Welcome to Australia Handbook

Welcome to Australia Handbook Image | East Coast Tours Australia

Everything International Travellers Need To Know Before Coming To Australia!

So you’re coming to Australia for an East Coast adventure? Firstly, excellent choice! There really are few other places so perfect to make such dreamy memories that are usually reserved only for movies and stories from our parents about the “good old days.” 

And, with our comprehensive, step-by-step guide on preparing, arriving and organising your travels to Australia, rest assured we’ve got you covered. From Visas to COVID-19, and packing to managing your money overseas, focus on the good stuff while on your East Coast Tour, knowing that our travel experts guide you through the nitty-gritty!

The Ultimate Backpacker Guide  

What to do before you leave

Person packing bags and booking flights


First things first: dust off that passport and make sure it’s up to date! It can take a while for you to apply for and receive your passport, so make sure you leave at least a month for this process. To renew or apply for a passport, head to your country’s official online passport office or website for more information. 


It is crucial that international visitors check that they are eligible for a Visa before travelling to Australia, and apply for the relevant type. Some longer-term Visas may take longer to be approved than others, so give yourself ample time before travelling to do so. There are an array of Visas available to international travellers, all depending on your length of stay, work/study arrangements, the purpose of your visit and nationality. 

For those visiting for tourism purposes, your likely Visa picks will be a Visitor Visa (600) or an eVisitor Visa (651). If you’re planning on making some cash and gaining experience in Australia through working, you will probably be looking at a Working Holiday Visa (417) or a Work and Holiday Visa (462). The best way to figure out which Visa you need is through the Australian Government Immigration and Citizenship website

Money / Travel Card

For international travellers coming to Australia with the intention of holidaying, the best way to access your money while on your adventure is likely through a travel money card. Available from most banks, a travel money card helps avoid those nasty ATM and withdrawal fees with a general fixed rate for withdrawals and payments. If you are looking to stay longer and/or work in Australia, check out our guide to opening a bank account in Australia.

Plan your East Coast adventure

With our easy, flexible and personalised itinerary builder, planning your next East Coast adventure has never been easier. Before you leave for Australia, we recommend locking in a tailored package deal so you know where you want to head to first, where you'll be staying and a rough return date… that is if you plan on coming back!

Book your flights

Once you know more about what your East Coast trip will look like, it’s time to book those flights! Whether you’re booking a return flight based on the length of your Aussie adventure or just want a one-way to see where the magic of down-under can take you, book your flights in advance so you have at least two weeks to organise yourself before your East Coast experience.

Australian Healthcare

While it may not be the first thought when planning your international adventure, being covered for any health issues while abroad is very important. Australia’s healthcare system, Medicare, is available to some select travellers whose countries have reciprocal health care agreements. We recommend applying for Medicare before travel if this service is available to you, as it covers medically necessary care out of the hospital, medically necessary care as a public patient in a public hospital and some PBS prescription medicines at a discounted rate. Please note that this cover does not extend to all services such as private dental, some surgeries, mental health and some medications, so it is recommended that you also look into a separate insurance policy if you require coverage for these things. 

Whether you are eligible to access Medicare or not, we highly recommend you look into insurance to avoid potential lofty hospital, GP and specialist fees during your travels. Make sure you consider what higher-risk activities you may want to undertake during your adventures, such as water activities (e.g. diving, snorkelling, speed boating, etc.) and skydiving and make sure your selected policy covers these. 

Travel Insurance 

Before travelling to Australia, and we cannot stress this enough, organise yourself a comprehensive travel insurance policy. As they say, hope for the best and plan for the worst! And, if the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that disruptions to travel can come at the most unexpected of times.

When choosing an insurance policy, read thoroughly through your options regarding coverage for medical expenses, repatriation, cancellations and lost or stolen belongings. However, one of the most important insurances you need when travelling to Australia at the moment is coverage for COVID-19 related changes. For example, if you test positive for COVID-19 on your pre-flight PCR, you would need coverage for the cost of your rescheduled flight and any potential quarantine accommodation. Not all insurance providers offer this coverage in their policies, so choose carefully. 

COVID-19 requirements

These COVID-19 travel requirements are subject to change, so always check the Australian Government website to read about the utmost current requirements for entering Australia.

From 6 July 2022, travellers entering or leaving Australia will no longer need to provide proof they’ve had two doses of an approved vaccine. This means that international travel is open again, with no exemptions required or strings attached (woohoo!). However, make sure you check the most recent international travel requirements before embarking on your trip through the Australian Government Health website as public health announcements are changing constantly. 

  • Vaccination documentation 

Before you jet off, it’s crucial to look into your airline’s requirements for any documents you will need to present before flying. As a rule of thumb, we recommend printing and carrying your immunisation history, as well as proof of your COVID-19 vaccination. Alternatively, if you have medical reasons preventing you from receiving your COVID-19 vaccine, print and carry your official exemption during travel at all times. Having these documents digitally is also encouraged.

  • Digital Passenger Declaration (DPD)

Travellers are no longer required to complete a Digital Passenger Declaration (DPD) before entering Australia.

  • Negative PCR COVID-19 result 

Travellers coming to Australia are no longer required to must provide evidence of a negative PCR test result. However, all incoming travellers will need to comply with the testing and quarantine requirements of the state or territory of their arrival, so make sure you check. And, as always, if you're feeling symptomatic of COVID-19, stay home and get tested! 

  • Mask mandates 

At the moment, masks are no longer required to be worn in Australia when in an aircraft, during your entire flight and on public transport. Nevertheless, don’t forget your mask in your carry-on luggage when in transit... it's always handy to have!

Pack your bags!

Now all the basics are covered, it’s time to pack your bags! Make sure that you’re prepared for the sunny days, beachy life and abundant trails found in Australia’s wondrous belly, with a bag full of all the right gear. Whether you plan on packing light for a backpacker-style adventure or are heading to Australia to enjoy the divine tropical lifestyle with a suitcase of personal luxuries, check out our perfect packing guide!  

Unpacked hiking pack, what to bring to Australia

What to do when you arrive

Group of four travellers with big backpacks

Welcome to Australia! Oh, how good it is to welcome international visitors with open arms again! If you’re geographically lost, groggy and jetlagged, breathe easy as we guide you through everything you need to do upon your arrival so you feel connected and sorted like a local.

Sim card 

Sometime in your first couple of days in Queensland, grab a sim card and use it to replace the one currently in your phone. Available from most service stations, supermarkets, post offices and tech stores such as JB Hi-Fi, Officeworks and provider stores themselves. Telstra as a provider has the best coverage, so go with them if you want reception whilst visiting the most remote East Coast destinations. But, if you’re looking for a cheaper option, brands such as Amaysim, Boost and Optus are good choices. If your phone from overseas isn’t unlocked to international providers, you can get a cheap “burner” phone from most tech stores and supermarkets. 

Welcome to Queensland

  • Leaving the airport

Arrive at either Brisbane Airport or Gold Coast Airport. Use our handy guides on getting around from Brisbane Airport and getting around from Gold Coast Airport to arrive at your accommodation and ditch your bags! 

  • QLD Travelcard 

Pick up a Go-card from most service stations, post offices and news agencies (see Go-card retailers here) during your first-day errands, and don’t forget to show your student ID if you have one for cheaper fares, every time. Make sure you load your shiny new Go-card with $10 or $20 to ensure you can travel easily around the cities and towns of Queensland. This can be done online, in-store or at major stations. Busses in QLD no longer allow travellers to buy paper tickets on board, so a Go-card is more than just a handy and affordable option for getting around; it’s quite necessary! Ride cheaply on trains, busses, CityCats and trams effortlessly with your Go-card… just don’t forget to tap off!

  • Driving in QLD 

You are permitted to drive in QLD with a valid overseas license, so long as it remains valid during your time in Australia. If your license isn’t written in English, you will need to carry an official English translation of the licence with you. If you are on a residential visa and have been living in Australia for over three months, you are required to carry an Australian driver's license.

Welcome to New South Wales! 

  • Leaving Sydney airport

As one of the most common arrival spots for international travellers, Sydney Airport is widely connected to public transport and ways to get into the city. Check out our guide on getting around from Sydney Airport so you can head into your accommodation and shower off that jetlag ASAP! 

  • NSW Travelcard 

Head down to your nearest Opal Card retailer (most service stations, news agencies and supermarkets). Covering most of the state’s public transport, your Opal Card will allow you to seamlessly get around Sydney’s bustling city. Tap on and off with easy access to metro, train, bus, ferry and light rail services all over New South Wales.

  • Driving in NSW

Alike to Queensland, driving in New South Wales is generally fine on your overseas license. As long as your license remains current, you carry a formal translation or International Driving Permit if required and you remain a temporary visitor (not a resident or residential visitor).

Welcome to Victoria!

  • Leaving the airport

Welcome to Victoria! You will likely land at Melbourne Airport, where vibrant city life and connected transport will make your stay a breeze. Check out our guide to getting around from Melbourne Airport and into the city and your accommodation to drop off your bags and get into the colourful culture of Melbourne. 

  • VIC Travelcard 

Grab a Myki card when you’re grabbing your sim card to make your travels around Victoria a cinch! Get around the city on trams, trains and busses easily, as well as head out to regional areas smoothly with this handy and far-reaching travel card. Show your concession or student card for discounts and don’t forget to load up your Myki card with some money before you start adventuring! 

  • Driving in VIC

As a temporary Visa holder, your overseas driver’s license is valid so long as it is written in English or you carry an official translation. Your overseas license will be okay for the entire length of your stay. If you hold a permanent visa, you can use your overseas license for six months before requiring a Victorian one.

Feet out the car window with a map of Australia

Welcome to Australia for Working Holidaymakers 

If you’re planning on coming to Australia for work or a working holiday, there are a few more things to organise before you start your down-under working experiences! 

Young person barista behind a coffee machine

Tax File Number (TFN)

To work in Australia you will need to have a Tax File Number (TFN). As the name suggests, your personal TFN is for tax purposes and will be requested by any legitimate employer. Apply for a TFN very simply on the Australian Tax Office website and learn more about Australian tax with our handy backpacker tax guide.

Australian Bank Account 

You will need to apply for an Aussie bank account if you plan to work in Australia. We recommend Commonwealth Bank Australia for ease. You will need to provide identification to open a bank account, such as your passport. If you’re an eager planner, you can even open an Australian bank account from overseas before you leave, and transfer funds before you get here for ultimate ease. As an added bonus to having a local bank account, you get to avoid pesky conversion and withdrawal fees common in travel cards linked back to your overseas accounts.

Applying For Jobs 

There is currently an abundance of jobs in the tourism and hospitality sectors as Australia’s borders open and welcome back international visitors! All that’s left to do is apply. Prepare a resume, and check out our many positions available in paradise.

Work in paradise, man sitting on a rock looking out at the ocean in a white hat, working on a laptop

Let the adventure begin! 

Congratulations you organised traveller you! It’s time to let the adventure begin as you embark on your personalised, flexible and thrilling East Coast Tour. Check out our East Coast Inspiration for some last-minute bucket list additions and our Traveller Tips to help you explore as a savvy Aussie would. Last but not least, happy travels! 

Woman standing at the reef with arms outstretched to the ocean

Don’t hesitate to reach out to our travel experts for any questions before or during your East Coast adventure. No question is too big or small. 

Live chat with a friendly local around the clock (whatever your timezone) or call us today! 

East Coast Tours acknowledges all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Owners of Country and recognises their continuing connection to land, sea, culture and community. We pay our respects to Elders past and present and extend that respect to all First Nations peoples.

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