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 travelling to the country, with the exception of New Zealand citizens. The ETA subclass 601 visa is available for citizens of 8 countries online, while citizens of European states can instead apply for the eVisitor (subclass 651) online.
Before requesting the ETA, it is necessary to meet the Australia visa requirements, which involve having a 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 for Australia through the Australian 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 is required to indicate whether the stay is for tourism or business, as well as providing credit/debit card details to pay the visa fee. A current email address to which the ETA will be sent upon approval must also be submitted.
It is necessary to meet the Health and Character requirements for Australia before a 601 visa for Australia can be approved. Those who have served more than 1 year of jail time are not eligible to apply for the ETA visa for Australia online but may apply for an Australia visitor visa or another type of visa.
What can you do with an ETA?
The Australian ETA 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 by the organisers to participate)
- Studying or completing a training course (as long as the studies are not the main reason for travelling to Australia. In such cases a student visa will be required)
- Participating in volunteer work (paid work is not permitted if on a 601 visa for Australia)
How long can you stay in Australia with an ETA?
The ETA 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 INto Australia.
Travellers can enter and leave Australia various times until the ETA or corresponding passport expires, whichever comes first.
Eligible countries for ETA
The ETA 601 visa FOR Australia is valid for citizens of the following countries for tourism or business purposes:
Countries not eligible for either of the Australia online visa options or those wishing to stay longer or for other purposes in the country 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 up to 2 business days to be approved, with 90% of applications processed within 24 hours.
The applicant will then be notified via email about the outcome of their 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 petitioner can then print a copy of the 601 visa for Australia to present at border control upon entering the country.
Before setting off for the airport, it is essential for travellers 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 traveller’s entry into Australia and also serves as a declaration that the non-Australian citizen meets the health and character requirements.
International visitors 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 traveller’s biometric passport to verify their identity and allow them access to the country.
Once inside Australia, the visitor can use their Australian visa (ETA) to travel all over the country, as well as leaving and coming back multiple times until the visa expires. However, the visa holder 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 visitor’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 need to request a different Australian visa type.
FAQ about Australian ETA
The application for the Australian ETA (Electronic Travel Authority, subclass 601) is quick and easy and can be completed entirely online.
This means that it is possible to apply for an ETA from one’s home or office as long as the applicant has access to the internet. There is no need to visit an Australian embassy or consulate in person.
To send the ETA request, applicants must:
- Fill out the application form
- Upload copies of the relevant supporting documents
- Pay the ETA application fee by debit or credit card
The Australian ETA is valid for 12 consecutive months (1 year). Throughout this time, holidaymakers can make as many trips to Australia as they wish since this is a multiple-entry permit.
However, each stay cannot exceed 90 consecutive days (3 months.) After this time, the ETA holder must leave Australia and can re-enter in the future or apply for a different visa before the 3 months are up.
Should one already know that they will need to remain in Australia for longer than 3 months, they may want to consider a longer-term visa that best suits their circumstances.
All visitors must obtain their valid travel authorisation for Australia prior to reaching the Australian border. This means that the ETA will not be issued at the airport.
However, most ETA permits are issued within hours if not minutes. If the applicant is rushing to the airport to start their trip, then, it is still possible to apply on the go from any device that can connect to the internet.
Please note: it is advisable to submit the request at least 2 days before the intended departure date whenever possible. That is to allow for potential delays.
Most ETA petitions are reviewed and approved within 48 hours from the moment they are sent, although many are approved quicker. All travellers who know in advance that they will visit Australia are, therefore, encouraged to apply at least 2 days before leaving.
Delays may occur for a variety of reasons, the main ones being:
- Incomplete or missing information in the application
- Missing documents in the application
- Public holidays in Australia
Visitors are advised to review their request carefully before submitting it to avoid potential delays.