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Checklist for moving to Australia

Take the headache out of migration with these checklists and have a smart, stress free move.


You may think the number of things to do before relocating to a new country and home can be long and daunting, but they don’t have to be, thanks to these quick and easy checklists.

Coming from someone who has experienced the “big migration to another country” journey, I know that between coming to terms with leaving friends and family behind and finishing up work properly (so you don’t burn any bridges), there’s a tiny window of time to deal with “admin” stuff. You know the kind, the ones that involve anything from redirecting your mail to organising a bank account in your new home country.

I’ll be the first to admit that I left more than a fair share of things in the “I’ll figure it out when I land” pile. Although not a decision I regret, I can honestly say that it can be miles more reassuring and enjoyable if you have all (or at least most) of your migration needs sorting before you land in Australia.

Here are some of the more essential (and some of the less important) things to consider before waving goodbye at the airport and hopping on that flight. Hopefully, with their help, it will make your journey to your new adventure that much smoother.

And yes, even if you are subscribing to the easy-going travellers’ mentality that I did, it could still be worthwhile giving these lists a once-over – because we all forget things in the excitement and nervousness of life-changing decisions.

  • Passport: Make sure this is not near its expiry. If it is, consider renewing it well in advance of your leaving date.
  • Driver’s licence: Make sure this is valid and current.
  • Visa: Obtain your visa and be aware of its entry and entrance conditions. If you are a Kiwi citizen or resident, you do not need a visa to enter Australia, as you are automatically granted a digital Special Category Visas (SCV).
  • Buy your plane tickets: Organise transport to the airport and advise friends and family of your departure so that they can say goodbye before you leave.
  • Money: Take some cold hard currency in case you need cash when you land.
  • Personal documentation: This includes your passport, birth certificate, wedding certificate, adoption certificate, academic qualifications (and CV or resume), driver’s licence, insurance policies, will, trust records, bank statements, investment documents, immunisation, medical certificates and history, and shipping documents.
  • Photocopies of personal documentation: Take photocopies of your personal documentation (above). Leave some copies with family or friends in New Zealand and scatter the rest among your belongings. They’ll come in handy if the originals are lost or stolen.
  • Phones and other electronic communication devices: This includes: laptop, notepad and iPad. You do not need a power adaptor when moving from New Zealand to Australia as the standard voltage (230 V) is the same.
  • Give your contact details to family and friends: Provide the important people in your life with enough details to contact you if need be.

  • Packing: Pack everything you don’t need away or arrange for them to be shipped to your new location. Storage facilities are good, as is leaving the furniture with family and friends. You can also sell anything you don’t need and put your earnings toward your relocation fund. Australia has strict custom laws like New Zealand, so it pays to check what is (and is not) permitted in the country. Some prohibited items include perishables such as meat products, live plants and flammables like aerosol cans and lighter fluid.
  • Redirect your mail: Plus, cancel subscriptions.
  • Cancel all ongoing transactions to your bank account: This includes Spotify, sky/broadband/Internet, gym, phone/mobile, opticians, TV licences, car/home/income/life insurance, council tax, charities and travel cards.
  • Consume all perishables in the house: Or give them to family and friends.
  • Assign someone to take care of outstanding matters: This could include legal matters at home.

  • Set up bank accounts in Australia: This includes savings, transactions and term deposit accounts, which you can usually complete online before you leave.
  • Apply for a credit card: Or be aware of the documentation you need to obtain a credit card in Australia.
  • Advise your financial institution in New Zealand of your move: This is important so they don’t block your account for fraudulent activity. NB: if your Internet banking or transactions are linked to your Kiwi mobile number, update this to link to your international number OR make sure you take your local number with you on roaming, so your Kiwi bank doesn’t prevent you from accessing your funds. Request credit references from your bank: These papers might be imperative to obtain a visa, rent a home in Australia or obtain a loan.
  • Obtain the Bank Code Number/SWIFT code of your Australian account: This allows you to transfer funds from your Kiwi account to your Aussie account via an International Money Transfer (IMT). Transfer funds to your account as soon as you can for financial peace of mind.
  • Advise the Inland Revenue that you’re moving: Pay any necessary tax for the financial year.
  • Obtain tax documents for Australia: This is if you need to pay tax in Australia for the financial year. Contact the Australian Tax Office (ATO) to find out if this is required.
  • Sort out your student loan: If you have a student loan, check out your options for paying it while abroad.
  • Clear outstanding debts and bills: Or organise regular payments to avoid a bad credit rating if you plan to return to New Zealand.
  • Obtain a loan: If you need to, or make sure you know how to obtain one when you land.

  • Notify all home utility companies and pay off outstanding bills: Water, gas, electricity – you should notify them that you’re leaving your home; otherwise, you might be hit with an unexpected bill. If you’re renting out your home, make sure you change the billing address for all utilities to someone who can manage your affairs in your absence.
  • Set up all utilities: Naturally, once you arrive and have a permanent place to stay, don’t forget to organise the Internet, phone plans, insurance, travel cards etc.

  • Organise accommodation in Australia: Make sure you get a postal address to give to family and friends.
  • Cancel your current accommodation: Renters should advise their landlords of their move, end their lease, pay off the bills/final rent, get your deposit back, and move/sell any of your household items. Homeowners can sell their home or employ an agent to rent out and oversee it until your return (if applicable). Also, don’t forget to advise the council of your new circumstances and the new tenants.

  • Set up a Skype or Zoom account: Give your friends and family your username/account details and vice versa.
  • Know the time difference: This makes it easier to organise your chat dates, naturally.
  • Turn roaming on or get an international number: Give this to family and friends so they can contact you.
  • Keep a physical, written record of your details: This includes your phone number and address in case you forget (it is something new, after all).
  • Obtain people’s addresses/phone numbers/Facebook contacts: You never know who you’d like to send a postcard or present to, or say hello to on a whim. It’s also good to get people’s birthdays, so they know you haven’t forgotten about them.

  • Notify work of your resignation/move: Provide ample notice to your employer.
  • Employ migration agents and recruitment agents: They may be worthwhile investments to help you settle in and find work.
  • Obtain references: Inform your work referees of your move in case they need to be contacted. Get their email addresses as time differences can make phone calls difficult. Also, ask if they have any leads for work in your new home.

  • Sort out insurances at home: Cancel any insurances you no longer need and look into your pension/superannuation options.
  • Take out travel insurance: This can be with an insurer in New Zealand or Australia.
  • Take out health cover: If you need a visa, you might need to obtain minimal health cover. You can choose to take this out with an insurer in New Zealand or Australia. You should also see if you’re legally eligible for Australia’s health care system, Medicare. If you have a Special Category Visas (SCV), you are entitled to Medicare.

  • Passport: Sounds stupid, but you don’t want to pack your passport into your check-in luggage accidentally. Make sure it’s on you so you can clear customs when you land.
  • Understand what the weather will be like when you arrive in Australia: It might be different from the weather you left in New Zealand.
  • A good book for the plane: A long journey is inevitable, and there may be delays.

  • Physical, written records of anyone’s details you need when you arrive: This could include details of Aussie friends, family, migration officers, universities, hotel owners or car hire services.
  • Contacts in Australia: See if any of your friends or family know someone in Australia who can help you out when you first arrive. It’s always good to have a network you can turn to.
  • Aussie slang/lingo: Familiarise yourself with this to avoid embarrassment and confusion.
  • Transport from the airport to your accommodation: Know how to get from the airport to your accommodation to avoid stress.
  • The Australian transport system: Again, the less stress, the better, so familiarise yourself with the transport system, what station/area you need to go to, and how ticketing works. Also, ensure you know when public transport ends at night.
  • Contact details of your embassy in Australia: Keep these on hand in case you need it.
  • Australian law: Familiarise yourself generally with Australian law to avoid any misunderstandings.
  • Wi-Fi hotspots: When you first land, it’s likely you won’t have Internet access, so it’s good to know where you can access it to help keep you connected.
  • Driving laws: Familiarise yourself with general road rules. A New Zealand drivers licence is valid to use in Australia for 3 months. You then need an Australian licence for the specific state you are in.
  • Hire a car: This could be handy for the first few weeks to help you get around while settling in.
  • Prescription medicine: Make sure your prescription medicine is up-to-date. Bring copies of any medical certificates you might need for medical professionals in Australia, whether they’re for ongoing conditions or ongoing pharmaceuticals.

Things you should do or know

  • The emergency number in Australia is 000 (or 112 on mobile phones).
  • Invest in sunscreen ‒ you’ll know what I mean when you arrive.
  • Tipping is not mandatory, but it is nice.
  • Get a TFN (Tax File Number) for working purposes.
  • Shop around and apply for superannuation (if applicable).
  • Familiarise yourself with the area in general. Know what places to avoid (rough or high criminal activity areas).
  • Know your public holidays ‒ so that you can cash in on long weekends, oh, and know when to celebrate.
  • Understand that Australian beaches differ from overseas beaches and can have more dangerous tides, winds and waves.
  • Understand that “no split bills” is a common occurrence in Australia, so be prepared to calculate your “cut” when dining out with friends. Keeping cash on hand is always helpful.
  • Familiarise yourself with the big supermarket brands and where they generally sit on prices so you won’t be caught out at your local (though decidedly more expensive) supermarket.
  • Know your clothing size in the Australian system: this is very helpful and avoids embarrassment at the shops.

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