Pre-Departure and Arrival

Leaving home to live and study in a foreign country can be an exciting and challenging experience. Adelaide is an easy and relaxing place to live and we will assist you to settle into study at the University of South Australia and living in Adelaide.

Before you travel to Australia, you may like to refer to our pre-departure checklist to make sure you do everything you need to do before you leave home.

This page will assist you in your preparations and provide you with some useful information about your first few days in Adelaide.

You will need to organise your student visa and passport. You should receive a Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) form from the University. Once you have your CoE you will be able apply for your student visa. Check our visa requirements page for more information.

Make sure your passport is valid for the intended length of your study time in Australia. Should it expire during your stay, you will need to have it extended through your country's diplomatic mission in Australia, or else when you return home on holidays.

Make sure you organise travel insurance for the journey to Australia. It may also be useful to consider organising travel insurance for your first week in Australia. Your Overseas Student Health Cover will begin once you arrive in Australia.

Travel insurance will cover you for any difficulties you might encounter from the time you depart your home country to your arrival in Australia, such as lost luggage. Unlike your compulsory Overseas Student Health Cover, your travel insurance may (depending on the insurer and type of cover) provide you with cover for pre-existing medical conditions, but it is important to check this with your insurer.

  • Documentation of previous studies (if applying for status or credit).
  • Certified academic transcripts.
  • A character reference from a teacher or other official (to help you apply for long-term accommodation).
  • Identification such as a driving licence or credit card (to help you open a bank account).
  • Home country driving licence if you want to drive in South Australia. You will have to provide a translation of your licence into English, either in the form of an International Driving Permit or by arranging for a translation once you are here.
  • Important medical records (for example, if you have an ongoing medical condition).
  • Medication: If you take medication for an illness or condition you may need to bring a supply with you as it may not be readily available, or available at the same price, in Australia. You may need a certificate (in English or translated into English) from your doctor stating that the drugs have been prescribed. Check with immigration authorities: you must declare any drugs or medicines you bring into the country. Note that any prescription medication obtained in Australia must be prescribed by an Australian doctor.
  • Bilingual print dictionary (only print dictionaries are allowed in exams).
  • Spare spectacles/contact lenses.
  • Optional: Radio/MP3 player, camera, calculator, USB/thumb drive.
  • Optional: computer (as accompanied luggage). Prices for new laptops in Australia range from approximately A$1000 to A$5000. You are allowed to bring a laptop into Australia, provided Customs officials are satisfied it is for personal use and that you intend to take it with you when you return home. You are advised to get specified items insurance for your laptop in case it gets stolen or damaged.
  • Contact details for home and Australia in case of an emergency.
  • Your passport!

Australia has strict Quarantine laws. Visit the Biosecurity Australia website for information on what you are not allowed to bring into Australia. For example:

  • Items made from wood, plant and animal material must be declared upon arrival.
  • You are not allowed to bring in fresh food or egg products even in powder form into Australia, including dried or packet food.
  • You MUST declare ALL food items in your possession or risk an on-the-spot fine.

Adelaide has a diverse population, so products from most regions in the world are readily available. You can probably buy most of your favourite foods here instead of bringing them with you.

On arrival accommodation

You may prefer to book temporary accommodation and stay there for a short time until you are familiar with Adelaide. There are various options to choose from. Book early to avoid disappointment. Students commencing in February-March should note that Adelaide hosts a number of festivals and events and short term accommodation can be difficult to book.

Long term accommodation

You should start to arrange your accommodation as long before your arrival in Adelaide as possible. You are encouraged to attend the Accommodation Information workshop during Orientation.

New students find that establishing long-term accommodation is one of the more difficult tasks they face once they arrive. Our Accommodation services website has online information on student residences, real estate agents, tenants' rights and more. Please note that any links to real estate agents or residential colleges are independent of UniSA, so you will have to contact them directly.

You are strongly encouraged to obtain home contents insurance in case of damage, loss or theft or your possessions.

The landlord will insure the building where you live, but you will need to have contents insurance if you want to be covered in case:

  • you break something
  • you are burgled
  • there is a house fire

You will need to take out specified items insurance to cover portable items such as laptops, digital cameras and bicycles when taken outside the home.

Insurance premiums vary between companies, so you will need to shop around and compare the different options available. You should select the best policy for your needs. You can look for insurance companies in the Yellow Pages telephone directory or from the SA Government website. If you are sharing a house, a joint policy for the whole household may be cheaper than separate policies for each person but you will need to agree on the value of certain items and be sure that you have all of your individual possessions insured.

Money Exchange

All major Australian banks have branches located in the Adelaide Central Business District. All will be able to exchange foreign currencies and travellers cheques into Australian currency for a fee. You can also exchange foreign currency at:

Bank Accounts

To open a bank account, you will need at least your passport and other photographic identification. Find out more on our Money Considerations page.

Public transport

Useful resources to find locations in Adelaide and plan your travel include:

You can purchase metro tickets at the Adelaide Metro Info Centre, the Adelaide Railway Station and at most newsagents. These tickets are transferable between train, bus and tram. You will be able to use student concession tickets only once you have obtained a Student ID card.

The main Adelaide Metro Info Centre is located on the corner of King William Street and Currie Street, Adelaide is open 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm Saturday and 11am to 4pm Sunday (telephone: 1300 311 108).


If you have a valid overseas driving licence and are in Australia on a temporary visa, you can drive on that licence as long as it is in English or accompanied by an English translation. For information contact TransportSA on 13 10 84, or visit them at the EDS Centre Building, 108 North Terrace, Adelaide.

You should download a copy of the Driver's Handbook or alternatively purchase a copy for a small fee available from TransportSA or most newsagents.

If you are buying a used car, the Consumer and Business Services has some important advice. You can also pay for the Royal Automobile Association to inspect the car before you buy it (+618 8202 4600).

Remember: whether you are buying or renting a car, pay attention to your insurance policy. For example, if more than one person commits their funds to rent or buy a car make sure everyone who drives the vehicle has their name listed on the policy. Be aware that compulsory third party insurance is only third party personal insurance (included in the price for vehicle registration) and will not cover any damage to property or vehicles, either your own or the other party's.

Riding a bicycle

Adelaide is a great city to ride in as it is relatively flat and has an increasing number of bicycle lanes and pathways. Once you arrive in Adelaide, you can get a map showing the best cycling routes from TransportSA (108 North Terrace, Adelaide, telephone: 1800 018 313).

Remember that in South Australia it is compulsory by law to wear a helmet while riding. Failure to do so may result in an 'on the spot' fine by South Australian police.

In order to remain compliant with the conditions of your student visa, you are not allowed to work until you have commenced your classes and can work up to 40 hours per fortnight while your course is in session (excluding any work undertaken as a registered component of your course of study or training). You can work unlimited hours during mid-semester and end-of-year holidays.

Higher Degree Research (HDR) students

If you are a Higher Degree Research (HDR) student on a 574 visa you will be able to work an unlimited amount of hours once your program of study or course has commenced. However, the University's Research Degrees Committee recommends that full-time research degree students undertake paid employment for no more than 8 hours per week or for a total of the equivalent of 8 hours per week over a twelve month period. The hours of employment include marking and preparation associated with part-time teaching duties.

  • Research degree students will require the approval of the University through their supervisor and, where hours exceed the recommended 8 hours, approval must also be provided by the relevant Dean of Research.
  • HDR students shall notify the Graduate Research Centre (GRC) of any work undertaken and any change in employment details.
  • Employment cannot be grounds for an extension to scholarship or application to go overtime.
  • The University may not require HDR students to undertake employment at the institution.

Some scholarship holders may not be able to work during classes as a condition of their scholarship.

It is recommended that you do not work during your first six months of study to give yourself the best chance of adjusting to living in a new country and academic environment.

If you have any questions about working in Australia, please contact International Student Services on any UniSA campus for further information once you arrive in Adelaide.

Attend Orientation so you can meet other new international students and get help with enrolment, accommodation and adjusting to life in Adelaide.

You can also find valuable information at Education Adelaide and the South Australian Tourism Commission.

If you are a research student you should look through the Research degrees section of this website.

For more information about study and life in Adelaide visit these sites:

Should you require after-hours emergency assistance, please call the UniSA Security Services number: free call +61 8 1800 500 911.

Need further assistance?

Contact Campus Central

Your one-stop-shop for student services. UniSA general enquiries: 1300 301 703.