Living in Australia

Advice for British people living in Australia, including information on health, education, benefits, residence requirements and more.

Living in Australia

Advice for British people living in Australia, including information on health, education, benefits, residence requirements and more.


This guide sets out essential information for British nationals residing in Australia, including advice on health, education, benefits, residence requirements and more. We are unable to provide any guidance on general lifestyle enquiries apart from the information and links listed below. See our information on what consulates can and cannot do for British nationals.


The standard of healthcare in Australia is high.

In a life threatening or time critical emergency, call 000 for an ambulance. For non-emergency treatment, if you need to see a GP or visit a hospital, the local phone books (Yellow Pages or White Pages) list hospitals by location in their front sections, or you can find alphabetical listings for Doctors and Hospitals later in the books. Alternatively, visit their websites at Yellow Pages or White Pages.

In every city or town there are “walk–in” medical centres where you can receive treatment without having to make an appointment.

Reciprocal healthcare arrangements exist between Australia and the UK. Under these, British citizens resident in the UK and travelling on a British passport are entitled to limited subsidised health services from Medicare for medically necessary treatment while visiting Australia. This does not cover pre-existing conditions, or treatment that does not require prompt attention.

These provisions do not apply to non-visitors, for example those who are studying in Australia. Other exclusions under the reciprocal agreement include pharmaceuticals when not a hospital in-patient, use of ambulance services and medical evacuations. The latter, in particular, are very expensive.

Visitors should arrange comprehensive medical insurance before they travel to Australia as, if they are not covered under the reciprocal arrangements, costs for treatment can be high.

For more information, visit the Medicare website, call them on 13 20 11, or visit their nearest office. If you are visiting them, take your passport and (if you have it) your NHS card.

Medicare covers most Australian residents for healthcare, but it does not cover everything and the government encourages people (through tax rebates) to buy private health cover early and to stay covered. For further information, see the Private Health Insurance website.


Australia has a good standard of education for all ages. For information on the school system and higher education in Australia, visit the Department of Education website.

Employment and recognised qualifications

In order to work in Australia you need a work visa. Information on how to apply is on the Department of Immigration& Border Protection website.

To find out how to get a skills assessment for your nominated occupation including educational qualifications, skills or experience that you have gained overseas, see the Australian Skills Recognition Information (ASRI) website.

Entry and residence requirements

You need a visa to travel to Australia. Our travel advice contains immigration advice for residents and visitors, including links to relevant websites.

If you’re a British national living in Australia with Australian citizenship, you should leave and enter the country on your Australian passport; otherwise you may face difficulties and delays. For more information, see DFAT’s Smartraveller website. The Department of Immigration & Border Protection website also has useful information for all new arrivals.


Most state benefits are only available to citizens or permanent residents of Australia. See the Department of Human Services website.

For information on claiming a UK pension and/or benefits while in Australia, contact the relevant UK organisation. If you are moving to Australia from the UK you should inform the International Pension Centre of the change in your circumstances. This will prevent any problems with your pension payments.

If you’ve received a life certificate from the UK Pension Service it’s important you reply as quickly as possible otherwise your benefit may be stopped. You’ll need to get it signed by a witness and send it back as instructed on the form.

Check the list of people who can witness a life certificate. This is now the same as the list of people who can countersign a passport photo, although they don’t need to live in the UK, or have a British or Irish passport. Our consulates do not perform this service.

Driving licences and vehicles

Our travel advice includes information about road safety in Australia.

To replace a lost, stolen or damaged UK driving licence, see applying online to replace a driving licence.


You should obtain a Tax File Number from the Australian Taxation Office.

Most income including salary or wages and government benefits are paid directly into a bank account. You should open a bank account within six weeks of your arrival, as you usually need only your passport as identification. After six weeks you will need extra identification to open an account.

Further information on banking is available on the Australian Bankers’ Association website.

Guidance on bringing medication into Australia

The Department of Immigration & Border Protection website provides guidance on importing medicines into Australia for personal use.

Sponsoring family members

Sponsoring residence applications is possible in certain circumstances: see the Department of Immigration & Border Protection website for full details.

Social ethics and traditions

The Australian Government website has general facts and figures about Australia, including an introduction to Australian social customs.

The Australian government encourages new residents to learn as much as they can about their new country, its heritage, language, customs, values and way of life, and to apply for Australian citizenship when they become eligible. Applicants are required to sign the Australian Values Statement when applying for selected visas. This requires applicants to confirm that they will respect the Australian way of life and obey the laws of Australia before being granted a visa.

All provisional, permanent and a small number of temporary visa applicants are required to have read or had explained to them information provided by the Australian government before signing the values statement. This information is contained in the Life in Australia book. For more information, see the Department of Immigration & Border Protection website.

On public holidays in Australia all banks and most businesses are closed. Some shops and businesses may open but with shorter hours than usual. On Christmas Day, Good Friday, New Year’s Day and on the morning of Anzac Day (25 April), almost all shops and businesses are closed.

For a full list of Australian public holidays, and school term dates, visit the Australian Government website.

In an emergency dial 000 from anywhere in Australia. If your problem is not urgent, look for the nearest police station in the White Pages telephone directory.

For general advice on visiting Australia, see the Tourism Australia website.

You can reduce the risk of losing your passport by getting a proof of age card. This is an accepted form of ID for many services like opening bank accounts or entering licensed premises. By getting a card soon after you arrive you will limit the need to carry your passport with you.

Discrimination on the basis of sex, disability, race, age or sexual orientation is illegal in Australia. Complaints about discrimination can be made to the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Leaving Australia

British citizens are entitled to come to live and work in the UK, but if you are returning to the UK after a long period overseas you are not automatically entitled to state benefits, a state retirement pension or assistance with higher education fees. To be eligible for any of the above, a British citizen must meet certain residence requirements and/or make the appropriate National Insurance contributions. See the International Pension Centre website for more information.

If you are returning to live or work in the UK after a period abroad, you will need to tell HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and sort out your tax affairs both in the UK and the country you are leaving.


This information is provided as a general guide and is based upon information provided to the High Commission by the relevant local authorities and may be subject to change at any time with little or no notice. The FCO and the British High Commission will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information. British nationals wishing to obtain any further information must contact the relevant local authority.

Please like us on facebook and follow us on twitter for important consular announcements and information affecting British nationals in Australia. In the event of a crisis, we will update you via these social media channels.

Published 3 January 2014