We have explored six vital aspects of moving to Australia in parts one and two of our checklist. Today we will look at medical insurance, tax file numbers and banking/currency exchange in Australia. All three of these things will be unavoidable and best handled when you are prepared with proper information and procedures, just what we are proving in this article!
Depending on the type of visa you have, you may be able to qualify for the government health care plan called Medicare. Under this coverage, you and your qualifying family members can be treated at a state hospital and also have a portion of your general doctor visits paid for by the government. Check your visa details to see if you qualify. You will need to go to a Medicare office and retrieve the paperwork required to sign up for benefits and to retrieve your card. Your passport and visa will be required as well. Once you have a Medicare card, it is effective from your date of arrival into the country.
If you do not qualify for Medicare, you must have some sort of medical coverage in Australia. It is compulsory. You are also penalised if you do not carry a private policy on top of Medicare if you are over 30 yrs old, have Medicare coverage, and can afford to do so.
Private health cover will allow you to use private hospitals and avoid the waiting lists at public ones. You can also have maternity coverage and extras like chiropractic, dental, and optical. Policies are reasonably priced and there are also rebates available. Depending on your age, overall state of health, and the type of coverage you are looking for, the price can vary widely. A healthy young family with two children might pay around $200/month for private health cover. There are many good websites where you can quote different plans and investigate what might be right for you.
Tax File #
You must have a tax file number in order to work legally in Australia. This can easily be obtained by submitting an application. However, it may take up to 28 days to get your number back, so if you are in a hurry to get a job, you will want to apply as soon as you arrive.
If you want to pay a service to obtain it a little quicker, you can use Tax File Number Australia, and they will email you the number within 10 business days. It costs about $60 whereas if you go through the government website, you can apply online and receive it for free.
You must be in the country in order to retrieve your tax file number. They will compare the details you submit with your application to your passport and visa information and send you one if you qualify.
You will obviously need a bank account in Australia. If you would like to move money prior to your arrival, Westpac is a bank that will actually let you establish your account online before you move. If you can do it once you arrive, building societies like Newcastle Permanent charge fewer fees than the larger banks and offer great interest rates on savings accounts, etc.
When you are exchanging currency, be careful to read the fine print on fees. Banks will do wire transfers, but they charge a fee for the service and you also lose some money in the transfer. Depending on how many intermediary banks the money goes through before it gets to your account, you can lose quite a lot on top of the fees.
Instead of your bank, you can use online currency trading companies to avoid some of these fees. Both XE Trade and OzForEx are reliable and safe companies which trade currency. Allow yourself some time to set up the accounts. You will need to have your foreign account BSB, address, and account numbers as well as your local Australian information when you set up the accounts. The companies will check your identity and go through several steps to verify you aren’t a terrorist or moving money to pay for a drug cartel!
The companies each have different charges for their services. You can avoid some of the fees if you move larger amounts of money. In most cases it takes 5-7 days to move money.
If you are moving to Australia and plan on staying long-term, having cash on hand is very helpful. Not only will it cost quite a bit to get your new life going in Oz, but you may run into trouble getting accounts established with no credit history in the country. For example, if you are connecting utilities for a house, they may make you pay several hundred dollars in deposits.
You may not qualify for a mobile phone account where your phone is included in the contract. Buying a phone outright and using a pre-paid plan may be your only option. This obviously costs a bit more.
Car loans or no interest deals for furniture or appliances might not apply to you so knowing your options in advance or having enough cash on hand no matter what the case is the way to go. Some companies want six months of history at an address and job in order to open accounts for you. You will also have to wait six months for an Aussie drivers license! But most international ones will allow you to drive in the meantime.
Congratulations on your move to Australia! The land down under is beautiful, unique and full of endless adventures. Having all the proper information and steps needed to move to a foreign country always makes the transition smoother and less stressful. You should find this all to be true if you apply the 10 tips provided on our checklist for moving to Australia.