Opening a bank account and your finances

Australian currency is the only legal tender in Australia. When you first arrive, you can exchange foreign currency at exchange facilities located at international airports, banks and some hotels. Please note there are no exchange facilities at the Townsville airport. There are Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) at all Australian airports where you will usually be able to withdraw cash on arrival. Check with your banking institution in your home country about using your bank card internationally.

To help plan your budget and convert currency from your country of origin to Australian dollars, use a currency exchange calculator such as XE.

Opening an Australian Bank Account

It is recommended that you set up an Australian bank account soon after your arrival, particularly if you are going to be living in Cairns/Townsville for some time. There are many banking institutions in Australia which offer special student accounts. You can compare banks and the accounts they offer at Normal bank trading hours are 9:30am to 4:30pm Monday to Thursday, and 9:30am to 5:00pm on Friday. Some banks are open on Saturday mornings, but all banks are closed on Sundays and public holidays.

For further information about banking in Australia, visit one of the following banks: ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, Bank of Queensland, Westpac Bank, or National Bank of Australia.

Once you have chosen a bank and completed an application for a bank account, you need to complete an identity check to confirm your identity within 90 days of your application.

If you are completing the identity check:

  • Within 6 weeks of arriving in Australia: You need to show your passport, and provide your Australian residential address

  • Any later than 6 weeks after you arrive in Australia: You will need to provide 2 additional forms of identification, such as your driver's licence and birth certificate.

24 hour Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) are available throughout Australia for your convenience with terminals available at both campuses. Many department stores, supermarkets and specialist shops have Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale (EFTPOS) terminals where cash withdrawals can also be made in addition to purchasing goods.

Credit cards such as Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted for purchasing goods, as well as getting cash advances over the counter at banks and from many ATMs.

There is a bank on-campus in Townsville called Bank Australia located across from the Co-op Bookshop. Please visit their website for more information about the services Bank Australia offer.

Tuition fees and other costs

For information on tuition fees, other study expenses such as books and field trips, as well as details on the cost of living in Townsville and Cairns, visit Fees and Costs.


Many international students can find the responsibility of paying for rent, electricity, food, transport and other living costs difficult to manage. The best way to avoid falling into financial stress is to develop a budget, further information and tips on budgeting can be found at Understanding Money or ask your financial institution. The Learning Skills Centre also offers budgeting information and assistance online at Budgeting.


If you intend to work in Australia, you will need to apply for a Tax File Number. See Taxation and your Tax File Number for more information.