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Taking a working holiday in Australia

Taking a working holiday in Australia

If you're backpacking, coming to Australia for a gap year or taking a working holiday, getting your finances sorted early will help you make the most of your time here. What you need to do to get everything set up will depend on how you will be spending your time while you are in Australia.

Working in Australia

The visa you travel on will determine if you can work in Australia and also some of the conditions around working. If you're planning on working and earning money, you will need an Australian bank account to be paid into. Even if you decide not to work in Australia, you may find it easier to open an Australian bank account anyway, to enable you to cut down on international transaction fees and split bills with friends more easily.

Once you arrive in Australia and before you start working, you'll need to get a Tax File Number (TFN). If you do not have a TFN before you start working you may be taxed at the highest marginal tax rate.

Sorting out your banking

You can open a CommBank transaction account up to three months before you arrive in Australia. Once your account is opened online, you'll be able to transfer funds into it immediately. However, before you start withdrawing, you will need to have your ID checked in branch. 

What to do when you arrive

When you arrive in Australia you will need to visit the CommBank branch listed in your welcome letter to finish setting up your account. This is an important step, because we need to check your ID before you can withdraw money.

Take the following with you into branch:

  • Your passport
  • Your Tax Identification Number (TIN) for each country of foreign tax residency
  • A copy of your welcome letter
  • If you're a student, also take your student ID or letter of enrolment

Once we have checked your ID you can download the CommBank app and get cash out immediately. Your debit Mastercard® should be waiting for you at your chosen branch1 but if it isn’t, you can still get cash out using Cadless Cash until it arrives.

Once you have your debit Mastercard® you can use your smartphone or smartwatch to make payments without your debit card and check what, where and how much you are spending with Spend Tracker in the CommBank app.

You may want to get an Australian sim card to enable you to use data more freely than using international roaming from your home country. Many telecommunications companies in Australia allow you get prepaid mobile plans which include international calls and texts, without the need for a contract. Make sure you unlock your phone before you arrive, so you can use it with an Australian telco company.

Other things to consider

Organise any necessary cover for your trip such as travel and health insurance. This can give you peace of mind while you're exploring. If you do get insurance, make sure you know what you are and are not covered for to avoid any surprises later on. You may also be eligible for a Medicare card which entitles you to subsidised health care while in Australia.

Before you arrive, you may also want to sort out temporary accommodation for the start of your trip, and start looking for potential jobs.

Before you leave Australia for good, you should close your account to ensure you don’t get charged any ongoing account fees. You can visit any branch with appropriate identification or call 132221 6am to 10pm.

1 To ensure that your card is ready and waiting for you at your chosen branch, you must have opened your account online more than 7 days before arriving in Australia. If you applied for your account after arriving in Australia, your Debit Mastercard will be mailed out to your Australian address. Students cannot receive a Debit Mastercard in branch - a card is mailed out to the applicants address once ID has been verified in branch. This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. It does not have regard to the financial situation or needs of any reader and must not be relied upon as financial product advice. As this information has been prepared without considering your objectives, financial situation or needs, you should, before acting on the information, consider its appropriateness to your circumstances. Please view our Financial Services Guide (PDF 68KB). Full terms and conditions for the transaction and savings accounts mentioned and Electronic Banking are available here or from any branch of the Commonwealth Bank. Mastercard is a registered trademark and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.