Home Arriving in Australia – First steps

Arriving in Australia – First steps

You just got your Working Holiday or Work and Holiday Visa approved? Are you ready for the big jump? So now, you are probably wondering what to do when you arrive in Australia. To help you, here are the main steps to take when you land Down Under on a Working Holiday!

Opening a bank account

After arriving in Australia it is important to get a bank account. You will need one to get paid by your future employers and if you want to transfer money between your accounts (overseas and Australia). Here are the major Australian banks:

  • Westpac
  • Commonwealth
  • ANZ (Australian and New Zealand Banking Group)
  • NAB (National Australia Bank)

To open a bank account, you will need your passport and an address in Australia (it can be a Backpack Hostel, a Post Office or even an overseas address). the process is quite easy and straightforward.

Tip : You can open your account online before arriving in Australia with some banks (Westpac for example). It can be pretty useful if you want to transfer money to your Australian account before landing Down under!

Transfer your money into your Australian account

After opening your Australian bank account, you will probably need to transfer some of your savings on that new account. To do so you have some options:

  • Option 1: a bank transfer via your national bank. The problem with this option is that the costs are quite significant so you will lose some precious dollars! Even if your bank is saying that you won’t pay any fees, just think about the exchange rate… usually the bank will apply a lower rate than the actual market rate!
  • Option 2: Receive money via Western Union. This option will allow you to withdraw cash from one of the relay points, but the costs are high.
  • Option 3 (recommended): Transfer your money through a company specialised in international transfers. It will cost less than through your own bank and exchange rates will also be more interesting. Through our partnership with CurrencyFair you will get 5 free transfers. After that, on average you pay just 0.45% of the amount exchanged plus a £2.50 (or currency equivalent) transfer fee, regardless of the amount of money you want to transfer. It is cheaper and faster than going through your bank, and very safe!

Get your Tax File Number (TFN)

The TFN is a mandatory identification number to work in Australia. You will need to provide it to each employer and it will serve you when doing your tax return at the end of the financial year.

To get it you can go either:

  • On the ATO website
  • In an ATO Office. You will find one in every big city. In Sydney it is at 32 Martin Place.
  • Over the phone: 13 28 61

Read also : Get your TFN number

skydeck melbourne

Get a phone plan and Internet access

Phone Plans

If you hold a Working Holiday Visa you will usually find it difficult to get a phone plan only for the year. Therefore you will have to buy a “prepaid” Sim card. You can then recharge it whenever you want/need it. Expect to pay about $30 per month to have some credit. If you use your national phone, make sure it is unlocked to all operators before leaving your country.
The choice of the provider will depend on some criteria, for example if you intend to travel around Australia, we recommend you to go with Telstra as they offer the best coverage. However, if you intend to stay in big cities, you should have a good reception with any providers.

Major Australian operators are:

  • Telstra (best national coverage)
  • Optus
  • Vodafone

To access the internet

  • Use your credit’s phone 4 or 5G prepaid package
  • Get connection through a hostel
  • Get connection through a shopping centre (free access, you just have to provide your email address)
  • Go to MacDonalds or coffee shops (free)
  • Go to public libraries (free)

Book an Accommodation

Backpackers Hostels

Backpackers Hostels are ideal for small budgets. Most travellers with a working holiday visa stay in those at least for the first few days or the first week. This is the best option when you arrive in Australia, as it gives you time to do your formalities, find a flat to share or buy a vehicle. It is also a great opportunity to meet people just arrived in Australia too! Prices can range from $20 to $70 for one night and will depend on the location, the period of the year and type of room you choose (shared / single).

In Sydney or Melbourne for example, the average cost will be $25 in dorm and $45 for a private room. In high season (summer) these rates may increase by 50% to 70%! Rates may be regressive for bookings of a week or more.

Even if there are a lot of backpacker hostels, it is recommended to book a room before arriving in Australia. There are thousands of hostels with different services and quality levels! To choose a good one and compare the different rates, it is best to use a comparator such as Booking.com.


Sharing an apartment in Australia is a good solution when you want to stay for a long time in a city and that your funds are limited. A flatshare will allow you to save money and enjoy a bigger apartment or even a house to share! It’s also a great way to meet people!
The most popular ways to find a room are:

For a double room in Sydney CBD it will cost you approximately $190/week per person, $320/week for a single room.

Get a public transport card

It’s not a myth: Australia is big! Getting around Australia can be a hassle if you aren’t prepared. As soon as you arrive, you will need to move around, if only to get from the airport to your accommodation. Australian cities are spread out, and going from point A to B can imply long distances.

If taking a taxi or Uber can help out on a trip, it could be very expensive in the longer term. If you plan to settle in a city for a while, you will need to travel to visit accommodation, look for work or simply do your shopping. Unless you have a budget to buy a vehicle, find out about the transport cards available in your city of arrival. Cards will allow you to get around by bus, train, tram, metro, ferry and sometimes even bicycle at a lower cost.

In Sydney: The Opal card (the card is free)
In Brisbane / Sunshine Coast / Gold Coast: the Go card
In Melbourne: the Myki card ($10)
In Perth: the SmartRyder card
In Adelaide: the Metrocard
In Darwin: Tap and Ride Card ($20 for unlimited use for 7 days)

You can purchase a card everywhere (newsagent, train station, airport). Once you have your card, you will be able to add money to it and use it on all city public transport services. It is super easy to top-up your card whenever you want.

Need more tips? Discover all the steps detailed in The Australia Backpackers Guide.