Poms Down Under - Offering hints, tips and information on emigrating and settling in Australia
 

Frequently Asked Questions 

THESE ANSWERS & MUCH MORE CAN BE FOUND WITHIN OUR BOOK
DISCLAIMER: THIS SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN AS PROFESSIONAL ADVICE
(For further details please see our policies & statements section)

1. Can I open an Australian bank account before I arrive?
2. How do I get an Australian driving licence?
3. As a migrant, can I buy property when I arrive in Australia?
4. If I leave my investments overseas, will I have to pay Australian tax on the income?
5. What happens to my pension when I move to Australia?
6. How do I contact the Australian Taxation Office from outside Australia?
7. Are migrants eligible for the federal government's 'First homeowners grant'?
8. What about the UK State pension to which I have contributed before migrating?

 

Can I open an Australian bank account before I arrive?
It is now possible to open an Australian bank account before leaving the UK.

Here a couple of banks which can help:

 

Westpac Bank : Can help you organise your banking arrangements before you leave home, so that your funds are available when you arrive in Australia. It's one less thing to worry about.
Australians have been banking with Westpac since 1817, and provide the latest banking services and financial solutions.
Open an account from overseas and have your funds waiting for you when you arrive in Australia.

Commonwealth Bank. They have a Migrant Banking Services section dedicated to helping migrants to set up their banking requirements in Australia, the London branch of the Commonwealth Bank contact details are: (telephone number 020 7710 3990), and they be able to help you.

There are other Australian banks, which have similar facilities, which may also be able to help you. Check with your own bank to see if they have any links with any Australian banks.

We found the both migrant banking service was very useful. You can get your all your cash cards & account details upon arrive in Australia at your nominated branch, with any delay or form filling etc.
 Note: You will not be able to make withdrawals from your account until you arrive in Australia and have been fully identified. This precaution ensures the security of your money and complies with Australian law.

If you choose to open a bank account upon arrive in Australia, this is normally straightforward. You will need to satisfy the 100 points identification system they use, a passport and Australian driving licence are enough evidence to meet this requirement.

You will also have to provide a tax file number once you get one, this will ensure that any interest paid to you is not taxed before you receive it.


How do I get an Australian driving licence?
If you hold a full UK driver's licence, you are able to drive the class of motor vehicle (Not Heavy Vehicles or Buses) that you are authorised to drive under that licence for the life of that licence. This only applies if you are not an Australian citizen, or you have not been granted a permanent visa or a special category visa. Ie if you are just visiting.

If you are an Australian citizen, or permanent resident you are only authorised to drive in Australia under your foreign driver licence for a period of three months starting from:

When you take up residence in Australia.
or
When you were granted the permanent visa or special category visa.

So basically if you hold a current full UK car license you can apply for a drivers licence of the same class as your UK licence. Due to recent changes in the Australian licensing laws, UK license holders are now exempt from the practical driving test, but you will need to comply with the following:

Produce your valid foreign licence and supporting evidence of identity.

Provide evidence of residence; (Visa In Passport)

Complete an application, which includes a medical declaration

Pass an eyesight test or make a declaration (*)

Pass a Written Test, of approx 30 multiple-choice questions or you may not be requires to a test.(*)
Complete all the above within the stated timeframe

Note: (*) Each State or Territory does vary, please check.

Reminder: That in Australia, you generally have to carry your driving license (whether Australian or overseas) with you at all times. This is different from the UK.


As a migrant, can I buy property when I arrive in Australia?
It is dependant on your visa type. If you have a permanent residence visa then you can purchase property on the same terms as Australian citizens. Temporary residents and visitors normally have to get Foreign Investment Review Board approval to buy residential property. They can be found at: www.firb.gov.au


If I leave my investments overseas, will I have to pay Australian tax on the income?
Once you become a permanent resident in Australia, you will be liable for Australian tax on your worldwide income regardless of where you have it invested, most migrants do not realise this fact. To ensure you comply with the Australia's Foreign Investment Fund taxation regulations, all investments (including pension funds and insurance policies) located outside Australia should be declared.

Australia has agreements with many countries to avoid double taxation. This is to say you do not have to pay tax in both countries. However it is somewhat more complicated than that i.e. money earned in UK pounds will be taxed in the UK, and then the remainder is converted to Australian dollars & added to your Australian income & taxed at your marginal rate. This is a very tricky subject & it would pay to get professional tax advice- see our links page.


What happens to my pension when I move to Australia?
This is another tricky subject! Your 1st port of call is to check to see if can transfer your pension fund to Australia (both your home country and Australia must permit the transfer, In most cases you can.)

If the answer is yes then you have to comply with strict time limits to start the transfer at present you have to start official proceeding within six months of arriving in Australia (this is to avoid paying additional tax) With the way most pension funds, the work involved is complex so there is no way of completing this action within that six months but providing you have commenced official proceeding they are happy.

If you cannot transfer your pension into a Australian superannuation fund then you have to remember that when you retire the money from your pension could be subjected to Australian tax laws.

Australian pension (superannuation) & UK Pension Law is complex, so it is best to seek professional advice, before you leave the UK- see our links page.



How do I contact the Australian Taxation Office from outside Australia?
For general information their web site: www.ato.gov.au is pretty good. If you are trying to use the telephone then good luck, on the ATO website the phone numbers are '13' numbers that can be called at local rate from anywhere in Australia. These normally don't work when dialed from overseas. You could try the main ATO number in Canberra on +61 2 6216 1111 - this will be a semi automated service ie push the button for the right department, but hopefully you will get to speak to a real person at some point.


Are migrants eligible for the federal government's 'First homeowners grant'?
If you are buying a property for the first time you may be eligible for a $7000.00 first owners grant. Yes, they will give you $7000.00 towards buying your 1st home; this is a very nice incentive.

Who is eligible?
Even if you have owned a property in the UK provided this is your first property in Australia you will be entitled to the grant. Some other conditions which must be met are:

You, or a joint applicant, must be Australian citizen or a permanent resident.

You or your spouses have not previously owned interest in land in Australia that had a residence on it prior to 1 July 2000. (This includes investment homes)


What about the UK State pension to which I have contributed before migrating?

You can continue to contribute if you wish back to the UK at a very modest approx £106/year cost [if working], £350 approx if not working. This is a thoroughly recommended practice, for the Australian government does not have a similar scheme in Australia. Full details will be provided by British Pensions in Australia [BPiA] www.bpia.org.au. A link to BPiA is available from this website. Join Now !


Have any other questions? Contact us for an answer.

 We normally reply within a short time if you do hear from us, we do have a few emails bounce back so ensure you have sent us the correct email address. Check our bounced back list you may be on it ?

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