Australian Visa Requirements for U.S. Citizens

American citizens along with citizens of 8 other countries traveling to Australia are eligible to apply for an electronic travel authorization or ETA. There are several ways to apply for and obtain an ETA. It can be done online through Australia’s Online Visa website, airlines, travel agents, and Australian visa offices.

The Australian Home Office lists several types of visas that can be obtained depending upon the specific reasons a person has for traveling to the country. All foreigners traveling to Australia must meet certain requirements in order to be granted a visa. If you are applying for an ETA visa, you must be traveling specifically for tourism or business purposes.

To qualify for an ETA or other Australian visas, you must:

  • Have a valid passport date with an expiration date that is more than 3 months from the date of arrival in Australia
  • Be free from any disease that may become a public health risk for Australian citizens
  • Not need costly medical or community services or require medical care/services that deny Australian citizens and permanent residents’ access to the same
  • Fulfill certain character requirements such as: not having a prior criminal record. Additionally, you must not have served cumulative jailtime of 12 months or more.

You may be required to submit yourself to medical examinations to ensure compliance with Australia’s health requirements needed for entry into the country. You may also be asked to provide documentation as proof of your good conduct, this can include a letter from an employer or a police certificate (also called a penal clearance certificate). If it is perceived that you may be a risk to the Australian public because of your criminal record, your visa application will be rejected by the Australian Home Office.

Do U.S. Citizens Need a Visa for Australia?

As a U.S. citizen you will be required to obtain an electronic travel authorization or ETA in order to be allowed entry into Australia. The process of applying for an ETA is very simple and can be completed online. The ETA allows you to stay in Australia for 3, 6 or 12 months depending on the duration for which you applied and were approved for on your ETA. You can use your ETA for multiple entries into Australia as long as your visa and passport are still valid during each entry.

How Do I Apply for an Australian Visa from the USA?

In order to obtain your ETA visa for Australia, you can visit the Australian Online Visa website. Once you are on the main page, you will see a green button that says, ‘Australian Visa Application’. Click on that and it will take you to a page where you will be asked to enter your personal details and passport information. You will also be asked to provide a valid email address and valid credit/debit card information in order to make a payment for your visa to be processed.

Make sure that the information you provide on your ETA visa application is the same as the information on your passport. Any discrepancy that is discovered can invalidate your visa subsequently, denying you entry into Australia.

How Long Does It Take for a U.S. Citizen to Get an Australian Visa?

Once you submit your application for an ETA, it will be sent to you electronically at the email address that you provided on your application within approximately 3 working days. It is possible that it takes longer than that depending on if there is any additional processing required on your application.

If it is taking longer than 3 days for your ETA to arrive, make sure to check your spam and/or junk folders. You might even be required to submit a new application if there are deemed to be any issues with the original one that you submitted.

After your application is processed and approved, you will receive your ETA via the email address you provided when filling out the application. You need to keep a copy of that on your handheld device and have a printout to take with you to the airport when you travel to Australia. You will be required to present both your passport and your ETA to airport officials before you are allowed entry.

The ETA will then be attached to your passport and this is what you will use to travel throughout Australia. If your passport expires whilst you are in Australia, your ETA will become invalid and you will not be able to renew your ETA from within Australia.

You are not allowed to work in Australia with an ETA visa; however, participating strictly in volunteer work is allowed. Also note, that you are required to let the Australian Home Office know in case your phone number and email address change whilst you are traveling within Australia.