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Tips to settle into student life in Australia

From figuring out your finances to meeting the faculty, follow these top tips to settle into your new life abroad.

You've chosen your school, received your visa and are finally in Australia. Now it's time to sort out the day-to-day things, like your banking and travel pass. 

1. Open a bank account

An Australian bank account can make things easier when you're first setting up. For example, you might need to provide your bank details when you're finding a place to rent or opening an account with a phone or utility company. Most employers will also require an Australian bank account to pay a wage into.

In some cases, you can apply for an Australian bank account online before you leave home. A multi-currency account – with no monthly, transaction or ATM withdrawal fees – can be used in Australia for your everyday banking, and overseas when you're travelling.

2. Put some money into your Australian account

It's simple to transfer money once you've opened your Australian bank account. Sending money via online or mobile banking will probably be the easiest. 

You'll need the account's BIC (Bank Identifier Code) or SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) code for incoming international money transfers. Domestic transfers will require the Bank State Branch (BSB) and bank account number.

Learn more: HSBC Global Transfers

If you link your worldwide bank accounts, then transfers between your accounts are free and usually instant.
Make international money transfers with the HSBC Australia Mobile Banking app.

3. Buy a local SIM card or mobile phone

Hopefully you checked your phone before travelling. You may not be able to use an Australian SIM card if your phone is locked to your carrier, so unlock it if you can. Most mobile phones are sold unlocked in Australia, which means you can use any provider. Your school's student services office might be the first place to look for mobile phone discount plans.

Planning to upgrade your device? Trade it in or recycle to keep it out of the landfill. MobileMuster – Australia's national recycling scheme for mobile phones – has over 3,500 drop-off points around the country, as well as a free mailing service. 

4. Buy a transport card

It can be much cheaper getting around with a local travel pass or transport smartcard. Students usually get concessionary rates, too. 

Most of the major cities in Australia now use electronic or pre-paid transport cards. You'll find these at domestic and international airport stations, supermarkets and convenience stores, or online. Topping up is easy with the card apps. You can also link the card to your credit or debit card and choose automatic top-up so you never run out of balance.

5. Apply for a tax number

You'll need an Australian Tax File Number (TFN) if you want to: 

  • Work in Australia
  • Apply for government benefits
  • File your tax return online

You can apply online on the Australian Taxation Office website once you're in Australia. While you can start working before your TFN arrives, your employer must tax you at the highest rate until then. Only certain organisations will ask for this number, including your bank and the Australian Taxation Office, so keep it safe. 

6. Create a Unique Student Identifier (USI) number

All students must create a USI if they're doing some or all of their studies in Australia. This number will be used to access all of your education records, and it's yours for life. As an international student, you can only create a USI once you're in the country. For this, you'll need your non-Australian passport and valid Australian visa. 

Apply for your USI online:

7. Pick up your OSHC card

Health insurance is mandatory for all international students studying in Australia. If you don't have private insurance, you must get Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) before you arrive. Your provider will send your OSHC card to your Australian residential address. Alternatively, you may be able to pick it up from your school. You can find more information on the Department of Health OSHC resources online

8. Prepare for student orientation week

Student orientation, or O-week, is a great way to meet other students and the uni faculty, and to familiarise yourself with the campus. O-week is usually held in late February or early March just before the new academic year starts.

During this week, you'll have a chance to:

  • Get your student ID
  • Sign up for clubs
  • Tour the campus
  • Buy or borrow textbooks

Some events during orientation week may be compulsory for international students. Take a look at your university's website to confirm the dates and register for activities. 

Ready to open an overseas account?

We can tell you the best way for you to apply for an overseas account. Simply select your current location and where you would like to open an account. We'll then walk you through the steps.

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