TAX FILE NUMBER
The first thing you’ll need to do if you’re planning on working 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 at 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 most common banks are ANZ, Commonwealth, National Australia Bank and Westpac. It’s best to shop around for the best deals, because unlike 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 licence or student card. Some banks also require that you deposit some money when you open the account, so have a couple of bucks up your sleeve just in case. And one other thing – make it as stress-free as possible by avoiding the bank at lunchtime, when you’ll be joined by a million-and-one 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. All you need to do is take your passport, plus 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. Travellers from Ireland and New Zealand aren’t quite so lucky, although those countries do still have reciprocal agreements with Australia. This means that for the duration of your stay in Oz, despite not getting a Medicare card, you do still get free emergency treatment at public hospitals, subsidised prescriptions and necessary medical care from your local doctor (pick one who does “bulk billing” – it’ll save you loads of hassle as they do all the paperwork). For more info, visit http://www.hic.gov.au or phone 13 20 11.