Emigrating to Australia from the UK
Thinking of emigrating to Australia? We can see why, what with its stunning beaches, abundant sunshine, and laid-back lifestyle. Thousands have already made the move, chasing the promise that Australia offers.
In fact, there are 1.2 million UK citizens currently calling Australia home. With just 25.6 million people living in Australia in total, the odds of bumping into a fellow Brit are high.
It’s not quite as easy to emigrate to Australia nowadays though, so we’ve put this guide together to give you all the information you’ll need.
If you’re already ready to move, you’ll want to organise your shipping. If you fill in a few details on our simple webform, our trusted suppliers will then get in touch with custom quotes specific to your needs.
Florence Falls at Litchfield in northern Australia
What's on this page?
Can you emigrate to Australia?
As a British citizen, it is entirely possible to emigrate to Australia, but the country’s immigration system is notoriously difficult.
Australia uses a points-based immigration system, which awards points according to the following criteria:
- Work experience
- English proficiency
- State sponsorship
- Whether or not you have a relative living in Australia already
Each of the above categories are broken down into subcategories. For example, work experience is broken down into the amount of time you’ve spent working either in Australia or abroad, with points awarded accordingly (more time working in Australia = more points).
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What are your options?
There are numerous visas you can apply for when looking to emigrate to Australia. How you can actually qualify for these visas varies considerably, so it’s worth gaining a proper understanding of how they work.
Australian work visas
Australia offers a wide range of work visas that people can apply for. These work visas are by some margin the most common method of emigrating to Australia, and are used by many people from the UK. Here’s a quick breakdown of a few of the most popular working visas:
Working holiday visa: This visa is broken down into two subcategories, the Working Holiday visa (subclass 417) and the Work and Holiday visa (subclass 462). They sound incredibly similar, and in effect they are – the only difference is that if you’re from certain countries, you can only apply for one of the two (for example, US citizens cannot apply for the 462 option).
The working holiday visa is particularly popular for backpackers, who often find themselves picking fruit to supplement their stay in Australia. In order to qualify for the working holiday visa, you must be between the ages of 18 and 30. However, if you’re a French, Canadian, or Irish citizen, the age limit goes up to 35.
Business visas: There are a lot of different business visa categories, so we won’t go into detail on all of them here. But generally, you can apply for different types of business visas depending on what suits you best. If you’re an investor, you can apply for up to four specific types of visas.
Marrying an Australian
One way to emigrate to Australia is to marry either an Australian citizen, a permanent resident, or an eligible New Zealand citizen. You can start the process via the Prospective Marriage visa (subclass 130), which will allow you to remain in Australia on the condition that you marry your partner within nine months. The marriage also must be officially registered, which requires you to:
- Have an authorised marriage celebrant conduct the ceremony. A celebrant is someone who performs and carries out formal ceremonies.
- Register your marriage at the registering authority in the place where you were married.
- Fill in an application for a marriage certificate with the registering authority at the place you were married.
The Prospective Marriage visa is also often called the Fiancé Visa.
Permanent residency visa
Your main option for emigrating to Australia indefinitely is to obtain a permanent residency visa. With this, you’ll be allowed to stay in Australia for any length of time. Of course, getting a permanent residency visa isn’t easy; you’ll need to first obtain a five-year 155 visa.
With this, you’ll be able to leave and enter Australia freely, with no pressure to stay in the country or meet any other obligations when the visa is active. Once this visa expires however, you will need to either reapply for one, or have already been granted a permanent residency visa. You’ll also need to make sure that you’re not outside of the country when the visa expires, because that would make things a lot more complicated.
What qualifications do you need to emigrate to Australia?
In order to qualify for most Australian visas, you must score at least 65 points in its immigration system, and be under the age of 45 (unless specifically applying for certain retiree, business, work, or investor visas).
Meeting different criteria will earn you a varying amount of points – for example, having eight or more years of work experience outside Australia is 15 points, while having a PhD is 20 points.
Other criteria include:
- Having proficiency in English (10 points)
- Being between 25 and 33 years old (30 points)
- Having a trade qualification (10 points)
The city of Melbourne, southeastern Australia
How much money do you need to emigrate to Australia?
In order to emigrate to Australia, you’re going to want enough money to pay for all the things you’ll need to help you move. On top of that, certain visas require that you have a certain amount of cash in the bank, or assets.
A retirement visa, for example, requires the applicant to have at least AU$500,000 in assets if they’re moving to a rural area. This jumps up to AU$750,000 for people retiring anywhere else (in a city, town, etc.).
As for what you’ll need for the move itself, it’s recommended that you set aside at least £10,000 to £15,000. This will cover most (if not all) of the costs involved in the move, which include things like flights, medical insurance, and money transfers.
You could always get a head start on one of the most important parts of your move – shipping your belongings. To do so, check out our article on international shipping costs to get an idea of how much you’re likely to pay.
The visas themselves can cost a pretty penny too. When applying for an Australian visa, applicants are required to pay the application fee in two instalments. These instalments are completed at different stages of the application process.
In the first instalment, you’ll be expected to pay a fee to cover the following four elements:
- Base application fee
- Additional applicant charge
- Subsequent temporary application charge (only for specific visas)
- Non-internet application charge (only in specific cases).
The second instalment amount depends on the type of visa, as some visas are fully covered by the fees paid in the first instalment.
Total costs for visas vary considerably, but the average is around AUD$4,750. Some more significant visas, such as Premium Investor visa, can cost up to AUD$9,455.
Is there an age limit for emigrating to Australia?
People over the age of 50 cannot qualify to emigrate to Australia under the General Skilled Migration programme. They can however apply for certain business visas – but this isn’t ideal for those wanting to stay in Australia long term. A business visa only allows three 90-day stays in a year, and you must have six months or more remaining on your passport by the time it expires.
The business visas someone over 50 can apply for are as follows:
- Business Innovation visa: This is for people who want to establish, develop, or manage a business (either new or existing) in Australia.
- Investor Stream visa: People over 50 can apply for an investor visa if they plan to invest at least AU$1.5 million in an Australian state or territory and maintain business and investment activity in Australia.
- Significant Investor visa: A person can apply for a Significant Investor visa if they intent to invest AU$5 million or more into complying Australian investments
People over the age of 50 can also apply for certain retiree visas, which you can read about below.
Can a retired person emigrate to Australia?
There are currently around 230,000 retired British expats calling Australia home, all of whom claim their state pension from the Australian government. If you want to join them, you’ll first need to apply for a visa.
This is one of the most challenging aspects of choosing to retire in Australia, because there are a lot of potential hurdles you’ll need to overcome. Unfortunately, the Australian government has closed its Investor Retirement visa, which was a route taken by many retirees in the past.
Some options do still exist, such as the Parent, Age Dependent Resident, Remaining Relative, and Carer Relative visas. Here’s what each of these options require:
Parent visa: This visa allows parents to live in Australia if their child is an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident, or eligible New Zealand citizen.
Age Dependent Resident visa: If an elderly person relies on an Australian citizen for financial support, they can use the Age Dependent Resident visa to stay in Australia indefinitely. The application must be made whilst in Australia.
Remaining Relative visa: People whose only relatives live in Australia can apply for the Remaining Relative visa, which (if successful) will allow them to reside in Australia indefinitely.
Carer Relative visa: This visa allows a person to live in Australia if they’re the carer of a relative who has Australian citizenship.
Things to do before emigrating to Australia
Once you’ve sorted out all the tricky visa issues, it’s time to start preparing for your move! There’s a number of things to remember, so to make it all a little easier we’ve created a handy moving checklist. You can download the checklist and refer to it whenever you need to – take a look:
Make sure you're well prepared before you move
Perhaps the most important part is shipping your belongings. Instead of you spending hours searching for and comparing shipping companies and quotes, our simple webform will help you find a solution in no time.
All you need to do is pop in a few details, and our trusted suppliers will get back to you with bespoke quotes. Or, if you’d like to know more about what life in Australia is like, take a look at our moving to Australia guide.