Arriving in Australia – To Do List for the first week

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If you are soon arriving in Australia, you probably ask yourself what are the first steps to take. In this article, we suggest a ‘to-do list’ for each day of your first week in Australia. You will see that it is thus suggested to organize beforehand an accommodation (hostel, wwoofing, HelpX or any other) for at least the first five days. This will enable you to discover the city while starting all the administrative procedures. This guide is however only an indication, and can vary with your personal preferences or with any constraints you might encounter. For example, if you arrive a weekend, some administrative procedures may not be possible to execute.

– – – –  Arriving in Australia – DAY #1 – – – –

Going to your hostel

In every big city, you will be able to take the train to go from the airport to the city. This quick solution can also be quite expensive ($17 in Sydney).

If you are travelling with a group, it may be more cost-effective to take a cab and divide its cost among the group ($50 on average to get in Sydney Centre from the airport).

Some hostels may send a free shuttle bus to pick you up at the airport, however only if you have booked a bed in one of their room for at least a week. Check beforehand if that’s the case with your hostel before you land.

– – – – Arriving in Australia – DAY #2  – – – –

Open a bank account

The main banks in Australia are Westpac, ANZ (Australian and New Zealand Banking Group), Nab (National Australia Bank) and Commonwealth.

Please note that you can also open your bank account from your home country.

What bank should I choose?

It is recommended to open your bank account in one of the main banks, as they have a strong presence throughout Australia. Please note that withdrawing money is only free in ATM affiliated with your bank operator (otherwise you may be charged $2 each time you withdraw in another ATM).

Your choice of bank also depends on your needs and the partnership your home bank may have with the Australian ones, so make sure to check if there are any beforehand. This would enable you to withdraw money and place your cash on your Australian account without fees, as international transfers can be pricey.

What to bring when opening an account?

Procedures in Australia tend to be easier than in Europe. For example, you won’t need a proof of address. Requested documents are:

  • Passport
  • A $50 deposit when you open your account
  • A postal address (even if temporary. It can be your hostel or your bank address. However, if you change address, make sure you tell your bank!)

How long does it take?

If you have all the requested documents ready, opening your bank account will take between 10 and 30 minutes.

Arriving in Australia_Bank

More Info: Open a Bank account in Australia

Buy a SIM card

The main phone operators in Australia are Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. Their national coverage vary, especially when you leave big cities.

Offer types

Because you are a temporary resident, you won’t be able to have an annual plan. The affordable alternative is to buy a ‘prepaid card’ – you can buy the SIM card from all operators for an average of $2 and then you can top it up on a monthly basis.

What operator should I choose?

Optus tend to have interesting international phone calls rates; Telstra is reputed to have the best national coverage, and Vodafone to have the weakest one.

More Info: Phone Plans in Australia

– – – – Arriving  in Australia – DAY #2/3  – – – –

Transfer your money

Transfer from your European Bank account: costs can be high as both banks (from your home and host country) might charge you some fees.

Receive your money via Western Union: This option is very safe, however costs may also be high! This could be your ‘emergency’ option, as it is a very fast way to transfer money from an account to another.

What’s recommended: A good alternative would be to use a company specializing in international bank transfer. For example, with our partner Transfermate you can transfer your money for only €11/£8/AUD16.5. It is cheaper and faster than going through your bank, and again very safe!

– – – – Arriving  in Australia – DAY #3  – – – –

Requesting a TFN number

The Tax File Number (TFN) is a mandatory legal number to work in Australia.

To get this unique number, you have different options that will take fifteen minutes of your time:

Online: https://iar.ato.gov.au/

In the city: by going directly to the ATO: the administrative building where all the TFN requests are processed. The staff there is very welcoming and friendly, and you will be able to ask any questions/resolve any issues you may have directly with them.

The form to fill to get a TFN includes very basic questions such as your name, surname, address (in Australia), passport number, nationality, phone number and so on.

When you are done filling the form, you will receive a file number, which will act as your temporary TFN and will enable you to work until you receive your actual TFN – this process takes 28 days in general.

If you have any issue, you can always call 13 28 61 or go back to the office: if you changed your address before getting your TFN, you should be able to make the change on the phone.

Open a Superannuation account

You can open your Superannuation account once you received your TFN. It is a blocked account, and you won’t be able to withdraw money from this account. If you are more than 18 years old and work more than 30 hours/week for more than $450 per month, your employer will legally be obliged to pay you the equivalent of 9.5% of your salary in this account. When you start a new job, make sure you give your account details to your new employer.

You will be able to have access to this account’s money only if you are leaving Australia for good.

More Info: How to claim your Superannuation

– – – – Arriving  in Australia – Day #4 & 5  – – – –

Exploring the city

While you are sorting out all the administrative procedures, you will be able to walk around the city, which gives you a great opportunity to explore it.

However, it is important to take time to do so, especially if you are planning to stay there few months. By doing so, you can discover neighbourhoods and find a flat sharing. You will also have more marks, which can also help you in your job search.

– – – – Arriving  in Australia –  Day #6 & 7  – – – –

Discover the region

One your first procedures are over, take time to discover the region. You can find national parks, animal parks, amazing beaches, hikes, etc around any big Australian cities

Receiving your bank card

If you have opened your account the second day of arrival, you will probably receive your bank card (however may depend according to banks, weekend and holidays etc).

Looking for a flat share

If you decide to stay several months in a city, we would recommend you to go for the flat share option. It will be cheaper than staying at the hostel.

More Info: Accommodation Guide Australia

Looking for a job

Again, if you wish to stay in the city for several months, you may need to look for a job quite quickly. In Australian big cities, there is a lot of competition for jobs, even for the unqualified ones. It is thus common to look for a job for 3 to 4 weeks. If you arrived in Australia with some cash, you may start by visiting the city and the region and enjoy your first days in Australia!

More info: 5 tips to find a job as a backpacker in Australia

Get your RSA, RSG, White Card, etc

Some jobs will require you to take some examinations, or to have diplomas. Therefore, don’t take too long to require and register, if needed.

Few examples:

  • If you wish to work in a company that serves alcohol, you will need a RSA certificate.
  • If you wish to work within the construction industry, you will need a White Card certificate.
  • If you wish to work within the gambling industry, you will need a RSG certificate.
  • If you wish to work within the transportation and distribution industry, you will need a Blue Card certificate.
  • For any job that implies forklift, you will need a Forklift Licence.

Updated 10th of September 2019. Initially published on the 29th of November 2015.