Your guide to Australia

Are you a Civil Engineer, a Surveyor or a Construction Professional who is moving to Australia?

If you have answered YES, you have come to the right place!

At ConsultANZ we understand how time-consuming and stressful moving to another country can be.

Many of our team members, as well as Civil Engineers we have placed, have relocated to Australia from abroad (UK, South Africa, Fiji, New Zealand, Poland, Ireland to name a few).

Therefore, we would like to share with you some important information that will come handy when organizing your move and will help you settle into your new life Down Under much quicker.

Watch this space as we will be adding more information on a regular basis.

Applying for a Visa

Because Civil Engineers and Surveyors are in demand in Australia, these occupations are listed on the Medium and Long-Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) and qualify for a variety of visas such as the Skilled Independent 189, the Skilled Nominated 190, the Skilled Regional Nominated 489 or the Skilled Regional Sponsored 489 visas.

You can find the full list of eligible skilled occupations here.

The first and most crucial step for overseas engineers is finding out if you qualify for a working visa and what sort of visa you can get. You can find all necessary information here

There are many types of work visas such as the 417 (Working Holiday Visa), 462 (Work and Holiday Visa), 476 (Recognized Graduate Visa), 189 (Permanent Resident Visa), and many other regional visas which allow you to live and work in Australia.

Once you have found out which visa is right for you (and in the case of the 189 visa you have been invited to apply through SkillSelect), it’s time to gather all the paperwork. Depending on the visa type and the country of your origin, you might have to take an English test (IELTS) and have your qualifications officially recognized. Engineers Australia provides all necessary information on assessments on their website:

Working Holiday Visa 417

What is a 417 visa, who is eligible for one, and what are the benefits of getting one?

The 417 visa is a Working Holiday Visa. It is a temporary visa allowing you to work and holiday in Australia for up to 12 months. You might be eligible for the 417 Visa if you are over 18 years old and not yet 31 years old.

The working holiday visa will give you the opportunity, to gain career and life experience while living and working in Australia. This form of visa provides an opportunity to potentially work for top tier engineering companies on Australia’s largest infrastructure projects.

What are the costs and time frames associated with getting a Working Holiday Visa?

The 417 visa is one of the more cost-effective visa options for entering Australia. The cost of the visa can change from time to time however currently a 417 visa will cost less than $300 and if your application is successful it should take no longer than a month to process.

Once you have your Working Holiday Visa (Subclass 417) you have 12 months to activate it. The visa activates once you land and enter Australia with the visa. It is then valid for the following 12 Months.

Am I guaranteed to get the 417 visa? If I don’t get one after applying what costs are involved?

No, you are not guaranteed a 417 visa. To start you are required to meet the minimum eligibility requirements.

  • have not previously entered Australia on a Work and Holiday
  • hold a valid passport from a country involved in the Working Holiday Program with Australia
  • have turned 18 years of age but have not yet turned 31
  • have enough money to support yourself on a working holiday (about AUD 5000)
  • have enough money to buy a return or onward travel ticket at the end of your stay
  • will not be accompanied by dependent children at any time during your stay.

Visa applications are not refundable but should you be refused a visa the immigration department will tell you why the visa was refused and explain your review rights (if any).

What are the chances of gaining work in the civil engineering field once I arrive in Australia?

Currently, the Australian civil infrastructure/Construction market is booming.

If you have relevant industry experience and have a reasonable degree of flexibility on location and project type, then the likelihood of obtaining work once you are in Australia is very high.

Once I arrive and gain my initial work placement, what happens if I want to stay long term?

Many companies are offering longer-term sponsorship to those whose Working Holiday Visas are expiring.

If you impress during your initial employment on the 417 visas then there are most certainly opportunities for sponsorship beyond the Working Holiday Visa period.

Read now: How to make the most of your Working Holiday Visa 417

Read now:  What’s the difference between a Working Holiday Visa 417 and a Work Visa 462

Getting your skills recognized

If you are considering obtaining an Australian work visa, you might have already heard of Engineers Australia.

Engineers Australia (EA) is the professional body for engineers of various kinds and performs Skills Assessments for migration purposes.

Everyone applying for a visa within the General Skilled Migration Program needs to obtain a positive Skills Assessment. If you are an Engineer, you must go through Engineers Australia.

Some countries have agreements with Engineers Australia (Sydney, Dublin and Washington Accords) and engineering degrees from such countries are considered equivalent to Australian degrees, making the Skills Assessment process a straight-forward one.

Read more here

How we can help you

ConsultANZ are in the business of finding opportunities for engineers, surveyors and other construction professionals, so we make it our business to get you working!

We have an in-depth knowledge of the Australian civil engineering market and have relationships with many of the companies delivering major projects.

If you are interested in coming to Australia on a Working Holiday Visa, we can advise on potential opportunities that would be available to you based on your experience and preferences.

We can also provide you with a checklist of some of the key things you will need to do in the first weeks after arrival.

Please note that we are unable to consider your application if you do not have a valid work visa.

Education system in Australia

Public Schools (State Schools)

The majority of children in Australia attend public schools also known as state schools.

State schools are open and accessible to expats, but if you do not hold a PR (Permanent Resident) visa you will most likely need to pay a fee.

Children attend the public school that corresponds with their catchment zone. Where you live will most likely determine which school your child is going to attend. Expat parents should consider the choice of accommodation carefully as proof of residency is required (such as electricity bills).

Some public schools will consider out-of-catchment enrolments, but schools can only accept such students if

  • there is sufficient spare capacity after reserving places for students who move into the catchment during the year
  • after taking into account the school’s projected future enrolment growth.

Out-of-catchment students applying for enrolment at the school are placed on a waiting list, assessed in order of receipt.

Private and Independent Schools

Non-government (private) schools can be divided into two groups.

Religion-based schools are operated by the Anglican, Lutheran, and Roman Catholic denominations as well as a number of other church or parachurch organisations. By far the most numerous are Catholic schools.

The rest are known as independent schools, which are largely Protestant grammar schools.

Private school fees can vary from under $100 per month to $2000 and upwards depending on the student’s year level and the school’s size.

Non-government school uniforms tend to be more expensive than those for government schools, and more strictly enforced.

You can compare and find all necessary information about Australian schools at My School portal

Tax System in Australia

Tax File Number (TFN)

Australia’s financial year runs from the 1st of July to the 30th of June.

The Australian Government’s principal revenue collection agency is called the Australian Taxation Office or ATO.

Every person who wants to work in Australia should apply for a Tax File Number (TFN).

Your tax file number (TFN) is your personal reference number in the tax and super systems.

Your TFN is an important part of your tax and super records as well as your identity.

Your TFN is yours for life. You keep the same TFN even if you change your name, change jobs, move interstate or go overseas.

You don’t have to have a TFN, but without one, you pay more tax (around 47% tax rate). You also won’t be able to apply for government benefits, lodge your tax return electronically or get an Australian business number (ABN).

You can apply for TFN online. You should get this number within 28 days after application.

Personal Income Tax

Income tax on personal income is a progressive tax.

The rates for resident individual taxpayers is different to non-resident taxpayers.

Income tax is withheld from wages and salaries by means of a withholding tax system known as Pay-as-you-go (PAYG).

An employee must provide their Tax File Number (TFN) when starting a job so the employer can withhold tax from their pay.

For employees with only a single job, the level of taxation at the end of the year is close to the amount due, before deductions are applied.

Discrepancies and deduction amounts are declared in the annual income tax return and will be part of the refund which follows after annual assessment or alternatively reduce the tax debt that may be payable after assessment.

Tax rates

Tax brackets 2020-2021 for Residents

Taxable income Tax on this income
0 – $18,200 Nil
$18,201 – $45,000 19c for each $1 over $18,200
$45,001 – $120,000 $5,092 plus 32.5c for each $1 over $45,000
$120,001 – $180,000 $29,467 plus 37c for each $1 over $120,000
$180,001 and over $51,667 plus 45c for each $1 over $180,000

These tables do not include the 2% Medicare levy.

Australian income tax rates for 2019/2020 (foreign residents)

Income thresholds Tax payable on this income
$0 – $120,000 32.5c for each $1 over $0
$90,001 – $180,000 $39,00 + 37c for each $1 over $120,000
$180,000 + $61,200 + 45c for each $1 over $180,000

Driving in Australia

In Australia, laws and driving regulations differ from state to state.

Some states require you to carry an International Licence with your current foreign licence.

Other states request you carry your current foreign driver’s licence together with a formal translation of your licence into English.

In most Australian states and territories (the exception is the Northern Territory), you are able to drive on an overseas licence as long as it is current.

You can only drive vehicles which your overseas licence authorises you to drive and you must drive according to any conditions on your overseas licence.

Roadside Assistance

Telephone; 13 11 11, (24hrs Australia wide)

Emergency Assistance

000 is the number for emergency services in Australia.  They can connect you to Police, Ambulance or the Fire Brigade.  You should only contact 000 in an emergency.

Keep left

Australians drive on the left side.


It is compulsory to carry your licence when driving in Australia. If the licence is not written in English, an International Driving Permit (IDP) or an English translation must also be carried with your licence.

Seat Belts

Is compulsory for all vehicle occupants to wear seat belts (where fitted). Children under the age 7 must be in a child restraint appropriate for the child’s size and weight.

Road Rules and Signs

You should familiarise yourself with the road signs in Australia and make sure you obey them.

Australian Road Signs

Alcohol and Drugs

It is an offence to drive or be in charge of a vehicle if you have a Blood Alcohol Concentration is 0.05% or more. If you hold a probationary or provisional driver’s licence, your blood alcohol level must be 0.00% at all times. Driving after taking drugs that affect your ability to drive is illegal and penalties are severe. Drug&AlcoholPolicy.

Using Mobile Phones while driving

It is an offence for drivers to use mobile phones while the vehicle is moving and will attract a fine and, in some States, demerit points.

Fair Work Australia

Fair Work Australia is Australia’s government body for information about workplace rights and obligations.

Healthcare in Australia


Medicare is Australia’s government-run healthcare system and gives you access to:

  • free or subsidised treatment by doctors, specialists, optometrists, dentists and some other health practitioners
  • free treatment and accommodation as a public (Medicare) patient in a public hospital
  • 75% of the Medicare Schedule fee for services and procedures if you are a private patient in a public or private hospital (not including hospital accommodation and items such as theatre fees and medicines).

If you are eligible for Medicare, you will receive a green plastic Medicare card (green and gold) by post within two to three weeks after applying.

The card will show your Medicare number and the names of all dependants entitled to use the service.

The card is valid for five years, but if you change your address or other details change (e.g. your family increases in size) you will need to replace it.

If you receive any treatment before you obtain your card, you must pay in full and claim a refund.

Bulk Billing

Bulk billing is where a doctor (or a healthcare professional such as an optometrist) doesn’t charge the patient but bills Medicare directly.

If your doctor bulk bills, you don’t need to pay anything.  Not all health professional bulk bill or only bulk-bill certain patients, for example, pensioners or children under a specific age. Sometimes you need to pay a gap between what the Medicare will cover and what the Doctor charges. It’s always a good idea to check this before making an appointment.

Private Health Insurance

Many Australians choose to have private health insurance these days, especially those who are high-income to avoid paying an additional tax MLS.  The base income threshold (under which you are not liable to pay the MLS) is $90,000 for singles and $180,000 for families.

There are a number of private health insurance schemes in Australia offering different coverage options. BUPA and Medibank are the biggest providers of private health insurance.

Infrastructure boom in Australia

Australia’s population is expected to reach 30 million by 2029 and there is no doubt that this growth will put pressure on infrastructure, housing, transport, service delivery, and the environment.

The 10-year infrastructure package has recently been increased from $75 billion to $100 billion.

Demand for public transport in Brisbane is increasing with employment growth in the CBD and population growth in outer suburbs. It is predicted that the number of bus passengers is going to increase by 58% to 581,000 passengers boarding a bus each day by 2031.

Sydney’s CBD rail network is near capacity at peak periods, and some key routes are expected to reach capacity in the early 2020s. By 2036, demand is expected to exceed network capacity.

In Melbourne congestion on the M80 is increasing average travel times in the area and without additional investment, the annual cost of congestion along the corridor is projected to grow from $86 million in 2011 to $161 million in 2031.

Read more about Australia’s major infrastructure projects here

If you are a Civil Engineer, a Construction Professional or a Surveyor who would like to be part of the infrastructure boom in Australia or New Zealand, register your CV here or search our jobs.

ConsultANZ Recruitment  –  We consult our Clients on their hiring needs and our Candidates on their career prospects. 

Disclaimer and Exclusion of Liability

Information provided on this web site “Site” by ConsultANZ, is intended for reference only. The information contained herein is designed solely to provide guidance to the user and is not intended to be a substitute for the user seeking personalized professional advice based on specific factual situations.

This Site may contain references to certain laws and regulations which may change over time and should be interpreted only in light of particular circumstances. As such, information on this Site does NOT constitute professional migration or legal advice and should not be interpreted as such.

The user accepts the information as is and assumes all responsibility for the use of such information. ConsultANZ does not warrant that this Site, various services provided through this Site, and any information, software or other material downloaded from this Site, will be uninterrupted, error-free, omission-free or free of viruses or other harmful components.

While visa applicants do not have to use a migration agent to lodge a visa application with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, many individuals applying for an Australian visa may prefer to enlist the services of a trusted professional.

The Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA) keeps an up-to-date list of registered migration agents.