What is the Australia transit visa? (Visa Subclass 771)
Eligible passport holders transiting through Australia by air or sea on the way to another destination may apply for the Australia transit visa (subclass 771). The transit visa for Australia is also available for holders of the Maritime Crew visa (subclass 988) to enter an Australian airport before joining the crew of a non-military ship.
How long you can stay in Australia with the transit visa
Travellers are allowed to stay in Australia for up to 72 hours until leaving by air or sea when visiting with the Australia transit visa. However, the foreign passport holder must have a confirmed booking and permission to reach their final destination in order to get visa approval.
Maritime Crew members are allowed 5 days from arrival by air to sign onto the ship of their destination when entering Australia on a transit visa. The Australia visa for transit expires after 5 days, so they will be required to apply for a new transit visa for Australia every time they enter the country for purposes of working on a ship.
Some citizens are eligible to transit through Australia without a visa if arriving by aircraft. However, their stay in an Australian airport must not exceed 8 hours, they must not need to clear immigration, and they may not leave the airport transit lounge. They must also have a confirmed ticket and valid travel documents to reach and enter a third country.
Travellers who wish to stay longer or enter the country more than once are recommended to apply for an ETA or eVisitor.
Can you leave the airport with a transit visa?
Foreign passport holders who need to leave the airport transit lounge while passing through will need a valid Australia visa type. Travellers on an Australia transit visa are allowed to leave the airport and stay in Australia for up to 72 hours before leaving to their next destination.
In fact, some airports in Australia insist on the traveller having an Australia transit visa or another valid visa if passing through, including Gold Coast airport. Passengers passing through Cairns airport and Sydney airports are not permitted to stay in the transit lounge and must have an Australian transit visa to leave and access overnight accommodation.
Transit visa vs ETA or eVisitor: Pros and cons
The Australia transit visa is only valid for a single entry and stay of up to 72 hours. Travellers will be required to reapply for the Australian visa for transit for each entry into the country.
It is not possible to extend the Australia transit visa and citizens wishing to stay in Australia longer will be required to apply for a different type of Australian visa.
The ETA for Australia and eVisitor for Australia are multiple-entry electronic visas with a 12-month total validity period. This means that holders of an Australia electronic visa can enter Australia as many times as they like, including for transit, until the visa or the corresponding passport expires, whichever comes first.
Many foreign citizens eligible to apply for the Australia online visa (either ETA or eVisitor) will find it a better option than the transit visa for Australia, especially if they are a frequent traveller to the country. A separate transport visa is not required for those who obtain some type of Australia visa online.
FAQ about Australian transit visa
This depends on the nationality of the traveller and the amount of time they wish to spend in Australia.
- Those who need to stay in Australia for longer than 8 hours while they wait for their following flight will need a transit visa
- Those who arrive by means other than an aircraft will need a transit visa
- Those who do not have valid travel documents to enter their final destination will need a transit visa
- Those who need to clear immigration in Australia or leave the airport will need a transit visa
- Those who come from a country other than those eligible for visa-free transit will need a transit visa
The transit visa can be applied for online from anywhere in the world. The application process takes minutes to complete. However, it can take weeks and (rarely) months for the request to be reviewed and approved.
75% of applications are processed within 13 days, 90% of them within 32 days.
Those who are in a rush may consider applying for other online visas (like the ETA and eVisitor visa) that allow for a longer time in Australia and are usually approved within 2 days.
Yes, some travellers may need a transit visa even though they do not plan on leaving the airport while in Australia.
That is the case, for example, for:
- Those who need to remain in the airport for longer than 8 hours
- Those who intend to go through immigration checks at the airport
- Those who hold a passport issued by a country that is not eligible for visa-free transit through Australia
Please note that the transit visa allows for only 72 hours in Australia. Should you intend to remain longer (inside or outside of the airport), you will need a different visa.