So you've decided to take a trip down under to Australia. But not so fast -- you can't just pack your passport and hop on a plane to the land down under. All visitors to Australia require an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) -- an electronic visa -- except for citizens of Australia and New Zealand. The visa, which is electronically stored, comes in three types:
Valid 12 months for multiple stays of three months maximum each visit.
- BUSINESS SHORT
Valid for up to three months on each visit within a 12-month period.
- BUSINESS LONG
Valid for up to three months per visit for the life of the passport.
The ETA is allowed for citizens of the following 32 countries - Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States and Vatican City.
Travelers must hold a passport from one of the following countries or regions in order to apply for an ETA online:
- Brunei - Darussalam
- Hong Kong
- South Korea
- United States
Travelers who don't hold a passport from any of the above countries can't apply for an ETA online. Instead, you may apply through a travel agent, airline or an Australian visa office.
Once a traveler receives an ETA, they can enter Australia as many times as they want during a 12 month period from the date the ETA is granted or until their passport expires, whichever comes first. The ETA allows visitors to stay in Australia for a maximum of three months on each visit. Visitors can't work while in Australia, but they can participate in business visitor activities including contractual negotiations, and attending conferences.
Travelers can't study for more than three months, must be free from tuberculosis and must not have any criminal convictions for which you have been sentenced for a total combined period of 12 months or more, whether or not the sentence/s were served.
To apply for an ETA online, you must be outside Australia and intend to visit for tourism or business visitor activities. You must have your passport, email address and a credit card to complete the online application. The cost is AUD$20 (around US$17) for a visitor or business-short visa, while the business-long visa is about $80-$100, and you can pay with Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Diner's Club and JCB.
Travelers can see a complete list of Australian visa offices and ETA contact information at the Electronic Travel Authority (subclass 601) website. U.S. citizens who are having trouble getting an ETA can contact the Australian Embassy in Washington, D.C.