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!

Go through customs

Your first contact with Australia will undoubtedly take place at the airport. When you get off the plane, you will have to collect your luggage and go through customs. It is an easy step to take if you are well informed.

Requirements to enter Australia in 2022

To be able to enter the country, you must meet the following conditions:

  • Be double vaccinated
  • Have a valid visa
  • Prove your vaccination status
  • Complete a Digital Passenger Declaration

The custom Clearance process

First, you will need to present your passport to the Border Police officers. Note that if you have a biometric passport, this control can be carried out through an automatic airlock (passport scan, facial recognition) allowing you to go faster. Since your visa is linked to your passport, the authorities ensure that you have the right to stay in Australia.

Then you will have to pass a second check. There you will present to the customs authorities a declaration form of the products that you have taken with you. This form will usually have been given to you on the plane. A biosecurity officer at the airport will check the declared items and may ask you questions to ensure that the item complies with the regulation. Before your arrival, check the regulations, especially concerning the import of food.

Read also : Customs in Australia

Get a phone plan and Internet access

One of the first things you will need when you arrive in Australia is a phone number and internet access. If your current phone plan can be useful the first few days, it is strongly recommended to take out an Australian mobile plan.

Have an Australian phone number

Whether it is to find accommodation, work and even sometimes to open a bank account, an Australian phone number can be essential.

The easiest thing to do when you arrive is to buy a prepaid Sim card. You can then recharge it whenever you want. You will even find some for sale at the airport.I 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

Access the internet

Even if it may seem unnecessary to specify it, a smartphone will be very useful to allow you to connect to the Internet. If you do not want to use or take a plan with data to browse the web, know that Wi-Fi is quite widespread in Australia. You will find many free Internet access:

  • In large cities, most with accessible public Wi-Fi
  • In some cafes and restaurants (McDonald’s, Starbucks etc)
  • Public Libraries
  • At malls and shopping centres
  • At youth hostels or where you are staying (campsite, hotel, motel)
  • In some public transport
  • In special backpacker travel agencies

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.

Flat share

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.

Open 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)

Everyday account

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.

Superannuation account

If you intend to work in Australia, consider opening a superannuation account, ie a retirement savings account. You can choose the ‘Superannuation account’ of your choice.
Your employer is required to pay contributions into this account. So if you don’t open it for him, he will do it for you.

You can set it up with your bank when you open your bank account when you arrive in Australia. You can also choose a private company (Ausfund, AustralianSuper, CBUS, ClubPlus, SunSuper etc). If you open your superannuation account with your bank, you will have the advantage of being able to consult and follow the evolution of the fund and the money available online.

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 fixed 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.


Read also : Get your TFN

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

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.

Find a job

Prepare your resume

If you plan to find work as soon as you arrive in Australia, you will need a resume / CV. Australian standards are not quite the same, so you will probably have to redo your resume.
For example, on the Australian resume, you do not need a photo, nor details specifying your age or family status. Australians, on the other hand, value ‘Referees’, being names and contacts of previous employers or people who could recommend you.


Get your certificates

To maximize your chances of finding a job, it is better to be qualified for the position you are applying for. Remember to check as soon as you arrive if you can obtain certain certifications.
For example:
the RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol) in hospitality
the White Card in construction
the RCG / RSG (Responsible Service of Gambling) to work in gambling establishments
the WWC Check (Working With Children Check) for working with children
First aid and CPR etc.