How Do I Get An Electronic Visa To Travel To Australia?

Australia ETA Visa

Hi EssentialTravel.co.uk
I'm travelling Down Under for some sun and surf. I've heard that there is an easier way to get a visa to travel to Australia. How do I get it and what is it? Roy Matthews, Cardiff

Dear Roy,
Yes, like the United States' ESTA program, Australia has two easy and convenient systems for temporary visitors: ETA (Electronic Travel Authorisation) and eVisitor. Read on below to find out which is right for you and how to apply.

What is ETA/eVisitor?

ETA and eVisitor are electronic authorisation programs that allow temporary visitors to Australia to stay for a maximum of three months per visit.

What is the difference between ETA and eVisitor?
eVisitor visa and ETA are part of electronic authorisation program that streamlines the visa application process for tourists. ETA is for non-European countries and eVisitor is for European countries (including the UK). The same rules apply for eVisitor in terms of validity period and how long you can stay in Australia. The difference is in where you apply for each.

Who should apply for ETA/eVisitor?
Temporary visitors to Australia from countries that qualify for either of the electronic authorisation programs.

Why is ETA/eVisitor better than getting a visa?
Getting an ETA cuts through the red tape that comes with an application for a traditional visa (i.e going for interviews, posting applications). If you have a choice, apply for ETA/eVisitor first and if that fails try for a visa.

How long is ETA/eVisitor valid for?
Both programs are valid for a year, during which you can make multiple visits of no longer than three months each.

What types of electronic authorisation are there?
Individuals can apply for two types of ETA.

  • Visitor (subclass 976) - allows you to stay for up to three months per visit and is valid for a year. You may not engage in paid work with this visa, but volunteer work is allowed.
  • Business (subclass 977, 956) - allows you to stay for up to three months per visit and is valid for a year. Holders of this visa may not work, but may engage in certain business activities.

Seperate from ETA but still part of the electronic authorisation programme is the eVisitor visa (subclass e676), which also allows stays of up to three months and is valid for a year. Like the ETA Visitor (subclass 976) you may not engage in paid work with this visa, but volunteer work is allowed if it is incidental and not the main purpose of your visit.

Why do I need ETA/eVisitor?

Getting an ETA or eVisitor visa provides you with a quick and easy way to enter Australia. Without electronic authorisation you may not be allowed to board your flight to Australia.

Who Needs Electronic Authorisation?

Who is eligible for ETA/eVisitor?
The following countries qualify for the electronic authorisation programme: Brunei, Canada, countries of the European Union, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, United Kingdom Overseas Nationals and the United States of America. Citizens from these countries may apply for electronic authorisation, but acceptance is not guaranteed.

What if I'm not eligible for ETA/eVisitor?
If your ETA application is unsuccessful or your country is not part of ETA, the next step is to apply for the traditional Tourist Visa (subclass 676). Visit the Department of Immigration and Citizenship here to find out more about this visa.

Do my children need electronic authorisation?
Yes, all travellers to Australia require electronic authorisation - even children travelling on their parents' passport.

Do I need to reapply for every trip I make to Australia?
As long as the trip falls within the 12-month validity period of your electronic authorisation you do not need to reapply.

Do I need a new ETA/eVisitor visa if I get a new passport?
Yes, a new passport means you have to start the application process again.

Do I need electronic authorisation if I have a visa?
No, electronic authorisation serves the same function as a visa so you do not need to have both.

Getting Electronic Authorisation?

How do I apply for an ETA and where do I start?
Applications for ETA and eVisitor are managed online. Make sure you are applying at the correct place for your country. Nationals from the following countries: Brunei, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and the United States of America can apply at www.eta.immi.gov.au. Nationals from the European Union (including the United Kingdom) and Taiwan need to apply through a travel agent, airline, at an Australian visa office or online through the eVisitor application site.

Where is the Australian High Commission in the UK?
The Australian High Commission details below:

  • Address: Strand, London, WC2B 4LA
    (corner of the Aldwych and the Strand. Nearest Tube station: Temple)
  • Tel: 020 7856 1563
  • Website: www.uk.embassy.gov.au

You can also contact the Department of Immigration and Citizenship through their Enquiry Form.

When should I apply for an ETA/eVisitor?
It is advisable that you apply for ETA or eVisitor as soon as you make plans to visit Australia, so that in the event your application is rejected you have time to make alternative plans.

What do I need in order to apply online?
Have your passport, itinerary and a credit card (for ETA) at hand when you apply. American Express, Diners Club, JCB, Mastercard and Visa credit cards are all accepted for the application process.

How much does ETA cost and how do I pay?
Different ETA types have different charges: the ETA visitor visa (subclass 976) is free, but the ETA Business Entrant visa (subclass 977) has a charge of A$20 (about £13) associated with it. Applying online for eVisitor is free.

How long does it take to get a response?
Most applicants will get a response almost immediately, but a few may have to wait for 12 hours to get final confirmation.

What do I do if my application is rejected?
If your ETA application is rejected, the next option is to apply for a Tourist Visa (subclass 676). Details here.

Should I print out a copy of my application form to show when I'm boarding the plane?
The system is entirely automated so you won't be expected to print out your approved application for when you board your flight, but it would be prudent to do it anyway; you never know when technology may fail.

Special Circumstances

How do I apply if I'm a British Overseas National?
Holders of British Overseas Citizen, British Protected Person and British Subject passports, British National Overseas or British Dependent Territories Citizen passport cannot apply for the eVisitor visa, but they can apply for ETA.

What if I'm from Hong Kong?
Hong Kong residents only qualify for ETA if they are in possesion of a citizen's passport. An Identity Document can not be used for ETA.

What if I'm from New Zealand?
New Zealand nationals do not require electronic authorisation to travel to Australia as they fall under the Special Category Visa that allows you to stay indefinitely in Australia.

Last Updated: May 2012

Gugulethu Hlekwayo

Gugulethu Hlekwayo

A timid traveller, but a traveller none the less; Gugulethu is in his element lost and without a map - preferably with a companion willing to listen to his tall tales. He's our resident expert on the best muffins in town.