Eligible citizens travelling for tourism or business to Australia are able to get an online visa, either the ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) or the eVisitor visa for Australia. The majority of foreign passport holders are required to get some kind of Australian visa before entering the country, with the exception of New Zealand citizens, who can get an Australia visa upon arrival.
What is eVisitor (visa subclass 651)?
The eVisitor for Australia is an online travel authority that electronically issues visas for Australia. Similar to the ESTA system in the United States, the eVisitor eliminates the need to physically go to an embassy or consulate to present a paper application.
The current eVisitor authorisation was introduced in 2008 to create a mutual short stay travel arrangement between Australian nationals and citizens of the European Union within the existing framework of the Australian visa system.
The eVisitor visa subclass 651 is available for citizens of European Countries online, while nationals of 8 non-European countries (United States, Canada, Brunei, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea) can instead apply for the ETA Australia (subclass 601) online.
Citizens travelling for tourism or business who are not eligible for eVisitor and ETA online can apply for an Australia visitor visa from a consulate or embassy.
How does eVisitor work?
It is necessary to meet the Australia visa requirements before applying for the Australian 651 visa. All applicants will be required to have a passport valid for at least 3 months from the entry date to Australia, issued by an eVisitor-eligible country.
It will be required to provide a current email address at which to receive the eVisitor visa for Australia, as well as to pay the eVisitor fee using a valid credit card or debit card.
Travellers will also need to indicate if coming to Australia for tourism or business purposes.
To request the eVisitor visa for Australia through the Australia visa application online, petitioners must complete a form with their full name, address and phone number, as well as all the data from the passport information page, including country of birth, passport number and expiry date.
Before the eVisitor can be approved, the applicant will also have to meet the Health and Character requirements for Australia. These involve not having a health condition that poses a public risk or burden to the Australian community, and not having a serious criminal record or having served jail time.
Additional family members cannot be included in an individual’s visa request. A separate application must be made for each family member who requires the Australia eVisitor, including those listed on the applicant’s passport.
What you can do with the eVisitor
The eVisitor visa for Australia allows its holder a stay for tourism to:
- Holiday in Australia
- Visit family or friends
- Enter Australia on a cruise ship (time spent on the cruise counts as time spent in Australia, if a round trip cruise)
The 651 visa for Australia also allows for business visits for activities such as to make general business inquiries, to negotiate or review a business contract, or to attend a seminar, conference or trade fair (if the organizers have not paid the attendee to participate.)
Paid work in Austrailia is not permitted with the eVisitor visa, although the holder may work in an unpaid volunteer role. The eVisitor does allow the traveller to study or receive professional training, but only if the studies are not the main reason for visiting.
How long you can stay in Australia with an eVisitor
The eVisitor visa permits a consecutive 90-day (3-month) stay in the country. However, it has a total validity of 12 months for entry into Australia. The Australia eVisitor is also a multiple-entry visa, meaning that the holder can enter and leave the country multiple times until their passport or the eVisitor expires, whichever comes first.
Eligible countries for the Visitor visa
Citizens from the following countries can apply online for the eVisitor visa (subclass 651) for Australia:
- Czech Republic
- The Netherlands
- San Marino
- United Kingdom – British Citizens
- Vatican City
Travel to Australia with an Visitor permit
After the application is submitted, the eVisitor visa for Australia should take around a day to be processed, as 90% of applications are processed within 24 hours. However, some requests may take up to 2 business days. The applicant will be able to print a copy of the eVisitor Australia upon approval and receiving the visa in their email inbox.
Before you travel
Travellers should make sure they have the passport they used to complete the application, as well as the printed copy of the eVisitor, before reaching Australia.
At the border
In addition to presenting the printed visa 651 Australia to border control, the visitor will be required to complete an Incoming Passenger Card, which provides passenger identification for non-Australian citizens.
At major Australian airports, eVisitor Australia holders can use a SmartGate to get through border control faster. This is an automated process which uses the traveller’s biometric passport and facial recognition technology to verify identity.
While in the country with the visa 651 for Australia, the holder is required to inform the Australian Immigration Authority of any changes to their information or situation, such as changes in phone number, email address, or relationship status, or the birth of a child.
The eVisitor for Australia will become invalid if the traveller’s passport expires as it is attached to the current passport. Those with an expired eVisitor visa cannot reapply while in the country and will need to request a different Australia visa type.
FAQ about Australian eVisitor
The Australian eVisitor visa (subclass 651) can be obtained only through an online application process. It was designed to be quicker and easier to complete than traditional paper visas so that most travellers only take a few minutes to submit their request.
Since the application system is completely digitized, petitioners do not have to make an appointment with an Australian embassy or consulate to apply.
Here is how to apply for the eVisitor visa for Australia:
- Complete the application form online in all of its parts
- Submit the relevant supporting documents
- Pay the application fee by credit or debit card
The eVisitor visa validity period is of 12 months (1 year) from the date it is granted. However, travellers cannot remain in Australia for the entirety of this time.
The eVisitor visa allows for multiple trips of up to 3 months (90 consecutive days) each. Holidaymakers can enter and leave Australia as many times as they please until their visa or passport expires.
There is no limit to the number of eVisitor visas one can apply for during their lifetime.
Please note that overstaying a visa may have serious consequences including fines and the possibility of jeopardising future visa applications.
It is not possible to apply for an eVisitor visa on arrival for Australia. This means that visitors are not allowed to request the visa at the airport upon reaching the Australian border. The border control officers will ask foreign nationals for already-approved visas.
However, the eVisitor visa application process is entirely electronic and quick to complete. Most requests are approved within hours from submission.
It is still strongly recommended to apply at least 2 days prior to departure to allow for potential delays.
The eVisitor visa is one of the fastest permits to obtain for Australia. It can take up to 2 days for the petition to be reviewed and approved, however, most visas are granted within hours.
To speed up the process, please make sure to:
- Answer all the questions in the application form truthfully and in full
- Upload all the supporting documents required
- Double check before sending the request
Most delays are caused by inaccuracies or missing documents in the application.