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Moving to Australia from the UK

With our sunny shores and strong historic ties, it’s easy to see why Australia’s the number one destination for English emigrants. Are you soon to be one?

Thinking of heading Down Under? With beautiful beaches, sun all year long and stunning cities, it's no surprise so many Brits want to make Australia home. Migrating to Australia as a British national is pretty straightforward, with a number of visas for both skilled and unskilled workers due to our strong relationship. Learn how to make your move as seamless as possible with this handy guide.

Visas available to British nationals

While the list of available visas is quite extensive, here are the most popular ones for British citizens moving to Australia:

  • Temporary Skill Shortage visa (subclass 482): This visa helps Australian businesses hire employers tackle labour shortages. Under this visa, workers can stay for up to 2 years or up to 4 years if an International trade obligation applies.
  • Visitor (600)/eVisitor (651): Naturally, if your goal is to immigrate to Australia with the intent to work and potentially become an Australian citizen, a visitor visa is not your best choice, but if you’re after an extended visit with no need to work, then a visitor visa (max 12-months stay) can cater to this need.
  • Working Holiday visa (subclass 417): Stemming from a reciprocal agreement to enable young citizens the chance to work abroad and experience a different culture is this youth mobility visa. It’s only open to English citizens between 18 and 30 (for some countries it's up to 35) and is valid for a year. During that year, the holder can choose to work (up to six-months with any one employer) or study (up to four-months altogether). Currently, this visa costs AUD$510, over the years the cost has continued to increase.

Visa FAQ

Getting to Australia

Once your visa has been approved, you can start looking into flights to Australia. There are daily routes from London to Sydney, which are serviced by some of the world’s largest airlines including; Etihad, Emirates, Qantas, Thai Airways, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, and China Southern. There are no direct flights to Australia from the UK as the flight time (e.g. from London to Sydney) is typically 23-24 hours.

Pro-tip: If you’re here on a working holiday or planning to go back, why not add some stopovers on your way back home and see a little more of the world?

Those looking to cash in on cheaper flights can take advantage of the off-peak season, which occurs from September to November and April to June. It’s also advised that if you’re planning to return to the UK, to book your return flight at the same time to save on costs as; a) return flights are usually cheaper than single flights and b) flights between the UK and Australia generally cost more when purchased from Australia.

Of course, if you do see a sale flight that’s too good to resist, you may want to jump on it while it’s available. (So long as you’ve received your visa, naturally.)

Moving: Tying up loose ends before you leave

Before you hop on a plane, you will need to tie up some loose ends at home, including storage and shipping.

The UK is not short of storage units with Big Yellow and Safestore being two of the larger and more accessible storage facilities. Pack and shop around first to get an idea of what’s available and how much storage space you need.

Again, the UK has no shortage of shipping and freight companies to send larger items to your new home. 1st Contact, Anglo Pacific, PPS, and Seven Seas Worldwide are among your many choices. Most companies will provide you with packing material and flexible pick-up times. Quotes can be provided via their websites, but beware of hidden charges. When shipping to Australia, you might be subject to tax, customs, and quarantine examination fees that may be charged to you post-delivery.

Other things you should consider before you leave

Here’s a quick list of things you might need to do before you leave:

  • Cancel your subscriptions and ongoing transactions: mobile phone, Netflix, energy supplier, opticians, car and life insurance, water supplier, Oyster card, ongoing charity support, TV license, Spotify, broadband, landline.
  • Advise banks and offices that you’re leaving: specifically your banks, HM revenue and customs, and council/government bodies that deal with voting, jury service, and other mandatories that may be required of citizens
  • Take care of your loans: mortgages and student loans.
  • Obtain medical documents and history: contact your doctor and dentist for your medical history in case you need hospital or health care in Australia.
  • Redirect your post: Either to your family and friends or to your new home in Australia.


Setting up a bank account before arriving is easy and can be done through the bank’s online migration service. However, it’s quite possible that your bank in the UK either has a branch in Australia or has ties with an Australian bank. Your best bet is to ask them first, but here’s an overview of some UK banks that have relationships with Australian financial institutions that might be helpful.

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Primary Proof of Identity

Employment and tax

Income and tax in Australia:

During your working life in Australia you will be subject to income tax and be required to lodge a tax return with the Australian Tax Office (ATO) every year between June 30 and October 31. When/if you return back home to the UK, you may be able to lodge your Australian tax return early if you leave before the end of the tax year. Again, advise the ATO for details on how to complete this.

Income and tax in the UK:

Now let’s not forget all the niggling tax requirements you might have to consider before leaving the UK. First, advise the HMRC of your move and check to see if you’re eligible to pay tax for that tax year. This can be easily done by using the HMRC’s Self Assessment service. Depending on your circumstance, you might also have to complete the following:

  • The P85 Leaving the UK form: This form will enable you to claim any tax relief or refund you’re entitled to for the financial year and also assess if you’ll become a non-resident as a result of migrating to Australia.
  • Ongoing tax returns: If you’re still receiving income in the UK, you may have to continue lodging your tax returns with the HMRC throughout your time away.
  • Ongoing National Insurance (NI) contributions: Expats wishing to eventually return to live in the UK might consider continuing making voluntary NI contributions to build their State Pension and protect certain state benefits and allowances upon their return. Those who choose to continue making payments will need to apply to complete form CF83 ‘Application to make National Insurance Contributions abroad’ which can be found on the HMRC website. Payments are accepted through Direct Debit or an agency.

Other taxation information you should be aware of as a non-resident of the UK:

  • You won’t have to pay UK tax on income earned from working overseas unless you are still earning income from a UK employer
  • You will still have to pay UK tax on your UK pensions
  • You won’t have to pay UK tax on government services or local authority pension but you will have to pay tax on it in Australia
  • You will still have to pay tax on UK bank and building society interest, however you may be able to claim a refund against UK tax allowances using the R43 form
  • You may have to pay tax on other UK investment income, however depending on your circumstances you may be able to get relief or exemption on this due to the double taxation treaty between Australia and UK. The double taxation agreement means that you won’t have to pay tax on your worldwide income, only the income – even if tax is due in the UK
  • You will have to pay tax on the income earned from a rental property. Again, you may be eligible for a tax relief due to the double taxation treaty between Australia and the UK

Other tax refunds: If you purchase items in Australia and return home with them, you may be eligible to claim a refund on the goods and services (GST) and wine equalisation tax (WET) through the tourist refund scheme. For more information regarding eligibility, contact the ATO.


Under Australian law, you cannot transfer your superannuation to your UK fund while you’re in Australia, however you can access your funds upon retirement or, if you’re on a temporary-resident visa, upon your final departure from the country (known as the Departing Australia Super Payment (DASP). The DASP can be applied for online through the ATO, but bear in mind that any withholding tax will be taken before your super is paid to you.

Those who are planning to immigrate to Australia permanently may wish to transfer their pension fund to an Australian fund. This is possible as long as certain requirements are met – including that the receiving fund is approved as a Qualifying Registered Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS). At the time of writing, there were close to 1,500 qualifying schemes.

Note: if your nominated Australian pension fund doesn’t meet all requirements, your transfer will be viewed as an unauthorised payment and will be subject to a tax charge. Again, this is an option for those seeking permanent immigration into Australia as, when you transfer your pension, you’ll lose any right to a protected pension age, lose any fixed or enhanced protection you had prior to the transfer, and lose any right you had to a tax free lump sum of more than 25% of your pension pot which you had under the pension scheme before 6 April 2006.

For a list of qualifying recognised overseas pensions schemes and more information on how to process your transfer, visit the HMRC website.

Driving in Australia

A comforting thing to know is that Australians and Brits both drive on the same side of the road: the left. Something else that’s nice to know is that you can use your UK license to drive in Australia indefinitely so long as the license remains current and valid (not cancelled or suspended), and that you haven’t been disqualified from driving here or have had your driving privileges revoked.

If you are here on a permanent visa, you will have to convert to an Australian license after you’ve been in the country for three months. UK residents who hold a UK driver’s license are exempt from taking a knowledge or drive/ride test to obtain an Australian license. If your license expires while in Australia, you will also be eligible for an Australian license.

Health care in Australia


It’s highly recommended that you have health cover while in Australia. Something reassuring is that the UK and Australia hold a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement, which allows Brits to benefit from the national health care system, which is called Medicare.

By enrolling in Medicare, you will be able to obtain essential medical treatments for the length of your stay in Australia. These benefits include free treatment as a public in- or outpatient in a public hospital, reduced medicine under the Pharmaceuticals Benefits Scheme (PBS), and any Medicare benefits available for out-of-hospital treatments by a registered doctor.

Remember Medicare is the public healthcare system, and therefore will not provide as many benefits as private health care or travel health insurance. If you require the services of private health care but don’t have private health insurance, you will have to pay your doctor’s bill in full. That being said, you might be eligible to claim a partial refund of this through Medicare, which you’ll be advised of by reception at the doctor’s surgery.

Note: anyone who has applied for the Subclass Visa 410 (Retiree visa) after 1 December 1998 is not eligible for Medicare, regardless of this agreement.

Studying in Australia

Aside from the exchange programs, scholarships, and general international student pathways that are available through Australian universities, some British universities have more specific programs and relationships in place to cater to your studying abroad needs. For example, Loughborough University in Leicestershire has an international exchange agreement with Curtin University of Technology in Perth and the University of Technology in Sydney, while the University of Central Lancashire is partnered with the University of Western Sydney. By going through a university, you might find it easier to obtain a student visa and study abroad than by applying outright. Your school might also have scholarships and other subsidies available to make studying in Australia more affordable.

If you’re currently studying with an educational institution in the UK, you might like to look into their available exchange programs to see what’s available to you.

If you’re still paying back a student loan...

Piggy bank

Currently repaying a student loan in the UK? You will still have to continue paying it back while working or studying in Australia so long as your annual salary exceeds the repayment threshold, which is currently £22,015 in the UK. Once this threshold is met, you are required to repay your loan and 9% of your earnings over this threshold.

Due to differences in the cost of living, as well as changing interest rates, the threshold and percentage you have to pay while you’re in Australia will vary. If you’re planning to be in Australia for over three months, you’ll have to fill out an Overseas Income Assessment Form to be charged an accurate repayment amount. Failure to inform the Student Loans Company (SLC) of your overseas income will result in a default repayment amount (calculated for your specific country of residence), which you will be liable to pay monthly.

Feeling at home in Australia

Let’s face it: at some point during your stay in Australia you’re bound to feel homesick. So here are a few key things that can remind you of home while you’re on our sunny shores. (Clearly sunshine, that’s not one of them – hehe.)

  • Sunday roasts: Many Australian pubs have Sunday roasts to remind you of mum’s cooking.
  • Fellow English expats: In Sydney? Many English expats tend to cling to the beaches (Bondi) or the North Shore (Mosman). Wander around and you’re sure to hear the sound of a familiar accent.
  • British confectionery: Many supermarkets have an international food aisle, which sell British treats like Haribos, Hobnobs, Yorkie Bars, Marmite. Oh, and something called Irn Bru.
  • British Film Festival: Held every year throughout the country.
  • Jimeoin: The English-born comedian is a permanent fixture Down Under. We tried to return him, but he wouldn’t stick.
And naturally, a few key translations to make the transition that much easier:
How you going? (Yeah, we probably don’t say g’day as much as we used to.)You right?
ThongsFlip flops

Oh, and just a tip. When you get on the escalators, the LEFT side is for standing and the RIGHT side is for overtaking/moving. Same goes with footpaths.


Aston Darley

  • City and country that you’re originally from: London, UK.
  • City and country that you’re living in: Sydney, Australia.
  • Employment status: Full time.
  • Visa status: Working holiday visa 417 (for now!)
Why did you decide to move to Australia?

The industry I’m in is behind, also better pay, more sunshine, free water, super and better looking people.

What were some of the things you had to consider before migrating? (Employment, finances etc.)

Finances. It’s not cheap moving abroad. Also, tying up loose ends at home, renting my flat out, finding a job and finding somewhere to live before I moved.

What were the steps involved with obtaining a visa? Did you find it difficult or easy?

So simple. Quick, easy and came through within two hours.

How did you set up a bank account? Did you face any difficulties here?

I set up a Westpac migrant account, had a 40-minute meeting in the London office and my card was ready to collect with my money in my account the day I arrived.

How did you find accommodation? Was it easy/hard?

I used Airbnb as we didn't want to sign a lease and be unhappy with the area. It was hard finding somewhere that was a reasonable cost but an easy process.

I put a lot of thought into my plans and was really organised arranging everything.

How have you found adjusting to Australian life?

I’ve settled really quickly, it feels normal already because I’ve got a routine.

Do you have any tips or advice for other expats in your situation when moving to Australia?

Apply for your TFN (tax file number) before you get here if you're starting work. Stock up on free drugs from the NHS and be prepared for Aussies complaining that 16⁰C is cold.

If you could do it again, would you change anything in the way you went about migrating?

No because I put a lot of thought into my plans and was really organised arranging everything.

Handy contacts and addresses

It’s always good to keep the contact details of your embassy on hand in case anything goes wrong or you have queries.

    • British High Commission Canberra
      130 Commonwealth Ave, Yarralumla ACT 2600
      Phone: +61-2-6270-6666
    • British Consulate General Melbourne
      17th Floor 90 Collins Street, Melbourne, Victoria, 3000
      Phone: +61-3-9652-1600
  • British Consulate General Sydney
    Level 16, Gateway Building, 1 Macquarie Place, Sydney, NSW, 2000
    Phone: +61-2-8247-2200

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