Starting in Australia – The Essentials
Get a SIM card
It is important to get a SIM card as soon as you can when you come to Australia. You do need your Passport to get a SIM card so make sure you bring it with you. When getting a SIM, ask for a Pre-paid SIM (Pay as you go). Staff will try and get you on a contract as sales is sales but with a pre-paid sim you get all the benefits as you would with a contract but not be tied in.
Calling home (international minutes) is a lot cheaper than you would think over here. With Pre-paid plans, you can buy different packages which will suit your needs e.g. minutes, data.
The main networks in Australia are:
Getting a Bank Account
Note; You can only set up a bank account on a working holiday visa.
To set up a bank account, you will need the following documents:
- Working Holiday Visa Grant number (Letter sent to you with the details of your acceptance)
On rare occasions, you may be required to show proof of savings in another account.
Setting up a bank account is straight forward. In main city branches, you can usually just walk in and be expected to be seen in a short amount of time. Setting up an account can take up to 1 hour. As you have just arrived you can give the address of your hostel you are staying at and change it to a permanent address later.
Some banks allow you to set it up online (this can be done before you arrive) so you can just walk in to activate your account.
It is useful to apply for a Tax File number online if your visa allows you to work in Australia. A tax file number, commonly known as a TFN, is your personal reference number in the Australian tax and superannuation systems. For more information on TFN, Tax & Superannuation click here.
Once your account is set up, your bank card will be sent to your address within 7 working days. It is important that you are aware of this to ensure you do not move accommodation before it arrives.
Backpack Tip; Having a smart phone is a massive advantage as all banks have apps which allow you to access your information quicker.
The main bank accounts in Australia are:
Register for a Medicare Card
The Australian Government have an agreement with the following countries:
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
- Republic of Ireland
If you come from one of these countries then you are entitled to gain access to Medicare – this allows you to get help with the cost of essential medical treatments while in Australia.
You are only entitled once you have registered, so if you are planning to travel around Australia for a couple of months and are on a holiday working visa, make an appointment at your local Medicare office once you arrive. For more information, check out the Medicare website
If you arrive in one of the main cities in Australia, be sure to look at a Travel Card. A Travel Card allows you to gain access to public transport around the city. If you arrive by flight into a main city, there are usually travel staff who will go through how it works and the benefits.
The Travel cards allow you to travel by trams, buses, and trains.
Backpacker Tip; Research the city you are looking to go to and see what the cheap and easiest way to get around is.
Looking at buying a car? Check out all you need to know here.