Planning your arrival

Leaving home to live and study in Australia is exciting. But it is important to plan for your move to Canberra.

Once you’re accepted into a Canberra institution and you’ve received confirmation of your student visa , it’s time to plan for your arrival.

Start by reading this checklist from Study in Australia.

Your first week in Canberra

There are ways you can make your arrival in Canberra go as smoothly as possible, and we’re here to help.

Airport Welcome Desk

You will feel welcome as soon as you arrive. Our team of Student Ambassadors are on hand at Canberra airport to greet you. You’ll find the Welcome Desk on the ground floor in the arrival’s hall. The desk is staffed during peak arrival periods each semester.

You’ll be given a welcome pack with information to help you settle in quickly. The Australian National University and University of Canberra offer free transfer services from the airport.

Know the emergency number

It’s important to know who to call if you need police, fire or ambulance services. In Australia, the emergency number is triple zero, 000.

Open a bank account

It’s essential to open a bank account in Australia. Most banks will let you do this before you arrive. If you prefer to wait until you’re here, you can visit your local branch in person.

Your account will be used to:

  • deposit funds, including your wages if you choose to work
  • pay your bills
  • manage everyday expenses such as accommodation, textbooks, food and entertainment

You’ll need to provide your personal details and passport within 6 weeks of your arrival. After this time, you can still open an account, but you’ll have to provide more identification documents.

Further information on banking and money is available from Study in Australia.

Set up phone and internet

Once you arrive, you’ll want to stay connected to family and friends. Check this guide on what to know about phone and internet in Australia.

Canberra has many phone and internet services available. It’s a good idea to research and compare options before you arrive.

You can access free wireless internet (wi-fi) around parts of Canberra including:

  • the CBD
  • public venues
  • major town centres
  • Canberra Airport
  • some public buses and the light rail

Public libraries, community centres and your campus may offer free wi-fi too. You’ll find many cafes around Canberra offer internet access, either for free or when you buy something else.

Arrange your MyWay card to catch public transport

Travel on buses and the light rail is discounted for students in Canberra. Make sure you carry your student ID when using public transport. You can get an even bigger discount with a student MyWay card. You can apply for it online.

Health cover and insurance

All international students must buy Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) in Australia. This is an Australian Government requirement. Insurance must cover the length of your visa.

Your OSHC will help you pay for any medical or hospital care you may need here. It will also help pay for most prescription medicines. It gives you ambulance cover in emergencies.

Your OSHC covers COVID-19 related illnesses. More information can be found here.

You will need OSHC for yourself and any family member travelling with you. It must be arranged before you arrive in Australia.

OSHC does not cover secondary medical services such as:

  • dental
  • optical
  • physiotherapy
  • non-essential prescription medicines

There are other types of insurance available. These are not essential. You will find further information in the Study in Australia guide.

Living costs

Before you move here, it’s important to know the average living costs in Australia. You may find the cost of living in Canberra is different from your own country.

You can use this online calculator to work out approximately what you’ll spend.

Stock your fridge

You’ll find large shopping centres and malls in the city and in each town centre. Groceries and fresh produce can also be found at smaller local stores around the suburbs. You can order from the larger supermarkets online and have your groceries delivered to your door.

Settling in at your campus

There are several things you can do to ensure you feel at home in Canberra quickly. The fastest way to settle in is to explore the city, meet new people and get involved in activities.

Read about being a student in Canberra

You’ll find helpful information in the Canberra Student Guide. It’s written by local students, with international students in mind. You can pick up a hard copy on campus.

Visit Canberra provide useful brochures, maps and apps. Find out about Canberra’s:

  • events
  • attractions
  • food
  • entertainment
Explore Canberra’s diverse foodie scene

Orientation Week

Most institutions hold Orientation Week, also known as O-Week, for new students at the start of each semester. O-Week helps you learn how to get the most out of your institution and study experience. It’s also the perfect time to take a tour of the facilities, make friends and ease into campus life before classes start.

O-Week typically includes an introduction to:

  • extracurricular activities
  • support services
  • social events

Student support services

If you ever need help, you’ll find a lot of support available at your campus and in Canberra generally. Reach out to people who can make your study experience easier. You’ll find support on a range of topics, including:

  • language
  • academic concerns
  • mental health
  • employment
  • religion
  • disability

Check with your institution for specific activities, groups and student support available.

Related Pages

Working in Canberra

We have the lowest unemployment rate in Australia. If you need part-time or casual work while you study, you’ll have plenty of options.

Read more

Living in Canberra

Our modern and convenient city offers clean and green open spaces, along with vibrant entertainment options. See why QS rates us in the top 25 Best Student Cities in the world.

Read more

Student Visas

The type of visa you’ll need will depend on what you are planning to study, how long you will be in Australia and other conditions.

Read more

Interested in studying in Canberra?

Contact the Study Canberra team for information and advice