Below you'll find questions we've identified as the most frequently asked by email or in our discussion forum.
- I want to live in Australia. Where do I begin?
- I can't find the answers to my questions here. Can you help?
Visas, Residency and Citizenship
- As a Kiwi, do I need any sort of visa to live and work in Australia?
- What government assistance is available to New Zealand citizens living in Australia?
- Can I get the unemployment or sickness benefit in Australia?
- How does a Kiwi become an Australian Citizen?
- Can I retain my New Zealand passport if I become an Australian Citizen?
Shipping Personal Effects To Australia
- How much will it cost to ship my belongings to Australia?
- How long will it take for my stuff to arrive?
- What about pets? What is involved in taking our cats, dogs or other pets with us?
Moving Your Money - Converting New Zealand Dollars to Australian Dollars
- What is the best way to move my New Zealand money to Australia?
- Can I open an Australian bank account while I'm still in New Zealand?
- How do I open an Australian bank account while I'm still in New Zealand?
- How do I maximise the Australian dollars I get for my New Zealand dollars?
- What about taking physical cash with me? Is that a good idea?
- Why don't I just leave my money in my New Zealand bank account and then withdraw it using an ATM in Australia?
Living and Working In Australia
- What are the income tax rates in Australia?
- What is the Australian equivalent of a New Zealand IRD number and how do I get one?
- I'm on a New Zealand pension, how is this affected if I move to Australia?
Questions From Readers
Looking for the list of questions from readers that used to be listed on this page? They've all been moved to the discussion forum, where they are categorised and easier to find!
I want to live in Australia. Where do I begin?
Well, we hope you will find all the answers on this site (including our discussion forum). You need to think about some or all of the following things:
- Visas. If you are a New Zealand citizen in good health and with no criminal record, this is the easy part. You don't need to do anything special to legally live and work in Australia. Read the visa FAQ questions below and make sure you check out our page about visas for more information.
- Finding a place to live. Refer to our page on finding a place to live in Australia for more information.
- Finding a job. Read finding a job in Australia for more details.
- Health matters. Make sure you have access to health care at all times. Read health care for New Zealanders in Australia for more information.
I can't find the answers to my questions here. Can you help?
Yes! Take a look at our discussion forum where you can ask questions that can be answered by us or by other readers. Asking questions helps to make this a useful resource for anyone planning a shift to Australia, so we encourage you to ask as many questions as you need help with.
Also, check out our blog, where we talk about issues and current events relevant to kiwis moving to Australia.
Visas, Residency and Citizenship
As a Kiwi do I need any sort of visa to live and work in Australia?
If you are a New Zealand citizen you usually don't need to apply for a visa to live and work in Australia - a Special Category Visa (SCV) is electronically assigned when you enter Australia with your New Zealand passport. This special visa currently permits you to live and work in Australia for as long as you want.
You don't need to do anything else to legally live and work in Australia (unless you want to become an Australian permanent resident or Australian citizen to qualify for government assistance not available to SCV holders).
There are two important exceptions to this - you may not be eligible for an SCV if you have criminal convictions, or if you have tuberculosis. For more information on eligibility for Special Category Visas, see our Australian visas for New Zealanders page.
Note that if you:
- want to become an Australian permanent resident
- want to become an Australian citizen
- are not a New Zealand citizen and you want to enter Australia to live and work
then we recommend talking to a migration agency for professional assistance with Australian visa applications.
What government assistance is available to New Zealand citizens living in Australia?
New Zealand citizens can receive the following government assistance while living in Australia:
- Family Tax Benefit
- Newborn Upfront Payment and Newborn Supplement
- Single Income Family Supplement
- Child Care Benefit
- Double Orphan Pension
- Health Care Card
- Low Income Health Care Card
- Foster Child Health Care Card
- Commonwealth Seniors Health Card
- Parental Leave Pay
- Dad and Partner Pay
- Assistance for Isolated Children
- Age Pension (under the international agreement between Australia and NZ)
For the most current information on the government assistance available to New Zealanders and the eligibility requirements, see this section of the Department of Human Services.
Can I get the unemployment or sickness benefit in Australia?
You cannot receive the unemployment benefit and certain other social security payments without first becoming an Australian permanent resident. Even if you successfully apply to become a permanent resident, there is a two year stand down period before you can receive the benefit.
See our Australian visas for New Zealanders page to find out more.
How does a Kiwi become an Australian citizen?
See our page on becoming an Australia citizen to help you on your way. The first step is becoming a permanent resident of Australia. This process is points based, and you currently need 120 points to be successful.
Once you are a permanent resident you will need a total of 4 years residence in Australia (with at least 12 months with a permanent resident visa) before you become eligible to become an Australian citizen.
Can I retain my New Zealand passport if I become an Australian Citizen?
Yes. You can become an Australian citizen and remain a New Zealand citizen - that is, you can hold dual citizenship.
Shipping Your Belongings To Australia
How much will it cost to ship my belongings to Australia?
That depends on what you are taking. We paid NZ$1,600 for our shipper to pack and ship the following items from door to door:
So, we didn't take much stuff yet it still cost $1,600. Ouch. Let us know if you find a better deal so that we can pass it on to others.
How long will it take for my stuff to arrive?
Transit time depends on a number of factors, including the availability of container space and the methods of your removals company. The removals companies often advise 6-8 weeks. In our case, our belongings took just over 3 weeks to arrive at our new place in Melbourne from Christchurch, NZ.
What about pets? What is involved in taking our cats, dogs or other pets with us?
New Zealanders typically have it easier than other Australian immigrants when moving with pets, at least for regular breeds of cats and dogs as there is typically no quarantine period.
Refer to the importing of cats and dogs from New Zealand for detailed information about the process of importing animals into Australia.
For information about taking other pets with you to Australia, start on the general importing of cats, dogs and other pets page of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.
Basically, if your cat or dog has been certified as healthy by a registered vet and, if it is a dog, it isn't one of the following breeds:
- dogo Argentino
- fila Brazileiro
- Japanese tosa
- Pit bull terrier or American
- Presa Canaria
then you shouldn't have any problems and your cat or dog will not need to be placed in quarantine.
We've also written more about taking pets with you on our moving to Australia with pets page.
Moving Your Money - Converting New Zealand Dollars to Australian Dollars
What is the best way to move my New Zealand money to Australia?
We spent a lot of time looking into this. In our opinion, the best way to do it is as described on our Moving Money To Australia page.
It describes how to avoid using banks for currency conversion so that you get a better exchange rate, avoid commission on conversion, and how to avoid getting a bad deal from converting physical cash.
Can I open an Australian bank account while I'm still in New Zealand?
Yes - see our how to open a bank account in Australia page for help.
How do I open an Australian bank account while I'm still in New Zealand?
We found the process of opening an Australian bank account from New Zealand very quick and easy. Depending on which bank you choose, you might be able to do it all online and via the phone.
Read about how to open a bank account before leaving NZ on our how to open a bank account in Australia page.
How do I maximise the Australian dollars I get for my New Zealand dollars?
We found that by doing the following things we maximised the amount of Australian dollars when we converted our New Zealand dollars. Depending on your circumstances, you might want/need to do things differently. The process we followed is described in far more detail on our Moving Your Money to Australia page.
- Open a bank account in Australia so that you can convert your funds entirely electronically rather than using physical cash or travellers cheques.
- Don't use a bank to convert your money unless you happen to be one of their best customers - you will typically get a much better exchange rate and pay no commission by using a foreign currency specialist. We used XE (they were branded as Currency Online when we used them, if you see that name elsewhere on our site).
- If you are moving large sums of money, you can reduce the uncertainty involved in the exchange rate between the New Zealand dollar and the Australian dollar by using more advanced currency market tools like forward contracts and market orders to lock in a known rate. If you are unfamiliar with these, you can talk to a foreign currency specialist about your options.
What about taking physical cash with me? Is that a good idea?
Not really, no! Only if you really need cash. You will typically get a very bad exchange rate converting to/from cash rather than wiring your money between bank accounts using telegraphic transfer (TT). In general, we strongly recommend avoiding cash except for those small incidentals when getting into Australia etc as it is a very expensive way of obtaining Australian dollars when you consider the commission and bad exchange rate involved.
If you set up a bank account before you leave and go in to see the bank as soon as you arrive, you can activate your new Australian bank account and use EFTPOS and withdraw cash in Australian dollars, and there will clearly be no currency conversion involved.
See our Moving Your Money to Australia page for details on how to convert your money without paying too many fees.
Why don't I just leave my money in my New Zealand bank account and then withdraw it using an ATM in Australia?
If you like contributing to a record profit for your bank, then go ahead! If you've done this before you will have seen how much banks charge you for doing this. First, you have the awful exchange rate they give you and then they charge you a currency conversion fee on top. Ouch.
This method might be fine for emergencies, but just be aware that you will pay through the nose for using it.
Living and Working in Australia
What are the income tax rates in Australia?
At the time of writing, the income tax rates in Australia are typically more favourable than in New Zealand. Australians have enjoyed a series of tax cuts over the past few years, through a combination of both tax rate cuts and changes to thresholds for higher tax rates. The prospect of paying less tax in Australia is certainly a major reason behind our shift to Aussie. Bill English, are you listening?!
The current individual tax rates for the 2017 Australian financial year (1 July, 2016 - 30 June, 2017):
|$1 – $18,200||Nil|
|$18,201 – $37,000||19c for each $1 over $18,200|
|$37,001 – $87,000||$3,572 plus 32.5c for each $1 over $37,000|
|$87,001 – $180,000||$19,822 plus 37c for each $1 over $87,00|
|$180,001 and over||$54,232 plus 45c for each $1 over $180,000|
What is the Australian equivalent of a New Zealand IRD number and how do I get one?
The Australian equivalent of an IRD number is a Tax File Number (TFN) from the Australian Taxation Office (which is the Australian version of the Inland Revenue Department).
Applying for a TFN online takes approximately 20 minutes. You will need to provide your passport or travel document number, a postal address in Australia (to which your TFN will be sent), your legal name and other names you use or have used, and contact details for yourself or your preferred contact person. Once you have applied, your TFN will be sent to you in the post and will take about 1 - 2 weeks to arrive.