6 Things to do after arriving in Australia
The key to not being overwhelmed is to know what should get priority status. That’s why we’ve drawn up a handy list that details your 6 most important tasks.
We’ve also included helpful links so you can start planning your arrival in Australia right away.
1. Apply for a tax file number
Your tax file number (TFN) is a unique identifier issued by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). This number is yours for life, even if you change your name, change jobs, move interstate or go overseas.
While having a TFN is not compulsory, it is highly recommended to get one. Without a TFN you’ll pay more tax and you also won’t be able to apply for government benefits, lodge your tax return electronically or get an Australian business number.
How to apply for your TFN
Migrants on permanent and temporary resident visas can apply for a TFN on the ATO website. You can also call ATO or visit an ATO service centre, but an online application is the most efficient way to do it.
2. Enrol with Medicare
Medicare is Australia’s national healthcare system and provides free or subsidised healthcare to Australians and permanent residents. Under Medicare, you can access a range of health care services, including:
- Medical services by doctors, specialists and other health professionals.
- Hospital treatment.
- Prescription medicines.
To enroll with Medicare, you’ll have to go to a Medicare Service Centre with all the required documents. If you meet the criteria, you’ll get a temporary Medicare card number. You’ll receive your Medicare card by post after approximately three weeks.
You can read more about Medicare and how to enroll with it on the Australian government’s Human Services website.
3. Enrol your children in a school
If you have children of school-going age, you’ll want to enroll them in a school as soon as possible.
In Australia, children must attend school from the ages of 5 to 16. Thereafter, 16 and 17-year olds must be enrolled in school or a training organisation, be employed or be in a combination of school/training/employment.
To choose a school, you can go to MySchool.edu.au. MySchool lets you compare schools to find the school that’s best for your children.
Once you’ve chosen a school, you can either call or visit the school. It is best however to follow your state or territory’s guidelines. These are the education websites:
- Australian Capital Territory: www.education.act.gov.au
- New South Wales: education.nsw.gov.au
- Northern Territory: education.nt.gov.au
- Queensland: education.qld.gov.au
- South Australia: www.education.sa.gov.au
- Tasmania: www.education.tas.gov.au
- Victoria: education.vic.gov.au
- Western Australia: www.education.wa.edu.au
4. Apply for a driver’s licence
You must have a valid driver’s licence to drive in Australia. This could be either your foreign driver’s licence or an Australian driver’s licence. Most states and territories will, however, require you to apply for a local driver’s licence after having been in their region for a certain period of time. This period is usually 90 days.
We’ve written extensively about driving in Australia legally on our blog. You can read the article here.
5. Open a bank account
Your life will become infinitely easier once you have a bank account set up. You’ll then be able to receive your salary, make withdrawals, set up debit orders, and save.
If possible, open a bank account within six weeks of your arrival in Australia. During this period, you’ll only need your passport as identification. Once the 6-week period is over, you’ll need additional documentation which may still prove difficult to show.
These are some of the top banks in Australia:
- Commonwealth Bank
- Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ)
- National Australian Bank
- Westpac Bank
- Bank of Queensland
- Macquarie Bank
- Bendigo Bank
- AMP Bank Ltd
- Suncorp Bank
Be sure to give the bank your tax file number to avoid higher interest rates of taxation on interest earned!
6. Find a family doctor
Your family doctor is your first port of call when your family’s health needs looking after. For this reason, choosing a GP is of utmost importance. In Australia you can change doctors, so feel free to do so if the first doctor you approach does not feel like the best fit for your family.
You can find a GP in your area with Healthdirect, which is a government-funded service providing quality, approved health information and advice. Healthdirect also offers comprehensive advice on how to find the right health professional on their website.
Your next question would certainly be how to see a doctor. Melbourne-based GP and Vice President of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) Dr. Tony Bartone explains to SBS that “You can see a doctor without a Medicare card. However, you’ll be expected to complete a private form or account for that treatment. If you do have a Medicare card, the Medicare card will cover a certain amount of the fees.”
Now you can breathe a little easier! Your list of things to do when you arrive in Australia is done. You know what to do and where to go. Simply tick these to-do’s off one by one and you’ll settle into your new life in no time.