Just arrived in Australia? You jump off the plane, lasso a kangaroo and ride it to the ocean while sipping goon and fighting of ferocious snakes. Hold your horses! (or kangaroos in this case…). Take care of some administrative stuff first. It pays off to get a few things out of the way quickly so you are ready to work when money runs out.

So what will you need? Three things, namely a bank account, a Tax File Number (TFN) and an Australian phone number. Get them sorted and you will not have to worry about them when you run out of money and need work. Follow this three-step guide and you will be set to go.

Set up your bank account (and Super account)

Open a bank account

Unless you are going to work a ‘cash in hand’ job (not recommended as it is not legal) you will need to set up a bank account. You can set up your bank account online from your home country. When you land in Australia you just go by your chosen bank and present your passport as identification. That’s all there is to it. You will receive your bankcard within a week. Do not worry if you do not have a permanent address. You can have your card sent to a post office or pick it up at the bank directly. We do not recommend you send it to your hostel without asking the staff first. Most hostels get a lot of mail and it may get lost.

Australia has four main banks: Commonwealth, Westpac, NAB and ANZ. There are also other international banks such as HSBC, ING and CITI Bank.
We recommend you to pick one of the main banks to be sure to always find an ATM no matter where you are in Australia.

Superannuation account

Superannuation is money set aside during your working life for when you retire or in your case when you leave the country. Your employer will pay a portion of your salary (9.5%) into a super fund for you. This payment is paid on top of your salary and is put into a separate account. Therefore to be able to get this money you will need to set up your ‘super’ account. You can set up your ‘super’ account at your bank when opening your account. This way it will be easier to check the money you have on and to claim it. Indeed, when leaving Australia you can reclaim it. Unfortunately it is highly taxed (65%), but it is still nice to leave with some money!
For more information, check out : How to Claim your Superannuation

Set up your Tax File Number (TFN) and / or Australian Business Number (ABN)

It should be noted that applying for either is free. You can apply on the governmental website. You could pay an agency to do it, but the process is really easy. Save a few bucks and do it yourself. So, now that’s out of the way lets discuss the difference TFN and the ABN and when you need them.

The TFN

In order to work for an employer in Australia you are required to have a TFN.
Go to the government website and click on Foreign passport holders, permanent migrants and temporary visitors link.

To apply online you must have a valid passport or relevant travel documents. You must also be in Australia when setting it up. Within 28 days, they will send your TFN to the Australian address you provided on your application. If you do not have a permanent address have them send it to a post office. It usually takes 5 working days for it to arrive.

If you will not be staying in one place you can always call them after a few days saying you did not receive the TFN and ask for it via the phone. You can call the ATO on 13 28 61, 8.00am to 6.00pm, Monday to Friday to get your TFN over the phone. They will ask you personal questions to verify your identity.

The ABN

The ABN is for people carrying or starting a business in Australia. In certain sectors it is quite common to work with an ABN (e.g. writer, photographer, laborer, etc.…). If you provide a service to multiple clients it could be for you. Check the government site to see whether you are entitled to an ABN. It should be noted that some employers would try to get you to apply for an ABN because it is cheaper for them. If you work with an ABN you are responsible for doing your own taxes so make sure you really need it before deciding to get it. To apply for an ABN you must already have a TFN.

NOTE : Try to work under your TFN as your taxes will be directly deducted from your salary therefore you won’t have to put money aside to pay taxes at the end of the financial year. As a WHV maker do not work with an ABN unless you are really running your own business as a sole trader etc. If your employer just asks you to apply for an ABN and you will be actually working for him as an employee do not go for it. They might ask you this to get out of costs that go with employing somebody.

Choose a phone provider

When living in Australia on a Working Holiday Visa you will need a Australian phone number. (Almost) all contact with potential employers goes through phone. And, in all honestly, in this day and age you cannot really do without it.

You have a few options in Australia. There are three mobile networks across Australia owned and operated by Telstra, Vodafone and Optus. They all provide 4G services. This means that you can take your smartphone from home, buy an Australian SIM card, put it in and go online! Do note that your phone should be SIM-Lock-Free.
When choosing your provider, consider the coverage provided and the costs.

Coverage

When choosing your provider consider where you will be going in Australia. Some providers have better coverage then others in remote areas. Telstra is considered to have the best coverage in the outback and in the country. However, there are many places were you will not have any signal, regardless of your provider. Will you be staying in urban areas? In that case it does not really matter what provider you choose.

Costs

Aldi (yes, the supermarket) also provides prepaid deals at a lower price that use the Telstra network as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNOs). MVNOs are smaller providers that offer access to the Telstra, Optus or Vodafone network. They are cheaper and often have good deals.

Where to buy your SIM Card

You can buy it practically anywhere. Supermarkets (Woolworth, Coles, 7Eleven, convenience stores, etc.) or phone stores. Major providers such as Telstra and Vodafone have stores in all major cities.

Telstra Network Providers

  • Boost Mobile.
  • Woolworths Mobile.
  • TeleChoice.
  • Belong Mobile.
  • Pennytel.
  • ALDI Mobile.
  • C Mobile.
  • Lycamobile

Optus Network Providers

  • Moose Mobile.
  • Coles
  • Yomojo.
  • Exetel.
  • Amaysim.
  • Catch Connect.
  • Virgin Mobile
  • Vaya.

Vodafone Network Providers

  • Hello Mobile
  • Lebara Mobile
  • Kogan Mobile
  • TPG

For more information : Phone plans in Australia

Updated on 15/10/19 – Initially published on 23/02/18