Opening a New Zealand bank account should be your primary priority

As an expat moving to New Zealand arranging your banking is important for a number of reasons

You need a bank account to work

If you are moving to NZ to work, you are required by law to have an Inland Revenue Department (IRD) number. Without an IRD number your employer will deduct tax from your earnings at the highest tax rate.

The issuing of an IRD number in NZ is best facilitated online when you have provided Inland Revenue with proof of a fully functioning local bank account. This may be done by providing them with a copy of your local bank statement, showing proof of deposits and withdrawals from the account.

In addition, a local bank account is required in almost all cases to be paid your salary and earnings by your New Zealand employer.

It is therefore important to open a New Zealand Bank account promptly when moving to New Zealand.

Opening a bank account outside of New Zealand

The good news is you are able to open a bank account before you actually move to New Zealand.

Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) allows you to open a bank account up to 12 months prior to your arrival into NZ, thus alleviating any delay in the process.

The procedure for opening an account is straightforward involving a simple online application with no fees or deposit required.

You simply submit an application at www.bnz.co.nz/movingtonz. Shortly afterwards, BNZ will provide you with notification that your application has been submitted and what steps you need to take next. All correspondence with the BNZ prior to your arrival is by email with the BNZ Migrant Banking Department.

Such emails will contain your account details, information on how to transfer funds into the account and what further steps you may need to take. You will need to inform the Bank of such details as your arrival date, visa category and your current tax identification number (such your National Insurance Number if you are from the UK or your Social Security Number if you are from the US).

Be aware of the conditions

While an account can be opened up to 12 months prior to arrival, you can only withdraw funds after your arrival into New Zealand provided you have attended the initial “activation” meeting with the Bank. At this meeting your bank account is activated for all operational purposes.

At the initial activation meeting, you are required to provide the bank with your passport (for identification purposes) and other documents which prove your home country address, such as your home country bank statements or utility accounts.

Joint accounts can be applied for but can only be activated if both you and the co-applicant attend the initial activation meeting after arrival into NZ.

Next Steps

When moving to NZ, particularly for work, you should act promptly in establishing a NZ bank account so as to facilitate the obtaining of an IRD number and payment of your salary and wages.

BNZ makes this process easy for you by enabling you to open a bank account before you move – just complete an application form at www.bnz.co.nz/movingtonz.

Any enquiries or questions in relation to setting up an account whilst overseas can be emailed to bnzmigrant.banking@bnz.co.nz and a reply will be made promptly.

Singapore E-Team volunteer for HWA Wheel Walk or Jog and Family Carnival 2019

Members of our Singapore E-Team took part in HWA’s annual Wheel Walk or Jog and Family Carnival.

Held on 27th April at the Esplanade Park, the event includes a family carnival followed by a walk or jog with HWA wheelchair-bound members along a scenic route not more than 3.5km.

Volunteers are paired with HWA wheelchair-bound members and assist them throughout the day.

A big thank you to all the E-Team volunteers. A great day was had by all.

 

The Foreign Exchange Market – What Is an Interbank Rate?

 

The foreign exchange market is a global decentralized market also known as an over-the-counter market where bank dealers make the market to determine the interbank exchange rate, i.e. the rate the banks use when trading with one another.

The interbank rate is the mid-point between the buy and sell rate for a currency on the open market and is the most accurate rate of exchange at any given time. You can easily check this at any time using the XE Currency Converter.

Unfortunately for most of us, this rate is reserved solely for banks and large financial institutions trading in large amounts of foreign currency.

For retail or business banking customers looking to make smaller international money transfers, a margin (or spread) will be applied to the interbank rate to ensure a profit for the service making the transfer. As a retail banking customer, this margin may be anywhere between ~4-5% of the interbank rate.

The graph below illustrates the rate that a customer may expect to receive from the bank when converting their AUD or NZD to GBP.

What determines whether I receive a competitive rate?

Naturally, when sending money abroad, it’s in your best interests to ensure you keep as much of your money as possible by locking in a favorable rate of exchange.

The exchange rate you receive will be based on a number of factors, including:

  • Volume – the amount you are converting
  • Currencies exchanged
  • Knowledge and awareness
  • Frequency of transactions – ongoing or one-off

However, one of the most sure-fire ways to ensure you are receiving a competitive rate is to look at using a money transfer specialist like XE who provides a much sharper rate of exchange than you would otherwise receive from the banks.

Why you should look beyond your bank

XE works closely with our broad network of referring partners to provide their clients with a competitive, secure money transfer solution.

As such, when you choose XE Money Transfer via one of our partners, you will receive preferential rates of exchange that are more competitive than you would receive from other providers.

…It’s not just about the rate

At XE, we pride ourselves on delivering our clients value beyond a great rate, providing a much more comprehensive service than they could expect to receive from the banks.

Exchange rates fluctuate at any given minute and as such our expert team is on hand to be your eyes and ears in the market and advise on how to ensure you lock in the best rate possible.

We also offer a range of products typically not made available to retail banking clients, including Market Orders and Forward Contracts, that will help you reduce your exposure to currency risk.

Whatever your needs or situation, feel free to get in touch with the team at XE to discuss the best approach to your foreign currency needs.

Handy Hints to Feel at Home in Your New Environment

 

There are many challenges with relocating, with some challenges rating higher on the stress scale than others. Once the logistics of the move are over and you are no longer stepping over boxes or searching for teaspoons, settling in is the next hurdle.

By settling we don’t just mean sorting out your new home, but how do you make your new environment ‘feel’ like home?

It can be daunting with family and friends no longer near at hand. The ‘euphoria’ of arriving safely with your belongings is quickly overtaken by the realization ‘that’s it, I’m here, what now?’

The settling in period can be quite different for those who have relocated for work and for those who have accompanied their partners. Your new work environment is your new routine and you tend to hit the ground running.

Many companies offer support and programs to assist with settling in. These are really worthwhile participating in, especially if language or cultural differences are a challenge with the new job.

Social or sports clubs attached to your company are a great way to meet people initially. Meeting up with people who have the same interests will broaden your social circle, while you slowly build your own network. If you have relocated overseas, seek out expat groups to join.

Expats have already done what you’re doing and can be a wealth of information and may even prevent you from making mistakes due to your inexperience. Remember this is not about trying to etch out a piece of home in a foreign land it’s about finding a support system to help, in what can be for some, a lonely settling in period.

Don’t neglect opportunities to form friendships within your local community too, it’s the best way to assimilate and feel part of your new environment. If on the other hand, you are relocating because of your spouse or partners job, it presents with its own kind of challenges.

You may not be able to work, due to visa restrictions, unrecognized qualifications or having young children. You may find yourself somewhat isolated, in the initial phase, while your partner’s days are full and busy with their new job.

You may be waiting for them to return home from work ready to hear all their news only to be met by an exhausted partner, whose day has been full of learning new systems, meeting new colleagues, navigating new roads or transport systems, and all in another language.

You, on the other hand, may not have spoken to another adult all day! It can put a strain on the relationship.

It’s important for both parties to see what challenges the other is facing. Good communication is key to understanding and acknowledging what the other is going through.

For it to be a success, both parties need to feel supported and listened to, while navigating their new life. It is not uncommon for a couple or family to return home because they were not prepared for the possible struggle of the early months.

It can be a painful learning curve to know that it needs to work for both, for it to work at all.

Expatland Legal

 

If you are planning to move to Hungary, there are a number of key issues that you should be aware of before your arrival.

To assist, KCG Partners have written a guide on everything you need to know before you move to Budapest.

In this chapter, we outline some of the most important aspects of the Hungarian legal system and give you a basic insight into the legal matters that might be relevant for you during your time in Hungary.

To download the guide please click here

Property Services – What You Need to Know Before You Purchase a Property

 

Melbourne is a very large city even when viewed on a world scale.

It has a larger population than Rome, Montreal, Berlin or Athens and is only slightly smaller than Barcelona, St Petersburg, and Sydney.

Having a very significant population and a considerable geographic area, there are a number of differing precincts in our city that will appeal to expats seeking particular lifestyles, amenities and/or property types.

Malvern and Hawthorn in the inner southeast are very family orientated being extremely well serviced by public transport and featuring most of Melbourne’s best private schools, leafy gardens, and excellent shopping strips.

Albert Park and Middle Park are two spectacular inner bayside suburbs that offer wide streets, fantastic cafés and easy access to the city.

How do you know where to buy? Or when and how?

McRae Property is here to help. Download our guide to learn more about Melbourne, tricks on finding the best property for you and to find out why you need help.

To download our guide, click here

Personal Tax – How Employment Income Is Taxed in Australia

 

As an expatriate moving to Australia one of the important tax issues is how your salary would be taxed.

Australia does not have a separate salaries tax per se. Rather your employment income and all your other income such as investment income is added together and forms part of your assessable income in Australia.

Once you have calculated your assessable income you then need to work out your ‘allowable deductions’ before you arrive at your taxable income.

A number of items can be considered to be deductions against employment income but care needs to be taken to ensure the strict rules regarding employment-related deductions are complied with.

The Basics

You pay tax based on your taxable income. The personal income tax rates which apply to you are published every year by the ATO. Australia’s current personal tax rates can be found here.

You will notice that the top tax rate in Australia is 45% and this rate applies once your income is more than $180,000 for the tax year. The income tax year commences on 1 July and ends on the 30 June year.

If you derive employment income then Australian tax law requires your employer to deduct what is known as PAYG (Pay as You Go) from your salary and you are paid a net amount after tax.

Your Australian employer is then required to pay the ATO (typically on a monthly basis) the amount of PAYG they withhold from your salary.

At the end of the year (30 June) your employer has to issue what is known as a PAYG Payment Summary which details the gross salary paid to you for the tax year, the amount of PAYG withheld and the net amount paid to you.

The information is automatically reported to the Australian Taxation Office and recorded against your Tax File Number.

If you are receiving allowances, such as car allowances or travel allowances, then these will also be summarised on the PAYG Payment Summary.

If you are moving to Australia and you commence your employment halfway through a tax year then typically your employer will still be required to deduct PAYG from your employment income as if you had been employed for a full year.

Because of the graduated tax rates, this would mean that typically unless you have other income to declare – such as investment income – you would receive a tax refund in your first year after moving to Australia. 

How employee share scheme interests are treated

Many expats moving to Australia also participate in employee share schemes.

In Australia (as in many countries) gains made from the participation in employee share schemes are considered to taxable as employment income.

Employers in Australia must also prepare annual payment summaries (known as ESS Payment Summaries) where they are required to report the total amount of income that an employee has earned that year through participation in an employee share scheme or employee options plan. This can be a complicated area of tax for many expatriates.

One issue which many expatriates can tend to overlook is if they receive foreign salary income or employee share scheme income after they move to Australia, then they will be taxable on that income even if they performed the employment duties outside Australia.

Hence expats moving to Australia who may be due to deferred bonuses or other employment-related compensation need to be aware that such income is taxable in Australia.

If the tax is paid overseas on that income then generally the expat will be able to claim a foreign income tax offset (foreign tax credit) in Australia for tax already paid overseas. It is only in rare circumstances that employment-related payments would not be taxable income in Australia.

If you have questions about cross border salary payments or other employment income issues which you need to be resolved CST Tax Advisors can assist you.

Written by: Matthew Marcarian from CST Tax Advisors

Australia’s Foreign Investment Framework

 

Under Australia’s foreign investment framework, foreign persons need to apply for foreign investment approval before purchasing residential real estate in Australia.

The Government’s policy is to channel foreign investment into new dwellings as this creates additional jobs in the construction industry and helps support economic growth. Foreign investment applications are considered in light of this principle.

It is important that foreign investors understand and comply with Australia’s foreign investment framework as strict penalties may apply for breaches of this law, including orders requiring you to dispose of property purchased by you without approval.

New Dwellings and Vacant Land

Foreign persons generally need to apply and/ or receive foreign investment approval before purchasing new dwellings and vacant residential land for development.

Applications to purchase new dwellings are usually approved without conditions. Applications to purchase vacant land are normally approved subject to construction being completed within four years.  Once new dwellings are built or purchased, they may be rented out by the foreign investor, sold, or retained for their own use.

Land that has previously had an established dwelling on it would generally not be treated as vacant land for the purposes of Australia’s foreign investment framework. Further, a single dwelling that has been built to replace one or more demolished established dwellings would generally not be considered a new dwelling for the purposes of Australia’s foreign investment framework.

Established Dwellings

Non-resident foreign persons are generally prohibited from purchasing established dwellings in Australia. However, reflecting the fact that foreign persons who are temporary residents need a place to live during their time in Australia, temporary residents can apply to purchase one established dwelling to use as a residence while they live in Australia.

The purchase of an established dwelling in these circumstances would normally be conditional on the foreign person selling the property when they leave Australia or cease being a temporary resident and do not become a permanent resident or an Australian citizen.

In addition to his, temporary residents cannot acquire established dwellings to rent out or for use as a holiday home.

The Application Process

Foreign persons should apply for approval before taking an interest in residential real estate. However, foreign persons who want to minimise the risk of a property they are interested in purchasing being sold to someone else before they receive foreign investment approval can enter into a contract as long as the contract is conditional on receiving foreign investment approval.

Foreign persons are required to pay a fee for each application made or notice given, under the Act and the Regulation (limited exceptions apply).

The fees that are payable for residential land applications depend on the price for the acquisition of the interest and can end up being quite costly, another reason why foreign persons may wish to enter into a conditional contract.

The board has a statutory period of 30 days to make a decision from the date of full payment of the relevant fee on the application, and a further 10 days to notify the applicant of the outcome.

Article from: NL & Associates

Written by: Nicole Leggat

Taxes in Australia – Melbourne Guide

Australia is generally regarded as a high taxing country.

Nevertheless, there are excellent tax concessions depending on whether you meet certain definitions and criteria under the Australian taxation law.

This guide provides a non-technical plain language guide to questions commonly asked by expats in relation to the Australian tax system.

Australian income tax law is complicated and certain concessions which may be available for some expats may not be available to others.

To download the guide, click here