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Checklists for Arriving and Settling in Australia

Arriving in Australia (©Tony Hewitt)

Where to Start:

Firstly, Welcome to Australia!

We know that the coming weeks and months (and hopefully, years) will be an exciting and wonderful adventure for you (and your family) so enjoy the exciting and memorable journey. Hopefully you had a pleasant flight, are enjoying some warm Aussie hospitality and that so far you have been following your check lists and everything so far has gone smoothly.

When you arrive in Australia for the first time to visit, to check out where you might like to live or if it is to settle permanently; it can still be quite daunting at in the beginning. RELAX, enjoy the anticipation and new experiences and remember that we are here to help where we can. So, when you have settled in to your accommodation, oriented yourself and taken some time to relax and soak up some of the Aussie weather, lifestyle and maybe take in a few sights you can start to work your way through your (see example below). Some of these will be quite urgent (e.g. activating your bank account so you have access to some AUD) and others you can tackle when you are ready (e.g. buy a car). Other tasks that are less urgent can be found in the next section, see Your First Year for these.

Arrive in Australia Checklist

Check Lists

Click to Continue to the next section (Australian Banks).

Opening Bank Accounts with Australian Banks:

It used to be easy to open a bank account before you arrived in Australia, though now only one bank (Commonwealth Bank) offers this service and only 2 weeks before you arrive (so not great). All the main banks will allow you to open an account when you arrive in Australia and this is something you want to do as soon as possible when you get here. Your overseas bank will generally charge you high bank fees to withdraw money from an ATM in Australia. They will also give you retail (poor) exchange rates and pocket the difference each time you withdraw AUD from your overseas bank account. Using an overseas credit card isn’t much better as your bank may charge you an overseas transaction fee as well as profit from the exchange rate they give you.

The great news is that most Australian banks will allow you to open a bank account at any branch with just your passport as proof of identification, as long as you open the account within 6 weeks of your first arrival in Australia. You may find that some of the smaller or regional Australian banks may not necessarily be aware of this identification requirement, so if you don’t have any luck try another bank.

The great news is that TorFX (part of the one of the largest privately owned FX companies worldwide) has a “digital wallet” that will allow you to transfer funds, pay people in Australia or transfer Australian Dollars into other bank accounts before you arrive down under. They do not charge any bank fees either, so can be a great option before you arrive and can get a local bank account set up.

It does make sense, at least initially when you arrive, to open an account with one of the main Australian banks (ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, NAB (National Australia Bank) or Westpac) as these have the biggest branch and ATM networks in Australia and mean that you shouldn’t have any issues accessing help when you need if. Also, most Australian banks will charge you a fee to withdraw funds from another bank’s ATM. Your employer will also need an Australian bank account to pay your salary or wages into.

Activating Your Bank Account:

If you opened an Australian account from overseas (with CBA) then you will need to activate the account so you can make withdrawals (debit transactions) as the accounts are generally opened for deposits only when you are outside Australia. This is usually pretty simple and means going into a bank branch with your passport.

If the bank wrote to you or you chose a particular branch, then it would make sense to either go to this branch or let the bank know if another one is more suitable as they may have ordered your debit card(s) to be held at that branch and will need get them sent to the new branch. If your debit card was pre-ordered, then they will give it to you and you can start using it straight away or they will order one for you which can take up to 10 days. So it’s pretty important to get the account activated sooner rather than later.

Getting an Australian Credit Card:

At some stage and once you meet the criteria, it makes sense to get an Australian credit card as each time you use your card from your overseas bank you will be charged a foreign transaction fee and be given tourist rates every time you pay for goods or services with your overseas credit card. You will also be charged fees (by the Australian banks and your overseas bank) to send money overseas to pay off your credit card.

Getting an Australian credit card isn’t as difficult as most people assume it will be, as long as you have a job in Australia or other regular and verifiable income and are here on a permanent residence or long term work visa (e.g. 482) some of the bigger Australian banks are able to give you a credit card and we would suggest making an appointment to meet with a Customer Service Specialist at your nearest branch to apply for a card if you want one.

Australian Banks Savings Accounts and Term Deposits:

If you sold your home and/or have some funds in your account that you would like to set aside to buy property in Australia, it is a good idea to look at a Term Deposit or high interest savings account rather than keep these funds in a normal savings account that you may have opened before you arrived. This does mean shopping around for the best interest rate and it often also means looking at another account with a different bank, as banks target savings (funds on deposit) at different times (and terms) based on their funding needs.

If you already have a term deposit or are considering one, it also means being diligent and reviewing interest rates on offer before your term deposit matures and moving your funds to where you will get the best return. The banks, credit unions and building societies will also have different rates for 1, 3, 6 or 18 month term deposits and it is important to look for a term deposit period that you won’t break as if you do then generally you won’t earn any interest. i.e. if you open a 6 month term deposit and need to access your funds after 5 months (you break the term deposit before the 6 month maturity date) you will generally earn 0% interest.

Another idea is to see what the best term deposit interest rate on offer is and speak to your own bank to see if they will better, match or get close to the rate you can get elsewhere before you move your funds to another institution. Also, the more you have invested, the more competitive your bank is likely to be (the more bargaining or buying power you will have!).

A good website to check and compare term deposit interest rates on offer is the Canstar comparison site.

Mortgages (to buy property):

Most of the banks in Australia tend to be reactive when it comes to a migrant’s financing needs and they usually rely on you to contact them when you are interested in a mortgage for a home or investment property. They are often also unclear on their lending policies for new migrants and particularly to those who hold provisional visas (as opposed to permanent residence) and expect or assume that you understand how mortgages work in Australia too.

Fortunately, Australia has a thriving mortgage brokering industry that is often an attractive alternative for new migrants. Mortgage brokers generally have access to many different loans through different banks and building societies and can assist you with choosing a mortgage that suits your economic situation and personal needs. We suggest approaching your Australian bank and discussing your mortgage needs with them and also approaching a local mortgage broker for a comparative quote.

Click to Continue to the (Mobiles and Internet) section.

The majority of new arrivals choose to rent for at least the first two years when they arrive in Australia, this makes sense as it helps to reduce stress when deciding where you want to live. It also allows you more time to research different areas, find the best schools and also find the best property for your budget.

As logical as it sounds, your needs may well change and your view of a particular suburb may be very different once you are more settled. You may also change jobs and find that the areas you were originally considering are now no longer suitable – so take your time. It is also great to be able to enjoy the great outdoors lifestyle that Australia has to offer instead of spending every weekend looking for a home to buy.
We do cover buying property in the Your First Year section when you are ready to start your research.

Australian Property – Renting

One of your first tasks when you arrive (if you didn’t do so before you left for Australia) is to make appointments with real estate agents for Australian property rental viewings to see what they have available. Make a list of the areas where you would like to live initially and if you have been to Australia before and have an idea where you would like to buy, concentrate on these areas and surrounding ones to help you find a suitable Australian property to rent.
Search for estate agents in your areas of choice and give them a call to see if they have any rental properties available for you to view as they may not necessarily update their websites frequently. Remember to try to keep emotions out of the decision when looking at rental properties as it doesn’t make sense paying too much for the “perfect” place. At the same time, the settling in process can be a series of ups and downs, so do settle for somewhere that is comfortable and meets your needs (without breaking the bank) in a pleasant area with good schools (if applicable).

A great research tool to establish the types of properties available and the rental prices (usually quoted as weekly rental prices) are the main three property search websites in Australia: Realestate.com.au, Domain.com.au and Realestateview.com.au.

Australian Property – Buying

When you feel more settled and before you start looking at which home to buy, it makes sense to find out how much you can borrow to give you an idea of which homes you can afford. Please see the Buying Property section under the Your First Year heading for more information on buying a home in Australia.

Click to Continue to the next section (Tax File Number).

Australian Mobile Phone Networks

The biggest Australian mobile phone (or cell phone) network provider is Telstra. This means that if you are planning on living or travelling in Australia you would be better off choosing the Telstra network over one of their competitors. The other main Australian mobile phone service providers are Optus, Vodafone and Virgin and whilst these can have good coverage in the major cities, they often have little or no coverage outside the major metropolitan areas of Australia. We have often heard from migrants who bought a mobile from Vodafone as they recognised the brand, only to change to Telstra later due to significant network coverage issues. There are also a number of smaller companies who generally operate off the Optus, Virgin or Vodafone networks so will have the same or less coverage than them.

Mobile Network Coverage

Visit the network coverage maps for Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and Virgin

Many new migrants find it challenging to get a new mobile phone contract as you will have no credit history when you arrive in Australia and your good credit history from your home country cannot be transferred. Phone companies are a little behind and tend to be inflexible with their policies so generally offer only prepaid contracts to migrants and especially those who hold temporary residence visas. This is usually okay after a few months when you have a fixed address, have a credit card (or other credit history), though some people still find it challenging. Fortunately, Portal Relocation (featured above) can assist most new migrants post pay mobile (cell) contracts, click on their logo above for more information and how to contact them.

Internet Access

There are two main types of internet service that you can join in Australia:

  • Mobile internet – where you have a device that allows you to connect your computer, tablet or laptop to the mobile internet via 3G or 4G.
  • Broadband Internet – this requires a land line phone and allows you to connect to either ADSL, ADSL2 (faster), Cable Internet (faster again and not available everywhere), NBN (the newest and fastest and being rolled out across Australia.

There are many different mobile providers and the main question to ask is network coverage, particularly if you opt for mobile internet. Telstra is probably your best bet in this instance. If you have a landline phone then you can choose a provider and there are many, though it is worth noting that Telstra generally owns the phone lines and require a line rental payment. This can also mean any technical issues you encounter can sometimes be difficult to resolve as your internet provider may say the fault lies with the Telstra line and Telstra blame the issue on the other provider… your call.

Often companies offer bundled discounts for more than one service with them, so do shop around and speak to friends and work colleagues who live in the same area to find out which provider is best in your neighbourhood.

Australian Internet Service Providers

Home Phone and Internet Service Providers:

Telstra and Telstra Bigpond – own most of the phone lines in Australia and can provide internet and home phone (fixed line) services to most addresses. Offers ADSL, ADSL2+, Cable (in some locations) and NBN (currently in limited locations).
Optus – Offers home phone, broadband internet (with ADSL2 or Cable – in Cable areas) and NBN (where the NBN is installed).
TPG Telecom – Offer home phone, ADSL2 and NBN (where available) landline internet services, they recently acquired iinet to create Australia’s second biggest ISP after Telstra.
iinet – also offers home phone and various landline internet services, recently acquired by TPG.
iPrimus – Offer home phone, ADSL, Fibre and NBN (where available). They are owned by the M2 Group.
Dodo Internet – Offer the same services as most of those above and also owned by the M2 Group.

Mobile Internet Service Providers:

There are many other companies that offer mobile internet plans via the 3G and 4G (faster) networks. As per the information on mobile phone networks above, you should remember that not all will have the same network coverage or cover you in as many places as the four largest mobile phone providers (Telstra, Optus, Vodafone and Virgin Mobile).

Mobile internet makes sense for your initial arrival for access in temporary accommodation and hotels. Some rental properties may also not have a landline installed or active when you move in too. If it is available in your area, then 4G is the obvious choice as is much faster.
Please keep in mind that mobile broadband is not nearly as fast, or reliable as broadband (landline or cable internet). The costs for large amounts of data are also generally a lot higher with mobile internet too.

Click to Continue to the next section (Australian Property).

What happens if I don’t have a Tax File Number

When you start work in Australia, your employer will ask you to complete an Australian Tax File Number declaration (often called a TFN declaration) quoting your tax file number or to claim an exemption from quoting a TFN. You are able to claim an exemption if you are under 18 years old or will earn less than $18,200 per financial year (1 July to 30 June). If you cannot provide it to them within 28 days of starting work in Australia then they are required to deduct income tax from your wages or salary at the maximum income tax rate, which is currently 46.5% after the 28 day period. It is therefore quite important to apply for your TFN as soon as possible!

The Tax Free Threshold

Australian tax residents (this also applies to most migrants, including most temporary residence visa holders) pay no income tax on the first $18,200 they earn, meaning if you earn less than this amount you will not pay any income tax in Australia. If you only have one employer, when you complete your tax file number declaration form, you should place an X in the Yes box for Question 8, “Do you want to claim the tax free threshold from this employer?”
If you have more than one employer, you generally claim the tax free threshold from the highest paying employer (primary income source) unless you will earn less than $18,200 from both employers, then you can claim the tax free threshold from both employers.

For more detailed information on Tax File Numbers and tax in general, please visit the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) Website.

Taxable Income (annual income) Tax on this Income
0 – $18,200 Nil Tax
$18,201 – $37,000 19cents for each $1 over $18,200
$37,001 – $80,000 $3,572 plus 32.5cents for each $1 over $37,000
$80,001 – $180,000 $17,547 plus 37cents for each $1 over $80,000
$180,001 and over $54,547 plus 45cents for each $1 over $180,000

*These rates do not include the medicare levy of 2% for taxable incomes over $180,000.

Click to Continue to the next section (Australian Healthcare).

What is Medicare

The Australia Healthcare Public system is called Medicare and is similar to the NHS scheme that operates in the United Kingdom.
All Australian citizens, permanent residents and some visitors to Australia have access to the Australia Healthcare (Medicare) system and through Medicare, access to medical and hospital services in Australia.
Medicare means that most people, including migrants who hold permanent residence visas or have lodged an application for permanent residence, have access to:

  • Free or subsidised treatment by doctors, optometrists, specialists, dentists (in some specific circumstances) and other health professionals.
  • Free treatment and hospital accommodation in a public hospital as a public patient.
  • 75% of the Medicare Schedule fee for services and procedures you received in a public or private hospital as a private patient, excluding hospital accommodation, theatre fees and medicines.

Medicare also provides additional benefits for eligible services once you reach the Medicare Safety Net Threshold, meaning if you require regular treatment or doctor visits the costs you have to pay are reduced. The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) also means, that if you are eligible, you pay less for prescribed PBS medicines. Please click on the following link for the 2015 Medicare Safety Net Thresholds.

How To Apply For A Medicare Card
You and all members of your family who are applying for a Medicare Card need to be in Australia to apply for Medicare.

The steps to apply are as follows:

  • Complete the Medicare Enrolment Application Form click on the link to open the form. Or you can download the form HERE
  • Return the form and any relevant original documents (or certified copies) to your nearest Medicare Service Centre.
  • Please Note that all applicants on the form who are 15 years old or over must attend the Medicare Service Centre.
  • You will need to provide your passport and the passports for all applicants on the Medicare enrolment form as well as proof of a valid visa or original visa grant letter for all applicants on the form.
  • Please check that you meet the eligibility requirements to register for Medicare.

Click to Continue to the next section (Buying a Car).

Australian Car Market Summary

Until quite recently the car market in Australia was dominated by mostly Australian built (GM Holden (Vauxhall), Ford, some Toyota and Nissan models) Japanese made (Toyota, Nissan, Subaru, Mitsubishi, Mazda, Daihatsu, etc) and South Korean made(Hyundai and Kia) cars. As there was an import tariff for overseas made cars where no trade deals existed with Australia, making German and other imported vehicles comparatively expensive. Due to gradual reduction of import tariffs for new cars in the last few years there has been a dramatic increase in the sales of German, French and other brands and it is quite common to see Audis, Mercedes, BMW, Peugot and others on the roads as their prices have reduced significantly.

It can still be very expensive to service and find spare parts for these “newer” brands due to their still limited dealer network (and some monopolies) and many people opt for Japanese and established brands as a result as these tend to be much cheaper to service, have a more extensive dealer network (including some dealers in country towns) and access to cheaper and second hand spare parts. Due to their more established history in Australia, it is also much easier to have your car serviced outside of the franchise dealer network too, whereas with the European brands this is generally not possible.

Research Before You Buy a Car in Australia

Print media (newspapers) have seen a 60-90% reduction in advertising of cars (new and used) for same due to the rise in popularity of online media and internet sales platforms, dealers have also finally embraced the internet as the main location to promote their sales stock and have mostly updated their websites and they are not much more user friendly and easier to navigate than they were. There are still a few exceptions though and these tend to be the smaller and less progressive dealers.
This means it is easy for you to get a good idea on the sales prices for different makes and models as well as being able to establish what you can get for your budget.
It is therefore a great idea (if you haven’t already done so) to check out the models and prices for the cars you are interested in online before you have to visit the dealers. This will mean you can do some research without being “sold to” by a salesman who earns commission for each car they sell. The shift to online advertising also means that >80% of cars for sale are now advertised online as opposed to in the print media (newspapers). The two major car sales website where new and used cars are advertised by approved dealers and private sellers are Carsales and Carsguide.

As mentioned earlier it should also be an important part of your research to enquire about servicing costs as these can vary from around $200 for a Japanese brand to over $1,000 for a comparative European model. Some makes also offer capped price servicing (for brand new cars) that forms part of the sales agreement and means that the price for a regular service is fixed for generally the first three years of ownership. It may also be a good idea to ask about additional or regular service costs (once the capped price agreement ends) if you intend to keep the car for longer.

Insurance costs

These can also vary from make to make and for different models too as high performance, super- or turbo charged cars can often be much more expensive to insure as can 4 wheel drives and SUVs. Also check on off-road cover for 4×4 vehicles if you are planning to explore. Warning, if you have imported your vehicle from overseas or you know that your new purchase is an unofficial import (also called “grey import”) be sure to tell the insurance company as most companies do not insure vehicles that weren’t officially imported to Australia by a manufacturer; you may not be covered if you need to make a claim.
Buy a car in Australia 1

Tips And Guidance For Buying A Car

Buying a new car:

New cars are sold by manufacturer approved and state government licensed dealers and are generally covered by a minimum statutory new car warranty for 12 months or 20,000 km, most brands include a 3-6 year and 60,000 – 160,000 km new car warranty that commences from the date the vehicle is first registered. The warranty usually covers repair or replacement for everything except items that normally wear out, such as tyres, batteries, oil and other lubricants, brake pads, and items replaced at a scheduled service.
The price you pay for a new car includes the car purchase price, goods and services tax (GST), stamp duty and vehicle registration costs. The purchase price usually includes GST and luxury car tax (currently 33% for vehicles where the selling price including GST is over $61,884) and if the price quoted is “drive away” then it also includes stamp duty and vehicle registration fees, otherwise these need to be added.

New Car Buying Tips:

The price quoted by a salesman or a dealer is usually negotiable.
If you aren’t too fussy about colour and are happy to take a car from current dealer stock – you generally get better discounts towards the end of the month as long as the new car can be delivered before the end of the month as sometimes the sales manager is chasing a target and needs some extra sales.
End of financial year (30 June) deals can be attractive as often the dealers get discounts or financial incentives from the manufacturers for the end of the financial year.
During the sales process you can make an offer for the amount that you are happy to pay for the vehicle.
You should start quite low without being unrealistic and don’t necessarily take the salesman’s word if they say the offer is too low as they are often paid commission based on the profit made on the sale.
New cars typically have a 10-20% profit margin and sometimes higher for luxury vehicles and less for some of the cheaper brands and models. The idea is to make a written offer of around 15-25% less than the asking price and gradually increase your offer until it is accepted by the dealer (usually by the sales manager on the dealer’s behalf). Once your offer is accepted and signed by the relevant manager then it becomes legally binding and you are obligated to take delivery of the vehicle and pay the price agreed. It makes sense to place some conditions on the offer that will become the contract of sale, such as “subject to finance to the purchaser’s satisfaction” even if you are paying cash, this gives you the opportunity to break the contract if you decide not to proceed with the contract. It also gives you the chance to source the best finance deal if you need to arrange financing – see the car financing section below for more tips on this.

Buying a Used Car

Beware of buying a used car on the internet from sites such as Gumtree or Ebay as scammers often use these sites to lure unsuspecting victims. It is also worth noting that cars bought privately that are no longer covered by a manufacturer’s warranty are not covered for any mechanical problems after you have taken possession and the seller has no obligation to fix or rectify any issues. Australia has laws protecting consumer rights, the Australian states and territories also have their own consumer laws protecting you and goods that you purchase, this includes buying a motor vehicle from a new or used car dealer – though generally doesn’t extend to private sales. Carsguide’s 10 tips for buying a used car also has some useful information.
Buy a car in Australia 2

Getting Car Finance

This is an area where migrants tend to get stung, so take note! Firstly, it makes sense if you have a job and therefore qualify for car finance, to do so rather than use equity from the sale of property to pay cash for a car as this can be put to use towards your new Australian home purchase instead. As much as car dealers want us to believe that a car is an asset, it isn’t, they cost money to buy, run, service and maintain and depreciate in value, it doesn’t make sense to use money that your built up in property on a car that is worth less every day you own it.

Don’t sign up for finance at the car dealer, at least not at first anyway, the dealer and finance manager get paid commission based on the interest rate they convince you to take. The higher the interest rate, the more they get paid (at your expense). Instead, ask the finance manager at the car dealer for a written quote or a quote for what interest rate they can offer. Then contact your Australian bank, asking if they offered secure car loans (as not all do and not an unsecured loan as the interest rate is higher for unsecured loans). Establish what interest rate the bank can offer for a 3-5 year secured car loan (5 years is the most common). Then contact the finance manager at the car dealership and ask them to better the bank’s finance offer to win your business, this way you will get a better finance deal and be able to pick up your vehicle quickly as the paperwork is generally much quicker than the banks’.

The finance manager may also try to sell you loan protection insurance, so be sure to ask if any insurance premiums are included in the finance and only take those insurance products that you are comfortable you need (if any). Also ask the dealer for a car insurance quote and compare this to your own quotes as some manufacturers can be very competitive with comprehensive car insurance. Read your finance contract carefully before signing anything too, to make sure there aren’t any unexpected costs or surprises.

Click to Continue to the next section (Drivers Licence).

International or Overseas Drivers Licence?

For all states and territories of Australia, except the Northern Territory, it is legal to drive in Australia (typically for the first three months from the date of your arrival in Australia to live) on a current overseas drivers licence if your drivers licence is in English. If your overseas drivers licence is not in English, you will need an official English translation (a translation certified by an Embassy or Consulate or by a National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) or an Australian Institute of Interpreters and Translators (AUSIT) accredited translator) of your licence or an International Driving Permit (together with your overseas drivers licence). In the Northern Territory, if your international drivers licence is not in English, you will need an International Driving Permit (granted in accordance with the terms of the 1949 United Nations Convention on Road Traffic) together with your overseas drivers licence (a translation into English is not accepted).

Getting An Australian Drivers Licence

If you arrive in Australia on a permanent residence visa and are here to settle (as opposed to validating your visa), you will need to get an Australian drivers licence. This isn’t too urgent as most states allow you to drive with your recognised overseas drivers licence for up to 3 months from when you arrived. It still makes sense to complete the necessary process sooner rather than later though, as an Australian drivers license is often required (towards the “100 point score” identification where an Australian licence is worth 40 points and a foreign licence 25 points) when applying for mobile phone contracts or many other forms of credit (e.g. store cards).

When you buy a car and want to take out insurance, most insurance companies will not insure you if you do not hold a current Australian drivers licence – another reason to change yours for an Australian one as you will need to do so within 3-6 months anyway (if you hold a permanent residence visa). Please do check with your insurance company that they will cover you if you take out any car insurance whilst you are driving on your overseas licence (hire cars excepted).

Each state and territory of Australia has their own drivers licence and the requirements to change your licence to one in the state where you are living applies to Australians who move interstate as well.

See the Driving In Australia section for detailed information and links to the drivers licensing divisions websites for each of the states and territories.

Click to Continue to the next section (Insurance).

Please Note: The information provided here is general information only that is freely available. Move to Australia, MovetoAus.com.au and its directors are not licensed insurance brokers and the information provided should not be taken as insurance advice. For advice on insurance in Australia, taking your personal circumstances into account, please contact a licence insurance broker, or someone qualified or approved to provide advice on insurance products.

Types of Insurance in Australia

Insurance in Australia is similar to that found in most developed countries in that there are a range of different types of policies available to protect you from unforeseen events. The most common categories and generally what they cover are:

  • Motor Vehicle – comprehensive vehicle cover, third party or third party, fire and theft are some of the common cover types.
  • Home Contents – generally referred to as contents insurance, covers the contents of your home against theft, fire, breakage, and other unforeseen events. Does not cover items regarded as part of the property though.
  • Home Insurance – building insurance covers the physical building and in many cases the fixtures that form part of a building and protects against unforeseen damage or loss.
  • Personal Protection Insurance – this is made up of different policies such as income protection, life insurance, disability cover, that protect you from unforeseen events and either pay a lump sum or a percentage of your income if you cannot work.
  • Pet Insurance – cover for unforeseen veterinary bills as a result of illness or accident.
  • Marine Insurance – cover for boats and personal water craft (e.g. jet skis).
  • Business Insurance – including personal liability, staff or employee cover, business premises, business contents and stock.

Important Policies When You Arrive

Home Contents (goods shipped to Australia):

Depending on when your furniture and personal effects arrive, you may want to get some quotes to insure your home contents, though this can wait until you find a home to rent or buy as many policies are based on the suburb, type of property (house, unit, building constructions and location) and security of the property (alarms, door and window security, etc.) Most people insure their goods during the shipping process and this generally cover you until your personal effects and household goods are delivered by the shipping company or their locally appointed agent.

Car Insurance:

When you buy a car, you will need to consider if you would like comprehensive car insurance or a third party policy (generally popular on older, not vintage, and cheaper cars <$5,000 in value). If you financed the car purchase through a secured loan that uses the car as security, then it is generally a condition of the finance agreement that you have a comprehensive insurance policy for the duration of the loan. This makes sense too as you wouldn’t want to owe money to a finance company if the car is a total loss in an accident. Can insurance policy costs also vary between makes, age of the vehicle and type of vehicle and if there is finance owing on the car too. Insurance premiums with the same company also vary from state to state, depend on the age of the youngest driver, where you live (area, suburb, town) and park the car at night (garage, driveway or street, etc.), your driving history, accessories or extras fitted to the vehicle (and if they are covered at all), modifications or performance enhancements, and so on. Most good companies will ask you these questions, and if they don’t, be wary.

If you imported your vehicle(s) into Australia, you must disclose this to the insurance company as many have a disclaimer that they do not cover imported vehicles (meaning personal as opposed to “official” imports) though will still take your premium and not pay out in the event of an incident. The common thread is, do your research and ask as many questions as possible!

It makes sense to call a few car insurance companies for a quote, some of the major companies offering car insurance in Australia include:
GIO Insurance
Shannons (specialise in insuring rare and vintage cars and motorcycles)

Click to Continue to the next section (Getting a Job in Australia).

When you arrive in Australia and if you have a permanent residence visa, you will find that recruitment agents and employers will be much more approachable than when you were still overseas. Also, reach out to anyone you may know for their contacts so you can catch up with anyone who can assist you with getting to know the local jobs market, start building your network and help you with getting a job in Australia.

Most new arrivals do take a step down from the level where they were when they start to work in Australia (unless you have specialist or rare skills or were sponsored by an employer), don’t be discouraged as it doesn’t take long to build up a network in your industry and learn where the best jobs are. Australia’s comparatively small population also means that networks are smaller too so it doesn’t take long to build decent contacts. Most employers also recognise the risk and understand the significant financial commitment that migrants make and are very happy to employ them. Also remember that around one in four Australians is either a migrant or the child of a migrant so it’s highly likely they will identify with your move and give you an opportunity.

Finding a Job

Getting a job as a new arrival is a “numbers game” and like sales, the more you put in the more likely you are to be successful. If your profession has a professional body or association, then join up and find out which (if any) certifications or courses you need to complete to satisfy the Australian jobs market and complete these as a matter of priority, if you haven’t already. Also establish which recruiters specialise in your industry and arrange to meet with them to register and discuss your experience and which positions may be suitable.

Don’t set your expectations too high initially, remember that you are an “unknown quantity” in Australia and, in some cases, international experience can be a significant advantage, particularly if you have worked for a recognisable corporate overseas. Be prepared to earn less than you were hoping as you can always change jobs when the right position becomes available.

Visit the Work in Australia page for some links to the main job search websites and some of the larger national recruitment companies.

Click to go to to the (Useful Links) summary page.

Banking in Australia

Opening a Bank Account – go to the section with links to the banks’ migrant banking services where you can open a bank account online.
Canstar Comparison Website – where you can compare term deposit interest rates to maximise your interest income.

Mobile Phone & Internet Access

Mobile Phone Network Coverage

Telstra Network – Mobile network coverage map for Australia’s largest telecommunications company.
Optus Network – Mobile network coverage map for the Optus network.
Vodafone Network – Vodafone’s Australia mobile network coverage map.
Virgin Network – Virgin Mobile’s Australian mobile network coverage.

Home Broadband and Phone Service Providers

Telstra and Telstra Bigpond – Australia’s largest internet and home phone service provider.
Optus – owned by Singapore Telecom and one of the three largest providers in Australia.
TPG Telecom – second biggest provider after Telstra, recently acquired iinet.
iinet – home phone and broadband provider.
Iprimus – home phone and home broadband provider, owned by the M2 Group.
Dodo Internet – broadband and home phone provider also owned by the M2 Group.

Renting Property in Australia

RealEstate.Com.Au – search for rental properties Australia-wide.
Domain – national listings of rental properties.
Realestateview – another rental property search option.

Australian Tax File Number

Apply for a Tax File Number(TFN) – link to the application page to apply for your tax file number with the Australian Tax Office when you have arrived in Australia.


Medicare Eligibility – check the Australian Government Human Services website to check if you are eligible to apply for a Medicare Card.
Medicare Application Form – link to download the application form for medicare to complete if you are eligible for medicare.
Medicare Service Centres – search for your nearest medicare service centre where you can return your application form.
Pharmaceuticals Benefit Scheme – information on benefits for subsidised prescription medicines.
Medicare Safety Net – information on additional medicare benefits for those who qualify.

Buying a Car

Carsales – link to one of the main car sales websites where new, used and demonstrator vehicles are advertised for sale.
Carsguide – similar to carsales, with some guides and tips on buying a car.
Carsguide’s 10 Tips For Buying a Used Car – Useful information and links to help make the process easier.

Australian Insurance Companies

Gio Insurance

Click to Continue to the next topic (Your First Year).

My Pre-Departure Tasks

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My Initial Arrival Tasks

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My Other Arrival Tasks

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My Settling In Tasks

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