Australia offers a huge opportunity for backpackers when it comes to working. They have serval work & holiday visas which you can get under the age of 31 and when you are from a specific country. This visa allows you to stay a year in Australia and it allows you to work and earn money in Australia.
This is why a lot of backpackers go to Australia for a gap year or when they want to earn some extra money during their long-term trip. Besides a visa, there is some more you need to arrange to be able to get a job in Australia. With each item, we will tell you what it is, why you need it, where you can get it, and what it costs.
1. Legitimate Work and Holiday Visa
Like we discussed already, a legitimate Work and Holiday visa is obviously the #1 thing you need to have to be able to work in Australia.
What is a Work and Holiday Visa?
A work and holiday visa (W&H visa) is a visa like any other visa you can think of. It allows you to enter a country and stay in that country for the time the visa lasts. The only difference is, that with a work and holiday visa, you are also allowed to work in Australia. There aren’t many countries that provide this type of visa and definitely not to backpackers. Hiep Hoora for Australia!
Not every nationality is able to get a W&H visa, but most nationalities are. There are 2 different W&H visas and which one you need depends on your nationality. The difference is mainly what work you are allowed to do and in which regions of Australia to be able to extend your Work and Holiday visa for another year.
The similarity is, that whatever visa you get, you are allowed to do any work in Australia in any part. Just not all the work is eligible to extend your W&H visa with another year.
Why do I need a Work and Holiday Visa?
It is as simple as it can be: without a Work and Holiday Visa you are not allowed to work in Australia and you are not allowed to earn money in Australia.
Besides, you will get in trouble getting a bank account and superannuation (which we will discuss later on in this article) without a W&H Visa. And without a bank account and superannuation you can’t get paid.
Where can I get a Work and Holiday Visa?
There are a couple of options if you want to apply for a W&H Visa in Australia. One of them is via companies that sell visa services. Let me tell you my opinion: This is a waste of your money. They charge you extra on top of the costs for the visa to pay for their services while applying for a W&H visa is simple and it can perfectly be done by yourself.
So, the second, and in my opinion better option, is via the website from the government of Australia. Select the option that you want to do ‘working holiday or seasonal work‘ and tell them your nationality. The website will tell you which visa you need and you can apply straight away.
2. Australian address
You will need an Australian address. Not necessarily to be able to work in Australia, but you do need one once you start looking for work in Australia.
It is not necessary to arrange this before you enter Australia. You can arrive in Australia with only your granted W&H visa.
What is an Australian address?
Seems pretty straight forward right? An Australian address is an address somewhere in Australia. You might think, in that case, I just choose a random address and provide it to anyone who asks for it. But that is a bit too simple. And I will tell you why in the next section.
Why do I need an Australian address?
You need an Australian address because the bank and the phone provider need to know it. They can’t leave it blank in their system. Still, you might think that it is possible to provide a random address, but this is not a good option. Why? Because your debit or credit card + your pin code will be posted to the address you provide. Not a smart to let it be delivered to a random address right?
Where can I get an Australian address?
You can provide any address in Australia as long as you have access to it and if you are allowed to receive the mail from that address. This can either be a hostel, a post office, a friend, or family member. As long as you are able to collect your mail or if they can send it to another place once you are in Australia, you should be fine!
How much does it cost to get an Australian address?
Nothing at all.
3. Australian phone number
You probably already have a phone number from the country you live in or from the country where you came from before entering Australia. If you want to work in Australia, it is best to get an Australian phone number.
Why do you need an Australian phone number?
If you are looking for work you have to call around to a lot of people and places. They might not answer the phone on the first try or they don’t have an answer straight away, so they want to call you back. The same thing goes for the phone calls you make, as for the people that want to call you back, it’s cheapest to do this from an Australian phone number.
Where can I get an Australian Phone number?
There are many phone providers in Australia, but based on our experience, we will tell you to either choose for Optus or Telstra. You have to imagine that Australia is a huge country with huge empty spaces. There aren’t any people in these places, so there is also no phone coverage.
Optus and Telstra will give you the best phone coverage. Telstra even better than Optus, but Optus is a lot cheaper. Both of the phone providers have a coverage map on their website. So, check out where you want to travel or work and figure out which one would be best for you.
What does it cost to get an Australian phone number?
This totally depends on what you want. Do you want a prepaid card and just pay for what you use? Or do you want to have a month-to-month plan, 1-year plan or even a 2-year plan? Obviously you get the best price on the 2-year plans, but you have to pay for it the full 24 months.
It also depends on the provider. Optus is cheaper than Telstra, but Telstra offers better coverage.
4. Get an Australian bank account
Another thing you really need to arrange before you can start working in Australia is an Australian bank account. You don’t need to arrange this before you arrive in Australia but do it as soon as you arrive. It will take a couple of days to receive your debit or credit card.
Why do I need an Australian bank account?
Most employers only transfer wages to Australian bank accounts, so it is important to have an Australian bank account to receive wages from your employer.
Besides receiving wages, it will also make your life in Australia a lot cheaper. Most foreign bank accounts will charge high currency rates if you use your card to pay in Australian Dollars. And if you want to get cash out of an ATM, they will often charge you extra ‘pin-fees’.
Paying phone bills and internet bills etc is also easier with an Australian bank account.
Where can I get an Australian bank account?
At every bank in Australia. Just keep in mind that you might have to pay pin-fees if you pin cash from an ATM that does not belong to your bank. For that reason we suggest you take a bank account at one of the following banks. They are the biggest banks in Australia and you can get cash in ATMs from multiple providers, without paying extra fees.
- CommonWealth Bank (CBA)
- National Australia Bank (NAB)
- Australia and New Zealand banking group (ANZ)
- Wetpac (WBC)
TIP: The ATM will always tell you if you have to pay extra pin-fees. So, don’t worry too much about figuring out where you can or can’t get cash without paying extra fees.
What does it cost to get an Australian bank account?
Opening an account itself is free of charge. You only pay monthly, or yearly costs to maintain your account. This will be a couple of dollars per month.
5. Superannuation account
A superannuation account is an account where your employer can pay your super. The super comes on top of your wages and is mandatory to pay for employers.
What is superannuation?
It is a fund Australians use for retirement. Every employee receives a certain percentage of their wages in this fund. In this way, they save up for their retirement.
Why do I need superannuation?
Superannuation or the so-called super comes on top of your wages. You can’t access this money until you leave Australia and your W&H visa is no longer valid. From that moment you can ask a refund of your super fund and get this in cash in your bank account.
You don’t get the full amount you saved up, as you pay 65% tax. So from the amount on your super fund account, you’ll get 35% back. See it as an extra bonus on top of your wages!
Where can I get a superannuation account?
You can get a superannuation account at every larger national bank, but there are also superannuation funds that you can get separate from your bank. This is ideal if you have a borderless Transferwise account.
How much does it cost to open a superannuation account?
Opening a super fund account will cost you nothing. You only pay a monthly fee, which is a small percentage over the available funds on your account. These fees are different for every super fund. As long as you don’t earn money in Australia and you didn’t receive super, you won’t pay anything.
6. Tax File number
Working and earning money in Australia, means you have to pay taxes in Australia. That for you have to get a tax file number.
What is a Tax File number?
A Tax File number is a number that refers to your tax account. With this Tax File number, your employer is able to pay your taxes.
Every backpacker in Australia pays a 15% Tax. This is all done by your employer and the amount is lowered from your wages. If you spoke to backpackers that have worked in Australia before 2016, you might have heard the story that you can get all your tax back as soon as you leave Australia. Unfortunately, that is no longer true, as these rules have changed.
Since November 2016 every backpacker pays 15% tax over their earnings up to AU$37,000. And they will no longer be entitled to claim the tax-free threshold. So, if you just pay a 15% tax, there is no need to go through all the hassle of getting your taxes back. In fact, we’ve heard many stories of backpackers that tried to get their tax back and in the end, they had to pay even more.
If you earned less than the threshold of AU$37,000 and paid more than 15% tax, you can ask the tax-difference back. This might happen if you earn very high weekly or monthly salaries. They often charge extra tax when you earn more. If you don’t do this for a very long period of time and you stay below the threshold, you can ask for the extra tax you paid back.
Why do I need a Tax File number?
Without a Tax File number, your employer can’t pay your taxes and that means that you are still working illegally in Australia.
Where can I get a Tax File Number?
You can get a Tax File Number on the official site of the Tax File Number Australia. To apply for a TFN you need your passport, a valid W&H visa, and an Australian address. Your Tax File number will be sent to this address, so make sure you provide a valid address, where you are allowed to receive post.
What does it cost to get a Tax File Number?
There are no costs to apply for or receive your Tax File Number.
7. Curriculum Vitae
To show your future employer that you are the one he or she is looking for, you can best have a curriculum vitae (CV) on hands.
What is a Curriculum Vitae?
A CV is a document that tells your future employer who you are, what you are capable of, what you studied and what your previous jobs were. This indicates if you are a good candidate for the job.
Why do I need a Curriculum Vitae?
You don’t necessarily need a CV if you want to work in Australia. You can just call around and ask if someone has work for you to do. It is just handy to have if someone asks for it. Some employers will ask you to send your CV, sometimes including a photo, to an e-mail address. You can send them an e-mail quickly and this will give you a higher chance to be hired for the job.
Where can I get a Curriculum Vitae?
You can create your own CV on Canva. Canva is a free online tool with many presets for Curriculum Vitaes. You only have to fill in your own information and in no-time, you created your own outstanding CV.
What does it cost to get a Curriculum Vitae?
You can sign up with Canva for free and you can also download all the templates you made for free. So, it doesn’t cost you anything to create your own CV. There are also paid templates available, but there is plenty of choice among the free templates!
Finding work as a backpacker in Australia isn’t something you can take for granted. You might have to travel around a bit before you find a job.
Why do I need transportation?
Well, you don’t need transportation as something mandatory to be able to work in Australia. It just makes your search a lot easier. Public transport is reasonably developed in the bigger cities and with the national coach company GreyHound or Integrity Coach Lines, you can get from one to another bigger place.
Some employers, especially in the outback, will tell you that you need your own car if you want to work for them. Simply because the nearest supermarket is a 30-60 minute drive away. Welcome to Australia!
If you just want to work for the extra money, but not necessarily to extend your W&H visa with another year, you are probably able to find work in a bigger city without having to worry about your own transportation. If you want to extend your W&H Visa, you have way more options if you are able to travel to the outback. And there you are way more flexible and independent if you have your own car.
Where can I get transport?
In the bigger cities, like Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Darwin, Cairns etc, you can travel around with public transport. It won’t take you to all the corners of the city, but you will definitely be able to reach the main attractions and the city center.
To travel between bigger cities there are two major coach companies: GreyHound, which takes you around all of Australia, except Western Australia. And Integrity Coach Lines, which takes you around Western Australia.
If you want to buy your own car, I would suggest you to read our blog 9 thing you need to know as a backpacker when you buy a car in Australia. In this blog we provide information about the different types of cars, where you can buy a car and what you need to check and arrange before you actually buy the car.
How much does transportation cost?
This totally depends on what you want. Do you want to stay in a city and just travel around that city? Or do you travel with the national coach lines between places? Or do you want to buy your own car?
Are you wondering what it costs and what kind of a budget you need to travel around Australia? Check out our blog post Traveling in Australia: How much does it cost?
We love to hear from you!
I hope this blog post helped you to figure out what you need to arrange as a backpacker to be able to work in Australia. If you worked in Australia or if you have a question, please leave a comment below.
Wondering what there is to see and to do in Australia? Check out our Australia page!