If you are currently preparing for your trip to Australia, you’re probably wondering about the first steps you’ll have to take after you arrive. In this article, you will find a handy checklist for each day of your first week Down Under. We recommend that you organise accommodation (youth hostel, Wwoofing, HelpX, or an alternative) for at least the first five days of your stay. This will give you some time to explore the city and get a start on any admin you need to do. This article is just a general guide and the information can vary according to your personal circumstances. You will find that most administrative procedures happen very quickly in Australia, but this isn’t always the case. For example, if you arrive on a week-end you will have to wait a little longer.
Check in at your accommodation
In every major city, you’ll have the option of taking a train or the metro towards the city centre from the airport. This is a relatively quick mode of transport but can often end up quite expensive (around $18 a ticket in Sydney).
If you are traveling with a group, it is sometime cheaper to take a taxi and split the fare (a taxi from the airport to the centre of Sydney is about $50).
Some hostels will actually send a shuttle bus to pick you up at the airport, provided you have booked a bed with them for at least a week. Check with your hostel before you land.
Buy a SIM card
The main mobile phone networks in Australia are Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. The quality of their national coverage varies, especially once you leave the major cities.
Types of plans available
Because you are a temporary resident, having an annual plan may not suit you. Another affordable alternative is to buy a ‘prepaid card’. You can buy a SIM card from any operator for about $2 and then top it up on a monthly basis.
Which operator should I choose?
• Optus offers attractive rates on international calls and texts, depending on your plan.
• Telstra is known to have the best national coverage. Its offers are a little more expensive.
• Vodafone has average national coverage.
• If you plan to stay in a big city without travelling further afield, Felix Mobile is a very inexpensive alternative. For only $35/month, your connection is unlimited. National coverage is however very mediocre outside metropolitan areas.
Read more: Phone plans in Australia
Open a bank account
If you intend to work in Australia, you will need to have an Australian bank account. The main banks in Australia are Westpac, ANZ (Australian and New Zealand Banking Group), Nab (National Australia Bank) and Commonwealth.
Note that you can also open your bank account from your home country with some banks, which can speed the process up.
Which bank should I choose?
We recommend that you open your bank account with one of the main banks, as they have a strong presence throughout Australia. Withdrawing money is only free at ATMs affiliated with your bank operator (otherwise you could be charged $2 each time you withdraw from another ATM).
Your choice of bank also depends on your needs and the partnership your home bank may have with Australian ones, so make sure to check this beforehand as it could save you money.
What do I need to bring to the bank when opening an account?
Opening a bank account in Australia tends to be easier than in Europe. For example, you won’t need a proof of address. Documents you will need include:
- Your passport
- A $50 deposit when you open your account
- A postal address (even if this is temporary, such as your hostel. However, if you change address, make sure you tell your bank!)
- Some banks may also require your tax number in your home country
How long does it take?
If you have all the requested documents ready, opening your bank account should take between 10 and 30 minutes. However you won’t have your debit card straight away, as they will usually post this to your address.
For more information, see our article: Open a Bank account in Australia
Transfer your money
To transfer money from your home country bank account to your Australian one, you have several options.
Through your bank
You can choose to transfer from your home bank account directly. Costs can be high as both banks (from your home and host country) will charge fees.
Through a money transfer service
Apply for a Tax File Number
Your Tax File Number (TFN) is a tax number required by law to work in Australia. To get this unique number, you have several options, which should only take you about 15 minutes.
• Online on the ATO Website.
• In an ATO office, the administrative building where all the TFN requests are processed.
The form you fill out to get a TFN includes very basic questions such as your first name, surname, postal address (in Australia), passport number, nationality, phone number and so on. When you are finished filling out the form, you will receive a file number, which will act as a temporary TFN and will allow you to work until you receive your actual TFN. This will be sent to you by post within 28 days.
If you have any issues, you can always call 13 28 61 or go back to the ATO office. If you changed your address before receiving your TFN in the post, you will be able to get your TFN over the phone.
Open a Superannuation account
You can create your Superannuation account after you get your TFN. This is a retirement account that is frozen for the duration of your stay in Australia, so you won’t be able to withdraw money from it until you leave for good. If you are over 18, work more than 30 hours per week, and for more than $450 per month, your employer is legally obliged to pay you the equivalent of 10% of your salary into your Superannuation account. When you start a job, remember to pass your account details on to your employer.
Read more: How to claim your Superannuation
Get your certificates
Depending on the type of job you want to do, you may need certain courses/certificates under your belt, so don’t wait too long to inquire and register.
• For those who want to work in an establishment that serves alcohol, you will need to pass the RSA.
• If you want to work in a café, you can also take a Barista course.
• If you plan to work in construction, you’ll need to get the White Card.
• For those who wish to work in a casino type gaming establishment, you will have to pass the RSG.
• Anyone who plans to operate forklifts will need to pass the Forklift License.
Look for a flat share
If you decide to spend a few months in your city of arrival, we recommend you start looking for a flat share as soon as possible. Spend about a week in a hostel so you can get your admin done and figure out what neighbourhoods you would like to live in. Sharing a flat or house will cost you less than staying in a hostel, and will be more comfortable and private. There are many sites where you can find ads (Gumtree, Flatmates etc).
Look for a job
Again, if you want to stay in the city for several months, you should start your job search pretty early. In the big cities in Australia, there can be some competition for more casual jobs. Allow one to two weeks to find a job that requires no experience. If you have come with enough savings, you can of course spend more time discovering the city/region and enjoying your first experience of Australia!
To help you put your CV together, see our article: Writing a Resume in Australia: Guide and Template