Sunday, 21 September 2008

Banking Before Embarking

This week has been insane for financial institutions in the US, so obviously my mind turns to our money. And where it's at. And where it will be.

We'll need a bank account in New Zealand, and it occurred to us that it would be best to set one up before touching down. On our recent reconnaissance trip we planned on doing so, but time got away from us, and in three weeks we never made it to a bank. So now that the date of departure is fast approaching, I've got to sort out a way to open a NZ bank account from overseas.

Thankfully we live in the age of the Internet, and all the major New Zealand banks have web sites. And on these sites they have pages devoted to people in just my situation... mostly. The Bank of New Zealand has a page titled Moving to New Zealand, but then the first line of the page states "The information is applicable to UK residents considering a move to New Zealand." Well, that's not very helpful for me. I'm not in the UK. So simply because of their discriminatory lack of information for other migrants, I've decided against BNZ.

National Bank is more inclusive, with a big link to their New Residents Services page right on the home page. Unfortunately, you must move to New Zealand within three months of opening the account. We're planning on moving in January, which means we would have to wait until October to get this going with them. I don't like the idea of being on a time restriction anyways. I mean, we're 99% certain we're moving in January, but should something happen, we may move a few months later. Then what would National Bank do? I dunno. Not really worth finding out when there are other banks.

ASB Bank is another big one, with their Migrant Banking information available in Mandarin, Cantonese, and Korean, as well as the usual English. They also have special services for UK residents (which again, don't help me). Their document requirements are a bit of a pain, though, as they want notarized copies of everything.

So in the end, I decided to apply with Kiwibank. Kiwibank is a relatively new bank, the only one in New Zealand 100% Kiwi owned. I believe they're partly government backed, so they have many branches in local post offices. Their Migrant Banking page is straightforward, with a link to directions on opening an account from overseas. The only slight confusion I had was that the "Migrant Banking Forms" are not migrant/overseas specific at all. There is no place for "Country" in the address area. The telephone number field doesn't have enough spaces for longer, international numbers. Little things like that.

So I wrote to Kiwibank and asked to confirm there were the right forms. They responded promptly, that yes, they were, and I should just write in whatever additional information I need to provide. Which I had to do in two cases. First was the rate the earned interest will be taxed at. The forms only have the choices 19.5%, 33%, 39% and Exempt. Well, as non-residents until we move, the interest should actually be taxed at the Non-Resident Withholding Tax rate of 10%. So I wrote that in. And then I also had to note that I would be wiring money to the new account once set up, rather than including a deposit cheque, as requested.

Yesterday I sent the forms, along with photocopies (non-notarized) of my husband's and my passports, and a recent bank statement. I'll let you know when I hear from them.

No comments: