Visa requirements and strict customs and biosecurity controls mean that some pre-planning is required before entering Australia.
Entering Australia you can bring in most articles free of duty, provided customs officers are satisfied they’re for personal use and that you’ll be taking them with you when you leave. See www.border.gov.au for more information.
- There’s a duty-free quota per person of 2.25L of alcohol (if you’re over 18 years of age), 25 cigarettes (yes, you read that right) plus an open packet and dutiable goods up to the value of $900 ($450 if you’re under 18).
- Amounts of more than A$10,000 cash (or its equivalent) must be declared.
- Authorities take biosecurity very seriously, and are vigilant in their efforts to prevent introduced pests getting into the country. Be sure to declare all goods of animal or vegetable origin. Dispose of any fresh food and flowers and check. If you’ve recently visited farmland or rural areas, it's best to scrub your shoes before you get to the airport; you’ll also need to declare them to Customs.
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.
- Citizens of 24 European countries are eligible for an eVisitor, which is free and allows visitors to stay in Australia for up to three months. These 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 at www.border.gov.au.
- An Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) allows visitors to enter Australia any time within a 12-month period and stay for up to three months at a time (unlike eVisitor, multiple entries are permitted). Travellers from qualifying countries can get an ETA through any travel agent or overseas airline registered with the International Air Transport Association (IATA). They make the application for you when you buy a ticket and they issue the ETA, which replaces the usual visa stamped in your passport. It's common practice for travel agents to charge a fee for issuing an ETA (in the vicinity of US$25). This system is available to passport holders of some 33 countries, including all of the countries that are eligible for eVisitor.
- Eight of the countries that are eligible for ETA but not eVisitor can make their application online at www.eta.immi.gov.au, where a $20 fee applies. Those countries are Brunei, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and the USA. Taiwanese must apply in person.
- If you are from a country not covered by eVisitor or ETA, or you want to stay longer than three months, you'll need to apply for a visa. Tourist visas cost from $140 and allow single or multiple entry for stays of three, six or 12 months and are valid for use within 12 months of issue.
- Visitors are allowed a maximum stay of 12 months, including extensions. Visa extensions are made through the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, and it's best to apply at least two or three weeks before your visa expires.
- Young visitors (aged 18 to 30) from Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan and the UK are eligible for a Working Holiday Visa (417), which allows you to visit for up to one year and gain 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 visa must be obtained prior to entry to Australia and can be applied for at Australian diplomatic missions abroad or online. You can't change from a tourist visa to a Working Holiday visa once you're in Australia. You can apply for this visa up to a year in advance, which is worthwhile, as there's a limit on the number issued each year. Conditions include having enough money to support yourself, a return air ticket or sufficient funds for a return or onward fare, and a fee of $440 is charged. At the time of research the government was considering extending the age limit up to 35.
- Nationals from Argentina, Bangladesh, Chile, China, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Peru, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, the USA, Uruguay and Vietnam between the ages of 18 and 30 can apply for a Work and Holiday Visa (462) prior to entry to Australia. Once granted, this visa allows the holder to stay for up to 12 months and undertake temporary employment to supplement a trip. Conditions vary depending on nationality; there are educational and English-language requirements. The application fee is $440.
- Both the Working Holiday Visa and the Work and Holiday Visa can be granted a second time if the holder undertakes certain types of work (eg agriculture, construction) in regional Australia for three months.
The only visitors who do not require a visa in advance of arriving in Australia are New Zealanders.