Arriving in Melbourne

Before commencing your course at Swinburne, you will need to arrange flights to Melbourne, travel insurance and transport to your accommodation.

Before you fly

After your application has been processed, your deposit has been paid and your student visa has been issued, you can book your flight to Melbourne. 

You should arrive in Melbourne between two and four weeks before your course starts. This will allow you to organise accommodation and settle in before you begin classes.

Travel insurance

We advise you to purchase travel insurance when you book your flights to Australia. Your travel insurance should cover you for two or three days after you arrive in Australia, in case you experience delays. Your travel agent should be able to help you organise this.


It is a good idea to arrive in Melbourne with some Australian money. Around A$250 in cash is a good amount to start with. 

We recommend that you do not travel with large amounts of cash for your safety. Note that if you bring A$10,000 or more in cash to Australia (or equivalent in foreign currency), you must declare it to Australian customs when you arrive. You can find more information about declaring currency on the Department of Home Affairs website.

It is also helpful to have a credit card for emergencies. The most common credit cards used in Australia are Visa and MasterCard. American Express and Diners Club credit cards are also accepted by some businesses. 

For information about the cost of living in Melbourne, read our guide to living expenses.

Melbourne airports

Melbourne has two major airports:

  • Melbourne Airport is a 25-minute drive from the Melbourne city centre. All international flights and most domestic flights to Melbourne arrive here. The domestic and international terminals are located in the same building.
  • Avalon Airport is a 45-minute drive from the Melbourne city centre. Some domestic flights to Melbourne arrive here.

International arrivals

If you arrive in Melbourne on an international flight, you will arrive at Melbourne Airport

On the plane, you will be given an incoming passenger card. You will need to fill in your flight details and customs information. 

When you arrive at the airport, you will need your passport and incoming passenger card for the entry control point.

When you have passed through the entry control point, you will collect your baggage and exit the terminal via customs and quarantine.

Quarantine, customs and goods to declare

Australian customs and quarantine regulations restrict you from bringing certain items into Australia and you must declare some items on your incoming passenger card. 

If you are carrying any restricted or quarantine items, including food, medication, wooden material, plant material or animal products, you must declare them. Alternatively, you can place them in the quarantine bins when you arrive at the airport. 

To declare an item, tick 'yes' on your incoming passenger card. 

If you are unsure about an item you are carrying, declare it by ticking 'yes'. 

All luggage is screened using a combination of specially trained dogs, x-ray machines and bag inspections on arrival in Australia. If you do not declare any restricted or quarantine items, or if you make a false declaration, you risk severe penalties. 

For more information about what to declare, visit the Department of Home Affairs website and Australian Department of Agriculture website.

Domestic arrivals

If you are flying to Melbourne from another city, you may arrive at Melbourne Airport or Avalon Airport

Domestic travellers are not usually required to go through an entry control point or meet any customs requirements.   

Quarantine restrictions are in place for some domestic travel. This means that certain food and plant items cannot be brought into the state of Victoria. For information about what you can and cannot bring to Victoria from other states, visit the Quarantine Domestic website.

Airport pick-up and transport

Swinburne provides a free transport service from Melbourne airport (Tullamarine) to your accommodation address for newly arriving students. This is compulsory for students under 18 years of age. Alternatively, students over 18 years of age can arrange their own transport, such as a taxi or Skybus.

Please note: If you are arriving at Avalon airport (some flights via AirAsia Airlines), the travel options include Skybus or taxi. Skybus will deliver you to Southern cross train station in central Melbourne, and from there you will need to use public transport or catch a taxi to get to your accommodation address.

Students under 18 years of age

If you are under 18 years of age, Swinburne policy states that you or your education agent must provide your arrival flight details and delivery address in Melbourne to Swinburne U18 International Student Adviser who will arrange the airport pickup booking and confirm this with you.

We require a minimum notice period of 24 hours during normal business hours for booking and changing arrival details.

Students over 18 years of age

The airport pick-up service is free for international students when you arrive at Melbourne Airport to commence your first course at Swinburne. Bookings must be made at least 24 hour before you arrive in Melbourne. 

The service is operated by Swinburne's airport agent, Harlan

Online booking system

Use the online booking system to arrange your pick-up service before you arrive. 

To log in to the online booking system, you will need your student ID (listed on your Confirmation of Enrolment) and your date of birth. You will also need to provide the address of your accommodation in Melbourne. Bookings must be made at least 24 hours before you arrive in Melbourne to guarantee your place. 

Please ensure when you travel to Melbourne that you have a copy of your online booking confirmation sent to an email you have provided in the booking; it includes useful contact details for the Harlan driver.

If you are arriving with family members, they must pay the Harlan driver on arrival. The cost is A$80 per person. Please include the number of people travelling with you in the ‘comments’ section in the online booking form. 

If you have any problems using the booking system, email us with details about your flight, the address of your accommodation and the number of people you are travelling with to Swinburne. 

Meeting the Harlan driver

The Harlan driver will wait for you next to the groups and tours sign at the southern end of the arrivals hall in the international terminal (Terminal 2). 

If you arrive on an international flight, you will arrive in the arrivals hall after you collect your luggage and go through customs and quarantine. 

If you arrive on a domestic flight, you should go to the international terminal (Terminal 2) after you have collected your luggage. The arrivals hall is on the ground floor. 

Diagram showing the Melbourne airport arrivals hall Harlan driver meeting area map


The driver will be holding a sign that looks like this:

Diagram showing the sign that international students arriving at the Melbourne airport can identify the Harlan driver

If you cannot find the driver or the meeting point, go to the Tourist Information Desk. You can also contact Harlan by phone on 9354 5025 or 0412 073 749. 

Your journey to your accommodation may be shared with other people arriving in Melbourne. Please be patient if this causes waiting periods during your trip. 

Do not leave the airport with anyone else if you have organised a pick-up with Harlan.

Changes to flight details

If your flight is delayed or you change to another flight, contact Harlan by phone on +61 3 9354 5025 or +61 412 073 749. 



SkyBus is a bus service that connects Melbourne Airport and Avalon Airport with Southern Cross Station in the Melbourne city centre. 

It departs from the domestic and international terminals and you can buy tickets online starting from A$18 each way. 


Most Melbourne taxis are yellow. You can find taxis at both Melbourne airports.

Approximate taxi fares:

  • Melbourne Airport to city: A$70
  • Avalon Airport to city: A$110.

Additional charges may apply for airport taxis or for using tollways.