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WHV in Australia: How to get ready before departure?

Planning a WHV in Australia? Do you have some questions about how to get ready before departure? What steps have to be done to be well-prepared for that big adventure?

This blog post is for you!

As you may know, I spent 2 years in Australia via a WHV (Working Holiday Visa) between 2016 and 2018. This trip was my first ‘big’ adventure and the one I prepared best beforehand.

A short article to summarize what to do before departure seems to be a good idea. 

Which visa to choose according to your objectives in Australia? How to manage the administrative preparation of a WHV? What steps to take on arrival? I will explain everything to you!

Australian Dream

Going to the other side of the world for a year (or more) is definitely a dream come true. But before you can live your “Australian Dream”, you will need a little bit of organisation (and admin paperwork to fill in) to prepare this trip. 

But I assure you, it is not insurmountable and Australia is well worth a small effort of organisation.

Which visas available to go to Australia?

First of all, you need to define your project in order to choose the visa that will best suit your needs.

In Australia, the three most suitable types of visa for travellers are:

– The “Tourist visa” which allow you to visit, study (up to 3 months) and do volunteer work. There are different categories of tourist visa such as the eVisitor or Tourist Stream Visa. This visa is very convenient if you do NOT wish to work there and is FREE (except for the Tourist Stream Visa – AUD$140).

– The “Student Visa,” as its name suggests, is intended for students. If you want to study English in Australia or any other course, this is the right visa for you. This visa is valid for the duration of the course and costs AUD$575. As a bonus, you can work (up to 20 hours per week) to help pay for your studies.

– The “Working Holiday visa”, the famous WHV or PVT in French. This visa allows you to travel AND work during your year in Australia. This visa costs AUD$450. 

So it is with this visa that I went to Australia and I will explain it in more detail below.

WHV: What’s that?

The WHV (Working Holiday Visa) is a program created a few years ago to encourage young people to travel abroad. It is aimed at anyone aged between 18 and 30 years old who wants to go and live abroad for one year.

This visa is very practical if you want to travel to discover the country without ruining your savings. Indeed, with this visa you will be allowed to work in Australia (within certain restrictions) and you can even extend it for another year if you work in certain sectors in need. 

The conditions to obtain a WHVisa :

– have a valid passport that is valid also 6 months after you return.

– be between 18 and 35 years old.

– be in good health and have a good travel insurance

– have enough money in your account (AUD $5000) to live in Australia. 

– You must be outside of Australia to make the application.

To apply for a WHV, nothing could be easier. The whole process is done online on the Australian government website. You have to fill in your personal information and answer a few questions (state of health, professional situation, criminal record, etc.).

It usually take just a few minutes to a few days to obtain the result.

Attention

The government is likely to ask you for additional medical examinations depending on your profile, and this will therefore extend the time it takes to obtain your visa. 

In which case are the additional medical exams requested? 

Generally, if you have visited a country “at risk of tuberculosis” according to the Australian government. A list of safe countries can be founded on their website. You can find it here.

If you have visited a country not on this list within the last 5 years, you will have to do the additional exams.

This is what happened to me. Indeed, having lived in Cameroon for 6 months before leaving for Australia, I had to do the mandatory medical examinations. These are at your own expense and you have to do them with a doctor approved by the Australian government.

Remember to make the appointment as soon as you receive the request as there are very few doctors available and you only have 28 days to complete the exams.

The delays for obtaining an appointment are long (1 month or more) so once again it is best to make an appointment in advance.

5 steps to follow to get ready for your WHV in Australia

With your visa in your pocket, you are ready to start the rest of the preparations for your big departure to the land of kangaroos. 

Subscribe to travel insurance

Whether for a trip of a few months or a year, travel insurance is MANDATORY. An accident can happen quickly and you should know that in Australia, medical costs are very high.

To learn more about which insurance to choose, it’s here!

Applying for an international permit

And yes, when you think Australia, you think long roads as far as the eye can see. And you can already see yourself at the wheel of your van or 4×4 driving along these beautiful Australian roads. But not without your international driving license!

To drive abroad, it is mandatory. The application is free of charge (in France) and you can apply for it directly online on the Public Service website. In addition, it is valid for 3 years. 

Please note: it take a long time to obtain your international driving license (1 month or more) so once again it is best to apply in advance. #organisationiskey

Buy plane tickets

As prices are quite fluctuating, I advise you to look at flight comparators such as SkyScanner on a regular basis. 

As for the choice of a Return or One-Way ticket, it is a personal choice.

I had opted for a fairly advantageous return ticket, as I was convinced that I would only be staying in Australia for one year. It finally turned out that I would stay for a second year. So I took advantage of this return ticket to go back to France for a few weeks. After that, I left with a one-way ticket and that’s what I usually do now (it all depends on the offers I found on too)

Luggage: backpack or suitcase for a year in Australia? 

It’s still a personal choice and it also depends on how you want to travel. I’ve opted for a backpack. The symbol of the backpacker par excellence, right? 

Having planned to mainly wander in a van, the Forclaz 60L backpack from Decathlon seemed the best option. 

Women’s Backpack – 60L

Important: Be careful not to bring TOO many things with you. Australia is a country where the weather is generally good so 1 jumper and 1 rain coat will be enough. The same goes for shoes: If you to do a road trip, a pair of flip-flop and a pair of hiking boots will be enough, believe me! 

Join Facebook groups of travellers in Australia

If you have a few questions before the big departure, Facebook groups are a good way to get information quickly. 

And during your trip, they will allow you to have lots of good tips and meet other travellers who also live in Australia. 

Some FB groups:

The French in Sydney (There are groups for almost every city)

Steps on arrival

After setting foot on Australian soil for the first time, you will still need to finalise a few things before you can start your adventure for good.

Book accommodation for the first few days

Going to a new country is an adventure and it can be a bit stressful the first few days. After a 24-hour flight to Australia, you will need a place to rest and do the first steps from there.

The most common solution used by travellers is the hostel, nicknamed “backpackers”. This is a good way to get to know each other and get tips/good plans from other travellers as soon as you arrive.

Open a bank account

If you choose the WHV option and plan to stay in Australia for one year, you will definitely need an Australian bank account. Even more so if you want to work in order to receive your salary.

Before you leave, check with your bank if they have partners or subsidiaries in Australia such as WESTPAC, a partner of BNP Paribas. 

Don’t hesitate to apply for your account online before you leave, all you have to do is go to a branch to finalise the process on arrival.

Transfer your money from your home country to Australia

Once your bank account is activated, you can transfer your money from your home country to Australia via an online platform to avoid the exorbitant fees that banks offer.

It’s very simple and in just a few clicks your transfer will be made. 

I have chosen the TransferWise platform and so far I have not been disappointed.

Ask for your TFN number to work

In order to work in Australia, it is essential that you have Tax File Number (TFN) which you will need to pass on to your employer(s). This number is required to work in Australia. 

You can only apply for it online once you are in Australia via the ATO website.

Buy a sim card

If you wish to work in Australia or to create a network, a local number will be required. Many employers will contact you directly by phone. 

The two main operators are Telstra and Optus, as Telstra has much better coverage. If you want to go on a road trip in the Australian bush or desert, Telstra is probably the best option.

Bonus: With the Telstra Air option, you can have unlimited wifi! Download the Telstra Air app and find Telstra Wi-Fi hotspots available all over Australia. (Very handy for rainy days in a van)


Now you know what you need to do before leaving for Australia. You just have to put them into practice or share this blog post with your friend preparing their departure. 🙂

Need more information? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment

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