The Australian Working Holiday Visa: Explained

April 26th: This time last year, I was on a plane to Sydney, Australia. I’ve currently been busily cleaning out my apartment to move out in a few days and I couldn’t help but come across all the souvenirs, pictures and other things that brings back all of the memories of my time there.

I’m not sure of the exact reason why I chose to go to Australia (sunny weather! endless beaches! surfing! great barrier reef!), but a friend had shown me a youtube video of a guy who backpacked across Australia for a year, and it looked so cool I knew I wanted to do it as well. For some reason I can’t find the English version of the video, but here’s the German version of it: Ein Jahr Australien

For anyone thinking about going to Australia on a holiday working visa, I definitely recommend it. While I never stayed the entire year because of uni, my time there was definitely some of the best months of my life. Before I could go and party endlessly for four months (I lead quite the life I know), there was of course all the “responsibilities” such as getting a visa, applying for a tax file number, getting an Australian phone number, and bank account, etc.

I compiled the following list for anyone embarking on this awesome journey.


Getting the visa:
I know there’s a lot of different companies that help you with the holiday working visa application, but I found it to be the cheapest to apply directly from their government website. The application itself I believe cost $220 AUD, and my application was approved the next day, so no need to apply months in advance.

Getting a tax file number:
One of the best parts of this visa is that it allows you to work and essentially pay for your trip as you go. While getting a job in Australia isn’t the easiest thing to do on this visa, it is not impossible if you keep submitting resumes everywhere! One thing you will want to do is get a tax file number. Without it, you will be taxed a hefty 49%! With this tax file number, you will be taxed at a lower rate of 29%. This is something you want to apply and have right away when you reach Australia. They require an Australian address to have this number be sent to you, but most hostels will let you use their address. It takes about 5 business days for it to be delivered, so also make sure you stay at that hostel long enough! I stayed at a hostel in Sydney called Westend Backpackers and they were really helpful! (they also throw good parties).

Getting an Australian phone number:
Having a phone number is really important and while I was researching for my trip online, I came across the website for VIP Backpackers. It’s a discount card that costs $40 AUD, and comes with a free Optus sim card, and 100 km free with Greyhound. I ordered this card before my trip, and after getting my phone unlocked, I was able to already have an Australian phone number that I could give to all my friends before leaving Canada. Optus is also one of the major phone providers in Australia and their reception is pretty good. The 100 km Greyhound pass was also awesome which I used for trips between Byron Bay, Surfer’s Paradise and Brisbane. The VIP Backpackers card also allows you to save $1-3 per night at affiliated hostels such as the Base hostel chain, which I definitely recommend…they’re generally really clean and have awesome bars!

Greyhound is the most popular coach since it’s international, but Premier is also great and a lot cheaper. It pretty much caters to backpackers, and they have awesome passes such as the Brisbane to Cairns pass which I’ve purchased. You’ll definitely make a lot of friends before reaching your destination….that’s all I have to say! If you have an ISIC (International Student Identity Card) then I would also recommend taking the Country Link trains. ISIC cards get you 50% off the tickets, which ends up being incredibly cheap. Very little backpackers on the trains also means some quality time with the locals and catching up on some sleep in between hostels. up a bank account:
I was really worried in the beginning about taking large amounts of money to Australia and opening an account when I arrived. Luckily, I discovered that there are a lot of major banks in Australia that cater to travelers. The bank I used was ANZ and through their website, I was able to complete and mail in an application to open a bank account while I was still in Canada. The best part, was that I was able to list my home address rather than an Australian address, and have all my money wired to the bank before I left home! There’s ANZ branches everywhere in Australia, and the customer service is amazing.



  1. April 26, 2011 / 8:13 am

    What do you mean, you can't recall the exact reason you came to OZ! I guess it's so awesome, there are too MANY reasons to list!!

    Some great tips here – hope anyone reading them is keen to come downunder!!

  2. May 8, 2011 / 11:55 pm

    ah yes, the moving to Oz checklist.

    moved to Melbourne last year from Amsterdam to be with my beau. now on the forever-long waiting list for a partner visa!

    the working holiday visa (or work and holiday, depending on which country you're coming from), is a great option for travellers that know they only want a year abroad, and aren't looking for long-term work commitments.

    but what i'd recommend is that anyone who wants to come here and stay for a while should take some extra time to apply for a skilled migration, partner (if that's the reason for coming), or residency visa from the start. coming here on a working holiday and then transferring visas is not only $$ but time consuming and can throw work situations out of flux.

    just my two cents on the matter. otherwise, can't imagine a better place to wait around for 🙂

  3. September 9, 2011 / 8:16 pm

    Thanks for this! My boyfriend and I are moving to Australia in 6 weeks. Great tips about transport options! I am going to look into that VIP card for sure!

    Jade Johnston –

  4. Anonymous
    November 22, 2011 / 1:33 pm

    Nice read!
    I'm also going to Australia for 4 months with a working holiday visa; however, I plan to travel a lot. Did you have trouble finding a job in such a short period of time?

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