How to open a bank account in Australia as a US citizen in 2024

Planning to relocate to Australia? Or maybe you’re a US resident and need an account in AUD for sending or receiving payments from Australia?

If you’re relocating you’ll be able to get an account with a bank in Australia – but you won’t be able to complete the application process until you’re about to leave the US, or even when you actually arrive in Australia. And there’s bad news if you’re looking for a non-resident account to manage AUD payments. Chances are you’ll struggle to open a standard Australian bank account without a local Australian address.

However, there are some alternative options available. This guide will take a look at the account opening process for Australian banks, and how non-resident accounts from non-bank alternatives like Wise or Revolut compare.

Go to WiseGo to Revolut

What documents do I need?

The documents you need to open a bank account in Australia will depend on the specific bank and account you select. You can expect to be asked for:

  • Proof of identity (like a passport or ID card)
  • An Australian residential address
  • Your Tax identification number (TIN) for any country where you’re a tax resident

If you’re starting the process to apply for your Australian bank account before you relocate there you’ll also be asked to provide details of your entry visa and where you will live once you get to Australia. This will let you start the application process although you’ll still need to call into a bank branch to show your paperwork and pick up your debit card once you arrive, and you won’t have full account access until this process is completed.

Save the paperwork with alternative solutions like Wise or Revolut

Non bank services like Wise or Revolut offer multi-currency accounts which allow you to hold, receive, send and spend AUD. You can open an AUD account as a non-resident, or use your account to get ahead if you’re about to move to Australia, but you don’t have an Australian address yet.

Open your account online or in the provider’s app, using your documents and US proof of address. Everything is done digitally so there’s no need to visit a branch or even leave home. Depending on the specific account you select you could get your own AUD bank details in just a few simple steps, an international debit card, low cost cross currency payments and more.

Go to WiseGo to Revolut

How to open a Australia bank account as a foreigner

If you’re a foreigner and resident in Australia with full local ID documents and a proof of address, you’ll have no problem opening a bank account. However, if you’re a foreigner moving to Australia you may have a few more hoops to jump through.

If you’re a US citizen moving to Australia, some banks like Commbank do let you start the account application process before you move, and visit a branch once you arrive, to get your debit card and present all your documents.

If you’re starting your application online before you move to Australia, you’ll need to complete the online form before you leave the US – usually 14 days or less before your move. On arrival, gather all the paperwork you need, and present proof of your Australian residential address and tax number at a branch.

What do I need to know before opening an Australian bank account from overseas?

You won’t be able to open a standard Australian bank account as a non-resident. Instead you’ll likely be pointed to the expat service divisions of your preferred global banks.These options can offer flexible accounts, but are usually aimed at high wealth individuals looking to invest. That can mean high fees and a high minimum balance requirement.

If you need a day to day account you can use to transact in AUD as a non-resident or before you relocate, you might be better off with a specialist like Wise or Revolut. More on that coming up in a moment.

Go to WiseGo to Revolut

Which account is best in Australia for foreigners?

You’ll have plenty of options for a bank account once you’re in Australia. And depending on your preference, you could even start your application before you move. However, your account won’t work in full until you can get to a bank branch and update your details, including giving an Australian residential address.

Good alternatives include specialist financial technology companies. These allow you to open an account in full, online and without requiring an Australian residential address – they also tend to be cheaper and more flexible than banks.

Let’s take a look at a few examples:

Currencies covered40+ currencies25+ currenciesAUDAUD
EligibilityResidents of most countries globally, including the US and AustraliaResidents of a range of countries including the US and AustraliaPeople moving to Australia within 14 daysResidents of Australia only
Open before you arrive in AustraliaYesYesStart application 14 days before movingNo
Open onlineYesYesStart online; complete in branchApply in branch
Maintenance feeNo feeNo fee for standard plans, up to 16.99 USD/month for higher tier accounts4 AUD/month, waived for the first yearNo fee
International transfersFrom 0.43%, varies by currencyUp to 10 USD for payments under 200 USD in value; Up to 5% for higher value paymentsNo fee for  online transfers in a foreign currency – exchange rate markups applyNo fee for  online transfers in a foreign currency – exchange rate markups apply

*Commbank account profiled – Everyday Account Smart Access, which is recommended for people moving to Australia. NAB account profiled is the NAB Classic Banking Account

Getting an account with an Australian bank could be a good option if you’re already in Australia with a local residential address. If not, you may be better off with an online specialist non bank provider. Specialists often provide more flexible multi-currency accounts which are cheaper and easier to open.

Wise account

16+ million customers from all around the world trust Wise to help them save when they send money overseas, and for cheap and convenient multi-currency accounts. You can open a Wise account using proof of address documents from the US, to get local AUD bank details and start to receive, send and exchange Australian dollars right away.

In fact, with the Wise multi-currency account you can hold and manage 40+ currencies, get a linked international debit card, and local bank details for up to 10 currencies including AUD. That means you can get paid easily through local transfers, from around 30 countries. And to help you save, Wise currency exchange uses the mid-market exchange rate with no markups.

Go to Wise
Account types: Both personal and business customers can open a Wise multi-currency account with no minimum balance or monthly fees to pay. You just pay a low, transparent fee for the services you use.

Eligibility: Apply with proof of address from the US – or once you arrive in Australia. Full details of availability by location available on the Wise website.

Is it safe? Wise is regulated by global bodies around the world, wherever it does business.

Fees for a Wise account

Wise accounts have no ongoing charges, but there are a few transaction costs you should know about. Be sure to check the terms and conditions carefully, looking out for charges like:

  • Currency conversion has a variable fee from 0.43%
  • There’s a 4.14 USD fee to receive an incoming USD wire
  • 9 USD card order fee for the Wise debit card
  • Fees after you’ve made 2 ATM withdrawals to the value of 100 USD are 1.5 USD + 2%

Go to Wise

How to open an account with Wise

  1. Open the Wise app or desktop site
  2. Select Register and confirm you want to open a personal account
  3. Register with your email, Facebook, Apple or Google ID
  4. Upload your ID document to complete the verification step
  5. Once your account is verified, on Wise app click on ‘Add’, and choose ‘Australian Dollars’ from the currencies list. Your Wise AUD account will opened instantly.
  6. Top up your account, order an international debit card or set up your first transfer

Learn more: How to open a Wise account

Revolut account

Financial technology company Revolut offers a range of accounts you can use to hold, exchange and send 25 currencies including AUD. Different Revolut account tiers are available, including plans with no monthly charges, and options with monthly fees which come with higher levels of no fee transactions and more perks.

Depending on the account you choose you’ll be able to get some no fee weekday currency exchange which uses the mid-market exchange rate, and extras like budgeting and savings tools, lounge access and travel perks.

Go to Revolut
Account types: Standard account plans have no ongoing fees, or you can upgrade to a paid plan for up to 16.99 USD/month.

Eligibility: Available to customers with addresses in a range of countries including the UK, the EEA, Australia, Singapore, Switzerland, Japan, and the US.

Is it safe? Revolut is fully licensed wherever it trades. In Australia, Revolut is regulated by ASIC, and holds an Australian Financial Services License.

Fees for a Revolut account

Revolut has different account plans which all come with their own features and fees. Be sure to check the terms and conditions of the plan you select carefully, looking out for charges like:

  • Monthly fee which can be up to 16.99 USD
  • Out of hours exchange fee of 1%
  • Fair usage fee for currency conversion of 0.5%
  • 2% ATM fee once you’ve used your account no fee allowance

Go to Revolut

How to open an account with Revolut

  1. Download the Revolut app
  2. Select Sign up and pick the account plan you want
  3. Register by adding your personal and contact information
  4. Upload your ID document to complete the verification step
  5. Add money to your account to starter to transact


Commbank lets you apply for an account online if you’re moving to Australia within the next 14 days. However, you won’t have full account access until you arrive in the country and visit a branch to show your documents and get verified. At this point you’ll also need to provide an Australian residential address.

Commbank also has a good range of other online resources designed to help people who are relocating to the country.

Account types: Full range of accounts available, specific accounts recommended for people moving to Australia to work or study are Everyday Account Smart Access and Everyday Account Smart Access for Students

Eligibility: Customers moving to Australia to work or study within the next 14 days

Is it safe? Yes. Commbank is a large and trusted bank which holds an Australian Financial Services License and an Australian Credit License.

How to open an account with Commbank

  1. Visit the Commbank website
  2. Select the option to sign up on the Moving to Australia page
  3. Pick the account you prefer
  4. Complete the online form following the prompts
  5. Visit a branch in person on arrival to show your ID


NAB doesn’t let customers start opening their account from outside Australia – but does have a good range of options for people with an Australian address already. The account we profiled is the NAB Classic Banking Account which comes with no monthly fees, no overdrawn fees and free ATM withdrawals from 4,000 ATMs around Australia.

Open your account by visiting an NAB branch.

Account types: Full range of accounts – NAB Classic Banking is the account we picked to profile, as it has no monthly fee to pay.

Eligibility: Customers with a residential address in Australia

Is it safe? Yes. NAB is fully registered, regulated and holds an Australian Financial Services License and an Australian Credit License.

How to open an account with NAB

You can only open an account with NAB as a foreigner by visiting a branch – call ahead to make sure you have all the paperwork needed to apply.

What is a bank account in Australia needed for?

If you’re a US citizen planning to relocate to Australia, or simply spend a lot of time there, having an AUD bank account can be very helpful. Here are some of the ways you might choose to use your AUD account:

  • Cut the costs of spending in AUD, in person when you travel and when you shop online
  • Prepare for your move if you’re planning to relocate to Australia
  • Convert funds from AUD for investing in AUD or to diversify your savings
  • Send payments to individuals and businesses in Australia – such as paying for travel or an overseas mortgage

Benefits of opening a bank account in Australia

Here are a few of the benefits you can expect if you choose to open a bank account in Australia:

  • Reduce the costs of spending in AUD
  • Cut out foreign transaction fees when spending in Australia
  • Get paid by others in AUD
  • Hold your funds in AUD without needing to convert back to Australian dollars
  • Send money to others in Australia, for personal or business purposes, with lower overall costs

Can I open a bank account in Australia before arrival?

You can start to open a bank account with some Australian banks before arrival if you’re planning on relocating. However, your account can’t be used until you’ve arrived in the country and visited a branch to show your ID. Instead, a non-bank alternative like Wise or Revolut may be a better way to get started before you move, with full account access before you get to Australia.

Go to WiseGo to Revolut

Can I open an Australian bank account online?

You may be able to start the account opening process online, if you plan to move to Australia in the near future. However, banks tend to ask customers to attend in person when they arrive in Australia, to show their documents and confirm their new address. Instead, you could get an account set up fully online or through an app – without needing an Australian address – by picking a specialist alternative service from a provider like Wise or Revolut.

How long does it take to open a bank account in Australia?

How long it takes to get your account open will depend on the bank and whether you’re opening in advance or on arrival. Double check with your preferred bank to see their likely lead time.

What are the types of bank accounts in Australia?

Bank accounts in Australia can be split into several different types, including transaction accounts for daily spending, savings products and specialist services like student and teen accounts. Transaction accounts are similar to checking accounts in the US, in that they’re usually intended for your day to day use – but you’re unlikely to get a checkbook as paying by check is less popular in Australia.

The best way to find the Australia bank account that’s right for you is to browse various banks’ websites where all products are described in detail.

How to choose a bank account in Australia

Spend some time looking at the different account types and options, as Australian bank accounts aren’t likely to work in the same way as your US bank account does. Think about how easy to use your account will be – in terms of branch and ATM access, as well as online and mobile services. Review the fees carefully – and double check online reviews to see what existing customers say about your preferred bank before you get started.

How much does it cost to open a bank account in Australia?

Australian banks offer a broad range of account products – and the types of fee you pay can vary a lot depending on the product you choose. It’s worth shopping around a bit to find an account that really suits you – be sure to check out the terms and conditions and look out for fees including:

  • Monthly maintenance fees – or fall below fees
  • International payment fees
  • Foreign transaction fees when spending or withdrawing with your card
  • Overdraft fees
  • Credit card costs including cash advances and interest
  • Account dormancy or early closure fees

As well as looking at the costs of traditional bank accounts, compare some specialist providers which may offer lower transaction fees, and a more intuitive user experience through online and in-app services.

Is it possible to open a fee-free account in Australia?

Many Australian bank accounts have monthly fees – but not all do. Some will also waive fees for new customers, or for specific customer types. Bear in mind that even if you find an account which has no fixed fees, it’s worth remembering that there are likely to be other charges, such as service and transaction fees, and costs if you use other options like an overdraft or payment card.

What are the additional costs?

Aside from any monthly fees you might pay, you can also run into other costs for using your bank account. The fees do vary pretty widely based on the bank you pick, so comparing a few is the best way to get a good deal. Look out for costs including:

  • Card fees – annual costs based on the card you select
  • Withdrawal fees – local and international ATM charges
  • Foreign transaction fees – fees applied if you spend in a foreign currency
  • Interest or overdraft charges
  • International transfer fees – particularly important when moving, as the costs of sending money abroad can be high

Tips for sending money between the US and Australia

Sending an international transfer with an Australian bank can come with a confusing array of fees and a markup on the exchange rate applied. Before you move your money, check out these tips:

  • Compare the exchange rate you’re offered against the mid-market exchange rate to see if a markup is being used
  • Review the terms and conditions of your specific account to see the transfer fee which will apply
  • Check if there are third party fees associated with the SWIFT network – these can push up the overall costs
  • Consider using a specialist service like Wise instead of your regular bank – this can keep the costs down and mean you get a faster service, too

If you are interested in opening a bank account abroad, these guides might help:

Conclusion: Open Australian bank account from overseas

While some Australian banks allow people moving to the country to open an account before they relocate, you won’t actually be able to use it until you arrive and visit a branch with all of your paperwork. This can be a problem if you need to be able to send or receive AUD payments before you travel – or if you’re looking for a non-resident account option.

Instead you could be better off with a multi-currency account with a specialist online service like Wise or Revolut**.** Get your account using your US proof of address documents, with an easy in-app or online application and verification process. You’re likely to also benefit from lower fees and better exchange rates compared to a bank.

Go to WiseGo to Revolut

Australian bank account FAQs

Can I open a bank account in Australia only with my passport

No. To open a bank account in Australia you’ll always need more than your passport – usually proof of local address, and as a foreigner, evidence that you’re in the country as a legal resident.

Can a foreigner non-resident open an account in Australia?

If you’re planning on relocating shortly you’ll be able to open a bank account in Australia with a few banks. However, you won’t be able to use your account properly without presenting your documents in a branch – which means non-resident foreigners may struggle. If that sounds like you, you might find it easier to get set up with an online account with a specialist provider.

How much do I need to open a bank account in Australia?

Some bank accounts in Australia have minimum deposit and minimum balance requirements. Others, including specialist services, may be completely free to open with no minimum balance – compare a few providers to get the best deal for your needs.

Can I open an Australian bank account online?

Some Australian banks let you start the account application process online, but you’ll still usually have to visit a branch to complete verification checks. Instead, choose a specialist provider to open your account from home on your laptop or mobile device, with a more flexible verification process.

How to apply for a bank account online in Australia?

You can open a Commbank account online before you leave the US – to do so, visit the Commbank website and select the option to sign up on the Moving to Australia page. Complete the online form following the prompts, and then visit a branch in person on arrival to show your ID. You won’t be able to get a debit card or deposit money in your account until you’ve shown your documents in a branch. To get started more quickly, check out non-bank services like Wise or Revolut which have a full online opening process you can complete from anywhere.

Can I open a bank account in Australia before landing?

You won’t usually be able to get a regular bank account until you can prove your legal residence in Australia. Specialist services like Wise or Revolut may be a better choice because they can accept international proof of address documents when you open your account.

Claire Millard
Fintech Content Writer
Claire Millard is a content and copywriter with a specialty in international finance. Her work has featured in The Times and The Telegraph, as well as industry magazines and leading personal finance blogs.
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Seyma Mektepli
Seyma is an experienced content writer and editor-in-chief at Exiap, delivering informative articles on personal finance, and money transfers.
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Last updated
February 27th, 2024