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Lade opening a safety deposit box storing money and other valuables

3 Most Commonly Asked Questions About Safety Deposit Boxes

The safety deposit box service has been part of society for over a century, echoing back to the middle of the 19th century, though still has great relevance in todays modern world. 

Before sharing the most commonly asked questions about safety deposit boxes, a quick explanation on safety deposit boxes and what makes them so secure.  

Safety Deposit Boxes are individually secured containers made of steel, which are stored within high security vaults. Clients are escorted through a variety of security verification protocols, airlocks and vaults, to access their individual boxes, where a customer key and guard key are used in unison to open their box.

Both keys need to be present to open the box.

Safety deposit box slightly open with a key inside one of the two locks, surrounded by rows of closed safety deposit boxes

Safety deposit boxes are leased to customers seeking to secure their valuables, investments, documents, sentimental items and/or other assets, and keep them safe from theft, fire, flood or other damage which may occur, when not stored in a highly secured and monitored location.   

Most vaults will offer viewing rooms for private and convenient viewing of the items being stored at the safety deposit box facility.

The worlds most secure vaults verify their clients’ identity in multiple ways before allowing entry, they do this through the use of biometric readers, photo recognition, security tags and PINs – as a minimum. Additionally, high security storage facilities will have onsite guards, monitoring access to secured areas through the management of airlocks and bullet resistant doors, after verification. The facility will typically have a vast array of monitoring and backup systems in place to ensure early detection and contingencies are activated in the event of a breach or attack. The staff will be highly trained professionals, who are experienced in the industry and their roles within the business.

a securty guard sitting inside guard room, monitoring iris biometric access control system, as customer has eyes read by iris biometric reader.

What can I store in a safety deposit box?

Safe custody is a very personal and private service offering. What may have great value to one person, may have absolutely no value to another. It is completely up to the individual what is important for them to protect.

This being the case, a variety of shapes and sizes are available to accommodate most requirements. Jewellery, gold and silver bullion, documents, currency, collectables, art, digital assets, archives and photographs are at the top of most people’s list when it comes to secure vault storage.

Businesses may store backups and data, archives, high value stock or inventory, disaster recovery and business continuity files, cash or simply spare keys to the office.

There will be limitations as to what is able to be stored within a vault, as you would expect, though some may surprise you. For example, most banks will not allow the storage of cash within their safety deposit boxes. Usually, private operators do not require the items being stored to be disclosed. Though clients will have to sign terms and conditions to verify that no illegal items, ammunition, firearms or matter such as organic materials, will be stored on the premises. Disclosure and verification of valuation of the stored items are required in the event of an insurance claim, as insurance assessors would require these details.  

1 oz gold bars stacked on each other in soft light

What is the cost of a Safety Deposit Box?

The costs associated with leasing a safety deposit box are relatively minimal, especially when compared to the value of the asset being protected. For example, a small safety deposit box is capable of comfortably holding well over a million dollars in gold bullion and untold wealth when we speak about cryptocurrency, given the size of the ledgers and digital wallets.

A small safety deposit box at ARA Vaults is 12cm x 12cm x 53cm, totalling around 7,500 cubic cm. This is $264 per annum, which includes GST, as well as unlimited visits throughout the year and $10,000 complimentary insurance. This equates to roughly $22 per month, or just over $5 per week. Deposits for the issued safety deposit box keys and security tags are payable once and fully refunded upon return at the end of the lease. Storage vessels are varied in size and cost, ranging from the small size described above to large bullion safes capable of holding tonnage of metal.

woman looking inside an open safety deposit box showing jewels, gold, silver and cash

Are private vaults as safe as the banks?

Vault storage has been offered by banks across the world for over 150 years. In some cases, they are a legacy offer, as a result of being part of the bank’s infrastructure for so long. Given the increase in legislation, privacy concerns and the nature of risk, some banking institutions are seeking to cease offering the service. Now with cash transactions representing less and less of our daily lives, banks are moving away from large, monolithic branches towards smaller, more customer-focused branches in retail shopping locations.

Compared to banks, private vaults are a relatively new phenomenon and they are no less secure. In fact, private vaults generally have a higher level of security, as they are using higher-rated physical and electronic elements of security. Also, items stored in these private vaults are generally insured for theft and/or damage, which banks do not offer. Other service differences will include longer access times, such as weekends, unlimited visits to the vault, dedicated free parking, complimentary insurance (varying levels), refreshments and lounge areas.

aisles of safety deposit boxes in a dark vault

A facility such as ARA Vaults is at the forefront of physical and electronic security, using world-class vaults and panels in the construction of its safety deposit box vault in Western Sydney. The vault is layered with advanced electronic security and uses a 4-way verification process to grant clients access to the vault, including the use of iris recognition technology. This biometric iris technology is 10 million times more accurate than a fingerprint scan.

For further information on safety deposit boxes and the registration process, ARA Vaults has an extensive FAQ page for reference.

A detailed review of private vaults from around the world has been conducted by Nomad Capitalist and shows the importance of this service to citizens around the globe.

Andrew Dalton

ARA Vaults