How to move to
Find A Job
As an expat, your ability to work in Australia will depend on the nature of your visa, and whether it confers your right to work in the country. Working visas are often regulated according to the skills required in a given country, and Australia is no exception. Regular updates are provided on the official government website. The kind of visa that you apply for will also depend on whether you require permanent or temporary work.
If you are an Australian citizen, from New Zealand, or have permanent residency, you will have full working rights in Australia. If you are from elsewhere and do not yet have residency, you will need a visa; and not all visas confer working rights. Your employer will need to conduct regular visa checks. The range of working visas extends from Skilled Migration visas to Business Investment Visas, with other visa permits for various categories.
You may be able to apply for sponsorship from an Australian company. Companies are said to prefer temporary skilled visas to permanent skilled visas, as there is a reduced risk factor with temporary permit holders. Ask at your interview if your employer would be willing to sponsor you after two years in the post. Some expats also use the Working Holiday Visa as a stepping stone to permanent sponsorship.
If you do not have employment arranged upon your arrival in Australia, then note that social security payments are rarely available to migrants and are restricted to residents of the country. You may be eligible up to four years after your arrival under the Newly Arrived Residents’ Waiting Period (NARWP).
The Government of Australia’s website lists skills shortages and which visas are available to cover these areas. This will show you if you qualify for specific occupations on the Skilled Occupations List.
Typically, you will be expected to work 38 hours per week for full-time employment: 7.6-8 hours per day from Monday-Friday. Overtime will be paid for hours worked beyond this range. Traditional working hours are generally 9am-5pm.
Most full-time workers will be entitled to four weeks’ paid annual leave for every 12 months worked. Part-time employees will be entitled to four weeks’ annual leave, paid on a pro-rata basis.
If you are a shift worker then you may be entitled to five weeks’ annual leave, but check with your employer: this is a suggestion, rather than a requirement.
The cost of living in Australia is higher overall when compared to the UK and USA. It currently has the 12th highest cost of living in the world.
Housing costs are somewhat cheaper in the UK, whether renting or buying, but it depends where you are based; London is more expensive than Sydney, for example. Eating out is more expensive in Australia, but running a car is cheaper.
Salaries are around 28% higher in Australia than the UK, however, and your purchasing power would be 16% lower in Britain. The overall cost of living is 9% higher in Australia than in the USA. The minimum wage is also substantially higher in Australia than it is in the States: AU$17.70 per hour in Australia as opposed to AU$10.08 for the USA.
Your spouse will have full working rights under a partner visa, which takes three forms:
• temporary partner visa
• permanent partner visa
• prospective spouse (fiancé) visa, if you plan to marry in Australia. This confers full working rights, but is restricted to nine months.
Check with the Australian government regarding your partner’s eligibility for a partner visa.
The main recruitment websites in Australia are:
All of these have experience with international hires.
Speculative applications to Australian companies are possible and can yield positive results: you can approach companies directly and do not necessarily need to go through a recruitment agency.
The main employment recruiting areas in Australia are currently:
• healthcare and social assistance
• professional, scientific and technical services
• education and training
Down Under Live is a large annual job fair held in the UK, aimed at recruitment in Australia.
Applying For A Job
Australian employers will appreciate a brief, engaging covering letter with the hiring manager’s details and title, along with a 1-3 page CV.
At your interview, it is illegal for an employer to ask you questions relating to the following subjects:
• Are you married?
• Do you have children, or do you plan to have them?
• What is your nationality?
• Is English your first language?
• Have you ever been arrested?
• What is your credit history?
• Have you used drugs in the past?
• Do you drink alcohol?
Qualifications And Training
You may need to query any prospective employers regarding the transfer of your qualifications: for example, if you are a teacher you must hold a degree that equates to a minimum of four years’ tertiary study. The organisation Smart Teachers will enable you to apply for educational posts in Australia.
If you are a nurse, you will need to meet the registration requirements of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia and the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). You will also need grade 7 in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) examination. However, if you are qualified as a nurse in the UK or USA with a degree or a diploma as well as further education, and you are registered as a first-level nurse in either country, you will be eligible to take up a nursing post in Australia.
In construction, you will be required to hold a degree as a construction manager or be a member of CIOB with three years’ experience outside Australia, or one year of experience in Australia.
Apply For A Visa/Permit
All foreign visitors, apart from those who hold a New Zealand passport, require a visa to enter Australia. For tourist purposes, most people can simply apply online for an ETA (Electronic Travel Authority). ETAs are also available for some business travellers. They are valid for 12 months, and they allow you to stay in Australia for up to three months at a time. The business ETA covers conference attendance, business negotiations and exploratory business visits.
If you wish to spend a longer time in Australia, but will not be working or studying, you can apply for a long-stay visitor visa, which lasts for up to 12 months. You must be able to demonstrate you have funds to support yourself during your visit, and you may also be asked to undergo a medical examination.
VisasIf you wish to live and work long-term in Australia, or to become a permanent resident, there are a number of options. Most work-related visas fall under the Australian General Skilled Migrant Programme (GSM). In all cases, you must be able to pass the points test, demonstrate competence in English, and prove you are in good health and of good character.
Australian skilled migrant visa
Potential migrants, with skills and experience in certain areas, are eligible to apply for a skilled migrant visa. A list of the skills in demand can be found on the Australian Medium and Long Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL), and you should consult this first. You must be under 45 when you apply, be fluent in English, and be able to pass the Australian points test with a minimum of 65 points. At the time of writing, skills in a variety of engineering, computing, scientific and medical professions, as well as some areas of education and the arts, are listed.
Once you have identified that you possess the relevant skills, you must apply for a skills assessment with the relevant authority – a list of these can be found on the website of the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs (DOHA). Once you have received a positive skills assessment, you may submit an expression of interest (EOI) via SkillSelect, on the DOHA website. This is a tool which allows you to register your skills and qualifications with a range of potential employers, as well as state and territorial governments within Australia. Your entry remains live for two years and can be updated as and when you gain new qualifications and experience and if your family situation changes. Candidates with the highest level EOIs will automatically receive an invitation to apply for a skilled migrant visa.
In addition, state and regional governments issue invitations to workers they wish to sponsor. Once you receive an invitation, you should proceed to apply for a skilled migrant visa. These are granted for five years and you may bring your spouse and dependent children with you. If you have been nominated by a state or territory, you must live and work in it for a minimum of two years after the visa is granted. The visa can be renewed if you live and work in Australia for at least two years in the five-year period. After four years’ continuous residence, you may apply for citizenship.
Business and innovation visa
If you wish to set up a business in Australia, or manage an existing one, and possess the appropriate skills and qualifications, you may be eligible for a business and innovation visa. As with the skilled migrant visa, you should register an expression of interest (EOI) via SkillSelect. You may then either approach the government of an Australian state or territory with your business proposal, or wait for an invitation. Once you have an invitation, you may apply for a visa. You must also be able to provide the appropriate business documents, and proof that you have at least AUS$800000 net in assets ($557000/£420000). You can also apply as a potential investor, if you can invest a minimum of AUS$1.5 million in an Australian state or territory, or at least AUS$5 million in certain Australian investments, and have an invitation via SkillSelect. All of these visas can be extended, and they all attract a significant fee. Details can be found on the DOHA website.
In addition, people with an Australian spouse or partner, or who are parents of Australian citizens, can apply for family migration visas. Your partner or spouse must be able to prove they can support you for at least two years. Parents must be sponsored by their child, who must be an Australian citizen, permanent resident or eligible citizen of New Zealand.
Get Health Insurance
Many expats take out private medical insurance, even if this is not a requirement of residence, because healthcare is expensive in their destination country or because certain treatments and procedures are not available.
When taking out health insurance, be sure to check factors such as the annual and lifetime policy limits, whether there are any exclusions which are likely to affect you, whether you are limited to treatment from specific types of healthcare providers, and whether the policy covers emergency evacuation for medical treatment.
Too frequently, potential buyers of health insurance look only for the lowest cost of premiums before really considering the specific benefits and areas of cover they may actually need. Some plans are cheaper for a reason. Often they include large voluntary deductibles on any claim you might make in the future and may severely cap the benefits received under the plan. Clients should define their needs first, establish the particular area of cover they need, then determine their annual healthcare insurance budget. Only then should they look to premium comparisons, last of all.
Do not buy a plan without studying the policy wording carefully. If in doubt, ask, and only when completely satisfied complete all application forms fully, to the best of your ability.
Important questions to ask the insurance provider:
1. Does the plan allow for cooling off periods, cancellation and then repayment of premium in full?
2. Does the plan offer "Moratorium" or is it "Full underwriting" and do you need to have a medical examination before joining?
3. Does the insurer offer a 24 hour help line, 7 days a week, available from anywhere in the world (freephone)? Most insurers now offer this facility.
4. Are pre-existing conditions excluded when joining and if so, for how long are such conditions excluded?
5. Are all and any nationalities accepted or are there restrictions which apply to local nationals? Some insurers will only take expatriates abroad and not local nationals into an overseas plan.
6. Does the plan allow you to continue cover unbroken through your lifetime? In most cases insurers will continue to offer existing clients cover year on year, irrespective of age or claims history, although premium rates charged can increase dramatically with age.
7. Does the insurer allow for any doctor or consultant or hospital within the plan? Are there any restrictions in this respect? Most international plans do not place restrictions on either hospitals or doctors, but almost all demand that their help lines are called first, prior to approval of any inpatient care.
8. Does the insurer provide for the direct settlement of bills presented by hospitals worldwide, regardless of location (or do you have to pay first)?
9. What are the insurers procedures for outpatient claims? Do these require any pre-authorization or if stated in the plan can you just pay and claim? How long before you get money back from the insurer? 14 days? 28 days?.
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Rent Or Buy Property
The complexities of an overseas move to a country as far away as Australia can be daunting. Finding a place to call home in a new suburb or city is not only important but also challenging. Locating the right rental property in major cities such as Sydney and Melbourne is usually very difficult. However, there are a few tips and guidelines that can make finding a new home in Australia easier.
Step 1: Learn the local lingo
Understanding the local lingo used by agents to describe humble homes and magnificent mansions is really important. Common terms such as “flats” are used to describe apartments. The term “house” is used to refer to large houses with outdoor spaces. Hence, a two bedroom flat is likely to cost far less than a two-bedroom house. Flats with one room are called “studio flats” and the term “unit” is used to describe large flats that are split but built in blocks.
Step 2: Location
Expats should identify which areas they would like to live in. You may opt to get the feel of an area by strolling around various neighborhoods. In addition, call estate agents and browse property websites to get a good idea of the housing prices in various neighborhoods. As an expat, you should repeat this process a few more times since there are plenty of suburbs in each city and you should seek to identify the one that best suits you.
Identify the means of commuting from work to home or school. This will also give you a better idea of the time it takes to get from one point to another as well as proximity of your neighborhood to various social amenities. This information may also be available on various real estate websites.
Step 3: Start searching
Using technology is one of the best ways to house hunt. Start looking for homes that are within your budget by browsing property search websites. Also, check newspaper listings for rental properties. Although real estate agents manage rental properties, some may provide little or no help to potential tenants. Some simply provide a list of the properties they manage and a map. Therefore, be sure to work with an agent who provides valuable information and knows the neighborhoods he operates in well.
Step 4: Dealing with agents
Once you have located a suitable rental property, arrange a viewing. Contact the person managing the property or find out the agents name if it is an agency. Once you have found the relevant contact information, contact the agent directly and start the application process. It is important to keep in close contact with the agent because the rental property market in Australia is quite competitive. It is also important to visit an open house and be prepared with the necessary paperwork so that you can submit the application early.
Step 5: Putting in an application for a property
Expats should ensure that they include the correct information when submitting an application because real estate agents often take more than one application and this can be the deciding factor. You may lose out on a property to someone who was more prepared even though they submitted their application later.
Typical applications require:
• Previous rental agreements
• Proof of income (these include bank statements for the last three months)
• Proof of identity (passport/birth certificate/drivers’ license)
In some cases, you may be asked to make a down payment before renting the property. This is often refunded if the applicant fails to get the property. The references section of a rental property application is very important. It should include the applicant’s current employer and details of the previous landlord, if any. Once the estate agent receives all the required documentation, they will forward them to the property owner.
Step 6: Signing the lease and moving in
There is no standard for how much rent has to be paid in advance in Australia. However, a bond that ranges between a month’s and six weeks rent is to be paid by the new tenant when they come to sign the lease and pay the first months rent.
Potential tenants should thoroughly inspect the properties they want to move into for structural damages. Be sure to let the estate agent know about any damage before moving in. In addition, you should receive an inventory of all items in a furnished apartment. Remember to ask the agent if there are accounts set up with any utility providers to save on connection fees.
Cheaper rental properties are located far from large cities, towns, and facilities. In general, rural areas have cheaper rates for rental properties than urban areas. Sydney, Melbourne, and Darwin have the highest rates for rental properties.
The following are weekly rents for unfurnished properties in larger cities:
• A studio/bedsit usually goes for about $250 – $350
• A 1-bedroom apartment usually goes for about $350-450
• A 2-bedroom apartment usually goes for about $500-$600
• A 3-bedroom apartment t usually goes for about $700-$1000
• A 2-bedroom house goes for about $500 – $750
• A 3-bedroom house usually goes for about $800 – $1200
The difference between short-term and long-term leases
Long-term leases typically last for five years or longer. On the other hand, short-term leases are binding for a period of five years or less.
As the name suggests, furnished apartments come with furniture. The type of furniture in a furnished apartment usually varies. Some furnished apartments may have a couch, a dining table, a refrigerator, washer, dryer, and other home comforts, while others may only have a couch and a dining room set. Some may have everything needed in an apartment. The types of furnishings are usually listed in the advertisement.
These are apartments that do not have any furniture. Some may have some appliances like washers and dryers and refrigerators but not furniture. This information is also contained in the ad.
Many people liken buying property to ticking boxes and filling out forms. Buying property in Australia is considered a significant investment that comes with a fair share of red tape. Therefore, expats who look forward to becoming homeowners in Australia must be ready to take on a completely new set of rules and regulations. Although the process varies from territory to territory, some general steps apply on a national level.
Step 1: Determine the budget and arrange for mortgage pre-approval
Expats with permanent residence status in Australia qualify for a First Home Owner’s Grant. Eligible applicants are entitled to a one off grant of AUD $7,000 to put toward the purchase of their first homes. Although this is a good amount to add to one’s home purchase coffer, it is not easy or affordable for an expat to afford to buy property upfront. However, there should be no cause for alarm because most people living in Australia use mortgages to purchase properties.
Getting a mortgage in Australia
Various factors determine an expat’s eligibility for a loan. However, many lending institutions consider expats’ visa status and credit rating when determining applicants’ eligibility for mortgages.
You may need to apply to the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) for permission to buy real estate. Their decisions however are based on an individual’s financial situation. The lender and financial climate influences the amount of money that may be given in a mortgage. Many lenders will only lend up to 80% of the property value to a temporary resident. On the other hand, expats with working and spousal visas as well as permanent residents may borrow between 90 and 95 percent of the property value they intend to purchase. Expats who want to borrow more can apply for financing from specialist mortgage brokers.
Ultimately, the income of the loan applicant determines the total amount that will be granted as mortgage. It is relatively easier to qualify for a mortgage if you have good credit ratings and significant income to repay the mortgage. There are no higher charges or special interest rates for expats. They may even qualify for better interest rates if they agree to make higher monthly payments.
Step 2: Choose a location
It is important to look for real estate property in the city you intend to reside. In addition, research trends in housing prices before considering buying property. Consider renting first while familiarizing yourself with the property market.
Step 3: Find a dream home
This is a time consuming procedure that should preferably be undertaken during the house-hunting phase. One of the easiest ways to conduct this search is by using online property websites, which allow you to look at listed properties with multiple estate agents. You can even use filters to narrow your search. You might also want to keep records of homes for sale and properties that have already been sold to get a better idea of market trends.
Step 4: Buy
The formal purchasing of property usually involves mediation through an estate agent managing the property. The buyer should approach the agent with a price and the latter will act as an intermediary between the buyer and the seller. It is advisable to research property prices before approaching an estate agent with your offer.
The legal sales documents will be drawn up once a price has been negotiated.The process differs from state to state. It is important for expats to have a real estate attorney to guide them through the property purchase process. In addition, avoid signing unconditional or exchange contracts before having your financing fully approved because it will become difficult to back out of the contract.
For your consideration
You may be required to pay stamp duty on the purchase price of the property you purchase. However, first time buyers may be exempted from paying this fee in some territories. Lender application fee, lender mortgage insurance, mortgage registration fee(for government), land transfer fee, legal fee charge by solicitor, and cost of conveyancing and checks on structure and pest situation are some of the additional fees you are likely to incur. In addition, consider buying home insurance once you have purchased the property.
Real Estate Agents Licensing Requirements
Becoming a licensed real estate agent in Australia requires years of training and in-depth knowledge of market trends. The education and licensing requirements usually vary from one territory to another. An estimated 5.6 million people from over 150 countries worldwide have bought property in Australia since 1945.
Deeds and property registration
Registration of properties in all states and territories is based on the Torrens principle of title registration. The title of the land is the official record and each state or territory has a central register of all land showing the owners. Additional information about deeds and property registration can be found on the Australian government’s website.
The Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Property
1. Lack of research
Research the property market in Australia to understand market trends and property values. This will also help you get the best price during the negotiation phase.
2. Thinking Selling Agents are there to help you, the buyer
Real estate agents work for the seller and not for you. Some of the questions you need to ask a real estate agent include:
* How did you come to the asking price?
* Are there any recent sales in the street or surrounding streets that can compare to this home? If yes,urge the agent to provide evidence.
* What offers have been made so far on the property?
* How long has the property been on the market?
These questions will help you gather important information that can help you establish the value of properties on the market and price flexibility.
3. Searching without finance approval
You should first be certain of the amount of money you can borrow before you begin your house hunting.
4. Overstretching your finances
The two rules to follow to ensure you do not find yourself in this situation are:
1. Make sure your monthly repayments do not exceed 25% of your total household income.
2. Do not borrow more than 80% of the property value to avoid paying mortgage insurance.
5. Ignoring inspections
Many people do not seek appropriate inspections before buying property in Australia. Avoid buying properties with excessive structural damage.
6. Not factoring in running costs
Do not rush into making offers on properties before determining whether you can afford the running costs such as council rates, water rates, and land tax.
7. Being influenced by rental guarantees
A good property does not require rental guarantee.
8. Buying property sight unseen
This is a recipe for disaster. Virtual tours on the Internet may not provide the details you need. You have to conduct a site inspection to ensure that you end up with the property you want.
Move Your Belongings
Consider if you want (or are able) to transport your belongings yourself or whether you will need the services of a removals company that deals with international moves. Unless you are travelling very light, or making a fairly short move by road, you will probably need professional help to ship your possessions. Ask for quotes from several companies first, ensuring that they visit your home to carry out a survey of your requirements. It may be worth paying extra for the removals firm to pack your possessions for you, particularly if they are going to be transported to a distant country and need special protection for the long journey. Make sure you bring to their attention anything fragile or precious that needs particularly careful wrapping and packing.
Before agreeing to a quotation, ensure that you are fully aware of exactly what is covered in the price, and that the service to be provided meets all of your requirements. For example, does the service include both packing and unpacking of your household effects? What about disassembling and reassembling of furniture? If you are planning to put anything into storage in your destination country while you find accommodation, does the price include final delivery and unpacking at your home, or will you need to arrange collection of the items? Obtain a firm estimate of the likely arrival date of your items and obtain contact details for any agents that will be dealing with the removal in your destination country. Ensure that the removals company is aware in advance of any practical considerations such as the lack of an elevator to your apartment, or likely parking problems.
If using a removals company, you may be required to take out their insurance cover for your possessions. Whether or not this is the case, ensure that you have adequate insurance for anything of actual or sentimental value that could get lost or damaged during the move. Take the time to accurately complete or check an inventory of your possessions to be moved, as this will form the basis for any insurance claim for losses or damages. Find out if insurance is included in the price quoted by the removals company, or whether you are required to pay extra for this.
The removals company should arrange any customs and importation documents on your behalf, but if you are arranging the move independently you will need to find out what documents are required and what import duties and taxes are payable (and whether you are eligible for exemption from these).
Make sure that you set aside the important documents you will need for the journey, such as passports and air tickets, and keep these easily accessible in your hand luggage.
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Register For Healthcare
QUICK LINK: Australia health insurance
Medicare was founded in 1984 and operates on two guiding principles: it aims to be free at the point of delivery, and provide universal coverage for Australian citizens. In practice, patients must bear part of some costs under the public system. Healthcare is of a high standard; it is considered by the OECD to be one of the best in the world.
WHO statistics currently estimate life expectancy in the country to be on average around the ages of 81-85, and infant mortality is low. Both statistics have improved over the last few decades. Australia spends around 9.4% of its GDP on healthcare.
However, reports suggest that Medicare faces two main problems: (a) resource allocation, and (b) performance and patient outcome improvements. An ageing population is placing an increasing strain on the system, with a corresponding load on existing sources of funding. The system faces workforce shortages, and there are calls for a focused review on resources.
Australians can also sign up for private cover, either to top up any gaps between their medical needs and public treatment, or as a complete alternative in order to speed up access.
Around 50% of Australian citizens have subsidized cover: the government may subsidise your insurance premium if you are subscribed to private health insurance. The amount of your rebate depends on your income, and most people claim the rebate as an upfront reduction to their health insurance premium. If you do not do this, you can claim it as a tax offset in your annual income tax return. The amount will depend on your income and circumstances, and there are a number of online calculators to enable you to work this out.
If you are relocating to Australia as an expat and want access to the public system, you will need to apply for residency first, then register with Medicare, then sign up with your local GP, as outlined below.
Australia aims at universal healthcare coverage and Medicare applies to:
• all Australian citizens
• all New Zealand citizens
• Australian permanent residents
• anyone who is applying for permanent residency
• anyone who is from a country with a reciprocal healthcare agreement (currently Australia has agreements with 11 countries, including the UK and Ireland)
In order to sign up with Medicare, you will need to fall into one of the categories listed above. If you are eligible, you will need to visit a Medicare office within 7-10 days of your arrival.
If you are a resident or have applied for residency, you will need to bring the following documentation (original or certified copies):
• a current passport or Immicard
• a valid visa
• proof from the Department of Home Affairs that you have applied for permanent residency or proof of permanent residency from the DHA
You will then need to complete a Medicare enrolment form.
As soon as you have enrolled, you will be given a Medicare number immediately, and a card which should be with you within 2-4 weeks. However, you can apply for a digital version of the card at once, if you have set up a Medicare account online. This card will be valid for five years, unless you change address or have another child. Your dependents will be listed on your card.
You can backdate your Medicare registration to the date of your arrival in Australia, but if you need treatment before the card arrives and do not have a digital version, you will need to pay for any medical treatment in full and then put in a claim for reimbursement later on.
You are not obliged to sign up with a particular GP, but are free to visit any doctor. However, if you are covered by Medicare, make sure that your GP is also registered with the scheme. If they are, check first if the practice will bill Medicare or whether you need to make out-of-pocket payments. The practice of direct, or ‘bulk’, billing (where your GP bulk bills Medicare) is becoming less popular with Australian GPs, but you still might find that you have to cover part of the cost.
Open A Bank Account
There are many banks in Australia; both local and foreign. The banking sector in Australia is highly competitive. Banks in Australia come up with a wide range of services to gain a competitive advantage. A few local banks including the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), National Australia Bank (NAB), Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ), and Westpac Banking Corporation have managed to beat the rest and dominate the financial market in the country.
Major local banks
Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA)
CBA is the largest bank in Australia. It also operates in the United Kingdom, USA, Asia, Fiji, and New Zealand. It provides many financial services for Australian citizens and immigrants. These services include personal, commercial, and institutional banking, insurance, investment, and retirement planning.
Within Australia: 13 2221
From overseas: +61 2 9999 3283
Westpac Banking Corporation
Westpac is the largest bank in Australia based on the number of branches and ATMs. It offers personal, business, and corporate banking as well as insurance and superannuation. In addition, it provides clients including expats with a travel money card, which can be loaded with up to 5 different currencies and used to shop both in Australia and overseas.
General enquiries: 13 2032
Online and Mobile Banking: 1300 655 505
Overseas: (+61 2) 9293 9270
Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ)
ANZ operates both within and outside Australia. It has been in existence for 180 years. It offers regular banking services such as retail, commercial, and institutional banking. It does not have unique products for expats, but it is known for great customer service. In addition, it provides clients with specific contact details for handling all kinds of customer queries on a 24-7 basis.
Within Australia: 13 13 14
Overseas: +61 3 9683 9999
US/UK Banks in Australia
Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC)
HSBC is one of the largest and oldest banks in the world. It is based in the UK. HSBC Bank plc operates in Australia as a subsidiary of HSBC Holdings. Despite offering regular financial services with no particular distinguishing product, the bank differentiates itself from the others by focusing on expatriates and immigrants.
To become a customer of HSBC call: +44 1534 616 055
HSBC Premier Customers: +44 1534 616 313
HSBC Advance customers: +44 1534 616 212
Customers are advised to have their 10-digit PBN and 6-digit PIN at hand before calling.
Foreign exchange specialists can be reached through the following number: +44 1534 616 162
Lloyds bank is based in the UK. However, it has several branches outside the UK including in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. The bank helps people moving from the UK to set up international accounts, enabling them to access their money easily. However, the bank’s Australian branch was acquired by Westpac Group on January 1, 2016.
For any enquiries regarding the Bank, please contact: (02) 8070 4000.
For any enquiries regarding Capital finance call: (02) 8884 8000.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch
The Bank of America has its headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina. It has three branches in Australia. A good number of their clients in Australia are expats. It offers high quality customer service. Customers can contact the bank at any time and on any day.
Barclays Capital is a division of the UK based multinational Barclays bank. Its main target customers are large companies, institutions, and governments. It mainly offers advisory, financing, and risk management services.
Tel: +61 2 9334 6000
Typical bank opening hours in Australia
Monday – Thursday: 9.30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Friday: 9.30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Types of bank accounts offered by Banks in Australia
• Transaction account
• Savings account
• Cheque account
• Credit account
• Credit debit account
• Student account
Opening a bank account in Australia
You can open a bank account through an online application or by visiting the bank in person. For online applications, the bank can set up the account before you travel to Australia and then you can go and collect your bank details in any of their branches once you arrive in the country. If you prefer to visit the bank to open an account, this should be done as soon as you get to Australia.
Credit and debit cards
Credit cards are accepted for most payments in Australia, in stores, restaurants, online, and over the phone. The most commonly accepted cards are Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.
Debit cards are used to pay for items through a system called EFTPOS. It is available at most stores and restaurants. You can also withdraw cash through EFTPOS at some stores (including supermarkets and gas stations).
How to Apply for an Overdraft
Many bank services are available through online and Internet banking. To apply for an overdraft, log in to your account, fill in an application form, and then follow up with the bank for a response. Alternatively, you can call or visit the bank for additional information about the application process.
There are many ways of sending money from one country to another. As always, expats can save themselves a lot of trouble and expense if they do a little research and shop around for the best deal.
International Bank Transfers
For most expats, currency transfer involves transferring small to medium sized amounts regularly from an existing bank account back home into a new overseas bank account in the local currency. These may be pension payments, benefits, or any other form of income.
Your home bank will usually be glad to oblige. You can set up facilities with them "on demand" whereby you fax or call them on the phone, provide a secret code or two, tell them the amount in question, and they will transfer it to your new bank, automatically converting it into the relevant local currency. Some banks also allow you to make international payments online. Whatever method you choose, transfers normally take between 3-7 days although 1-2 day transfers are often available but be prepared to pay more for these.
You can also set up regular transactions that are processed automatically on a fixed day of each month. Many state pensions and benefits can be paid directly into your new bank abroad without going through your home bank at all. Some private pension organisations may also offer the same facility.
When you first set up a transfer of funds abroad, the sending bank or institution will ask you for various codes that identify the destination bank. Often they will ask for IBAN (International Bank Account Number), BIC (Bank Identifier Code) or SWIFT codes but don?t panic - your new bank will give these to you and they may even already be listed in your new chequebook or bank statements.
As far as charges are concerned, you will probably be required to pay a flat fee per transaction. Additionally a percentage fee is often charged for the currency conversion itself. You may also find that your receiving bank charges you for receiving the transfer. Charges vary by bank but can quickly add up - ask your bank(s) for an indication of the fees involved.
As a general rule, transferring larger sums less frequently usually works out cheaper than transferring smaller amounts more often. However, if you need to transfer regular amounts of at least a few hundred pounds/dollars or need to make a larger one-off payment (e.g. for a house purchase) you should consider the services of a currency broker.
Cash Machine/ATM Withdrawals
Thanks to modern technology, most people abroad can go to a cash machine/ATM and withdraw local currency funds directly from their home bank account. This is a useful option to have for expats but exercise caution - many banks make hefty charges for using this type of facility. You may also find that withdrawal limits are in place (as a security measure) even if you significant funds in your account back home.
You can also use VISA or Mastercard credit cards to obtain cash in this fashion and if you pay the amount off quickly and avoid interest charges then fine - but once again credit card charges for cash withdrawals can be high. Check the rates carefully.
Currency brokers (also called foreign exchange brokers) offer significant advantages over traditional banks. Firstly, brokers will often be able to offer you a better rate than your bank. Secondly, the entire process is more transparent - many banks require you to accept the exchange rate available on the day they process your transaction, whatever and whenever that may be, but a specialist broker will offer greater flexibility, even allowing you to specify the rate you want in advance.
Currency brokers are smaller companies than major banks so always check their background carefully. Ask existing expats for their own experiences and recommendations before choosing a firm to handle your own foreign exchange requirements.
A good broker will discuss all the options with you and enable you to make the best decision for your circumstances. Using a broker will typically off the following advantages:
1) Currency brokers generally provide superior exchange rates to the high street banks. The currency brokers have access to the interbank rate and do not have the high costs that the banks have. This means that they can usually offer better exchange rates.
2) Use of a free Market Watch/Order Service: This allows you to tell your currency broker your target or budget exchange rate and they will ring you if that exchange rate level is reached. As the rate moves every few seconds, currency brokers can act as your eyes and ears on the market.
3) Ability to fix the exchange rate in advance using a Forward Contract. If you know you need to convert/move funds in the future but don?t yet have the money you can reserve a rate in advance using a Forward Contract. During this period, you are exposed to exchange rate movements and therefore, a forward contract is ideal if, for example, you have agreed to buy a house and want to fix the rate now but will not be making payment for a couple of months.
Savings from currency brokers can vary from between 1 and 4 per cent on the exchange rate alone, and specialists do not typically charge any fees for transmitting the funds abroad, unlike banks which often levy expensive fees or charges. If you are emigrating and transferring a large sum of money - such as the proceeds of a property - a foreign exchange company could potentially save you thousands.
Save On Money Transfers
Compare quotes from leading foreign exchange currency brokers
Learn The Language
There is no official language in Australia. However, English is the most used language. Most Australians speak English as their first language. In addition, English is the de-facto language for doing business and is widely used in most workplaces. However, there are a good number of people who speak other languages too. There are about a million expats living in Australia who are unable to speak English.
Sydney, which is one of the multicultural cities in Australia, has the highest number of people who speak an alternative language. Melbourne and Sydney host about 65 percent of non-English-speaking expats who cumulatively make up some of the 240 different languages spoken in Australia. Many expats use their mother tongue on a daily basis and have a minimal grasp of English.
Incorporation of English into the Local Language
Australian English is somewhat similar to British English though it has a different vernacular known as Strine. This language is one of Australia’s creative products and it is full of word tweaking, abbreviations, profanities, hyperboles, and idiosyncratic expressions. The language traces its origin to Cockney and the Irish slang used by early convicts. Every region uses Strine words differently as the language has adopted many words from Aboriginal languages.
Most Australians are not sure whether to use British or American spelling and it is common for misspellings to occur in their writing. Some English words have different meanings in Australia compared to other English speaking countries. A few examples of such words include game (brave), knock (criticize), and tube (can of beer). Australian English is full of abbreviations. This is normally done by shortening any word with more than two syllables then adding either an “ie” or “o” at the end. For example, a refugee will be referred to as a reffo and a truck driver a truckie.
Regional Variations and Dialects
The Australian accent has variations in every region though the difference can be minimal making it difficult for foreigners to detect. The accents of people living in isolated communities in the Australian outback are more varied and distinct compared to the accents of urban communities. Most Australians have a broad nasal twang. Expletives are commonly used and most of them are a symbol of affection or familiarity. Words like ‘bloody’ are used every day and not considered a swear word. Aussies are known for saying things as they are. They can sometimes make playful comparisons for purposes of emphasis. For example, someone might say “as straight as a dog’s hind leg,” to mean something is bent.
There are many books that have been written on the Australian vernacular speech such as phrase books and dictionaries. These publications are used to help others understand the slang used in Australia. The Australian aboriginal society dates back 60,000 years and has the longest cultural history in the world. In 1788, when the first fleet of European explorers arrived, there were about 250 Australian languages all believed to have evolved from one language that had about 700 dialects. Out of the 250 languages only 20 are in use today and are commonly spoken and taught in learning institutions.
Australian Creole is one of the most commonly spoken and taught languages in Northern Australia. It has many English words though the meanings are different and the spelling is phonetic. During the European settlement, many extra languages with over 500 dialects were introduced. Most indigenous languages were lost and while most of the speakers died, others reverted to learning to speak any of the other existing indigenous languages including Creole and English. A Creole is a language that develops from the primary language of a community. Australian Creole is a mix of indigenous languages and English. More than 100 indigenous Australian languages, including Creole, are spoken in Australia. Research indicates that Mandarin and Punjabi have also become popular languages in Australia. The popularity of a language is determined by the number of people speaking the language.
There are also the Tasmanian languages whose origins can be traced to Tasmania Island. The original Tasmanians had about six languages. The last record of the Tasmanian languages being used in communication dates back to 1830. The Tasmanians began using English as their official language in 1905.
Language Training Centers
LSI - Brisbane
This school teaches English language from intensive courses to exam preparation classes. They also have a class for senior citizens.
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7443 9873
Australian English Language Center
The Australian English Language Center has a small class size that allows every student to get individual attention from the teachers. The tutors in this school determine the needs of each student before they enroll them in English language classes. A deposit of AUD $60 may be required for books and study materials. This deposit is usually refunded once the study is complete.
Address: 641 Wellington Street,
Phone: 08 9322 3202
Access Language Center
The Access Language center, located in Mary Street Surry Hills, Sydney, offers full time and part time English courses at beginner, intermediate, and advanced level. Their flexible plan allows students to start classes on any given Monday.
Address: Level 2, 72 Mary Street
Surry Hills, Sydney NSW
Phone: +61 (2) 9281-6455
Fax: +61 (2) 9281-7455
Use of Subtitles in Broadcasting
All public TV networks in Australia feature captions on programs aired between 6pm and 10:30 pm. In addition, programs that are now being broadcast on a digital channel, but were previously broadcast on an analog channel, are required to have captions. If a program was broadcast on a network’s primary channel with captions, the other Free TV networks are not obligated to broadcast it with captions regardless of the time it is aired.
Choose A School
The education system in Australia constitutes different tiers of learning institutions including preschool, preparatory, primary school, secondary school, and tertiary learning institutions.
Preparatory to college lasts 13 years. It is compulsory for people below the age of 16 years to attend school. There are three main types of schools in Australia: government, private, and faith-based schools. All of them must be registered with the state or territory education department and their infrastructure and teacher registration should meet government requirements.
Australia’s education standards are world-renowned and many expats migrate to its sunny shores to study. The national government emphasizes quality, diversity, and commitment to excellence in research, teaching, and student support.
The government encourages parents to enroll their kids for 1 year in preschool before they proceed to primary school. Primary school comprises kindergarten to year 6, which include kids between 5 and 12 years old. High school includes young people between the ages of 12 to 18.
Public schools in Australia
About two thirds of the local population and a good number of children whose parents are expats attend public schools. Although the country has a national curriculum, each state is responsible for managing and implementing education in their respective areas.
Some schools require parents to pay additional fees to cover school uniforms and stationery. Expat families are required by most schools to provide proof of residence before their children can be actively enrolled in Australian learning institutions.
Private schools in Australia
Many people believe that private schools in Australia have a wider range of facilities, higher paid teachers, and better education standards than their state counterparts. Many expats prefer to take their children to private schools because many of them offer International Baccalaureate curricula. However, the prestige and reputation associated with private schools comes at a price.
Most popular private schools in Australia may have long waiting lists and some may require students to pass an exam prior to enrolment. There are various international schools for expats who would like their children to continue with their home country’s curriculum.
Faith-based schools in Australia
Although these institutions are run according to a religious order, they also place strong emphasis on academics. Most faith-based schools in Australia are Catholic-oriented. These schools see the need to instill a sense of religious beliefs and values in students. Religious practice and teachings incorporated into the curriculum vary from school to school. Students in these institutions are required to pay tuition. However, the fees of faith-based schools in Australia are lower than those of private schools.
How to Enroll
The law requires all children of compulsory school age to be enrolled in school and they must attend every day. In Western Australia, compulsory schooling starts in pre-primary though children can start their education in kindergarten.
All children below the age of 16 must attend school. Older children above the age of 16 must be enrolled in school or a training organization, be employed, or be in a combination of school, training, and employment.
You should visit your local school as soon as possible if you wish to enroll your child in a public school. To enroll your child at a school in Australia you must apply to the school itself. The school may require academic credentials from your child’s previous school and proof that you legally live in the country. You will also be required to provide information on vaccinations that have been given to the child. Education at a state school is free for expats living in Australia.
Documentation to Provide
Temporary residents can negotiate with their employers to provide school allowance or pay tuition for their kids.
There are a total of 40 weeks in a school year. In addition, four school terms make up an academic year in Australia. Holidays in between terms last 2 weeks while summer holidays last 6 weeks. Children should attend for school for 190 days each year, which adds up to 380 sessions. This applies to primary, secondary, and special schools.
Pupil free day
This is usually organized by public schools where all government school staff members are required to go for training and development. Students are not required to attend school during public holidays.
A wide range of extra-curricular activities including sports, drama, and creative arts are offered by all schools. Most schools take part in local leagues with other schools in their area and all children are encouraged to take part in these events.
Specialized courses and programs
These programs are focused on specific interests or talents. Enrolment into such programs is usually coordinated by the specific school sponsoring the program, which may involve sitting for an exam or auditioning.
Higher education options
The main types of postgraduate certifications offered by most higher education institutions include the following.
Requirements include six months to a year of full-time study for the graduate certificate and one to two years of full-time study for a graduate diploma.
Masters’ degrees specialize in a specific field of study or area of professional practice.
This type of certification is offered to individuals who make a considerable original contribution in a specific field in the form of either new knowledge or adaptation, application, and interpretation of existing knowledge. Doctoral degrees may take three to four years to complete. There are two types of doctoral degrees: A research doctorate (PhD) involves supervised research resulting in the completion of a thesis, and requires a master’s degree by research or a bachelor degree. A professional doctorate combines coursework and research and is suitable for professionals who want to advance their knowledge in their field without the research commitment of a PhD. Entry requirements include a master’s degree by research or a bachelor’s degree. Considerable professional experience is required either before or during the course.
Learning institutions in Australia have varying entry requirements. Therefore, it is important to contact individual learning institutions to confirm entry requirements. In addition, starting dates vary depending on the course. Higher education courses usually run from late February to mid-November.
Expat Health Insurance Partners
Cigna has worked in international health insurance for more than 30 years. Today, Cigna has over 71 million customer relationships around the world. Looking after them is an international workforce of 31,000 people, plus a network of over 1 million hospitals, physicians, clinics and health and wellness specialists worldwide, meaning you have easy access to treatment.