Are you a new migrant to Australia? Welcome! Here is a list of important things to do and consider now that you’ve arrived in Australia.
Get a Mobile Phone in an Australian Network
A mobile phone with connection to the Australian network will make sure that you can keep in touch with your friends and family in Australia and overseas. You might also need to make a lot of calls within the first few weeks of your arrival, such as calling for a taxi service. A mobile phone with internet access will also give you access to most everyday services online, without needing access to a computer or Wi-Fi.
- Pre-paid or post-paid (contract) phone plans? Note that post-paid phone plans will require you to make regular payments monthly (depending on the plan) and might have extra requirements.
- Which network? Australia has plenty of network providers, such as Optus, Telstra, or Vodafone. Do your research and see which provider has a plan that will suit your needs or price range.
Find a Place to Stay
Do you have a place to stay? You may choose to rent an apartment or house before choosing where you would like to live long-term.
Here are a few rental sites to get you started:
Do your research in advance because your choice will depend on your needs, preference or budget. Know that there are a lot of cheaper options for you in the interim period, such as hostels and Airbnb, instead of hotels.
Know How You Will Travel
Do you know how you will get where you need to go? A few transportation options are renting/leasing a car, buying a car, or public transportation.
- Renting and buying can end up costing you the same amount. You can find some guide questions to help you decide here .
- Make sure you have at least third party insurance for your car! This will save you money if you are ever in an accident.
- Public transport may be adequate for you if you are intending to mostly travel around Melbourne’s CBD. Driving and parking is difficult in the city! Find out more about Melbourne’s public transport here.
Convert your Driving Licence
If you hold an international driver license, VicRoads may or may not recognise your licence or your driving experience depending on which country your license was issued to you or your age. Note that your right to drive in Victoria using your foreign license also depends on whether you hold a temporary or permanent visa.
If you are staying in Australia for more than 6 months, you must get a Victorian issued drivers’ license.
If you plan on using your license for identification purposes, your license must be issued in Australia.
This is especially important for the 100-point ID check that is used by the Australian government in order to confirm your identity. You will need to pass the 100-point ID check to register for some of the services on this page, such as Centrelink.
Register with Centrelink
Centrelink is a government program, part of the Department of Human Services, in charge of providing government payments to Australians, visa holders, students, seniors and more. For example, if you have dependent children, you can be eligible for the Family Tax Benefit and receive payments for your family. Or if you haven’t found employment after a certain amount of time, you can receive unemployment payments while you continue your search for a job.
Visit the Centrelink website to see a range of benefit payments you can be eligible for.
If you have never dealt with Centrelink, you will need to make an appointment at your nearest Centrelink office and apply for a Customer Reference Number (CRN) with valid documents to confirm your identity.
The CRN acts as a key for your Centrelink records. Once you receive your CRN you can create an account online and start using services.
Enrol for Medicare
Medicare is a government scheme which offers a range of services, including free or discounted access to public health services, doctors and emergency treatment in a public hospital. In order to access these services you must enrol for Medicare and receive a Medicare card.
To to enrol, visit: How to enrol or re-enrol in Medicare.
Start Looking For a Job
This will be one of your priorities but it can also be very challenging. Here are few sites where you can start your job hunt:
Job Search Australia
But don’t forget:
- You may need to re-write your CV. What Australian employers expect from your CV to look like may be very different from what’s expected in your home country.
- You may wish to look for a template on the internet or seek the services of a resume writer (just search up “resume writing services” on the internet and see what’s available for you).
- Apply for as many jobs as you can. It will increase your chances of being hired.
- Network, network, network! Some jobs are not advertised.
- Remember that some jobs may require additional certification, such as those around children or those involving food and drinks.
Apply for a Tax File Number (TFN)
As a resident in Australia, a Tax File Number (TFN) is needed for many aspects of your life here.
You will need it in order to start getting paid by your employer, to access some government services/benefits or to apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN) which you will need to start a business. Holding a TFN will ensure that you are taxed correctly and will also allow you to lodge your mandatory tax return.
Your tax file number (TFN) is your personal reference number in the tax and super systems.It is an important part of your tax and super records as well as your identity, so keep it secure. Your TFN is yours for life. You keep the same TFN even if you change your name, change jobs, move interstate or go overseas.
Visit the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to apply for a TFN.
Set Up a Bank Account
There is a large range of banks in Australia to choose from. It’s best to do your research to find the bank that will suit your needs. You will also need to provide your bank details to your employer once you have secured a job.
Be sure to provide you TFN to your chosen bank so they do not withhold tax from the interest you earn in your account at the highest marginal tax rate (currently 45%).
Apply for Superannuation
Superannuation is compulsory when you work in Australia. This is basically a retirement fund that you will be able to access after you retire. Your employer is liable to pay the superannuation guarantee contribution (currently 9,5%) on your ordinary time earnings into your chosen fund.
In most cases, you have the option of choosing your superannuation fund or allowing your employer to choose for you. More information is available here.
Understand your Australian Tax Obligations
Now that you are in Australia, it is very important to understand your tax obligations. Did you know that you have to claim your overseas income for taxation? This does not just mean money earned from employment overseas, but also income earned from investments, businesses and pensions. You will penalised if withhold this information on your claim, even if it is unintentional. An accountant can help you avoid this trouble early on.
Disclaimer: This blog post has been simplified to cover the common scenarios. This should not be construed as advice from Fortiz Accountants. There are many other factors to be considered and each person’s situation is unique. Therefore, we encourage readers of this blog post to contact Fortiz Accountants for assistance with their specific circumstances.
If you need help in understanding your tax responsibilities in Australia as a new migrant we can help you! Our accountants can help you make sure all your financial records, both in Australia and overseas, comply with Australian law. We can help keep track of your finances and ensure you successfully lodge your tax returns. Additionally, most of our accountants and staff have either been there, done that, so they are more than happy to advise you.
Contact us and see how we can assist you!