Pre Departure

Important First Steps

Before moving to Australia thereis a lot to think about and plan. Use this checklist for moving to Australia to help you with your planning.

Whether you are coming as a skilled migrant, with family or international student, like anyone arriving in a new country, there are things you must do in advance or as soon as you arrive. The sooner you are settled, the better! These are some of the things we suggest you do from home before you leave, or within days of arriving in the country.

1. Open a bank account: We recommend you open your bank account BEFORE you come to Australia Click here for details

2. Cost of living: be aware!: Many newcomers to Australia get a shock when they learn how much things cost, especially in cities like Sydney and Melbourne. Australian capital cities have some of the highest property prices in the world – and this is reflected in rent. Necessities like food and transportation are also expensive. Whether you are a skilled migrant or student, do not rely on getting a job immediately, as this may not happen. We highly recommend you come with some savings in the bank. Educate yourself on the cost of living in Australia so you can plan ahead.

3. Increase your English fluency: Whether you are researching jobs or courses in Australia, getting on a plane tomorrow, or already here, there is always time to improve your English skills! Communicating in English with clarity and confidence is crucial to success in your new life. We share some ways to improve your English.


Following are some checklists that may assist you ensuring you are prepared for departure to Melbourne:

Checklist 1: Important documents to bring
  •   These documents will be required for legal activites in Australia. If you do not currently have them, get them as soon as possible, as it can take time to have things processed in your country. It may be a good idea to keep these in a bank safe until you are settled in a secure home (i.e. not staying in a hostel).

•      Birth certificates and passports for all family members

•      Marriage certificate

•      Immunisation records of your children. These are absolutely necessary when enrolling your children in Australian schools or daycare centres.

  •  Medical records, including X-rays, dental records, and prescriptions.
  •  Education records, Copies of all school records, certificates, diplomas, degrees and academic transcripts. You might be asked to have your qualifications assessed by a professional evaluation service. This could make it easier to find work
  • Letters of reference, containing all contact details of your former employers.
  • Professional portfolio or samples of your work. This is especially relevant for creative industries such as graphic design.
  • A valid driver’s licence + international driver’s licence. You will be able to drive immediately using the driver’s licence from your home country and an international driver’s licence for three to six months, until you must apply for an Australian licence. Consult the traffic authority in your Australian state or territory for further information.
  • Car insurance papers. If you have a good driving record in your home country, you may get a better premium on car insurance in Australia.
  • Travel insurance documents to cover you in your first few weeks in Australia. Private health insurance providers in Australia have a waiting period for coverage after joining. You are responsible for your own coverage in the meantime and could face high costs for medical treatment, ambulance travel, or emergency surgery without it.
  •  Certificates of valuation and authenticity (including photographs) for jewellery and other valuables and heirlooms. If you are carrying more than A$10,000 in cash, you must declare it on your Incoming Passenger Card.
  • Financial records that show your credit history/rating. These records will make it easier for you to get approved for credit in Australia.
  • Documents relating to any foreign income, properties or other investments. You may be required to pay tax on these investments in Australia. Consult the Australian Taxation Office website for more information.

Checklist 2: Personal & household items

As a permanent resident, you are entitled to bring with you, free of import duty and taxes, any personal and household items that you have owned for 12 months before your arrival in Australia.  Before you pack an item, consider whether it is cheaper to ship or to buy new when you arrive. Allowable items include:

  •  Furniture
  •   Homewares/crockery
  •   Silverware/cutlery
  •    Linen/manchester
  •    Books
  •   Clothing, but not furs
  •    Jewellery
  •    Power tools
  •    Sporting equipment

Do not forget receipts! Wherever possible, you should retain the receipts for these goods to prove that they are your personal items, and for your personal use.

Checklist 3: Transferring finances to Australia

One of the first things to consider when planning to migrate to Australia is how to transfer your cash and other investments.  Remember, you should close all accounts that will not be active in your home country in order to save on bank fees.  Here are some further suggestions:

•      Before you depart open an Australian bank account online. It is easy to do, and takes minutes! To activate the account, you simply need to go to any bank branch and show your passport. Have some money in your account the minute you arrive!

•         International money transfers can be made using the SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) system. All banks in Australia are able to receive overseas transfers. International transfers can take up to 10 days.

  • Convert some cash into Australian dollars for immediate needs when you arrive.
  • Buy a pre-paid travel credit card or travellers’ cheques in Australian dollars for security and immediate access to funds.
  •  Bring your international credit cards for immediate expenses and identification. Remember that transaction fees will be higher when you use them in Australia.

Note: If you are carrying more than A$10,000 in cash, you must declare it on your Incoming Passenger Card.

Checklist 4: Professional documents

Documents relating to your professional experience are some of the most important things to bring to Australia.  Looking for a job is likely to be your primary focus when you arrive in Australia, so bring everything you need!

Unfortunately, many migrants are surprised at how difficult it is to find a job in Australia, even though they were granted a visa based on their education and professional experience.

Migrant job applicants who miss out on jobs are often told that they have “no Australian experience” or do not have the required credentials. As a result, some highly qualified migrants turn to survival jobs like taxi driving or cleaning offices to support their families.

You might think that this won’t happen to you; but you should be ready to face the realities of the Australian labour market. You will improve your chances of success by having the correct professional documents from your country of origin. Many migrants fail to bring them, making their job hunting in Australia tougher than it otherwise would be.

Professional documents to bring to Australia:

•      A copy of your resume. Keep in mind that you will probably have to rewrite your resume to fit with Australian standards and style. We can help you! Visit our content on writing an Australian resume.

  • Copies of all certificates, diplomas, degrees, professional licences, and academic transcripts. You may need to show proof of your educational qualifications and have credentials assessed by a professional evaluation service. These assessments can help you find work more easily, and reveal if you need re-training in Australia.
  • Reference letters with all the contact details of your former employers.
  • A professional portfolio, or examples of your work (depending on your profession).
Checklist 5: Shipping goods to Australia

Selecting household goods and personal items to bring to Australia, packing them, and shipping them safely can seem like a lot of work.

Take care to only ship the items you REALLY want, to cut down on cost and effort.

Here are some important things to keep in mind:

•      Bring personal items with sentimental value (e.g. family photos and heirlooms).

•        Only ship items that are expensive to buy new, such as furniture. Australia is an expensive country to buy things in. However, with sites like eBay and Gumtree, you can get great deals on second-hand household items.

•        It is better to replace some items with Australian versions. For example, appliances and electronics may not be compatible – Australia is 220-224 volts.

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