Pre-departure guide for international students

Moving to Australia for university is an exciting step, and there are a number of things you must do before you leave your home country. We’ve got some advice to help plan your pre-departure, so the transition will be less stressful, and you will give yourself the best opportunity to arrive safely in Australia and settle into your new home.

International student stories

Why I chose Melbourne

Feeling excited? Soon you'll be able to enjoy study and lfie in Melbourne just like these international students.

1. Book your flight

Once your student visa has been issued, you can book your flight to Melbourne. Melbourne (Tullamarine) Airport is the main airport where most international and domestic flights arrive. It’s a 25-minute drive from Melbourne's city centre. 

Melbourne’s second major airport is Avalon Airport with some domestic and international flights. It’s a 45-minute drive from the city centre. 

Make sure you arrive in Melbourne with plenty of time to settle into your new city, find suitable accommodation and familiarise yourself with our campus before your classes start.  

If you are under 18 years of age, you are only permitted to enter Australia on the date specified on your Confirmation of Appropriate Accommodation and Welfare (CAAW) form.

Arriving earlier than two weeks before your classes start?

If you plan to arrive more than two weeks prior to your course start date, be sure to notify your Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) provider to arrange extra cover. Otherwise, you may not be covered for the full duration of your time in Australia.

Accessing medical and hospital treatment in Australia without OSHC can be very expensive and could leave you and your family in a difficult financial situation.

Learn more about OSHC

2. Purchase travel insurance

We recommend that you purchase travel insurance to cover any mishaps like lost luggage or cancelled flights. Your travel insurance should cover you for two or three days after you arrive in Australia just in case you experience delays. You can purchase this through your travel agency, airline or a travel insurance company.

3. Book your free airport pick-up 

If you’re arriving in Melbourne for the first time to commence your study at Swinburne, you can book a free transfer from Melbourne (Tullamarine) Airport to your accommodation. Please note that we do not currently offer this service from Avalon Airport.

You will need to book the airport transfer five working days before your arrival. If your booking is successful, you will receive a confirmation email from our service provider Hughes. If you are ineligible, you will need to arrange your own transports.

The Hughes sedan carries a maximum of two check-in sized suitcases and two pieces of carry-on sized luggage.  

Any family or friends travelling with you who wish to use the transfer service must book directly with Hughes. 

Make a booking

If you are under 18 years of age and have been provided a Confirmation of Appropriate Accommodation and Welfare (CAAW) form, you must use Hughes airport transfer service.  

To arrange this, you or your education agent must email your flight arrival details and accommodation address in Melbourne to our Under-18 International Student Advisor at They will arrange the airport transfer for you and confirm the details with you.

If you need to change or cancel your booking (e.g. if you change to another flight or your flight is cancelled), please make changes via Hughes booking portal.

For last-minute changes or other urgent matters, please contact Hughes directly or contact Swinburne's International Student Advisory and Support on +61 3 9214 6741 during business hours.

Flight arrival times are monitored by Hughes, who will account for changes accordingly. There is no need to contact them if your flight is delayed.

4. Arrange accommodation 

We recommend booking accommodation in Melbourne before you leave your home country – even if it’s just to cover the first few days after you arrive. Student accommodation in Melbourne is usually in high demand, so you’ll need to research your options and decide what’s best for you based on needs and budget. Swinburne also offers students a range of convenient and safe on-campus accommodation options.

5. Attend a pre-departure webinar

Before the start of Semesters 1 and 2, Swinburne runs pre-departure webinars for international students. These online sessions are run by our International Student Advisory and Support (ISA&S) team to give you lots of valuable information on settling into your life and studies in Melbourne. 

We will email the instructions on how to join these pre-departure webinars to you closer to the start date of your course. You can also contact our ISA&S team at for more details.

6. Organise important documentation

Prepare a folder to carry your important documents with you to Australia, including:

  • valid passport – make sure your passport is valid for at least six months after you arrive in Australia

  • other personal identification documents, such as birth certificate, driver’s licence and ID card

  • student visa

  • offer letter and Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) from Swinburne

  • OSHC certificate

  • receipts of payments, such as tuition fees, OSHC and bank statements

  • original or certified copies of your academic transcripts and qualifications, as well as detailed syllabus if exemptions or conditions are included in your offer letter

  • evidence of immunisations, vaccinations, relevant medical records and prescriptions

  • emergency contact details  – these should include your family back home, personal contacts in Australia, as well as your embassy, accommodation, education agent (if relevant) and Swinburne

  • instructions on where to meet your Hughes driver at the airport

It’s best to keep these documents in your carry-on luggage and be sure to save copies of them in case you lose the originals.

7. Prepare personal belongings 

Before you fly, it’s a good idea to check your baggage allowance. If you need extra allowance, purchase it in advance to avoid paying expensive fees at the airport.


Australia has strict quarantine laws that prohibit the importation of a variety of fresh, dried and pre-packaged food, along with other items. Most food brought into the country by visitors has to be disposed of in quarantine bins at the airport.


Remember to bring evidence of any prescriptions with you. There are restrictions on which prescription medicines you can bring into Australia. For more information, visit the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration website.


There are money exchange counters in all major Australian airports and cities, but we recommended that you bring some Australian currency in cash when you arrive. If you are carrying more than A$10,000 (or equivalent in foreign currency), you must declare it to customs officials when you enter the country.

You may also want to bring a credit card from home, especially in emergencies. The most common credit cards used in Australia are Visa and MasterCard. To learn more, please see money, living costs and banking in Australia.


Melbourne weather can vary, especially during spring and autumn. Expect warm and cool, rainy and dry, windy and calm all in one day!

Season Months Average daily temperatures
Spring September – November 12°–22° Celcius / 53°–72° Fahrenheit
Summer December – February 28°–32° Celcius / 82°–90° Fahrenheit
Autumn March – May 12°–20° Celcius / 53°–68° Fahrenheit
Winter June – August 10°–15° Celcius / 50°–59° Fahrenheit

You may also wish to pack:

  • Australian power adapter

  • bath towel, bed sheets, pillowcase

  • electronics (e.g. micro-recorder for your lectures)

  • spare contact lenses, prescription glasses and your optical prescription

  • sportswear and/or sports equipment

  • toiletries

Quarantine, customs and goods to declare

All international passengers will need to pass Australian customs before entering the country. Australia has strict border controls in place, which means you may not be able to bring certain items into the country. 

If you are carrying any restricted or quarantine items, including food, plant material, animal products, medication, wooden items or currency (of A$10,000 or foreign equivalent), you must declare them. On-the-spot fines and heavy penalties can apply if you fail to declare any quarantine items.

For a guide on what you can (and can't) bring into Australia, visit the Australian Border Force and the Australian Department of Agriculture.

8. Enrol in your units and set up your class timetable

Enrolment opens early before the semester starts, so make a note in your calendar now! You can enrol online and set up your class timetable before you arrive in Australia, so you know your weekly schedule in advance.

9. Plan your orientation activities

Orientation is held at our Hawthorn campus before classes starting to help prepare you for life and study at Swinburne. You can join lots of fun activities, get useful information and meet other new students – domestic and international. Add key orientation activities to your diary, so you don’t miss out!

Before you head to the airport

While the Australian Government no longer requires people travelling to Australia to have a COVID-19 test before travel, please make sure to check:

Australia Awards Students

If you're an Australia Awards Student, Student Contact Officers are available to support you with any issues you might have during your time at Swinburne.

Learn more about our range of arrival and support services for Australia Awards Students, including what to do before before arriving in Australia.

Find out more

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