The first thing you’ll need to do if you’re planning on getting a job Down Under is get a Tax File Number (TFN). You need to give it to your boss within 28 days of starting work. Don’t be surprised to find yourself paying crazy rates of tax if you forget. It’s really not that hard to get one. By far the easiest way is to visit the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website atiar.ato.gov.au and fill in the form online (it takes about 20 minutes). Failing that, try ringing them on 13 28 61 or pop into one of their offices. Just remember to have your passport, visa details and an Australian address to hand.

You’ll need an Aussie bank account to get wages paid into. This normally involves going to a branch in person. The big four banks in Australia are ANZ, Commonwealth, National Australia Bank (NAB) and Westpac. It’s best to shop around for the best deals, because unlike at home, there’s no such thing as free banking. Many accounts charge you for almost everything – from using a different bank’s ATM to a monthly fee for just having an account. It’s also worth signing up for a MasterCard debit card as without one you’ll have to keep resorting to your credit card to pay for stuff online.

Whichever you choose, take along your passport and at least one other piece of ID, such as a photo driver’s license or student card. Some banks also require that you deposit some money when you open the account, so make sure you’ve got a couple of bucks up your sleeve in case you need it.

And one other thing avoid the bank at lunchtime, when you’ll be joined by a million zombie-faced office workers.

If you’re unfortunate to come down with the dreaded lergy, you’ll thank your lucky stars you visited a Medicare office to pick up a Reciprocal Health Care card (if you’re eligible). Best to do this as soon as possible because if you get sick while you’re in Australia you’ll be taken care of.

If you hail from the UK, the Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Italy, Malta or Belgium, then you’re in luck, as you get looked after best, and even get a sexy little Medicare card to stick in your wallet. Beware that different nationalities get cover for different amounts of time, not necessarily your whole stay Down Under, so make sure you check what you’re eligible for.

All you need to do is take your passport, plus in some cases proof you are enrolled in your country’s national health care scheme, along to a Medicare office. They’ll then send your card out, so make sure you’ve got an Aussie mailing address.

When going to a doctor, pick one that does “bulk billing”. This means you only have to pay the subsidised rate up front, rather than paying full whack and then having to go to a Medicare office for a refund.

Travellers from Ireland and New Zealand aren’t quite so lucky, although those countries do still have reciprocal agreements with Australia. This means that despite not getting a Medicare card, you do still get free emergency treatment at public hospitals, subsidised prescriptions and necessary medical care.

Take note that students are not eligible for Medicare. They must instead take out Overseas Student Health Cover, as a condition of their visa.

For more info, visit medicareaustralia.gov.au or phone 13 20 11.

October 31st, 2011