2 Mar 2010

5 Steps to Set Up Your Finances When Immigrating to Australia - Part 1

This is the first part of a guest post from Australia. Today we will find out about opening an account and transferring money and next time we will get some useful information about how to rent and buy a house in Australia as well as how to get the best deal on Australian credit cards.

Fred is a personal finance writer at Credit Card Daily. He helps people to compare balance transfer credit cards online.

Immigrating to a new country and starting a new life can be both an exciting, but stressful time. However, to make sure you control as much stress as possible surrounding your immigration to Australia, follow these five simple steps to set up your finances.

1 How to open a bank account

To be able to receive the wages from your new job and any benefits you are entitled to, you will need an Australian bank account; plus having a bank account makes it easier to keep track of your funds and make purchases online, over the phone or in person. You’ll also need somewhere for the funds from the bank account in your home country to be transferred to.

Most Australian bank account providers will allow both Australian citizens and permanent residents to open an Australian bank account. Therefore, if you have just immigrated to Australia and are not yet a citizen, your permanent residency should be enough to open a new account, but it is best to double check this when you start comparing bank accounts.

If you open an Australian bank account within six weeks of arriving, you should only need your passport as identification. If you want to open a bank account after six weeks, you will need additional identification documents to help you meet the 100 point identification check required by all Australian banks and financial institutions. Each form of identification has a different points value and you can reach 100 points with any combination of:

·       A birth certificate = 70 points.
·       Your passport = 70 points.
·       Your citizenship certificate = 70 points.
·       A drivers’ license, or shooters’ license = 40 points.
·       A public service employee identification card = 40 points.
·       A Commonwealth or State government financial entitlement card, for example, a pension card = 40 points.
·       Land rates for home buyers or home owners = 35 points.
·       A card with your name on it, for example a Medicare card, credit card, store card, video hire or library card = 25 points.
·       A document with your name and address, for example, car registration, utility bills, rental receipts = 25 points.

If you are opening a bank account with a savings feature you will also be required to provide your Tax File Number so any interest you earn can be reported and taxed correctly. To obtain your TFN, contact the Australian Taxation Office on 13 2861 or visit their website at http://www.ato.gov.au.

2 How to transfer money from overseas

When you immigrate to Australia you can bring your savings with you in cash, but amounts of more than AU $10,000 will need to be reported to customs officials. Also remember that if you are immigrating to Australia and plan to live as a permanent resident or citizen, keeping money in a foreign bank account does not exempt you from paying tax on it and you could be taxed at the highest rate of 45%.

If you don’t want to carry your savings into Australia in cash you can organise for an international funds transfer with one of the many money transfer companies operating in Australia:

When you choose an international money transfer company, look for one with low fees and compare the exchange rates you can get at the time, and even whether the transfer company is willing to lock in that exchange rate until the transfer has been processed. Also make sure the company has a current Australia Financial Services license for the security of your funds.

Alternatively you can make the transfer yourself by opening a PayPal account www.paypal.com which allows you to transfer funds in from any currency, and out to an Australian bank account in Australian dollars; just keep in mind the PayPal exchange rates are not always as generous as those of the banks or international transfer agencies. You can also obtain the Swift code of the bank which holds your new Australian bank account and this will allow you to transfer funds from an international account into your Australian account, but make sure you compare the fees of a Swift transaction as they can be prohibitive. 

Stay tuned for the second part to find out more about mortgages, rental agreements and credit cards in Australia!

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Anonymous said...

G'day Anastasia,
How long have you been here?
Where do you live?
This is exciting as I don't find many PF bloggers who live here.

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