Getting an Australian Tax File Number

One of the first things you should do when arriving in Australia is probably something you weren't expecting and might never have even heard of - get yourself an Australian tax file number (TFN). The Australian Tax File Number is your key to escaping from being taxed at the highest rate of 46% and the sooner you get it, the better.

The Aussie TFN is similar to the UK's National Insurance, the Canadian Social Insurance and the American Social Security Numbers. You are issued only one in your lifetime and it stays with you no matter what. So if you move between Australian states, change your name, change jobs or even leave the country and return years later, you still use the same TFN.

Getting a TFN is actually very easy but it can take anywhere up to 28 days (although they seem to take about 10 days on average) and that's why you will want to get it taken care of as soon as possible. You don't want to get stuck in the 46% tax bracket for any longer than you have to!

TFN applications are made to the Australian Tax Office (ATO) either online or in person. If you are in Sydney you can head to the office located in Sydney's Central Business District at 2 Lang Street. When you walk in there should be someone who will be able to direct you to the correct form you will need and then you hand it in at a counter. To apply online you still need to be in Australia but it makes sense if getting to Sydney's CBD is a hassle or if you want to avoid queues and speed up he process. To apply for your Australian Tax File Number online (and for more information), visit the Australian Taxation Office website. The online TFN application process takes about 20 minutes and you will need your passport number, a valid work visa and an address.

If you have just arrived in Australia, chances are you won't have a permanent place to stay just yet. Most hostels will allow you to have mail sent to their address so if you are staying in a hostel, have a chat with the staff and see if this is a possibility. Hostel staff are often travellers themselves and have already gone through the process. Hostels see so many new arrivals, especially in Sydney, so this should be no problem at all.

Once you have your TFN you will be in the clear to work without being taxed at some crazy high rate. Make it the first thing you do, get it out of the way and then worry about the other annoying things like opening an Australian bank account and actually finding a job in Sydney.

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