Relocation checklist

Once your visa has been granted, there is a lot to think about and plan before you move to Canberra. To help you through the migration process, we’ve put together a checklist of things to do before your departure with useful links for further information. Keep in mind that this will vary according to your personal circumstances and is not a definitive list.

18 months prior


12 months prior

Get your administration organised

  • Check that all travellers have a valid passport. You should make copies of the front page of all passports and store this separately including digitally. If you have updated your passport(s) following the grant of your visa inform the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) of the new number(s).
  • Create a folder of important documents you will need. Scan documents and store them on a USB stick or cloud storage file to ensure you have an electronic copy of everything.

Plan for your departure

  • If you intend to sell your property, begin preparing it for sale, and research real estate agents.
  • Let your children’s schools of your plans to relocate. Request copies of all important documents such as school reports.
  • Research airfare quotes and arrange tickets for all travellers.
  • Look at purchasing your travel insurance. By doing this early you may be covered if a personal event requires you to cancel or delay your trip.
  • If you are bringing pets or belongings, research Australia’s customs and quarantine requirements.

6 months prior

Plan for your move

  • Go through your house and determine which of your items you want to:
    • Carry with you on the plane
    • Send as airfreight or unaccompanied baggage
    • Ship
    • Store
    • Sell
  • It is easy to buy second-hand furniture and kitchen appliances in Canberra, so consider whether you actually need to pack or ship certain things, or buy them after your arrival.
  • If you are bring household items, source quotes from relocation agents or removals firms. Check that these quotes are based on similar shipping volumes and services (e.g. “door to door” or “door to port”). Make sure they are appropriately accredited.
  • Arrange insurance for items being stored and shipped. This can be through the storage firm/removalist or third party insurers. If your items will be 'self packed' make sure this is covered.
  • Get a current value estimate for the items you will be transporting. Take photos of the valuables, particularly those that you will be shipping.
  • Sell or donate unwanted furniture and household goods.
  • If you are renting, notify your landlord of your plans to relocate and leave the property.

Take care of personal matters

  • Contact your accountant, solicitor etc to obtain advice from them. Provide them with details to get in contact with you in Australia.
  • Let your employer know of your intentions to move to Australia as soon as possible.
  • Request credit references from your bank and other lenders. Look at closing an accounts you no longer use.
  • Organise your superannuation or pension documents and ensure you have up to date statements showing balances. Check to see if these can be transferred to Australia.

2 months prior

Plan for your arrival

  • Pack and ship items you plan to take to Australia
  • If you plan on renting accommodation in Canberra, obtain rental references and budget for at least 6-8 weeks rent as most rental properties require four weeks deposit as well as monthly payments in advance.
  • Research and book temporary accommodation in Canberra.
  • Look at transport options and how you plan to get around Canberra in the short-term.
  • Make sure your national driving license is up to date or apply for an International Driving Permit. If your national driving license is not in English consider getting a translation. You will need either of these to drive a vehicle in Canberra for the first three months. After that, you will need to apply for an ACT Drivers License. Check whether you are from a country exempt from the practical driving test and the road rules knowledge test.
  • Contact the schools or childcare providers you are considering to set up appointment on arrival to view/meet.  You must live in the Priority Enrolment Areas (PEA) to register your children at ACT Public Schools.
  • Book your pets into quarantine service and boarding kennels in Canberra if necessary.
  • Set up a bank account in Australia and forward some living funds so that you’re not relying on debit/credit cards. Most Australian banks will allow you to do this.
  • Look into the process for applying for an Australian Tax File Number and registering with Medicare. Make sure you have relevant documents required to set these up.

Take care of health matters

  • Check if you, your family and your pets need to have any vaccinations and when you need to have them by. Make sure you have a record of these.
  • Ask your doctors, vet and dentist for copies of yours, your families and your pets’ medical records. Include your medical and optical prescriptions, and immunisation records.
  • Check your medication is up to date and that it is available in Australia. If you are bringing it into Australia you may need to obtain a letter from your doctor to accompany it.

Start the job search process

  • Update your Curriculum Vitae/Resume including employer references.
  • Register with recruitment agencies and websites and start applying for positions. Follow up by phone if possible.
  • Contact potential employers in Canberra and notify them of your interest and expected arrival time. Arrange a telephone or Skype interview if needed.
  • Confirm your departure date with removalists.

1 month prior

Get ready to go:

  • Start to pack up your house (what has not been previously shipped). Make sure you leaving and essential items that you will need for the next few weeks.
  • Confirm your travel bookings.
  • Cancel direct debits coming from your account.
  • Prepare a list of people and businesss that you should notify of your change of address. If possible, provide a forwarding address. 
  • Arrange for utilities such as gas, electricity, water and telephone to be discontinued when you move. You will need to supply a forwarding address for the final statement.
  • Redirect your mail.
  • If your visa was ACT nominated, contact the Welcome to Canberra team to arrange a meeting for when you arrive in Canberra.

Organise your insurances:

  • Arrange for insurances such as home, car and health to be cancelled when you move.
  • Review your life insurance to check if it's valid in Australia.
  • Ask your insurance companies to provide you with a no claim certificate, or letter, giving details of your claim history. This can reduce premiums in Australia substantially.
  • Check your travel insurance details.

2 weeks prior

  • Put all important documents in a single file. This should incude copies of your passport, drivers licence, insurance details, birth and marriage certificates, mortgage and bank statements. Make sure you have digital copies of these documents.
  • Confirm temporary accommodation booking for when you arrive.
  • Obtain some Australian dollars and/or travellers’ cheques.

1 week prior

  • Confirm your airport transfer.
  • Pack the remainder of your items. Be sure to check the weigh of you suitcases and check your airline allows this amount.
  •  Make sure you have your travel documents with you.