- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals New Zealand Guide (PDF)
New Zealand's banking system offers expats a sophisticated and comprehensive range of services, as well as high-quality customer service. Opening a bank account in New Zealand is generally straightforward for expats, who typically need only a bank reference from their home country.
Visa and MasterCard are accepted everywhere. There are many ATMs that can be used to draw both local and foreign funds with a debit or credit card.
Money in New Zealand
The currency in New Zealand is the New Zealand Dollar (NZD), which is divided into 100 cents. In New Zealand, it is normally written with a dollar sign, or as NZ$ to distinguish it from other dollar currencies. A dollar in New Zealand is sometimes informally referred to by residents as a Kiwi.
Notes: 5 NZD, 10 NZD, 20 NZD, 50 NZD and 100 NZD
Coins: 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, 1 NZD and 2 NZD
Banking in New Zealand
Banking in New Zealand is relatively uncomplicated. The largest banks in New Zealand are ANZ, Bank of New Zealand (BNZ), ASB and Westpac.
All banks have online banking services that allow account holders to transfer funds or pay certain municipal bills and other services online. Banks usually issue holders with a card that can be used to pay bills at electronic points of sale at shops and restaurants, such as a Visa debit card. Cashless services are highly popular throughout New Zealand, and contactless payments are increasingly popular.
Opening a bank account
It is advisable for expats to investigate their banking options before they commit to a certain account type or bank. Some banks or bank accounts charge fees for certain services – such as for transactions or monthly statements – while others don’t. Generally, expats will be offered a choice between a current account and a savings account or a package which includes both.
The requirements for opening a bank account in New Zealand vary depending on the bank. In general, foreign applicants will need identification (usually in the form of a passport and a driver’s licence), proof of residence and their visa. Conveniently, the account can be set up and a new bank card can be issued on the day that the account is created.
Some banks, such as the Bank of New Zealand, allow customers to apply online before they have even arrived in New Zealand. Expats who meet certain criteria are therefore able to begin depositing money into their account before moving to New Zealand, though they would need to go into a branch when they arrive to get a bank card that will allow them to access their funds.
Credit cards and ATMs
ATMs are widely available in New Zealand and Visa and MasterCard are accepted everywhere. When expats open a bank account in New Zealand, they are typically given an EFTPOS card that functions like a debit card and can be used to make purchases by swiping and entering a PIN. While EFTPOS cards are free of charge for the payer, they are only usable in New Zealand or Australia and can't be used for online payments. Expats should be aware of this when choosing to open an account with an EFTPOS card.
Taxes in New Zealand
New Zealand has simple tax laws with minimal loopholes. It is one of the most favourable tax environments for investors of all OECD countries.
Local income tax is calculated on a progressive scale depending on how much one earns and are capped at 39 percent. Expats who are in New Zealand for less than 183 days of any 12-month period are only liable for tax on their locally earned income. On the other hand, expats who live in New Zealand for 183 days or more in any 12-month period are considered tax residents. This means that they will be liable to pay tax on their worldwide income.
New Zealand's tax system is favourable for investors, with no capital gains, inheritance, estate or healthcare taxes aside from property rates. However, it's also important to note that New Zealand has an expanded concept of income compared to many other countries, and these other taxes are generally wrapped into income tax. There is also a blanket Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 15 percent factored into most things that expats would buy in New Zealand. Additional taxes are also paid on alcohol, tobacco and petrol.
►For more on managing finances, see Cost of Living in New Zealand.
►Healthcare in New Zealand gives an overview of medical services in the country.
Are you an expat living in New Zealand?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to New Zealand. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
If you’re thinking about taking out private health insurance, our trusted partner Cigna Global is very aware of all the difficulties that expats can face when it comes to healthcare in a new location, so they have created a range of international health insurance plans specifically designed for expats, which you can tailor exactly to the needs and ensure access to quality care for you and your family.
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