Australian Visa Requirements for Cruise Ships, Yachts and Pleasure Crafts

australia visa requirements cruise ship yacht

If you’re planning to enjoy the almost 60,000 km of Australian coastline while on your cruise and explore the most famous Australian coastal cities from a different perspective, you may be wondering what documents you need for a cruise to Australia and whether you’ll need to apply for an Australian visa.

Almost all foreigners visiting Australia will need an Australian visa or travel permit. This article includes useful information about Australian immigration policies for cruise ships, yachts and pleasure crafts as well as how to meet the Australian visa requirements when reaching Australia by sea.

Do Cruise Ship Passengers Need a Visa for Australia?

Foreign citizens are required to obtain a visa in order to travel to Australia — no matter whether they plan to arrive by plane or boat. The only exception is represented by New Zealand citizens.

You must obtain a visa for Australia if your cruise:

  • Begins or ends outside Australia and visits Australian ports
  • Begins and ends in Australia, lasts for up to 30 days,  and visits ports of other countries.

This means that all foreign passengers on a cruise to Australia will need to apply for an appropriate Australian visa or travel authorization prior to departure or they will be denied boarding. No visa on arrival will be granted.

The master of a vessel sailing to Australia is required by law to let Australian authorities know in advance that they arriving. On top of the details of their craft and journey, they are also obliged to provide information about all staff and guests traveling on their craft, including name, date of birth, nationality and passport number, and recent illnesses or diseases. This means that you will probably be asked for this information when purchasing your ticket and if applicable, you may need to obtain medical clearance (as well as a visa) before boarding.

Remember that you need a passport when you enter a foreign country’s waters, even if you’re not planning to disembark in that country. That’s why your passport is one of the most important documents to bring on a cruise to Australia.

It’s important that, regardless of your visa status and cruise itinerary, you have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after you intend to leave Australia. Sometimes while you explore the land, your passport may have to remain on board for the Australian authorities to process. Make sure to have a copy of your passport with you at all times.

How to Get an Australian Visa for Cruise Passengers

Fortunately, obtaining a short-term visa to enter Australia for tourism purposes is usually a straightforward process. The great majority of travelers will also find that they can apply for an Australian visa online from anywhere in the world.

Tourists reaching the Australian shore will most likely need to apply for one of the following 3 visas: Electronic Travel Authority (ETA), eVisitor visa, and Visitor visa.

Australia ETA for cruise ship passengers: Eligibility and Requirements

The ETA for Australia is a multiple-entry travel authorization that allows eligible foreigners to stay in Australia for up to 90 consecutive days.

Travelers can apply for an ETA for Australia online and 90% of applications are processed within 24 hours. Visa requirements include providing personal and contact information as well as copies of a valid passport issued by an eligible country, and the payment of processing fees.

ETA eligible countries are:

Entering Australia by Boat on an eVisitor Visa

Similarly to the ETA, the eVisitor visa for Australia eliminates the need to physically visit an embassy or consulate to apply for a visa. The application is completed entirely online and will require personal and contact information, a valid and eligible passport, and the payment of a processing fee.

Countries eligible for the eVisitor visa for Australia are:

Visitor visa for Australia: Who needs to apply?

Those who are not eligible for an ETA or eVisitor visa will likely need to apply for a visitor visa for Australia before boarding. There are several subclasses for the visitor visa depending on the traveler’s circumstances (mainly, the applicant’s nationality and their travel purposes).

Different visitor visa subclasses have different validities and application processes. Some applicants will be able to apply online, others will need to visit an embassy or immigration office in person.

Sailing to Australia: Australia’s Ports of Entry

The above Australian visa and immigration policies apply to all foreign passengers, whether they visit Australia on a cruise, yacht, or pleasure craft. Similarly, the same rules apply to guests of boats arriving at all Australian ports of entry.

The following is a list of Australian ports of entry by state:

  • New South Wales: Coffs Harbour, Eden, Lord Howe, Newcastle, Norfolk Island, Port Kembla/Wollongong, Sydney.
  • Northern Territory: Darwin, Gove.
  • Queensland: Brisbane, Bundaberg, Cairns, Gladstone, Mackay, Southport (Gold Coast), Thursday Island, Townsville, Weipa.
  • South Australia: Port Adelaide, Port Lincoln.
  • Tasmania: Burnie, Devonport, Hobart, Launceston.
  • Victoria: Geelong, Melbourne, Portland, Westernport.
  • Western Australia: Albany, Broome, Bunbury, Carnarvon, Dampier, Esperance, Fremantle, Geraldton, Port Hedland.