Investors and individuals alike will find that they need to open a bank account in New Zealand when they arrive in the country for employment or business purposes. The step is a simple one, and it can be assisted by our team of New Zealand company formation experts for corporate accounts.
This short guide explains the general bank account opening process, the needed documents as well as includes a few other details that can help foreign entrepreneurs who are interested in this.
Bank account opening is just one of the steps needed to start a business. For a comprehensive guide, please reach out to our local incorporation agents.
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Can a foreigner open a bank account?
Yes. As a matter of fact, this is a simple step and those interested can even open a bank account online in NZ. This step is followed by many foreign nationals who move to New Zealand for business or employment purposes. Those who open a company in NZ will open a corporate bank account and a personal account afterward, as needed.
Opening a bank account for foreigners in 2024 is simple for an everyday account, a savings account as well as for special accounts, for example, those for international students.
What documents do I need to open a bank account in New Zealand?
Every bank will ask the individual who wishes to open an account for basic details and, in case of companies, for proof of registration (the business registration certificate). Some of the most important documents are the following:
- Identity documents: national ID card or a valid passport; the visa for foreign nationals as well as proof of address both outside of the country and in NZ, as applicable;
- Tax details: New Zealand customers will provide their IRD number and international clients will offer their international tax details;
- Contact information: a valid telephone number as well as email address;
- Others: for corporate bank accounts, documents referring to the company’s registration with the Companies Register.
Banks reserve their right to verify the applicant’s identity and can reject an application if the submitted documentation is incomplete. We advise interested individuals, particularly for business bank account purposes, to reach out to our company formation agents and find out more about the documents they need to provide.
Can I open a bank account online in NZ in 2024?
Yes. Most banks allow their customers to fill in the application to open the bank account online, however, the process is usually streamlined in case of existing clients, as opposed to new ones. While the latter can still commence the process online, they can be subject to an in-person verification that takes place in one of the chosen bank’s branches.
While it is convenient to start the initial stages before one arrives in the country, individuals will need to take the time to activate their account properly after they are in New Zealand. This means visiting a branch of the chosen bank and submitting the original and the copies of the documents that were initially submitted online.
Making an initial deposit is also required from those who open a bank account in New Zealand.
If you wish to know more about this process, or if you need assistance for corporate banking issues while you are not in the country, our team can help you.
How do I choose the bank?
The number of branches a certain bank has available throughout the country, as well as the costs for account management and the availability of additional services (internet banking, easy money transfer and others) are important issues to take into consideration when choosing the New Zealand bank with which you will work. Banking services providers in NZ are registered, as per the conditions set forth by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.
Another criterion can be whether or not the new customer can open a bank account online in NZ. This can be important for those who wish to apply before their arrival in the country in order to save time once they are here.
In a statistical dataset concerning banking (issued by KPMG in 2022), the data shows that New Zealand had over 670 bank branches and more than 2,100 ATMs.
Some of the top banks in New Zealand, as per the data made available regarding their profitability (return of assets percentage) and balance sheet are the following:
- Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ): 1.2% return on assets and 183,544.4 NZDm in the quarter ending on 31 March 2021;
- Bank of New Zealand (BNZ): 1.3% return on assets and 114,314.0 NZDm in the quarter ending on 31 March 2021;
- ASB Bank: 1.3% return on assets and 112,419.0 NZDm in the quarter ending on 31 March 2021.
For the quarter ending on 30 September 2023, the key metric summary issued by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand had the following data, summarized below by our team:
- ANZ occupied first position for the largest total assets amount: 194,289 NZDm; It was followed by BNZ (with 130,065 NZDm) and ABB (with 126,920 NZDm);
- According to the return on assets figures, ANZ also had the highest result (1.2), followed by ASB (1.1) and BNZ (1.0) and This measures the bank’s profitability in relation to its total assets;
- ANZ was also the highest-performing bank for the total non-performing loans ratio, with 0.6%.
Banking regulation in New Zealand
The banking system in New Zealand is dominated by a number of large banks, foreign-owned, most of them being owned by Australian parent banks. The banks that operate on the market are subject to registration and supervision by the Reserve Bank.
The Reserve Bank is the one to supervise and regulate banks, insurers as well as finance companies that are non-bank deposit takers (companies that accept deposits from the public, credit unions, etc.). Other financial institutions in the country are regulated by other agencies. For example, insurers and fund managers operate under the guidelines for prudential regulation set forth by the Ministry of Economic Development.
Banks in New Zealand observe the rules and obligations to counteract money laundering and the financing of terrorism. The relevant law in this case is the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009.
The powers of the Reserve Bank are outlined in a special act. In summary, these include setting the conditions for the registration of banks, authorizing the change of ownership in a registered bank, providing directions in certain cases, recommending placement into statutory management (for banks in financial distress) or recommending public disclosure requirements. The Reserve Bank is also the one to monitor the financial condition of each bank operating in NZ.
As a general rule, one that is also relevant for those who wish to open a company in New Zealand that activates in the financial sector, the word “bank” cannot be used by an entity unless that company is a registered bank in New Zealand. Certain exemptions may be granted under the Act or by the Reserve Bank, however, when choosing a name for a new company in NZ this is one of the words that have limited usage.
All registered banks in New Zealand are required to obtain and disclose their credit rating, as expressed by at least one of the rating agencies approved by the Reserve Bank. These are Moody’s, S&P, or Fitch.
As far as insurers are concerned, they are also subject to licensing by the Reserve Bank, and the mandatory requirement for registration is dictated by the Insurance Act 2010.
As far as banking statistics are concerned, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand offers us a glimpse not only into important economic indicators, but also on the financial status of households, or lending. Our team presents some of this data below:
- 5.4% year-on-year increase in retail trade sales;
- 4,164 million NZD total billings in New Zealand in February 2023;
- 627 million NZD billings in New Zealand on overseas issued cards in February 2023;
- As far as new residential mortgage lending was concerned, in February 2023 there were 815 million NZD allotted to first home buyers who applied for lending, 626 million NZD total lending for investors, and 65 million NZD lending for business purposes.
Corporate bank accounts in New Zealand
Our clients who are interested in company formation in New Zealand will often ask us if our incorporation packages include the corporate bank account. As previously mentioned, the procedure to open a bank account in New Zealand can start once the company is registered, as the proof of registration is required for this step. Most banks will ask the account holder to be physically present during the opening of the account, however, for those who have already opened the company and have the account, the bank will allow the use of an agent and a power of attorney that will grant the said agent the authority to operate.
This means that our team will sign a power of attorney with the company owner, a document that will give authority to operate the account. The power of attorney is recognized by banks in New Zealand once the bank representatives have checked it for authenticity as well as the verify the ID of the empowered individual.
Some of the powers that are typically granted when using a power of attorney to operate a bank account on someone else’s behalf include the following:
- Obtain the account balances;
- Make payments or transfer money;
- Deposit funds into the accounts for which the agent has authority over;
- Make changes to payments or automatic payments or cancel payments.
When the account is a joint business one, for example when more than one shareholder has access to it, then all of the authorized persons will need to agree to the appointment of the agent via the power of attorney.
The restrictions have to do with receiving credit cards, to open a bank account in New Zealand or closing one or managing the funds in the name of the account holder.
The power of attorney over a bank account in New Zealand can be cancelled at any time or as stipulated in the document if the power of attorney is one with a fixed term. The bank will be notified thereof.
A specific power of attorney can be concluded for the purpose of asset management and gaining access to account opening and closure, however, this can be discussed in more detail with one of our agents.
The power of attorney for banking purposes can be a suitable solution for foreign investors in New Zealand who are not residents and who do not plan to remain in the country for longer periods in order to manage their business.
Our team can give you more information about banking solutions for investors and businesses.
Opening a bank account is just one of the steps needed to start a business in New Zealand. As described herein, investors will need to reserve a company name and submit an application (and pay the taxes) to register the new business. Corporate bank account creation is a step that takes place toward the end of the process. Our team can help you throughout all of the mandatory steps for company incorporation in NZ.
If you would like to know more about the other mandatory steps needed to open a company in New Zealand, our team can help you. We assist investors from the earliest stages of company creation, as early as choosing the suitable business form. Moreover, we help prepare the documents needed for registration with the Companies House and can afterward assist with corporate bank account creation.
Contact us if you want to open a bank account in New Zealand in 2024. Our team can help you with additional information as well as complete assistance for the other steps needed to open a NZ company.