Moving to Australia from the UK
Relocating to Australia from the UK
Australia is a very popular hotspot for people to relocate to from the UK. According to the Australian Government, nearly 1.2 million people living in Australia in 2021 were born in the UK.
Is it any wonder why the country is such a leading destination for emigration? It offers sun, sea and sand, a great quality of life and a wealth of opportunity in terms of career prospects.
Are you considering escaping the cold British weather in favour of living Down Under? Moving abroad is a big step and not a decision to be taken lightly. It can seem pretty daunting, but the key is to get the right professional help from people who know the ropes.
Before you book your one-way ticket, don’t forget to visit the Gov.uk website which provides up-to-date advice for British nationals living in Australia.
Australia is the sixth largest country in the world by total area, so there are many cities to choose from for your move. Popular places include Cairns, Tasmania, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane. Each region has its own unique attributes, so depending on what your needs are and what your budget is, you can choose a city that caters to your requirements.
The Weather in Australia
The weather is typically great all year round, so whatever time of the year you want to move, you shouldn’t face too many weathering problems. The summer season takes place between December and February and the climate tends to be hot and dry. On average, most residents wear sun cream that is at least 30 SPF to protect their skin, but the fantastic climate also makes it perfect to enjoy water sports and the beautiful beaches.
If you don’t want to be lumbering boxes back and forth in the heat, perhaps avoid the summertime.
Moving to Australia
Once you’ve worked out where in Australia you are going to move to, and when you think would be a good time for you to go, you now need to get your other ducks in a row – visas and immigration, finding a home to live in, and if you’re moving with your children, they will likely need to be admitted to a school.
At this point, you may be thinking about what you’ll be taking with you, what you may leave behind in storage and what you can sell or dispose of before you head off for your new adventure Down Under. You’ll want to know how long it might take to ship your belongings to Australia, what it might cost and what you can and can’t take with you.
Finally, you may want to look at taking your beloved pet to Australia. There will be hoops for you to jump through on this, but it is certainly possible to take most pets to Australia from the UK.
Visas and immigration
Unless you already have Australian citizenship, it is important you secure the right visa before entering Australia. To get some guidance and help about the various types of visas available, including their eligibility criteria, visit the Australian Department of Immigration website.
There is no set processing time to get a permanent residence visa to immigrate to Australia and obviously each application is dealt with individually. It really depends on the kind of visa you are applying for, but as a general rule of thumb, it takes most applicants 9-18 months to receive a decision, including the time required to prepare the application before lodgement.
Temporary work and spousal cases are quicker and take around 3-6 months, whilst applicants requiring professional registration can take an additional 6-12 months to process.
Finding a home in Australia
Whether you are planning on renting or buying, you can start having a look at the property market right now by visiting dedicated websites such as www.realestate.com.au, www.domain.com.au and www.rent.com.au.
If you are buying a house in Australia, then you will probably want to learn about mortgage applications, tax implications and suchlike. It is important to remember that foreign nationals in Australia can buy property, but there are fees associated with such a purchase and the property has to be classified as an ‘investment property’. Your best bet would be to find a specialist in your new location to help you navigate the house buying process in Australia.
Choosing a school for your children
For general information about what your child may learn in an Australian school, you can visit the Australian Curriculum website. There is a useful Parent Information section there, where you can download PDFs of the curriculum for each school year group.
Choosing the right school for your children might be a minefield, so head to My School, a website designed to help parents and guardians find out relevant and up-to-date information about Australian schools.
How long does it take to ship your belongings to Australia?
Moving to Australia is definitely an exciting project, but not one that can happen overnight. The entire process has its challenges which can put a strain on processing times, so planning is paramount.
How long it will take really depends on the type of shipping you choose. Groupage, where you share a shipping container with someone else, generally takes a little longer than if you have your own dedicated container, as there is more to coordinate. However, this option is great if you only have a few things to take, as the fuller a container is, the better. This is because a full, well-packed container generally means less movement inside the container, which helps to keep your things safe while in transit.
As a rule of thumb, the contents of a 3-bedroom house will fit comfortably inside a shipping container.
How to navigate Customs and Clearance, Tax and Duty
It’s no secret that Australia has some of the most stringent customs laws in the world.
There will be certain items which you might have to pay duty or tax on, and some belongings which you cannot take into Australia. All household goods and personal effects are subject to a physical examination by the Australia Quarantine Inspection Services (AQIS), and they can hold things for up to 14 working days. Certain items attract the interest of AQIS, such as vacuum cleaners, garden furniture, Christmas decorations, shoes and golf clubs.
For more specific details, you can download a PDF guide published by our accrediting association Fidi, the Federation of International Furniture Movers, which outlines the most current and up-to-date rules on what you can and can’t ship to Australia.
Your Global Move Manager at Robinsons can help you navigate Customs rules to help ensure you don’t send anything that may cause issues with customs at the other end.
Taking your pets to Australia
If you have a dog, cat or any other pet or animal and you wish to take them with you when you move to Australia, there are certain procedures which you need to abide by.
If you have investigated this procedure prior to March 2023, then be aware that the Australian Government have since updated the rules.
The United Kingdom belongs to the Group 3 countries which are described as “approved countries and territories in which rabies is absent or well-controlled”. As such, animals coming from the UK require an import permit to be eligible for import to Australia.
The Australian Government has provided some detailed guides to help anyone importing a dog or a cat into the country, which you can read here. For other animals, you can start from this page. Bear in mind that some pets may not be able to go with you, such as live rabbits, hamsters and other rodents. You can find out more details on which animals cannot be imported into Australia from the UK on the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry department website. Just type in the animal you want to take with you, and it will tell you if it is allowed into the country or not.
Upon arrival in Australia, dogs and cats must spend a minimum of 10 days at the Mickleham post-entry quarantine facility in Melbourne, Victoria. The costs linked to the stay in the quarantine facility are divided into two invoices. The first invoice includes the standard veterinary inspection of your animal and health certification, the document assessment, the airline document charge and the daily rate for quarantine accommodation. The second invoice covers the parasite treatment (if required), any additional days of quarantine and any other party expenses incurred during the quarantine period. Both invoices must be paid in full prior to the release of your animal/s from the quarantine facility. For more information about the process to move your favourite pet to Australia, visit the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources website and their useful FAQs section.
Living in Australia
Before you arrive in Australia, there will be a few things you may want to figure out, so that you can make the move to Oz armed with this knowledge, enabling you and your family to settle into your new home.
Medicare, Australia’s public healthcare system, covers free or subsidised treatments provided by registered healthcare professionals. To find out more about Medicare and complete your registration to the scheme, visit their website.
Private healthcare is also widely available and, depending on your visa, private health insurance might be a compulsory requirement.
Emergency services and how to access them in Australia
Obviously, we hope you will never need to make such a call, but in case you do, it is handy to know. Instead of dialling 999 like you do in the UK to get emergency services such as the fire service, ambulance service or police, in Australia you dial 000.
The call is free and like in the UK, you will be asked which service you require. The call handler will then organise the emergency services you need.
Driving in Australia
Laws and driving regulations differ from state to state. Some Australian states require you to carry an International Licence with your current foreign licence. Other states request you carry your current foreign driver’s licence together with a formal translation of your licence into English.
For more detailed information about the laws and regulations in place in the territory you are planning on moving to, please visit the Australian Government website.
The cost of living in Australia
Over recent years, Australia has consolidated its reputation as a destination with a high cost of living. Although most expats will argue that the higher quality of life makes up for it, it is crucial you investigate what your daily expenses are likely to be and put together a realistic financial plan.
As an indication, the 2018 Mercer Cost of Living Survey listed Sydney as the 29th most expensive city out of 209 cities surveyed worldwide. Melbourne ranked 58th, Perth 61st, Canberra 77th and Brisbane 84th. In comparison, London ranked 19th and Birmingham 128th.
For the most up-to-date analysis on the comparison between the cost of living in the UK compared to Australia, you can visit this website.
Public and school holidays in Australia
Australia has the same holidays as the UK including Christmas, New Year and Easter, but they also have Australia Day which is celebrated on Jan 26th. They also have a National Day of Remembrance called Anzac Day, which is celebrated on April 25th. You may want to avoid these holidays when moving due to traffic and costly flights. The Australian government publishes the dates of public holidays here.
For school holidays, Tourism Australia has a handy list here. You may want to coincide your move with school holiday dates to allow your children to start at the beginning of a school term to help them settle in and avoid disrupting their education too much.
Trading hours are the same as the UK, with most starting at 9am and finishing at 5pm. Large stores and businesses like big supermarkets will stay open until 9pm.
Electrical Appliances – Will you need to replace them all?
Australia uses 230C 50Hz electrical supply, so if you are moving to Australia and you plan on staying for a long time, it is best to replace the plugs on your electrical appliances. Otherwise, an adapter will be needed.
Setting up a bank account in Australia
This is absolutely something that you can get organised before you go.
First things first – you will need to research the different options available to you with different Australian banks in order to find the right bank account for your needs. Australia’s ‘big four’ banks are: NAB, Commonwealth Bank, ANZ and Westpac. These four banks offer online applications, but do read through their requirements for migrants to ensure you meet the criteria.
Other considerations are:
- Your expected arrival date – Banks require you to arrive within 3-12 months of the application, so don’t do it too soon or you may have to start again!
- Documents you’ll need – You should be able to upload requested documents, so check out exactly what the bank you choose requires, and make sure you have the documents they need before you make the application. Documents you are likely to need are: your passport, visa and proof of your residential address. Once you arrive in Australia, you are likely to need to verify your identity in person to fully activate the account.
- Know where you’re headed – Most banks will need to know the city or state you’ll be moving to in Australia, so make sure you know where you’ll be living before you apply for a bank account.
- Be 18 or over – This is a requirement for all banks in Australia.
Get in touch to discuss your move to Australia
If you want to discuss your move to Australia with an expert and get a realistic idea of the costs involved for international removals to Australia, call us for free on 0800 521541.
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