Three Basic Must-Dos When a Kiwi Moves to Australia

Three Basic Must-Dos When a Kiwi Moves to Australia

Moving to Australia from New Zealand is pretty easy, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t differences and certain must-dos.

For a Kiwi making the switch to living in Australia, the Special Category Visa (SCV) makes it easy to live and work Down Under for an indefinite period of time. The proximity to the homeland and the very similar style of life and living conditions, as well as shared cultural customs and norms mean that you settle in quickly and can get started on your new adventure.

kiwi moves to australia

Manly Beach, Australia | Image credit: Simon Rae

But there are things you have to do, like open a bank account, apply for an Australian Tax File Number and register with Medicare Australia. And then there are some suggested things for your to do list to help make the transition as smooth as possible.

Also read: Here’s How to Make the Most Out of Your 7 Days in Australia!

What’s the Special Category Visa (SCV) and what does it entitle Kiwis to in Australia?

The first thing you don’t need to worry about is a visa. New Zealand citizens and residents are issued the Special Category Visa on arrival in Australia – no application, no fees, no stress. As long as you have no unpaid fines or a criminal record or conviction that resulted in a jail term of greater than a year, you’re good to go.

With an SCV in hand, a New Zealander can live and work in Australia for as long as they like and are entitled to certain benefits like family tax benefit, childcare benefit, baby bonus, parental leave pay as well as MediCare medical coverage and care. Do keep in mind that you won’t be eligible to get social welfare payments, student loans, unemployment, or parenting payments.

First step: Open a bank account

Here’s something you can – and should – do before you leave New Zealand for your new country of residence. Open an Australian bank account online. It will make your move easier and it always helps to be able to access your money immediately. Plus, it saves time and energy and the hassle of having to go to a physical branch of your chosen bank.

Once you have a bank account in Australia, you can transfer money to and from your NZ and AU accounts and set up any direct debits. The bank will issue you an EFTPOS card which you get once you are in Australia. You don’t have to worry about carrying the required paperwork (like your birth certificate and passport) and filling out forms since you would have already provided all the information (including foreign tax details) during your online application.

We recommend applying a couple weeks before your planned move to Australia, though you can do it even before that. The rule is that you need to be moving to Australia within the 12 month period from when you’re applying for the bank account. But you need to apply under six weeks from the time of your arrival.

Second step: Apply for an Australian Tax File Number (TFN)

Having an Australian TFN (which is like your New Zealand IRD number) is not a prerequisite for working or paying Australian taxes, but we still highly recommend you apply for it once you get to the country.

Sydney NSW, Australia

Sydney, Australia | Image credit: Caleb Russell

Having a TFN means you get to pay a lower tax rate. Until you have a TFN, your employer may deduct taxes (which they pay to the AU Tax Office for you) at the higher tax slab. Once you have your TFN, you will be part of the pay as you go earn scheme and the onus is on your employer to withhold the correct amount of tax using that number.

Also read: 8 Airbnbs in Sydney for a Taste of Life as a Local

Third step: Register with Medicare Australia

Take the time to register with the publicly funded Medicare Australia after you have arrived. This must be done in person at a Medicare office, and you should carry your NZ passport with you. Expect to be issued a number and digital copy straightaway, with your physical card coming in a few weeks by mail.

Medicare provides primary healthcare for Aussie citizens as well as permanent residents, giving access to subsidised medical care including doctor and nurse practitioner consults and free medical treatment at public hospitals, as well as lower prices on prescription meds.

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