Xenophobic BNZ

My wife is Asian and new to this country. I am a local and have had a mostly easy run with the bank. But try and get her added as a joint account holder (no lending involved) and the bank doesn’t want to know, citing policy.
With now open eyes, I looked at the ‘migrant’ section of the BNZ website and noticed they indeed seem to be putting up barriers.

While I will bet they will deny they are xenophobic, it’s the only possible explanation to draw from my experience which is nothing short of ridiculous.

The only positive thing I can say is there is another major bank who is happy to take our business.

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This surprises me. Surely as long as she can verify ID as per their requirements (https://www.bnz.co.nz/support/everyday-accounts/opening-an-account/id-requirements) then why should there be an issue? I know they open accounts for foreigners all the time, so not quite sure where the issue lies. To add someone to an existing account (doesn’t matter which bank you go to) they will need to be fully identified and a tax number from their home country supplied. Banks have legal requirements which they must follow.

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That’s how things used to be but not any more. I am as dumbfounded as you appear to be.

In regards to supplying a tax number “from their home country” - if their home country was one with well known human rights problems, plentiful corruption and had whole government agencies dedicated to controlling who can leave the country (or not!) and keeping tabs on those who obtained the sticker in their passport - as a New Zealander, would you want your financial affairs reported to them?

Someone has their wires crossed somewhere. As long as the ID requirements are fulfilled as laid out in the page I linked to, and you have your marriage certificate if your wife’s name has changed due to marriage, then you should have no issues. These rules and requirements are the same for everyone, including Kiwis. Unfortunately (fortunately) all banks have to follow the law.


The bank might like to pretend it’s the same but having actually tried it is not. I know how weird that sounds but I have seen it with my own eyes.
Having spent some time in my wife’s native country a lot doesn’t surprise me any more, unfortunately. I thought things were fairer back in New Zealand but it appears not.

What should scare bankers far more than foreigners coming to New Zealand to share in our country is summed up in one simple word: disintermediation

It’s happening overseas and will happen here too.

That’s quite a serious accusation to make, and as a staff member here, find that a slur on my credentials, seeing as I work for this organisation.

From what I can see of the posts michaelnz, if I have understood this correctly, you have tried to have your wife added to the joint account, and you have advised due to bank policy. Later on you have stated, who would want their financial details shared or reported. Is this what you are highlighting is the problem.

There is a complaints procedure you could follow if you believe that the bank is breaching any terms and conditions.

Hi Michael, thanks for your post. I’m very sorry you feel this way. I’d like to look into this for you asap and get to the route of what’s gone on here. We value all of our customers and I can assure we look at everybody’s case fairly and without discrimination. If you could private message me your access number I’ll investigate this further for you.

Thank you for your reply @Lawrence, however, it’s a moot point now because we have this afternoon come back from a meeting at another bank who had no issue with my wife’s recent arrival status.

And that is the only way this sort of issue can be settled. Why? Because, after having already tried to sort it out, it is clear to me the bank has a policy of some description and all that will happen from a debrief is the same outcome.

Even more astounding is the BNZ is not the only bank who doesn’t want new arrival foreigner business. Another bank I asked was even less subtle in alleging the connection to “money laundering” and other misdeeds.

Based on online discussions and word of mouth, it is apparent there are 2 major banks in NZ who do want the business and no surprises, we were easily able to open an account at one of them. We did not try the other one as they don’t have a local branch.

Maybe you are not like this but someone else made it clear my wife could not have an account at this stage.

My 2 cents for anyone in this situation (and there are others from what I have heard) is find out which are the banks who are OK with new arrivals, phone up and speak to their migrant banking divisions. These seem to be staffed by people who are also immigrants themselves and therefore understand the process and why we need the joint bank account. (hint: Immigration NZ is reputed to consider it an important sign of shared finances to fit the criteria for a partnership visa)

These requirements are new to aid FATCA and Euro privacy
IRD guidelines will validate tax residency by # days in nz is greater than that of not in nz
So this reason is non meritorious