If you are anything like me you wont have thought much about banking since you picked the bank with the best overdraft options, before starting university, and then stressed yourself out paying it back before the interest kicked in. So, the thought of setting up banking in a foreign country, with banks you haven’t even heard of, might seem a little daunting.
Then you need to consider setting up your Tax File Number, so that you can work, and to register for your Medicare card in case you need to go to the doctors or to the hospital.
All of the above are really easy to do but we made the mistake of signing up for a Working Holiday package with STA travel as we felt it would take some stress away from our first travel experience. The package is ran by Job Search staff at Base hostels. So, I thought I would write this post to stop others making the same mistake. When we signed up for the package I had imagined it in my head to be more of a group activity. I thought you would meet in a group and go sort all these things and chat about how to find work. The how to find work part was a slide show I could have created myself and a membership to a job site that has been completely useless so far. You can totally do all of the above on your own and within an afternoon. Do not pay someone to help you – spend the money in the pub meeting new people.
To get the ball rolling you will need: passport, your Visa details, Australian phone number, and an address to get everything sent to.
The last one could be a little tricky as probably don’t know where you are heading next but you will need to have an address to get your bank card, tax file number and your Medicare card sent to you. But,if you have booked two weeks of accommodation (even if it is only for two weeks) this is enough time to have received everything. Just double check with your accommodation that they are good to receive post – most temporary accommodation will expect this and be completely fine with it.
Remember and write down the full address so you are prepared.
On arriving at our hostel one of the first conversations we had was about which bank we were going with; which was helpful because I hadn’t even done as much as research banks. This conversation wasn’t part of the Working Holiday package which really goes to show you don’t need to pay for advice. We were told that The Commonwealth bank were the best as they have the most cash points. Unlike in the UK you can’t just use any cash point you can only use your own banks cash points or be charged to use one that accepts multiple banks. This seemed really odd to start with but Commonwealth do have a lot of cash points and in Australia ‘pay wave’ or as we know it ‘contactless’ is a huge deal. You can pay using contactless $100 per transaction and $1,000 per day.
The next day we were taken to that very bank by the Job Search staff – they took us to the bank and that’s as far as it went. I paid for someone to walk me to the bank. But, never mind. The staff at the bank were amazing (Ann Street,Brisbane). We were efficiently set up for our accounts but also for our online banking. The best thing about the Commonwealth banking app is that you can get cash out without having your card but also you can put cash into your account also. This was great for us as we hated carrying around a large amount of cash on our person. We got all that money into our account that afternoon. The process was really simple and is nothing to stress about.
Something else to note is that you’ll see the acronym ‘EFTPOS’ about the place. This basically means that the place accepts card and it stands for: Electronic Funds Transfer at Point Of Sale.
Australia also don’t have 2c or 1c coins. It took me weeks of working in retail to realise this and to realise the price of things are therefore rounded.
If you are from the UK you are lucky because the UK government has a reciprocal agreement with the Australian government: meaning you can receive free or subsidised health care. I will talk about the in’s and out’s of Medicare in a later post but for now you just need to get your card. Hit up Google and find your nearest Medicare office and take along all the documents I told you to take. The people who worked here were also really helpful and take you through step by step of getting both your card and app set up. The app actually gives you a virtual card so if you aren’t going to be at the postal address you don’t have to worry about this one. The process could take an hour or so depending on how busy they are so maybe take along a book. If you are in Brisbane there is an office along from the Commonwealth bank on Ann Street – the Job Search team member literally pointed us in the direction.
Tax File Number
Right,so this one the hostel did deal with but it’s so simple that I am kicking myself for thinking it would be complicated. All you do is go to this site: https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals/tax-file-number/apply-for-a-tfn/foreign-passport-holders,-permanent-migrants-and-temporary-visitors—tfn-application/
Pop your details in and hey presto! If your sat wondering what the hell a Tax File Number is – basically you need to provide it to your employer so they can tax you right the amount. You will pay a lot more tax without one so it’s important you get one before starting work.
I hope all of this helps and stops you making the same mistake of wasting money that could have been spent in the pub.