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Entry & Exit Formalities

Arrival in Australia is usually straightforward and efficient, with the usual customs declarations. There are no restrictions for citizens of any particular foreign countries entering Australia – if you have a current passport and visa, you should be fine.

Customs Regulations

For detailed information on customs and quarantine regulations, contact the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

When entering Australia you can bring most articles in free of duty provided that customs is satisfied they are for personal use and that you'll be taking them with you when you leave. Duty-free quotas per person (note the unusually low figure for cigarettes):

  • Alcohol 2.25L (over the age of 18)

  • Cigarettes 50 cigarettes (over the age of 18)

  • Dutiable goods Up to the value of $900 ($450 for people under 18)

Narcotics, of course, are illegal, and customs inspectors and their highly trained hounds are diligent in sniffing them out. Quarantine regulations are strict, so you must declare all goods of animal or vegetable origin – wooden spoons, straw hats, the lot. Fresh food (meat, cheese, fruit, vegetables etc) and flowers are prohibited. There are disposal bins located in airports where you can dump any questionable items if you don't want to bother with an inspection. You must declare currency in excess of $10,000 (including foreign currency).

Quarantine

Australia takes quarantine very seriously. All luggage is screened or X-rayed − if you fail to declare quarantine items on arrival and are caught, you risk a hefty on-the-spot fine or prosecution, which may result in much more significant fines and up to 10 years' imprisonment. For more information on quarantine regulations contact the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Illegal drugs Don't bring illegal drugs in with you. Customs authorities are adept at searching for them and sniffer dogs are permanent fixtures in arrival and baggage halls.

Medication You need to declare prescription medicines. Bring medications in their original, clearly labelled containers. A signed and dated letter from your physician describing your medical conditions and medications, including generic names, is also a good idea. If carrying syringes or needles, be sure to have a physician's letter documenting their medical necessity.

Money You need to declare currency in excess of $10,000 (including foreign currency).

Plant and animal matter When arriving or departing the country, declare all animal and plant material (wooden spoons, straw hats, the lot) and show them to a quarantine officer. If you bring in a souvenir, such as a drum with animal hide for a skin, or a wooden article (though these items are not strictly prohibited, they are subject to inspection) that shows signs of insect damage, it won't get through. Some items may require treatment to make them safe before they are allowed in. Food and flowers are also prohibited, plus there are restrictions on taking fruit and vegetables between states.

Weapons There are strong restrictions on the possession and use of weapons in Australia. If you plan to travel with weapons of any sort contact the customs service or consult its website well before departure − permits may be required.

Passports

There are no restrictions for citizens of any particular foreign countries entering Australia. If you have a current passport and visa, you should be fine.

Visas

All visitors to Australia need a visa, except New Zealanders. Apply online for an ETA or eVisitor visa, each allowing a three-month stay: www.border.gov.au.

Further Information

  • All visitors to Australia need a visa − only New Zealand nationals are exempt, and even they sheepishly receive a 'special category' visa on arrival.
  • There are several different visas available, depending on your nationality and what kind of visit you're contemplating.
  • See the website of the Department of Immigration & Border Protection for info and application forms (also available from Australian diplomatic missions overseas and travel agents).

eVisitor (651)

  • Many European passport holders are eligible for a free eVisitor visa, allowing stays in Australia for up to three months within a 12-month period.
  • eVisitor visas must be applied for online (www.border.gov.au). 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.

Electronic Travel Authority (ETA; 601)

  • 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 Electronic Travel Authority (ETA).
  • ETAs are valid for 12 months, with stays of up to three months on each visit.
  • You can apply for an ETA online (www.border.gov.au), which attracts a nonrefundable service charge of $20.

Visitor (600)

  • Short-term Visitor visas have largely been replaced by the eVisitor and ETA. However, if you're from a country not covered by either, or you want to stay longer than three months, you’ll need to apply for a Visitor visa.
  • Standard Visitor visas allow one entry for a stay of up to three, six or 12 months, and are valid for use within 12 months of issue.
  • Apply online at www.border.gov.au.

Working Holiday (417)

On a normal visa you're not allowed to work in Australia, but you may be eligible for a 12-month Working Holiday visa, which lets you supplement your travels with casual employment. People from 19 countries (including the UK, Canada, Korea, the Netherlands, Malta, Ireland, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark) are eligible, but you must be between 18 and 30 years of age at the time of lodging your application (the government was considering raising the eligible age to 35 years at the time of writing, although nothing was confirmed). A visa subclass is available to residents of Chile, Thailand, Turkey and the USA.

The emphasis on casual rather than full-time work means that you can only work for six months at a time with any one employer – but you are free to work for more than one employer within the 12 months. There's a limit on the number of visas issued each year, so apply as early as possible to the Australian embassy in your home country before you leave.

Apply prior to entry to Australia (up to a year in advance) – you can’t change from another tourist visa to a Working Holiday visa once you’re in Australia. Conditions include having a return air ticket or sufficient funds for a return or onward fare.

Work & Holiday (462)

Nationals from Argentina, Bangladesh, Chile, Indonesia, Malaysia, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, the USA and Uruguay aged between the ages of 18 and 30 years can apply for a Work and Holiday visa prior to entry to Australia.

Once granted this visa 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.

For details see www.border.gov.au.

Visa Extensions

If you want to stay in Australia for longer than your visa allows, you’ll need to apply for a new visa via www.border.gov.au. Apply at least two or three weeks before your visa expires.