
In terms of HSBC, you can open an account with the bank in Australia and, if you have been a customer for a reasonable period, this may accelerate the opening of accounts elsewhere in the bank's network. We strongly suggest however that you carefully consider the alternatives to using either bank for foreign exchange transfers - HSBC in particular can be very expensive in terms of fees and exchange rates unless you are a Premier client. No bank should be used unless their system shows at what rate exactly your currency will be exchanged on transfer and the applicable fees.
Expats and Migrants Moving to Australia
It is easy for expatriates or migrants moving to Australia to establish a bank account in advance of their arrival with the National Australia Bank (NAB), one of Australia's four large banks. Please just complete the Inquiry form below and details will be sent to you immediately.