Wherever you’re coming from, Australia is geared for budget and independent travellers, offering plenty of accommodation and eating options, as well as discounts on travel, nightlife and entertainment.
Australia’s unit of currency is the Australian dollar (AUD$), which is divided into 100 cents. Coins have values of 5, 10, 20 and 50 cents, $1 and $2; notes have values of AUD$5, AUD$10, AUD$20, AUD$50 and AUD$100.
If you’re frugal, you’ll likely spend around $70 a day for basic meals, accommodation, transport and the odd drink. But if you intend to splash out a bit, staying in motels and B&Bs, going on tours, renting cars and clubbing etc, you’ll need a daily budget of at least $120. As a guide, expect to pay the following prices for standard items in Oz:
Prices in Australian Dollars
|Accommodation (Hostel)||$18.00 – $25.00|
|Loaf of bread||$2.25|
|Big Mac meal deal||$5.75|
|Breakfast in a coffee shop||$12.00|
|Glass of beer at a pub||$3.75|
|Movie ticket||$11.00 – $15.00|
|Petrol (1 litre)||$1.25|
|Newspaper||$1.00 – $1.20|
|Local phone calls||$0.40|
|Sydney harbour bridge climb||$189.00|
|Gold Coast theme park entrance||$60.00|
|Australia Zoo entrance (QLD Sunshine Coast)||$54.00|
Goods & Services Tax (GST)
Australia has a Goods and Services Tax (GST), a broad-based tax of 10% on most goods and services such as accommodation, food, transport and other tourism services within Australia. In some cases, you can claim this tax back through the Tourism Refund Scheme (TRS). Basically the goods must exceed $300 on one single receipt and be purchased within 30 days of leaving the country and, when you’re departing Australia, you have to carry goods as hand luggage. For more information, see the Australian Customs Service website.
Opening a Bank or Credit Union Account
You’re going to need an Australian bank account to find work in Oz, as employers won’t pay your wages into your home (overseas) bank account. Even if you’re just travelling for a short period of time, it will save you loads in expensive withdrawal and transfer fees if you have an Aussie account. To open a bank or credit union account in Australia, you need to pass the ‘100 point’ system to prove your identification and have an Australian address. Documents that can be used to prove the points include:
- Your passport… 70 points
- Driver’s licence… 40 points
- Any card that your name appears eg credit or library card… 25 points
- Documents that your name and address appear… 25 points
Banks & Foreign Exchange
In general, Australia’s banking hours are Monday to Thursday 9.30am–4pm and Friday 9.30am–5pm. All the major banks, such as Westpac, ANZ, Commonwealth and National, have offices throughout Australia. In smaller centres, some branches of the main banks have closed, so you’ll have to go to the local post office or newsagent for your banking needs. All the main banks are equipped to exchange foreign currency. You can also exchange foreign currency any day or night at the airport, but do remember that you will get a poor exchange rate there.
One bank to consider, and the largest bank is the Commonwealth bank. They have the largest network of branches and ATM machines around Australia because if you are traveling around you get charged to use another banks ATM so it might make sense to use a bank which has ATM machines in all the places you are traveling to, plus the commonwealth allow you to use Bankwest machines free aswell. If you are sticking to the main cities then all the banks have ATM but you may struggle to find your own banks as you travel or in rural areas.
EFTPOS and ATM Cards
With a bank account you will normally receive a EFTPOS or ATM (cash machine) card so you can withdraw your money. If you use another banks ATM then you normally incur a fee of around $1.50 so best to stick to your own banks. In many pubs and shops you may well see stand alone ATM machines not linked to specific bank. These will charge you a fee of around $2 regardless of your bank to use.
Useful Banking and Finance Links
- Australian Tax Office
- ANZ Bank
- Westpac Bank
- Commonwealth Bank
- National Australia Bank
- ING Bank
OBTAINING A TAX FILE NUMBER
Obtaining a Tax File Number (TFN)
Before you start working in Australia you must obtain an Australian Tax File Number (TFN) for your employers. Obtaining your Tax File Number isn’t a difficult task and its in your best interest, so you don’t pay too much tax and instead pay the lower tax rate of 29%.
Online tax file number (TFN) applications
You can only complete an online application if you are a permanent migrant or temporary visitor who is actually in Australia. You must also be either:
- a working holiday-maker
- a New Zealander and you are automatically granted a visa on arrival
- an overseas student and your visa has been amended to allow you to work
- a person with a valid visa allowing you to stay in Australia indefinitely
- a person with a business visa.
If you need more information, visit the nearest Tax Office shopfront site or phone 13 28 61.
Claiming Your Tax Back
It is important that you are aware that you can claim your tax back when in Australia on your Working Holiday Visa. When working in Oz you will pay between 13-29% so you could get back up to AU$3000 and once you have left Australia you can also arrange your superannuation refund averaging at an additional AU$500-$2500!
Aussie Superannuation Guide
What is Superannuation?
If you have worked during your stay in Australia and earned more than $450 per month, your employer will have contributed 9% of your gross income into a superannuation fund for you. Once you leave Australia permanently and your visa expires you are entitled to claim back your superannuation.
The good news for backpackers, working holiday visa holders and temporary residents of Australia is that when you leave Australia – you can claim this back! You can claim back Superannuation as far back as 1994, however you must have left Australia permanently.
Getting a tax refund is one thing you should do when you leave Australia, but getting your Superannuation refund is even more important.
How can I claim back my Superannuation?
Once you have departed Australia permanently and your Australian Visa has expired or been cancelled (for working holiday makers on a 417 visa this is normally a year after you have entered Australia) you can lodge a superannuation claim.
Superannuation Refund Rules
The Australian Tax Office eligibility for accessing Super is as follows:
- you were a temporary resident
- you entered Australia on a temporary visa
- you have departed Australia
- your visa has ceased to be in effect (has expired or been cancelled), and
- your super fund has not paid your super money to the Australian Tax Office (ATO) as unclaimed super.
INCOME TAX REFUNDS
Income Tax Refunds
As a hard-working backpacker in Oz, you’ll pay about 13-29% tax on your earnings. This doesn’t have to be lost money. When you leave Australia or when the tax year ends you can get a tax refund from the Australian Tax Office and get that cash back into your travelling budget.
How much Income Tax will I pay in Australia?
When working in Australia your employers are required to withhold tax from your salary and pay this to the Australian Tax Office. At the end of the financial year or when you leave Australia you may be entitled to claim a large proportion of these tax payments back.
Your employer will work out how much tax to withhold based on information you provide in your Tax File Numberdeclaration form, when you start work. If you do not provide a tax file number, your employer will be required to withhold tax at the top marginal rate, including Medicare (currently 46.5%).
Resident for Tax Purposes
|Taxable income||Tax on this income|
|0 – $6,000||Nil|
|$6,001 – $37,000||15c for each $1 over $6,000|
|$37,001 – $80,000||$4,650 plus 30c for each $1 over $37,000|
Non-resident for Tax purposes
|Taxable income||Tax on this income|
|0 – $35,000||29c for each $1|
|$35,001 – $80,000*||$10,150 plus 30c for each $1 over $35,000|
|$80,001 – $180,000||$23,650 plus 38c for each $1 over $80,000|
What if I don’t have a Tax File Number?
Your employer will ask you to complete a Tax File Number declaration. This form asks you to quote your tax file number as well as provide other information which assists your payer to calculate the amount of tax to withhold from your pay. If you do not provide a Tax File Number, your employer will be required to withhold tax at the top marginal rate, including Medicare (currently 46.5%).
Visit our Backpacker Job Board to search for backpacker jobs in Australia