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Visas and ETAs to Australia – Which Do You Need for Your Travels Down Under?

By Lucky Luke, on December 15, 2018

Australia has long been a much-loved travel destination, and it shows no sign of slowing down. Every year, thousands of visitors obtain ETAs to Australia and arrive to take advantage of the great business and travel opportunities in the Land Down Under. 

From cosmopolitan, beachside cities like Sydney to incredible outback landscapes such as Uluru (Ayers’ Rock), Australia is full of diversity and interesting things to see and do. Whether you dream of climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, seeing Uluru at sunrise or perhaps relaxing by the beach on Hamilton Island, Australia is a dream destination for many.

wine glasses 

Those who enjoy fine dining and wine-drinking will also be spoiled for choice in Australia, as the country boasts delicious, multicultural cuisine as well as some of the world’s premier wine regions like the Barossa Valley. Plus, those who love the outdoors will be spoiled for choice when it comes to the hikes and trails that snake through Australia’s rugged landscapes.

If you’re planning to visit this gorgeous country, there are just a few things you should be aware of when it comes to getting electronic visas to Australia. 

Preparing for a Trip to Australia

Although Australia tends to be a laid back and friendly country, the border regulations are quite strict. In order to make sure your time in Australia isn’t disrupted by any complications, it’s important to get everything in order before you leave the United States. 

Visas to Australia

Citizens of the USA require a visa or an electronic travel authorization (ETA) to travel to Australia, no matter the length of stay. This includes if you are arriving on a cruise ship and entering Australia. 

The only exception to this would be if you are a dual passport holder of another country that does not require this (such as a dual Australian citizen) – but in that case, you must travel with both passports. If you are traveling on your US passport, you must have a visa or ETA. 

The most common options for visas to Australia for US citizens are as follows: 

Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) to Australia
In most cases, an electronic travel authorization to Australia is the best option for US citizens visiting Australia. 

Who can apply for an ETA to Australia?

If you are visiting for less than 90 days consecutively and are not planning to work, then you are generally able to apply for an ETA to Australia.

Most US citizens will have no issues getting an ETA to Australia, however there are some exceptions. If you have serious criminal convictions, are over 75 years old or have serious health problems such as tuberculosis, the process can be more complex. We encourage you to talk to an APVI visa expert about your individual circumstances.

Generally, however, the ETA to Australia will be available for US passport holders.

Note – do not get the ETA confused with the eVisitor Visa (651) to Australia. This visa is very similar to the ETA, however, it is only available to citizens of select European countries. If you are traveling on a passport from the United States of America, you should apply for the ETA.


How long does it take to get an ETA to Australia? 

Most of the time, applications for an ETA to Australia are processed within 24 hours – however we recommend leaving additional time, just in case. You don’t want to apply too far in advance, though, as the visa begins from when it is granted.

If you make a mistake in the application process, it can cause significant delays to getting your ETA to Australia. This is one of the reasons why we recommend using our expert application service. We assist thousands of travelers to easily get an ETA to Australia every year, so you can have total peace of mind.

Similarly, if you require an ETA to Australia urgently, we recommend you get in touch with us. We are industry leaders in securing urgent visas, and can make sure your travel plans aren’t thwarted by any visa issues!

What can you do with an ETA to Australia? 

An ETA allows US citizens to enter and remain in Australia for the purposes of tourism (including visiting friends and family), as well as short-term business such as attending a conference (as long as you are not being paid to attend) or business meetings.

You can also study for up to three months, however if your primary reason for visiting Australia is to study, there may be a better visa for you. We encourage you to talk to us about your options to study in Australia.

How long is an ETA to Australia valid? 

Once you have received your ETA to Australia, it is valid for up to twelve months from the date it was granted, or the length of your passport’s validity – whichever is shorter. 

You can enter Australia multiple times during the validity of the ETA, and stay for up to three months each time. For example, you can stay for 11 weeks, leave to another country for one week, and then return for a further 11 weeks.

The ETA is an electronic visa for Australia which is linked to your passport. You will not need a hardcopy stamp in your passport, as the ETA is sufficient and can be scanned at the border. We recommend you bring a copy of your confirmation letter with you, just in case.

As the ETA to Australia is linked to your passport, you must enter on the same passport as you applied with. If you lose your passport or it expires, you should let us or the relevant authorities know as you will need to re-apply. 

Other Visas to Australia
If you are planning to visit Australia for purposes other than tourism, certain business activities or short-term education, you may need a different type of electronic visa to Australia.

For example, if you are planning to work in Australia or sell goods to the public, you will need a business visa to Australia. This also applies if you are planning to volunteer in Australia, although there are some exceptions.

Australian immigration requirements are very strict, and people who work on an ETA or other tourist visas to Australia risk large fines and being barred from returning to the country. In many cases it is straightforward to get these visas, so it is best to do things the right way. 

Other Requirements for Entry to Australia

When you enter Australia, you may still be required to show evidence, such as a bank statement, that you have sufficient funds to support yourself for the duration of your trip, and that you have a return ticket home. We recommend you bring hard copies of these documents with you. 

Aussie Money

If you bring more than $10,000 AUD or equivalent (about $7,500 USD) in cash, then you will need to declare this on entry to Australia.

Australia’s quarantine laws are very strict in order to protect its pristine natural environment. There are heavy restrictions on bringing in food, plants, seeds, animal products and wood. If you are bringing any of these items, you should be prepared to declare them and have them checked at the border. We recommend leaving any non-essential items at home, as they could be confiscated and often cause delays.

There are also restrictions on the amount of tobacco and alcohol that can be brought into Australia. Make sure you declare these items, as the fines for not declaring can be enormous.

If you have an e-passport and are over sixteen years of age, you can use the e-gates at the Australian airport – you do not need any advance clearance to do so. As your electronic visa to Australia is linked to your passport, you should have no issues using the gates and clearing immigration quickly. 

Some More Tips Once You’re in Australia...

After you’ve gone through the process of obtaining your ETA to Australia and made your way Down Under, it’s time to sit back and enjoy your stay in this beautiful country.

Australia is a safe and friendly place, where local people are warm and hospitable to visitors from abroad. Australians are very helpful and will be most willing to assist you, usually with a big smile and a friendly greeting.

Australia’s size is roughly comparable to the entire USA (it’s about 23% smaller), but has fourteen times less people than the US. This means that you should be prepared for wide, open spaces – and long distances between cities and landmarks.

Don’t forget that Aussies drive on the left side of the road, so the steering wheel is on the opposite side of the car, too! Although it can take a little bit of getting used to, Australian roads are usually well-maintained and wide, so you’ll get the hang of it in no time! 

Australia is famous for its wildlife, and they range from the cute and cuddly creatures such as koalas, to the massive predators like sharks and crocodiles.

As most Australians will tell you, however, they don’t usually bother people – in fact, the most dangerous thing in Australia is usually the sun! Make sure you wear plenty of sunscreen, even on cloudy days. 

Undoubtedly, an ETA to Australia is the first step in beginning a great adventure to the Land Down Under. Whether you’re travelling for business or pleasure, it’s a fascinating and beautiful country that loves foreign visitors. 

American Passport and Visa International (APVI.COM) is a leader in securing visas for US passport holders, including ETAs for Australia. We’d love to help you with your travels to Australia. Call us at 800-766-0452 or visit us at
Lucky Luke

About the Author

Lucky Luke has a passion for travel and blogging. 


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