If there was ever a prize for a country with the most complicated and convoluted visa arrangements, it would surely go to Australia.
Believe me, I know!
As someone looking to apply for residency here, I’ve spent a lot of time trawling the pages of the Australian Immigration website as well as reading a ton of forum and blog articles trying to get my head around the whole process!
So now, while I’m certainly not a pro at this all, I do at least understand that the Australian visa system is never as simple and clear cut as it seems!
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Please note visa restrictions regularly change, so always check the Australian Immigration website before applying for any visa.
This is certainly true in the case of how to get your Australia tourist visa.
While many people coming to Australia for an extended vacation know about the Working Holiday Visa, you might be surprised to learn that you need to apply for a tourist visa simply to visit Australia even for a few days.
This was recently discovered, the hard way, by a good friend of mine, who came to visit me here in Australia from his home in Nicaragua.
Despite being an intelligent chap, a British citizen and booking his flight directly through a worldwide and renowned airline, no one, at any stage, told him that he needed a visitor visa to enter Australia.
Arriving at the airport in Managua however, he was promptly told that he would not be able to check-in for his flight to Australia because he didn’t have a requisite visa.
3 days and a whole lot of hassle later, he did eventually board a plane destined for Down Under, but please let this be a lesson!
The first thing to know about how to get your Australian tourist visa is that everyone, no matter who they are or where they’re from, requires a visitor visa to holiday here.
And this being Australia, there is, of course, more than one sort of visitor visa!
But fear not, my easy guide below is set up to help you learn how to get your Australia tourist visa in the correct and cheapest way possible for your holiday Down Under.
Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) (Subclass 601)
- ETAs are available to citizen passport holders from: Brunei, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and United States.
- The ETA is valid for 12 months. It allows you to visit Australia multiple times within this period for up to 3 months at a time.
- The ETA can only be applied for if you wish to visit Australia as a tourist. In some circumstances you may be eligible to study for a short period in Australia if it is granted.
- You must be outside of Australia when you apply for the visa and also when a decision is made. Normally a decision is made within 1 day, but you should apply 2 weeks before your date of travel.
- Applications are made online. You will need a passport, email address and credit card to apply.
- There is a 20 AUD fee for online applications and you will be given a Tracking Reference Number (TRN) so you can follow your application using the Australian Visa Entitlement Verification Website (VEVO).
- You can also apply for an ETA at your nearest immigration office outside Australia or with a travel agent, airline or tour operator.
- When an ETA is granted you will not receive a stamp in your passport, but you will receive a confirmation, normally via email. You should keep a copy of this confirmation and have it with you when you travel to Australia. You must make sure you travel to Australia with the passport on which the ETA is granted.
eVisitor (Subclass 651)
- The eVisitor is essentially the ETA for European Union citizens. It is better because it is free.
- The eVisitor is open to citizen passport holders from Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Republic of San Marino, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
- The eVisitor visa is valid for 12 months. It allows you to visit Australia multiple times within this period for up to 3 months at a time.
- The eVisitor can only be applied for if you wish to visit Australia as a tourist. In some circumstances you may be eligible to study for a short period in Australia if it is granted.
- You must be outside of Australia when you apply for the visa and also when a decision is made. Normally a decision is made within 2-10 working days, so you should apply 2 weeks before your date of travel.
- Applications are made online, for which there is no fee. You will need a passport, email address and credit card to apply. You will be given a Tracking Reference Number (TRN) so that you can follow your application using the Australian Visa Entitlement Verification Website (VEVO).
- You can also apply for an eVisitor at your nearest immigration office outside Australia or with a travel agent, airline or tour operator.
- When an eVisitor is granted you will not receive a stamp in your passport, but you will receive a confirmation, normally via email. You should keep a copy of this confirmation and have it with you when you travel to Australia. You must make sure you travel to Australia with the passport on which the eVisitor is granted.
Visitor Visa (subclass 600)
- This Visa is a tourist visa that allows you to stay for a period of time greater than 3 months. It is open to a great range of citizen passport holders (see the full list here)than the ETA or eVisitor visas.
- You can apply for a Visitor Visa from outside Australia. You can also apply under the tourist stream of this visa from within Australia, providing your current visa is still valid and does not have a 8503 restriction attached to it.
- The Visitor Visa allows you to stay in Australia for a period of either 3, 6 or 12 months.
- The fee for this visa varies accordingly from 130 AUD – 335 AUD. If you hold a certain passport, you might be able to apply for a free or cheaper visa.
Hopefully this guide on how to get your Australia tourist visa, will help you work out which visa you need to travel to Australia and how to get it.
Don’t worry though if it all seems a bit daunting – they only try to make it hard because it’s so great once you get here!
Don’t let them put you off!
17 thoughts on “How to Get Your Australia Tourist Visa”
Interesting to know. When I lived in Japan, people would ask me about getting visas for Australia, which was weird really. I’m Australian so I’ve never needed to know.
I know it’s funny – when you’re actually from the country you never know about the required visa stuff for there, but people assume you will! Hopefully you found the article useful and might be more prepared when someone asks you next time!
This is really helpful – thank you for posting! We are thinking about visiting Australia in 6 months – so this information will be handy. We’ve been putting off China for a while because the process is quite complicated.
Glad you found the article helpful and hopefully you get to Oz soon, its really is a great country with so much to discover! Had no idea China was so complicated – Off to research now! …..
This was very helpful! You sum things up just like I do 🙂 very nice! I’ve been searching all over for this info and it just wasn’t making sense. Thanks so much!
That’s great to hear Elise! I found it all confusing too when I first came out to Australia, ao glad this article has cleared things up for you. Enjoy your time Down Under! 🙂
Additionally, anyone can apply an ETA for Australia if they’re citizen from these following countries: Brunei-Darussalam, Canada, Hong Kong (SAR PRC), Japan,
Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea,and the United States of America. Obviously they can apply directly on the government website https://www.eta.immi.gov.au/ETAS3/etas or opt to apply through a third party, just like I did because I don’t want a hassle on my application and I want an ETA fast so there. Anyhow, Australia is a great country to visit. Too bad I didn’t had a chance to experience Melbourne cup this year. Boo! since my schedule flight is schedule this Saturday.
Shame you missed the Melbourne Cup Tim – to be honest I’m not a massive fan of the day, but I know lots of people like it. Thanks for your useful tips and enjoy your time in Australia.
Can you let me know who applied for your ETA visa 601?
Its a week and a half and still no replies to my E651 visa application. So thinking to apply for the ETA visa via a third party.
Please let me know as this information cant seem to be found anywhere online. I’ve looked for a few days now.
Excellent post plus great information! This submit is very handy and for us. Thanks for giving valuable information and facts.
Great to hear, thanks!
Thank you for posting on this.
I would say it is worth mentioning that under evisitor(651) about 20-30% of applications are being pulled out for manual processing which means a week after applying the applicant will receive a request for further information.
It will take Australian Immigration about a month to reply regardless the applicant gets approved or rejected. Therefore I would suggest applying at least 1 month and half before intended travel date and DO NOT BUY the plane ticket until getting approved.
Thanks Cris, this is super useful to know 🙂
Thank you for posting on this.
Thank you for reading 🙂
Great Post! Thank You for sharing with us. This is very useful and helpful for us. Keep sharing…
Thanks so much