What to do soon after arrival

Below is a list of 8 important things you should do as soon as possible after arriving in Australia. Tick them off as you do them.

  • Apply for a Tax File Number
  • Register with Medicare
  • Open a bank account
  • Register with Centrelink
  • Contact the Health Undertaking Service
  • Register for English classes
  • Enrol your children in a school
  • Apply for a driver’s licence

Apply for a Tax File Number

Do this first. To receive an income in Australia, you need a Tax File Number (TFN). Income includes wages or salary from a job, payments from the government, and money earned from investments including interest on savings accounts.


In Australia, you can telephone the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and have an application form sent to you. Alternatively, you can apply for a TFN at the ATO website 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Forms are also available from ATO or Centrelink shopfronts which are listed in the White Pages telephone book.

Australian Taxation Office (ATO) contact details

Telephone 13 2861
Apply for a TFN online Online individual TFN registration
In person ATO shopfront locations 
Centrelink shopfront locations
ATO website www.ato.gov.au

Register with Medicare and consider taking out private health insurance

The Australian Government provides help with medical expenses through a scheme called Medicare. The government also subsidises the cost of most medicine under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). Medicare and the PBS are administered by Medicare Australia.

You may be eligible to join Medicare and gain immediate access to health care services and programmes. These include free public hospital care, help with the cost of out-of-hospital care, and subsidised medicines.

Medicare has an Information Kit which is translated into 18 different languages. It explains Medicare and other government health services and the eligibility requirements for benefits and payments. Remember to ask for it when you visit your local Medicare office, Migrant Resource Centre or go to the website.


To enrol in Medicare, you should go to a Medicare office 7 to 10 days after your arrival in Australia and bring your passport, travel documents and permanent visa. If all registration requirements are met, you will be advised of your Medicare card number and your card will be posted to you about 3 weeks later. In most cases you will pay for medical care then receive a refund for some of the payment. If you need to see a doctor urgently, you can register with Medicare without waiting 7 to 10 days and ask for an interim number.

Emergency treatment is available on a 24 hour basis at the 'Casualty' or 'Emergency' departments of public hospitals.

Medicare contact details

Telephone 13 2011
In person Medicare offices
Medicare Information Kit
(available in languages other than English)
Information Kit
Medicare website www.medicareaustralia.gov.au

In addition to Medicare there are also many different private health insurance funds that offer options that cover services not covered by Medicare eg. dental care, optical care, ambulance. To find a suitable private health insurance fund, look under 'Private health insurance' in theYellow Pages telephone directory.

For more information about private health insurance, see Chapter 11, The health system.

Open a bank account

In Australia, people keep their money in a bank, building society or credit union. Most income including salary and wages and government benefits is paid directly into an account. Australians use bankcards and credit cards for many purposes.

It is advisable to open a bank, building society or credit union account within 6 weeks of your arrival, as you usually need only your passport as identification. After 6 weeks you will need additional identification to open an account, and you may have difficulty if you don’t have many documents. Advise your bank of your Tax File Number (TFN) to avoid higher rates of taxation on interest earned.

For further information on opening a bank account go to the website below.

Smarter Banking – make the most of your money   www.bankers.asn.au

Register with Centrelink

Help with job seeking, social security payments and other assistance is provided through the government agency called Centrelink. Newly arrived residents can register with Centrelink to get help with looking for work, having overseas skills recognised, and accessing relevant courses. Centrelink also has Tax File Number application forms and can assist you to lodge your application with the Tax Office, so that access to any payments is not delayed.

If you have children, you may be eligible for government-funded Family Assistance payments to help with the cost of raising them. For more information see Chapter 2, Help with English; Chapter 7, Employment; and Chapter 8, Social security.

Centrelink contact details

Telephone 13 1021
Help in languages other than English 13 1202
In person Centrelink offices
Centrelink website www.medicareaustralia.gov.au
Welcome to Centrelink 
For newly arrived migrants Have you recently moved to Australia to settle?
Information in other languages Centrelink assistance - we speak your language

Contact the Health Undertaking Service

If you signed a Health Undertaking (Form 815) at the request of a Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) overseas post, you must ring the Health Undertaking Service after you arrive in Australia.

Once you contact the Health Undertaking Service, they will advise you of the nearest Health Authority Clinic where you can have your follow-up medical checks.

Health Undertaking Service 1800 811 334
(9am – 4pm, Monday to Friday)

Register for English classes

Communicating in English is very important and the key to your successful settlement.

English language courses for new arrivals in Australia are provided under the Adult Migrant English Programme (AMEP). As a new resident, you may be entitled to receive free English language tuition of up to 510 hours (additional hours may be available to humanitarian entrants). The AMEP offers a number of learning options to suit a range of circumstances. Register as soon as possible or you could lose your entitlement to classes.

Enrol your children in a school

Under Australian law, children between the ages of 5 and 15 years must attend school. You should enrol your children in a school as soon as possible.

Apply for a driver’s licence

another country, in English or with an official translation from an acceptable source, you are allowed to drive for your first 3 months after arrival. After that, if you want to drive, you will need to have the appropriate Australian driver’s licence. This will usually require you to pass a knowledge test, a practical driving test, and an eyesight test. In Australia, driver's licences are issued by state and territory governments.

If you do not hold a licence from another country you will need to pass a Driver Knowledge Test to get a learner's permit.

VicRoads 13 1171
VicRoads website www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/Home/Licensing/NewResidentsVisitors/

Please note: There are strict traffic and drink driving laws in Australia, which you must obey. For more information see Chapter 5, Australian customs and law.

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