April 3, 2020

First Steps in Australia

Your trip to Australia is coming soon and the only thing you can think about is ‘HOW WILL I SURVIVE?’ Nerves are building up and questions are filling your head…

Well, we have some experience with that and want to give you a hand!

In this post, you will find a checklist of the things any student should do when arriving in Australia, and we will also tell you how to do it in the easiest and fastest way possible -> LET’S START!

Get a Travel Card

As you may have heard, Australia is a developed country of around 25 million inhabitants that are highly concentrated within the main cities. These cities boast modern freeways, train lines, trams and lots of busses. In order to get you travelling around the city and metro areas, you will need to purchase a Travel Card at any convenience store or post-office.

Some regions, like South Australia and Victoria, offer international students with a discounted pass to travel around main cities in the regions.

You also need to know that every region has its own transport system, some being larger or more diverse, so if you want to know further details just click on the link of your destination and have a look at all the travel options available within Australia’s main cities:

Buy a SIM Card

You would probably like to share your excitement of arriving to this new country with all your family and friends as soon as you arrive, but… uh oh! Your house or hostel’s Wi-Fi is not strong enough to do that long facetime call. You are also planning to go to the bank, start settling into Australian lifestyle, even getting that customer loyalty card at the supermarket, and everyone keeps asking for an Australian phone number!

Yes, you guessed it: you MUST have an Australian SIM card. The good news is that it will take you only 10 minutes to visit any of the many mobile service providers, choose a plan and voila! You have completed Step 2 instantly. Monthly plans start at approximately $30.00 AUD.

If you are an EEVS client coming to Sydney for your further studies, then our office offers affordable Vodafone Mobile Plans and free accessories worth up to $50 AUD.

Tip: Don’t forget to bring your passport with you! Some companies will also offer special prices for international students.

Open a Bank Account

Choosing your banking services provider can take a bit more than 10 minutes, especially if you are one that prefers to compare all secondary services and discounts offered by partners. However, there is also good news for you: firstly, most banks in Australia offer no-commission accounts to students. Secondly, you can do your research before departing home and you can even pre-open your bank account online to save a lot of time. For EEVS clients, we assist to open a bank account from their home country with Australia’s largest bank Commonwealth Bank. Even for those who have recently arrived in Australia and do not have a bank account yet, our team will assist you with the process.

To activate your account, just check with your bank which documents you will need to bring to the branch once arriving in Australia.

Set up a Superannuation Account

Superannuation is an accumulation of funds which the government encourages people to save for their future retirement. It is mandatory for Australian businesses to contribute superannuation funds of any employee, permanent or temporary resident, by a minimum of 9.5% of its wages into your nominated account.

When starting your first paid job in Australia you will be asked to provide your Superfund details, otherwise, your employer may be able to open an account for you. There are lots of private funds and even some banks offer superannuation accounts. Once a superfund account is opened, treat this like a bank account, and when you change an employer, give the same super details to everyone to avoid having multiple accounts with multiple accounts keeping fees.

Remember: This is money for your future retirement, so you won’t be able to access these funds earlier while staying in Australia, although you might be able to access them once your you have left Australia definitely and your temporary visa has expired or been cancelled.

For detailed information check the ATO website – https://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Super/

Apply for a TFN

A tax file number (TFN) is your personal reference number in the tax and super systems of Australia. Once you open your TFN it will be yours for life, even if changing name, job or moving away. It is not mandatory but without one, you will be paying higher taxes on your salary.

Remember you will only need to apply for an ABN when your employer asks for it. Additionally, you need to lodge your Tax Return every year (we will talk about it in later posts).

You can apply for your TFN online if you are already in Australia and hold a temporary visa like Student 500 visa subclass. You will need to nominate your current home address in Australia where your TFN will be posted within 28 days after applying.

To apply for your TFN follow this link – https://iar.ato.gov.au/IARWeb/default.aspx?pid=4&sid=1&outcome=1

Super Tip! Keep it secure from scams and frauds. Do not share your TFN number with everyone except your accountant and employer. Remember, if it does not feel right, it probably isn’t!

Activate your OSHC

Lastly but not least, your health insurance needs to be activated.

If you have acquired your OSHC from overseas, you might need to access your online account (which will probably be provided to you through email or you can check with your agent) and simply notify them that you have landed in Australia and your student visa is currently active.

This will officially activate your health cover and you will be able to indicate a home address where you can receive your new credential.

Welcome to Australia!