All visitors - apart from citizens of New Zealand - require a visa in advance of travel.
If you are visiting for a holiday of less than three months, there are three types of visas you may apply for, depending on your nationality:
eVisitor (subclass 651)for citizens of the 31 EEA countries as well as citizens of Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, Switzerland and Vatican City. These visas are free, but otherwise effectively identical to the ETA. You must apply on-line.
Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) (subclass 601)is available on-line to nationals of Brunei, Canada, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea ROK and United States. The citizens of some eVisitor eligible countries and citizens of Taiwan may also apply for the ETA but solely through a travel agent, airline, specialist service provider or an Australian visa office outside Australia. A service fee of AUD20 applies. This fee can be waived if you obtain your ETA through a travel agent. However, there are on-line services which charge much more, as much as double, for the ETA. If applying on-line, stay with the government service to save money.
Online Visitor visa (subclass e600)Holders of passports of all the ETA and eVisitor eligible countries and also the following 27 eligible countries Algeria, Argentina, Bahrain, Belarus, Brazil, Chile, Egypt, Macedonia, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Libya, Maldives, Micronesia, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Nauru, Oman, Papua New Guinea, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sudan, Tunisia, Turkey, UAE and Ukraine can make visa applications online. The fee for this is AUD130.
Visitor visa (subclass 600)Other nationalities must apply using the paper form, and may need to visit an embassy or visa processing centre.
Like the ETA and eVisitor, a 600 Visa is by default issued for a three-month stay. Unlike the other options however, a 600 visa can be issued for longer stay of up to one year. That said, immigration is somewhat reluctant to approve tourist visas for more than three months, no matter how legitimate your reasons for staying so long. You will likely be asked for extensive supporting documentation about the reason for your visit and your ties to your country of origin and may need to attend an interview. Depending on your nationality, the embassy or visa processing centre may also require you to have an Australian sponsor prior to issuing the visa. The fee is AUD130.
In most cases, Electronic Travel Authorities and eVisitors are approved instantly and the visa will be issued and available for use immediately. Nationals of certain countries, such as Bulgaria and Romania and other Eastern European EU member states, are rarely issued eVisitor visa automatically and must provide additional documentation.
If you are visiting Australia for employment, study or for medical treatment you will need to obtain the appropriate visa. If you are staying longer than 3 months continuously you are ineligible for an ETA or eVisitor, and should apply for a Visitor Visa subclass 600.
For all visitor visa classes, you must be able to demonstrate your ability to support yourself financially for the time you intend to spend in Australia. If you have a criminal conviction, obtain advice from the Australian Embassy or visa processing centre.
All fees are payable in Australian dollars, converted to your local currency at the current rate of exchange.
If you are transiting through Australia, remain airside for a maximum of 8 hours, have a confirmed onward booking, have the correct entry documentation for the onward destination and are a citizen of New Zealand, the European Union, Andorra, Argentina, Brunei, Canada, Cyprus, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Iceland, Indonesia, Japan, Kiribati, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, Nauru, Norway, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, South Africa, the Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Korea ROK, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Tonga, Tuvalu, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom regardless of nationality status, the United States, the Vanuatu or Vatican City, you do not need to apply for any advance visa. All other passengers who transit through Australia must apply for a free-of-charge Transit Visa subclass 771 prior to travel.
New Zealand citizens may travel to and work in Australia for any length of time without a pre-arranged visa. Non-citizen permanent residents of New Zealand are not eligible for visa-free entry. New Zealand citizens may still be rejected entry on the basis of criminal convictions or being HIV-positive and should seek advice before travel.
Australia is a long way from anywhere else in the world, so for most visitors, the only practical way of getting into Australia is by air.
Approximately half of all international travellers arrive first in Australia in Sydney, the largest city, IATA: SYD. After Sydney, significant numbers of travellers also arrive in Australia in Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. There are also direct international services into Adelaide, Cairns, Darwin, the Gold Coast and Christmas Island though these are largely restricted to flights from New Zealand, Oceania, or Southeast Asia.
To Sydney it is a 3 hour flight from New Zealand, a 7-11h flight from countries in Asia, a 14 hour flight from the west of the United States and Canada, a 14 hour flight from Johannesburg, a 13-16h flight from South America, and up to a 24h+ flight from western Europe. On account of long journey times from some destinations, some travellers from Europe opt to have a stop-over, commonly in Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur.
If you have to change to a domestic flight in a gateway city, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth all have distinct domestic terminals, requiring some time and complexity to transit, check the guides. Melbourne, Adelaide, Darwin, Cairns and the Gold Coast have all gates in the one terminal building or within easy walking distance of each other.
There are some routes into Australia that are operated by discount airlines. These can often be combined with other fares to make getting to Australia cheaper. Select your point of entry and exit to give you a cheaper round-trip, and possibly some interesting stopover opportunities on the way.
Air Asia Xflies into the Gold Coast, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Adelaide from Kuala Lumpur, at often deeply discounted fares. You can save money from Europe if having a stopover in Malaysia. Sometimes this is possible also stopping in Bangkok.
Air Asia Indonesiaflies into Darwin and Perth from Denpasar, Indonesia
Scoot flies into Gold Coast, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney from Singapore.
Tiger flies from Singapore to Perth.
Jetstar Airways flies to Hawaii and several Asian destinations, including Denpasar, Osaka, Phuket, Ho Chi Minh, via Darwin, and also operates a substantial Asian regional hub in Singapore.
Virgin Australia flies between Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, and Los Angeles, and competes strongly with Qantas and Delta on these routes.
By Overland Transport
There was a time when a couple of tour operators offered overland trips from London to Sydney, with only a short hop by air from South East Asia to North Western Australia while the bus went by barge. Currently, the only such tour operator is Madventure which runs 4 different routes: 26 weeks through Iran, Pakistan, & India; 26 weeks through the Caucasus and Central Asia; 64 weeks around Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia; and 64 weeks through Africa, the Middle East, the Caucasus, & Central Asia.
For those determined to travel overland as much as possible from Europe, you can travel independently to Singapore from Europe by train and/or bus on scheduled services, and fly from there to Perth 3,500 flight kilometres. For the truly determined overland traveller, you can get a ferry from Singapore to Indonesia and make your way across to Bali, where you can fly to Darwin 2,000 flight km. For the intrepid, ferries to West Timor, a bus to Dili and a flight to Darwin will mean only 700 km in the air.
Customs And Quarantine
Australia has strict quarantine requirements regarding importing animal and vegetable derived products any food, wooden products, seeds, etc. You must declare all such material and baggage is frequently scanned and may be examined by dogs. You may be fined $220 on-the-spot if you fail to declare, or even prosecuted in very serious cases. Processed and sealed commercially prepared foods chocolates, cookies, etc are often permitted. They will be examined and returned to you, but still must be declared. Some prohibited items can be treated by quarantine at your expense and picked up at a later time.
Some shells, coral and items made from a protected species are also prohibited to discourage the trade in items that may originate from a threatened ecosystem or species.
While there are no restrictions on the amount of money that can be brought in or out, Australian customs also requires you to declare if you are bringing AUD10,000 or equivalent in foreign currency or more in or out of the country and you will be asked to complete some paperwork.
November to February is the cruising season, and there are usually about 10 ships that arrive in Australia from other countries during this time. You can cruise to Australia, and then fly home.
Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean, all offer cruises to Australia across the Pacific.
Alternatively, you may sail to Australia in your own yacht, but beware of customs regulations. See Australian Customs for details