How to Get Your Australian Tax File Number

getting your australian tax file number

Getting a Tax File Number is Something That Everyone Moving to Australia Needs To Do

It will also be one of the easiest parts of your move. In this post, I will cover all the basics you need to know plus include a little known fact about getting a Tax File Number (TFN) in Australia, i.e. getting your TFN before you move.

Today’s Email

Hi Lauren,

I will be staying in a temporary rental for my first 2-3 weeks while searching for an apartment in Sydney .

I will however already start working from September 1st onwards. Now for my salary to come through in September, I need a Tax File Number before the 4th of September.

How can I get a TFN that quickly without being present in Australia? I looked at the Australian Tax Office website and it says that a TFN takes 28 days.

Does this mean I will be taxed at the highest rate until I give my TFN to my employer?

It looks like I also need a Sydney mailing address but I will not have a permanent address for those first few weeks.

How do I solve this? Can I just temporarily use the rental address and change it once I get my own place?

Or is there another way to do this? Is there really no possible way to get a TFN before I move?

Thanks in advance!

Lauren’s Reply

First off, your TFN will take anywhere between 10 to 28 days. Twenty-eight days being the maximum about of time. I think our’s actually took about a week to show up.

Second, you can use your work address for the mailing address or, if it’s ok with the owners of your rental, that address. Once you have created your online account with the Australian Tax Office, you can change your contact details at any time.

As far as being taxed at the highest rate, according to the ATO, you have 28 days to present your TFN to your employer. Here’s that info from the ATO website :

You (the employer) must withhold 49% from any payment you make to a resident employee and 47% from a foreign

resident employee (ignoring any cents), if all of the following apply:

  • they have not quoted their TFN
  • they have not claimed an exemption from quoting their TFN
  • they have not advised you that they have applied for a TFN or have made an enquiry with us.

If an employee states at question 1 of the Tax file number declaration they have lodged a Tax file number – application or enquiry for individuals with us, they have 28 days to provide you with their TFN.

If the employee has not given you their TFN within 28 days, you must withhold 49% from any payment you make to a resident employee and 47% from a foreign resident employee (ignoring any cents) unless we tell you not to.

There are tax agencies like, a SMG partner, that will take all your details and file your TFN application for you but there is a $30 charge (USD, I think) for this service.

You cannot get a TFN before entering the country because one of the requirements for setting up a TFN is that you have to have entered Australia on a visa with work rights.

But as, you mentioned in your email, you can totally get your TFN without the help of an agency, all online using your work address.

Easy, peasy.

Thanks for your question.


What Are Mailbox Mondays?

Every Monday I pick a question from you along with my reply straight out of my inbox to share with everyone here on Sydney Moving Guide.

I don’t promise to have all the answers but I will do my best to point you in the right direction or help you with your research as I know there is a lot of noise out there on the interwebs and good resources are hard to find.

The main goal of Mailbox Mondays is to start conversations on topics you want to know about.

So please leave a comment, or ask a question, or share more info from your experience living in Australia in the comment section below.

I’ve also added a couple of expat forums if you’re interested in posting there instead.


Category: Taxes

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