couple on plane moving from NZ to Australia

Moving From NZ To Australia Arrival Checklist

29 Aug, 2023

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Eva Mitchell

Whether you plan on making the move from NZ to Australia in pursuit of better career opportunities, the big city lifestyle or to make more money, you will need to set yourself up for life in Australia once you arrive. When you first move to Australia, the paperwork and applications you need to complete can be daunting. That’s why I have put together a simple guide on the essentials you need to know to kick start your life in Aussie!

Tim and I packed up our home in Christchurch to make the move across the ditch to Melbourne in February 2022. We loved our life in New Zealand but were drawn to Australia for the vast opportunities available and the big city lifestyle you just can’t get in New Zealand. At the end of the day, our move from NZ to Australia was the best decision we made. We became fully immersed in our life as Melburnian’s, coffee snobbery and all! Over the past 15 months in Australia, we have saved enough money to be able to travel for a whole year without working, which we could not have done on our New Zealand salaries. Since moving from NZ to Australia in 2022, a handful of our kiwi friends and family have followed suit and moved to various states around Australia. 

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Set Up a Bank Account

The first thing you should do when you arrive in Australia is open a bank account. We went with Commonwealth Bank as per advice from other New Zealanders who had lived in Australia. It was 100% the right choice for us as Commbank have an easy-to-use app, responsive staff online and instore, and great deals on credit cards (one of which became our favourite travel CommBank Ultimate Awards Card). 

It is best to book an appointment online at a local branch via the Commbank website. You can book an appointment with 14 days of moving to Australia or anytime from when you arrive. You can actually start the application process online at commbank.com.au within those 14 days prior to moving but you will still need to arrange a in-person appointment when you’re in Australia to prove your identity before your bank account is officially opened. You will need an Australian address before you can officially open the account, this can be difficult if you’re moving between addresses or in a hotel before you land a more permanent place to call home. We used the hotel address and our cards were sent to the hotel reception. Remember to update your address online as soon as you have a permanent address.

There is the option to walk into a Commbank branch off the street to set up your banking but beware they do tend to be fully booked for appointments most days, especially in the city branches, so you may not have much luck. When you head along to your bank appointment, make sure you bring along your passport for the ID check.  

Once you have set up your Australian Bank Account, the bank will inform you that your card may take up to a week or two to arrive however we found our cards arrived just a few days after our appointment. 

Over the past year in Melbourne, we started credit card churning and now have experience dealing with ANZ Bank Australia. I have found the ANZ app more difficult to use, the staff are less responsive to questions and you must have an appointment to talk to anyone at the branch even for minor tasks such as ID verification. In my opinion, Commonwealth bank offers better service all round


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Transferring money

When we first moved to Australia, we just transferred money between our New Zealand and Australian banks because we didn’t know any better at the time. Since then, we have come across an amazing website called Wise (formerly Transferwise) and would highly recommend you use this to transfer money between countries. Wise has significantly lower fees than the banks, is safe and secure and offers an unbeatable exchange rate, meaning you keep more of your money! 



Apply for a Tax File Number (TFN)

As a New Zealand citizen, when you move to Australia for employment you are generally considered an Australian resident for tax purposes. This means you will need to apply for a tax file number (TFN) which is essentially equivalent to your IRD number in New Zealand. You need to physically be in Australia to apply for a TFN. You can apply for your TFN online at ato.gov.au. It may take a couple of weeks for you to receive confirmation of your TFN, in the meantime if you have already commenced employment, you will be taxed at the highest tax bracket until you inform your employer of your TFN. Don’t stress because you will get the difference in tax back at the end of the financial year when you file your tax return which is always a nice surprise!. 

While we are on the topic of tax returns. In Australia, the government will offset your tax by reimbursing various work-related costs that you have paid for out of pocket over the financial year. Visit the official government website for details on what can and can’t be claimed. Make sure you keep your receipts for evidence. It is common for Australians to use a tax accountant to manage their end of financial year tax returns. While this is an additional cost for the first year, the cost of the tax accountant can be claimed as a work-related expense in the following years return.


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Healthcare

Apply for a Medicare Card

A Medicare card is a card that will provide you with discounted healthcare and free public hospital care while you live in Australia. As a New Zealand citizen living in Australia, you are eligible to apply for a Medicare card. You will need to complete the Medicare enrolment form (MS004) and prove that you have moved to Australia to reside. Email your application and documents to Medicare Enrolment services for the fastest turnaround time, otherwise there is the option to physically post your application to Medicare. 

When you apply for a Medicare card, you will need to provide two documents from the Australia column or one document from each of the New Zealand & Australia columns as outlined in the table below.

Documents from Australia

Documents from the other country (NZ)

Proof of rental or lease agreement and gas or electricity account in the same name

Proof you sold your property

Proof your child is enrolled in school, childcare or university

Proof you moved household goods or furniture

Proof of purchase of property and gas or electricity account in the same name

Proof you ended your lease

Proof of job

Proof you ended your job

Proof of health, property or contents insurance

Proof you cancelled health, property or contents insurance

A statement showing you opened your bank account

A statement showing you closed your bank account









As we found out, it can be a bit tricky to provide evidence of your intention to reside permanently when you first arrive in Australia. We had been living in the house we owned before renting it out only weeks before relocating to Australia with our three suitcases in tow. We found ourselves with limited evidence to provide.

The easiest documents for us to gather were a statement showing we had opened an Australian bank account and proof of employment in Melbourne, as we were both lucky enough to have secured jobs before moving from NZ to Australia. 

You can expect your Medicare card to arrive within three to four weeks. It took a few weeks for our Medicare cards to arrive but I know of others who have had to wait months. If you haven’t received it within a couple weeks, give Medicare a call to follow up your application as sometimes your application will be deprioritised if there are any issues or questions the Medicare application team have regarding your application.


couple running in Sahara Desert


Private Health Insurance

If your move from NZ to Australia has resulted in your individual income exceeding $93,001 or if you are a couple and your combined income will exceed $186,001 (2023 to 2024 tax year), then you will have to pay the standard medicare levy fee of 2% of your income and ALSO an additional medicare levy surcharge. This can be anywhere from 1% of your income that you are required to pay the government each year. For the latest individual and family income thresholds the ATO website This is where private health insurance comes in. Most health insurance companies offer a basic health insurance package that meets the government requirement for high income earners. If you have adequate private health insurance cover for the full tax year, you are no longer required to pay the additional medicare levy surcharge.

Essentially, for most high income earners it is worth signing up to at least basic private insurance package that costs a similar price to the additional Medicare levy surcharge you would otherwise have to pay. You will notice that most private insurance packages that meet the government requirement to avoid the Medicare levy surcharge offer minimal extra medical insurance cover than what Medicare already offers you. However, it does make sense to sign up to a basic private health insurance package if the cost of insurance is less than or equivalent to the additional Medicare levy surcharge you will have to pay, so you can keep more of your own hard-earned money in your pocket.

Read:

Why Moving To Australia Meant We Could Travel The World

Another bonus of having private insurance is that the cost is spread out over the year, so you don’t get a lump sum you have to pay at the end of the financial year. You also never know what life might throw at you any moment, so a little extra health insurance cover isn’t the worst thing to have up your sleeve.




Secure a Rental Property 

The rental market is heating up in Australia in 2023, especially in the big cities. You need to be quick when viewing and applying for rental properties. The best websites to find rentals are realestate.com.au and domain.com.au

Ideally, you will want to book a viewing for a rental property before applying as often the photos are much tidier than what you see in real-life. Once you have found the perfect rental property you will need to apply ASAP. You will probably be shocked by the amount of detail the rental agencies request as part of a rental application in Australia, we were! Initially we were reluctant to provide the extensive details they were requesting, however we realised pretty quickly that it was a necessary evil and important to fill out the forms completely because you won’t have a chance at securing a rental property if you don’t.


You will probably be shocked by the amount of detail the rental agencies request as part of a rental application in Australia, we were!


There are two ways to apply for rental properties. The first way is to submit your application directly through the advertising rental agency and the second way is to submit your application through secondary companies like 2Apply. These secondary companies help speed up the application process as they save your information so you don’t have to write out the vast amount of required information over and over again for each rental property application which saves lots of time, especially when you are applying for multiple rental properties. I would keep in mind that not all rental agencies accept applications from these secondary companies. 

When you finally get offered that cute townhouse in Brunswick or the apartment with the stunning river views, you should be aware of a couple things. Australian rental agencies tend to request a four week bond and you may have to sign a waiver that you accept the property in the current condition. As annoying as this is, it is common practice in Australia.

When you move into the rental you have scored, make sure you take lots of detailed photos. Australian rental companies are notorious for trying to get as much of your bond off you at the end of your tenancy, so don’t give them any reason to! 


Here's a tip:

when you are moving out of the apartment, as soon as you vacate the property claim your bond back from the Residential Tenancy Bond Authority (RBTA) or your state equivalent. This makes it more difficult for the landlord or agent to make unfair or even ridiculous claims on your bond.




Securing a rental property in Australia comes with it’s own trials and tribulations however don’t let the niggly little things put you off renting. It is something most of us will have to do when moving from NZ to Australia. I just want you to be fully informed about the normal Australian rental practices as they do differ from New Zealand. That way you should be able to avoid any unnecessary loses of your bond money and missing out on your dream property you get to call home.

If you are in need of temporary accommodation until you secure a rental, you could always consider house-sitting short-term in your new city. It is a great way to become familiar with different suburbs. We have used Trusted Housesitters in Melbourne and absolutely love it! If you think that house sitting be a good option for you, feel free to use our discount link for 25% off your Trusted Housesitters membership

Read:

How to Write a Standout Trusted Housesitters Profile

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Apply for your Australian Driver's Licence

When you move from NZ to Australia you are going to want to transfer your NZ drivers licence to an Australian drivers licence. The application process for an Australian Driver’s Licence varies by state. In Victoria you must book an appointment with Vicroads and take your New Zealand driver’s license along with the extra paperwork to your appointment. You will need to apply for a Certificate of Particulars from NZTA to supplement your application.

At your appointment in a Vicroads branch, the teller will process your application, take a portrait photo of you, take payment and provide you with a paper copy of your license until your card arrives in the mail. In Victoria you have the option of a 3 year ($85.50) or a 10 year ($292.80) drivers license. If you need your licence asap, I suggest you look at booking an appointment about 1 month out as appointment availability can be limited. 

In comparison, my brother moved to Western Australia in March 2022 and found that he could just walk into any Licensing centre in WA with the necessary paperwork and convert his New Zealand license over, no appointment and no Certificate of Particulars necessary.  

Keep in mind that you can use your New Zealand license to drive on Australian roads for up to 6 months from the day you arrive in Australia. 

I hope this complete guide to starting life in Australia makes your move from NZ to Australia as smooth as possible. Feel free to ask me as many questions as you like in the comments below, I a more than happy to help out fellow New Zealanders looking to make the move across the ditch. 


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A word from the authors

Eva and Tim are the creators behind this world-class travel finance blog.

In 2021 they decided to travel the world for an entire year and begun implementing savings strategies to achieve their goal of long-term travel. By May 2023, they quit their jobs to embark on their year-long adventure, sharing their invaluable practical and achievable savings, planning and travel tips they learnt along the way/with the aim to help others Make Cents of Travel.

You can find Eva & Tim on Tiktok, Facebook and Instagram as Make Cents of Travel.

About Us

Hello, Hola, Ciao! We are Tim & Eva, a couple of kiwis who have spent the last few years saving for and planning our epic year-long adventure around the world. Our goal is to inspire fellow wanderlust souls (just like you!) to Make Cents Of Travel by sharing our experiences and strategies we used to turn our dream of long-term travel into a reality.

6 comments

Jo

Thankyou I'm moving back to oz next month and had forgotten some of these things. Appreciate the time you have put in to this.

7mo

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Eva

No problem Jo, I'm glad you found this blog useful. Best of luck with the move!

7mo

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Maxine Loot

Thanks for the simple steps and what to look out for. 2023-11-08 15:40:48

7mo

Reply

Eva

No problem at all Maxine!

7mo

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Chloe Gibson

Thanks for the information! I found your blog post on Facebook! How did you find the process of buying a car in Australia? I heard it’s a lot more expensive? Thanks!

7mo

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Eva

Amazing I'm glad you found this article! We decided to live close to the Melbourne CBD which meant we didn't need to purchase a car however we would hire cars at times. Tim's brother moved to the Northern Territories and brought a very basic early 2000's second-hand car six months ago for around $3500 with no working AC which seems pretty expensive compared to what you can purchase for the same price in NZ.

7mo

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