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Transition to Sydney

What to do when you arrive in Sydney

Find student volunteers at the airport

Once you get off the plane, follow your fellow passengers to collect your bags and proceed through to Australian customs and immigration for your passport and visa check. You’ll then come out in either Arrival Hall A or B of the International Terminal.

Keep an eye out for student volunteers at the NSW International Student Airport Welcome Desk in Arrival Hall A, who will greet you and help point you in the right direction. Don’t hesitate to ask them every question you have!

Get to your new home

Sydney Airport is about 8km (5 miles) from the city centre, and is linked to by all forms of public transport.  It’s a good idea to research transport options before you leave your home city and make sure you have your new address written down somewhere. There are several ways to travel from the airport.

Airport Shuttle Service

The University offers free airport shuttle service to central Sydney locations for enrolled international students.

To be eligible for a free seat on the shuttle service you need to:

  • arrive at Sydney Airport's international or domestic terminals during the service periods
    • Semester 1: 6 January - 31 March 2023
    • Semester 2: 8 June - 31 August 2023
  • be enrolled at the University of Sydney
  • book your seat via the secure, online booking form at least 3 working days prior to your arrival date in Sydney.

You can make a reservation for the airport shuttle through our online booking form. A booking confirmation will be sent to your nominated email address. If you need to change or cancel your booking, instructions are included in the booking confirmation email.

Please note that the free airport shuttle is exclusively for international students studying at the University of Sydney. We cannot provide a free shuttle service for any family or friends who are travelling with you. If you are not an eligible student, your booking will be cancelled and you will be notified by email.

  • Train or bus

    Sydney’s public transport options include trains, buses, light rails (trams) and ferries. You’ll need an adult Opal card to use the public transport network – you can buy one from the airport. Use Google or Apple Maps to find out the best routes for where you want to go, and then download the TripView app for the latest timetables. Remember that some of Sydney’s train stations don’t have lifts (elevators) for your luggage and might be a long walk from your accommodation.

  • Taxi

    Catching a taxi is more expensive than public transport, but they will be able to take you directly to your door and save you from carrying your luggage too far. Taxi ranks are situated just outside the Arrivals lounge if you wish to go from the airport, or you could consider catching one from outside the nearest train station to your accommodation to save you from walking.

  • Other options

    Ride sharing app Uber is popular in Sydney and can be used at the international airport. Once you exit the building, follow signs to the yellow public pick-up area, as this is where your driver will meet you upon confirming through the app.

Check into your accommodation

Now it’s time to make yourself at home! Introduce yourself to any housemates and explore your new home. Check that everything matches what you agreed to, and make a condition report to show your landlord (within the first few days of moving in).

The Students’ Representative Council website has more tips about moving in.

If you arrive at night, you can order dinner to be delivered using a website like Menulog, Foodora, Deliveroo or UberEats. These apps are linked to your debit/credit card so you don’t need to carry much cash.


Don’t forget to update your permanent address on Sydney Student within seven days of arriving in Sydney. You'll also need to update your onshore/offshore status, so we know where you are studying.

Buy some essential living items

Now that you’re officially living in Sydney, it’s time to get out and explore your new surroundings and services near you. The closest shopping centres to the Camperdown/Darlington campus are Broadway and Central Park, and there are lots of others in nearby suburbs of Newtown, Glebe and Chippendale.

Stock up on groceries and toiletries at the local supermarkets, Woolworths, Coles, Aldi or IGA. If you are in an unfurnished room off-campus, you may also need to buy items for your first few nights until you have a chance to shop for furniture. You can find affordable bedding, and household electronics at shops such as Kmart, Target or IKEA.

Get your phones and devices connected

Most on-campus student accommodation options offer free Wi-Fi. Be sure to ask for the login and password on arrival so you can make contact with loved ones and let them know you have arrived safely. If you are in off-campus housing, it’s likely your roommates also have Wi-Fi set up in the house.

Getting a mobile phone set up will likely be a top priority. A prepaid account is a flexible, easy option if you just want a SIM card to use in your existing phone. A fixed plan locks in a monthly price and can include a handset, whilst also offering cheaper rates on messages and phone calls when used in bulk. Make sure to do plenty of research when picking an option.

Open a bank account and create a budget

To open an Australian bank account, you’ll need proof of enrolment, photo identification, proof of your Australian address and an Australian Tax File Number (available from the Australian Tax Office). Visit your chosen bank’s website to find out more about the specific documents required. You can also exchange currency at our bank branches if you’ve travelled to Australia with money from home.

Establishing a weekly budget helps you keep on top of your expenses throughout semester, factoring in the general living costs of Sydney.

Visit the Moneysmart website for budgeting tools and money saving tips.

Student Centre



1800 SYD UNI (1800 793 864)
or +61 2 8627 1444 (outside Australia)

Find out more about how we can help

Last updated: 07 August 2023

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