Welcome to Australians Living Abroad
Living and working overseas
At any one time there are about one million Australians living and working overseas. Whatever your reason for moving overseas, being properly prepared for your new environment can help you to make the transition less stressful and adapt faster to your new lifestyle.
This information provides Australians planning to live and work overseas with guidance and information about issues to consider. It should be read in conjunction with the Travelling well and Travel Smart: hints for Australian travellers publications.
When you travel or live abroad, you leave behind Australia’s support systems, emergency service capabilities and medical facilities. The Australian Government will do what it can to help Australians in difficulty overseas, but there are legal and practical limits to what can be done to assist travellers in other countries. You should have realistic expectations about this and read the Consular Services Charter, available on smartraveller.gov.au, before you go.
Before you go - be prepared
The better prepared you are, the easier and safer it will be for you when you arrive at your destination.
Even if you are going to live in a country that you are already familiar with, moving there will be less stressful if you take the time to do some research before you leave.
Find out about current local health issues and standards of medical care. Try to familiarise yourself with existing and recent employment conditions by talking to people who have worked in the country you are going to live in.
If you are planning to work in a non-English speaking country, you may also find it beneficial to undertake language training before leaving. Even ‘survival’ language skills can be helpful.
Make sure you have the necessary documentation, information and items you will need for the time of your residency overseas. Start with the latest travel advice for your destination at smartraveller.gov.au. This will give you information on the main risks you may face and some precautions you can take. Also check out the latest guide books, and organise comprehensive travel insurance. Make sure you register your details at smartraveller.gov.au before you leave, so you can be easily contacted in an emergency.
If you cannot afford travel insurance, you cannot afford to travel.
You are strongly advised to take out comprehensive travel insurance. If you already have employment in the country you will be living in, before you leave check whether you are covered by your employer. You should make sure you are covered for all medical expenses for injury or illness, as well as theft of valuables, damage to baggage and cancellations or interruptions to flight plans. It will save you worry and a possible financial burden. Medical costs overseas can be in the tens of thousands of dollars and many people have been burdened financially in paying these costs.
Shop around when choosing an insurance policy and make sure the cover provided suits your needs and is valid for the whole time you will be away. Always read the Product Disclosure Statement carefully and ensure that you understand exactly what your travel insurance covers.
You may be able to obtain travel insurance for yourself and your travelling partner under the one policy. Cover, however, varies from policy to policy. Be sure to confirm all details with your insurance provider and receive written confirmation of your policy.
If you are living overseas and extend your stay, do not forget to extend your travel insurance before it expires to make sure you are never without insurance. You may need to consider local insurance to cover your needs instead of long-term travel insurance.
If medical cover is offered as part of your employment agreement make sure you have entirely understood the terms of the insurance policy.
The Australian Government will not pay for your medical treatment overseas or medical evacuation to Australia or a third country. Expatriates without appropriate insurance are personally liable for covering any medical and associated costs they incur.
When an Australian citizen dies abroad, the nearest Australian mission should be notified as soon as possible. The costs for local burial or transporting a body back to Australia can be quite expensive. Make sure it is included in the provisions of your employment agreement or take insurance to cover this cost before you leave Australia. Otherwise, in the case of your death, your relative or next-of-kin must bear these expenses.
For further information get a copy of the publication Death overseas, available from smartraveller.gov.au.
Passports, visas and work permits
Your passport is your most important travel document. All Australian citizens must have a valid passport before leaving Australia and maintain a valid passport while overseas. All children, including newborn infants, must have their own passport. More information on Australian passports can be found at www.passports.gov.au or by calling the Australian Passport Information Service on 131 232 in Australia.
Be aware that countries have different passport validity requirements. Make sure your passport has at least six months validity from your planned date of return to Australia. Carry extra passport photos just in case your passport is lost or stolen and you need to replace it while away.
If you are planning to work overseas, early preparation is essential. Well in advance of leaving Australia, you should find out what rules and regulations apply to obtain a residency or working permit or a working visa by contacting the foreign mission of the country where you want to work.
Remember also to check the visa requirements of countries you might be transiting. Contact details can be found in the White Pages or online at www.dfat.gov.au/embassies.html.
Some countries require your prospective employer to sponsor you before your work permit or visa can be issued. Find out all the conditions on this before you leave Australia.
Failing to obtain the appropriate working visa or permit before you start your new job may be a criminal act locally and result in your detention and/or removal from the country.
If you intend to depart or re-enter the country you are working in, enquire about a multiple-entry visa.
The APEC Business Travel Card provides streamlined entry to several regional countries for Australians who travel frequently in the Asia-Pacific region for trade and investment. Visit www.immi.gov.au for details.