Moving to Australia from the US

Introduction to Australia

Many people say that Australia today is like the U.S. 50 years ago: full of enthusiasm and opportunity. With stunning nature, cultural backgrounds and big-city draws in places like Sydney and Melbourne, Australia has been attracting Americans for decades. If you want a fresh start in the sun, moving Down Under can provide it.

Despite the many similarities between American and Aussie culture, there are still a number of noteworthy differences. Like all countries in the southern hemisphere, Australia’s seasons are opposite to those in the U.S. December to February is summer; June to August is winter. Aussies also drive on the opposite side of the road.


Australia experiences temperate weather for most of the year, but due to the size of the continent, the climate varies. The northern states usually experience warm weather much of the time, while in the southern states it’s a bit cooler. The continent as a whole is considered one of the driest on Earth, with an average annual rainfall of less than 24 inches.


Australia’s national dollar is called the Australian dollar, so you’ll have to convert from U.S. dollars before making the move Down Under.

Documents required

When entering the country, you will have to present the following documents to officers in immigration clearance:

  • a valid passport or other acceptable travel document
  • a valid visa or authority to enter Australia (including electronic visas)
  • a completed and signed Incoming Passenger Card, including a health and character declaration.

Does My Driver’s license work there?

In order to drive in Australia, take note that laws and driving regulations differ from state to state. Some states require that you carry an international license in addition to your current foreign license. As a general rule, visitors and recent expats are able to drive in Australia on a valid U.S. driver’s license that covers the same vehicle class for a maximum of three months after arriving in Australia. That means you’ll have to get a new Australian license after the three-month period.

Prohibited Items

Do not bring the following items when entering Australia:

  • Firearms and ammunition
  • Non-medicinal drugs
  • Wildlife
  • Plants
  • Domestic animals and animal products
  • Food items
  • Vaccines and viruses

Schools in Australia

Like the U.S., children must maintain their schooling until age 16. There are a variety of schools to choose from, such as government-run schools, faith-based institutions and houses of learning based on philosophies. Australia has some of the best school systems in the world with small class sizes - there is a 30-student maximum - and advanced learning facilities.  

Activities and Attractions in Australia

From the Great Barrier Reef to the Sydney Opera House to the wineries , Australia is a world-class hotspot of nature and culture. In the most populated city, Sydney, you’ll find the Sydney Opera House, one of the most iconic buildings in the country, located near the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Make your way to Canberra’s museums and galleries for the most impressive collection of educational and cultural showpieces in the country.

Nature lovers flock to the array of national parks, including Kakadu, Great Sandy and Uluru-Kata Tjuta, which pack a mixture of indigenous flora and fauna along with ancient Aboriginal culture. You can find the largest monolith rock in the world, Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, in the Northern Territory. Thousands of miles north lies Cairns, the main entry point for the Great Barrier Reef, which is famously the longest coral reef in the world. Meanwhile, the Great Ocean Road provides a scenic coastal drive along the southern tip of the country.

Of course, nothing says relaxation quite like Australia’s wineries. The Barossa, Hunter and Margaret River regions stand out as some of the finest. Get the pulse on shopping and eating at Mindil Beach Sunset Market in Darwin, or embrace the nightlife of Brisbane, Perth and Melbourne.

Moving to Australia

The flight to Australia might be long, but the move doesn’t have to be tough with the help of North American Van Lines. NAVL provides access with more than 380 international agents, full-service packing, full assembly and disassembly of electronics as well as a range of other services. On top of getting your passport and visa ready, movers can kick back and let this Australian moving company do the heavy lifting. Take advantage of northAmerican’s self-pack materials and vehicle transportation if you don’t want to leave your car or truck behind.

The flight from the U.S. to Australia lasts between 14 to 22 hours, depending on the city you’re coming from. The major international airports are Melbourne International Airport, Sydney Kingsford-Smith International Airport, Adelaide Airport, Perth International Airport and Darwin International Airport.