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Banking: arranging your finances in a new country

New Zealand banks generally welcome new customers, and opening an account is quick and easy.

The documents you will generally need to open an account are photo ID (such as your passport) and proof of your address (such as a utility bill). You will be asked for your IRD (tax identification) number, but can supply it later if necessary – although any interest you earn will be taxed at the highest rate.

There are fees on most accounts, some of them flat fees and others per-transaction fees.  Some banks give you discounts on fees for things such as receiving all your statements online and some waive fees entirely if you agree to keep a set minimum balance in your account.

Online banking is widely available, but unfortunately generally not as secure as in most other countries.  While fraud is comparatively rare, keep your anti-virus and spyware software up to date, avoid doing your online banking on public computers, and never supply your passwords to anyone.

Money machines are widely available at banks, along main shopping streets and in shopping malls. You may be charged a fee for using a card from one bank at another's ATM.

Eftpos is the widely available debit card system, which you can use almost anywhere. Some retailers also allow you to withdraw cash on Eftpos with a purchase, and there is generally no minimum purchase. A pin number is used rather than a signature.

Make sure you let your bank know your new address before you leave; they will generally be happy to send your statements to New Zealand. If possible, set up internet and/or phone banking before you leave.

New Zealand banks offer a wide range of services but they only tend to offer their own products, which may not be the best in the market place or the most appropriate for you. It is well worth shopping around.

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