Global instability has resulted in increased security in Australian airports, in both domestic and international terminals. Customs procedures may be a little more time-consuming but are still straightforward.

Customs Regulations

For comprehensive information, contact the Australian Customs Service.

On arrival, declare all goods of animal or plant origin, as it's vital to protect Australia's unique environment and agricultural industries. If you fail to declare quarantine items on arrival, you risk an on-the-spot fine of over $200 or even prosecution and imprisonment. For more information contact the Australian Department of Agriculture (www.agriculture.gov.au/biosecurity).

Duty-free allowances:

  • Alcohol – 2.25L
  • Cigarettes – 50
  • Other goods – up to $900 value; or items for personal use that you will be taking with you when you leave.

Visas

All visitors to Australia need a visa – only New Zealand nationals are exempt, and even they receive a ‘special category’ visa on arrival. Visa application forms are available from Australian diplomatic missions overseas, travel agents or the website of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (www.border.gov.au). All visitors require a visa, although New Zealanders receive one on arrival. Residents of Canada, the US, many European countries and some Asian countries can apply online.

eVisitor

Many European passport holders are eligible for an eVisitor visa, which is free and allows visitors to stay in Australia for up to three months. eVisitors must be applied for online and they are electronically stored and linked to individual passport numbers, so no stamp in your passport is required. It's advisable to apply at least 14 days prior to the proposed date of travel to Australia. Applications are made on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website (www.border.gov.au).

Electronic Travel Authority (ETA)

Passport holders from eight countries that aren't part of the eVisitor scheme – Brunei, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and the USA – can apply for either a visitor or business ETA. ETAs are valid for 12 months, and allow stays of up to three months on each visit. Apply online at www.border.gov.au.

Tourist Visas

Short-term tourist visas have largely been replaced by the eVisitor and ETA. However, if you are from a country not covered by either, or you want to stay longer than three months, you'll need to apply for a visa. Tourist visas cost from $135 and allow single or multiple entry for stays of three, six or 12 months and are valid for use within 12 months of issue.

Visa Extensions

If you want to stay in Australia for longer than your visa allows, you'll need to apply for a new visa (usually a tourist visa 676) through the Department of Immigration and Border Protection at www.border.gov.au. Apply at least two or three weeks before your visa expires.

Work & Holiday Visas (462)

Nationals from 16 countries including Argentina, Chile, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Poland, Slovenia, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, Uruguay and the USA between the ages of 18 and 30 can apply for a work and holiday visa prior to entry to Australia. It allows the holder to enter Australia within three months of issue, stay for up to 12 months, leave and re-enter Australia any number of times within that 12 months, undertake temporary employment to supplement a trip, and study for up to four months.

Working Holiday Maker (WHM) Visas (417)

Young visitors (those aged 18 to 30) from Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan and the UK are eligible for a WHM visa, allowing visits of up to one year for casual employment.

The emphasis of this visa is on casual and not full-time employment, so you're only supposed to work for any one employer for a maximum of six months. A first WHM visa must be obtained prior to entry to Australia and can be applied for at Australian diplomatic missions abroad or online (www.border.gov.au). You can't change to a WHM visa once you're in Australia, so apply up to 12 months before your departure to Australia.