What to pack when moving to Australia

Every exciting journey begins with a less-than-exciting packing list. I half-excitedly, half-anxiously recall packing my bags in preparation for the flight, uncertain of what lay ahead, and I cannot emphasise enough how much smoother the journey to Newcastle will be if you do some planning before you pack.

Here’s a little guide to get you started – the Musts, Maybes and Don’ts of packing.

The Musts

These items can be split into two categories: administrative and personal.


  • Passport and student visa.
  • Letter of offer and electronic confirmation of enrolment (eCoE) – you will have received these via email.
  • Receipts of payment for tuition fees, health cover, etc.
  • Letter of scholarship award (if applicable – congratulations to those high achievers!).
  • Original or certified copies of your academic transcripts.
  • Supporting documents if you want credit for studies you have already completed.
  • Faculty-specific documents: healthcare students, for example, may require police checks and vaccination documentation. Have a look at what the faculty expects!


  • Clothing: Prepare for all seasons! I would recommend bringing at least one light jacket and a thicker coat for winter, as well as loose and airy clothes for summer. Don’t forget some swimwear to complement the classic Australian beach lifestyle. You might also find it difficult to purchase cultural clothing here, so add this to the list if you want to proudly display your culture to the Aussies!
  • Laptop, tablet and phone: most other electronic items (such as hairdryers and shavers) can be purchased here for a good price at local discount department stores. Don’t forget to bring the necessary number of power adaptors and cables to recharge your electronics either.
  • Medications and toiletries: while important for any journey, these are dependent on the individual. Plenty of pharmacies sell essential medications and toiletry products, however certain drugs are controlled here. Make sure to pack at least one to two weeks’ worth of supplies before getting acquainted with Newcastle’s local health service. You can read more about controlled drug policies on the Australian Government’s website.

The Maybes

Some items seem so unique to home that doing without them would spell disaster to your lifestyle. But fear not! You would be surprised at what Newcastle has to offer to those who seek global comforts, so consider removing them from your packing list to lighten the load.

  • Food: there’s an amazing spread of international ingredients and restaurants (not forgetting to mention instant noodles) here in Newcastle! Pop by Kwon Mart for Asian groceries, Nina’s IGA for Arabic and Mediterranean essentials, or Raj’s Corner to get those flavourful Indian spices. There are plenty of these specialty shops around, so get settled in and start hunting!
  • Kitchenware: similar to food, there is plenty of specialty kitchen equipment available to suit your cooking – from woks found in an Asian grocery, such as EIG Cash & Carry, to standard supplies at affordable prices from local stores.
  • Student supplies: you can easily purchase important books at School Locker (there is one on campus) and stationery supplies from various shops in Newcastle.

The Don’ts

Australia has strict biosecurity laws – no amount of puppy eyes or complaints will get certain products and goods past border security – so ALWAYS declare culinary delicacies and unprocessed food supplies upon arrival.

Being caught with any food supplies or raw materials without declaration may lead to administrative complications at the border, or even large fines.

If uncertain, declare your goods. The worst thing that will happen is your goods may be confiscated. It is common for international students to be prohibited from bringing in Bak Kwa (Barbequed Pork, especially prevalent during Chinese New Year Celebrations) and raw products.

Also, be aware of anything biological (such as plants and seeds) that your family may send you from abroad.

Spare yourself the trouble and do not test the system here. Read more about these laws on the Australian biosecurity FAQs page.

Wrap up and pack up!

The University of Newcastle Global office has plenty of extra information for internationals preparing to travel abroad, including their own packing list.

Lauren Miles, the University’s Global’s Student Engagement Manager, recommends joining their international student Facebook group or reaching out to your specific international student club for further advice on settling down in Australia. Fellow internationals are also an excellent source of information specific to the country you hail from!

So get connected and get ready for the journey ahead!

Happy packing!

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