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Australia on a Working Holiday Visa: Setting yourself up for work

Australia on a Working Holiday Visa: Setting yourself up for work

You 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, an Australian phone number and Tax File Number (TFN). 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)

How to create 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 bankcard sent to a post office. 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, Bank Westpac, NAB and ANZ. There are also other international banks such as HSBC, ING and CITI Bank.

Superannuation account

You will need to set up your ‘super’ account. Your employer will pay superannuation on top of your salary (10%) and this is put into a separate account. It is for your pension. When leaving Australia you can reclaim it. Unfortunately it is highly taxed (65%), but it is still nice to leave with some money! You can set up your ‘super’ account at your bank.


Choose a phone provider

When visiting 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. In principle, 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.


When choosing your provider consider where you will be going in Australia. Some providers have better coverage then others in remote areas. Telstra is mainly considered to have the best coverage in the outback. 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.


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

  • Telstra
  • Boost Mobile
  • Woolworths Mobile
  • ALDI Mobile

Optus Network Providers

  • Optus
  • Virgin Mobile
  • Amaysim
  • Coles
  • Vaya

Vodafone Network Providers

  • Vodafone
  • Lebara Mobile

For more information : Phone plans in Australia


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.


In order to work for an employer in Australia you are required to have a TFN which is really easy to set up. Go to the government website and click on Foreign passport holders, permanent migrants and temporary visitors link or on the provided 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 provide 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. It depends on the person helping you whether they will go along with this though. They get quite some backpackers doing this…


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 before 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.

“As a backpacker 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. If this is the case, just get your TFN.”


Got all that sorted? Great! Now you can sip on that expensive cocktail while petting a crocodile knowing you are ready to cash up anytime! 

By Joshua Waleson

Australia on a Working Holiday Visa: Setting yourself up for work
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Backpackers Guide
Written by Backpackers Guide

The ultimate guide to work and travel around Australia with a Working Holiday Visa ! Get all the tips and advice from other backpackers. The first travel guide written by Backpackers for Backpackers in Australia!!!