There are various types of visa available for travel to Australia, depending on the nationality of the applicant and duration and purpose of the visa. Citizens of eligible countries planning a short stay for tourism, transit or business are able to apply for an Australian visa online, either an eVisitor visa or an ETA for Australia (Electronic Travel Authority).
What is ETA (visa subclass 601)?
The ETA Australia is an online electronic travel authority, similar to the United States ESTA, that allows visas for Australia to be issued electronically, eliminating the need to supply paper applications to an embassy.
The majority of foreign passport holders are required to get one type of visa for Australia before traveling to the country, with the exception of New Zealand citizens. The ETA subclass 601 visa is available for citizens of 9 countries online, while citizens of European states can instead apply for the eVisitor (subclass 651) online.
Before applying for ETA, it’s necessary to meet the Australia visa requirements, which involve having a valid passport from an eligible country valid for at least 3 months upon entry to Australia.
How does ETA work?
Eligible citizens can get the ETA Australia through the Australia visa application online. Applicants are required to complete the form with personal information such as full name, nationality, address and contact telephone. All the data from the passport information page will also be requested, such as document number and issue/expiry dates.
It’s required to indicate whether the stay is for tourism or business, as well as provide credit/debit card details to pay the visa fee. A current email address to which the ETA will be sent upon approval is also required.
It’s necessary to meet the Health and Character requirements for Australia before the 601 visa Australia can be approved. Those who have served more than 1 year of jail time are not eligible to apply for the ETA visa Australia online but may apply for an Australia visitor visa or another type of visa.
What can you do with an ETA?
The ETA visa Australia is valid for the following purposes:
- A holiday in Australia
- Entering Australia during a cruise ( if a round trip cruise, as the time spent on the cruise counts as time spent in Australia).
- Visiting family or friends.
- Business purposes ( including attending a conference, trade fair or seminar, as long as the applicant is not paid to attend by organizers)
- To study or complete a training course (as long as the studies are not the main reason for traveling to Australia. In such cases a student visa will be required)
- To participate in volunteer work ( paid work is not permitted if traveling with the 601 visa Australia)
How long can you stay in Australia with an ETA?
The ETA visa for Australia permits the holder to stay in Australia for 90 consecutive days (3 months). However, it is a multiple-entry visa with a total validity of 12 months for entry to Australia.
Travelers can enter and leave Australia various times until the ETA Australia or corresponding passport expires, whichever comes first.
Eligible countries for ETA
The ETA 601 visa Australia is valid for citizens of the following countries for tourism or business purposes:
- United States
- Hong Kong
- South Korea
Countries not eligible for either of the Australia online visa options or those wishing to stay longer in Australia or for other purposes can apply for a Visitor visa for Australia or another visa type from their country’s Australian Embassy or Consulate.
Travel to Australia with an ETA
After the application is submitted, the Australian ETA will take around a day to be processed, with 90% of applications processed within 24 hours.
The applicant will then be notified via email about the outcome of the ETA application, whether:
- The ETA Australia has been approved.
- The applicant has to make a new application.
- The application has been referred for further assessment. The status of the application can then be followed using the online Check an ETA option.
Before you travel
If the visa is approved, the applicant will receive the Australian ETA in their inbox, providing the correct email address has been supplied. The applicant can then print a copy of the 601 visa Australia to present at border control upon entering the country.
Before setting off for the airport, it’s essential for travelers to make sure they have the printed copy of ETA, as well as the passport they used to complete the application.
At the border
All foreign citizens arriving in Australia are required to complete an Incoming Passenger Card, including ETA Australia visa holders. This document provides passenger identification and a record of the traveler’s entry to Australia and also serves as a declaration that the non-Australian citizen meets the health and character requirements.
Travelers will be able to get through border control faster if they use one of the SmartGates installed at the 9 major airports in Australia. This automated process uses facial recognition and the traveler’s biometric passport to verify their identity and allow them access to the country.
Once inside Australia, the traveler can use their Australian visa (ETA) to travel all over the country, as well as leave and come back multiple times until the visa expires. However, the traveler is required to advise the Australian Immigration Authority of any of the following while in Australia:
- A change of phone number or email address.
- A change in relationship status.
- The birth of a child.
As the ETA Australia is attached to the traveler’s current passport, the visa will become invalid if the passport expires. Foreign citizens in Australia with an expired ETA cannot reapply while in the country, and they will be required to apply for a different Australia visa type.