How to get an online ETA, Australia tourist visa for your short-term, non-work stay. Do it yourself. It’s cheap, easy and quick.
Every non-Australian tourist must show a valid visa to be permitted entry into Sydney, or anywhere else in the country.
Australians coming in from overseas must have a valid passport to prove their citizenship.
New Zealanders are automatically issued a visa on arrival, provided they are travelling on their New Zealand passport.
Every other person must obtain an Australia tourist visa before arriving. Luckily it’s quick and easy to get online.
About the Australian Electronic Visa
An Australian electronic visa is called an Electronic Travel Authority or ETA. Officially it is called an Electronic Travel Authority subclass 601. Sexy name, right?
When you have an ETA you don’t need a physical visa or passport stamp. The information is stored electronically and recovered by immigration staff when they read your passport.
The visa is valid for twelve months from the date of issue, or less if your passport is valid for less than 12 months. You must use the ETA within twelve months or before the expiry date of your current passport (whichever comes first).
When you enter Australia you must have the same passport you used to apply for the ETA. You will need to apply for a new ETA if your passport expires and you are issued with a new one.
Within the ETA’s validity period you can freely come and go to and from Australia but you cannot stay longer than three months at a time.
In other words, after three months in Australia you have to leave the country.
You can come back in at any time during the ETA’s twelve months validity if you want to pick up your Australian holiday or business again.
There is no minimum time you have to stay away. You can enter Australia up until the last day of the validity of the ETA.
You may then stay in Australia for up to three months. This effectively gives your ETA 15 months validity. But it’s not designed for repeated three month visits with only short breaks between them.
The ETA is also not designed for people:
- intending to stay permanently in Australia; or
- looking for an Australian work visa for paid employment in Sydney or elsewhere (apply for the Temporary Business Entry Long Stay (subclass 457) or another appropriate class of visa )
Online Australian Visa Conditions
If you have a European passport go to Australian visas for Europeans for step-by-step instructions.
To visit Sydney on an ETA you must hold a passport issued by one of these countries:
- Hong Kong SAR
- South Korea
- United States of America
You can’t apply for an ETA online if you hold a UK British National (Overseas) (GBN) passport. People who don’t hold one of the listed passports, or who hold UK British National (Overseas) (GBN) passports, may still be eligible for Australian e600 visas online.
Go here to check your Australia tourist visa eligibility.
You should start the ETA visa application Australia process at least two weeks before you plan to leave. You must be outside Australia to apply.
When you apply you will need to certify that you
- do not suffer from tuberculosis, and
- do not have any criminal convictions which carry a sentence of twelve months in total (whether actually served or not)
You can apply
- at an Australian visa office
- through a travel agent, airline or other visa service provider
It’s super easy to apply for Australian visa online. In most cases it will be issued immediately, during your online session. It’s almost always issued within 24 hours.
You will be given a reference number which lets you check an ETA issued online through the site. Note that it won’t let you to check an Australia tourist visa obtained offline, for example through a travel agent or airline.
It is for your records only and is not an official document. It will not be recognised by immigration officers in Sydney.
Get an ETA Visa for Australia Online
Go to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and click on “Apply Now” in the blue box on the screen.
After signing a privacy statement you will be taken to the first part of the form for your passport details. There are lots of help buttons – little question marks to the right of each field. Click them if you don’t quite understand what you need to do.
After completing the passport details you will be asked for the purpose of your visit to Sydney.
European passport holders will be redirected to the eVisitor Service for their Australia tourist visas.
There are two types of ETA available:
Sydney Tourist ETA
The first type of Electronic Travel authority is a Visitor/Tourist ETA.
This is for you if you’re coming to Sydney to visit friends or family, for recreation or for other Sydney tourist activities. You are not allowed to work in any sort of paid employment under the terms of this Australia tourist visa.
Australia Visit Visa – Business
The second type of Electronic Travel authority is a Short Validity Business ETA. This is not an Australia work visa.
- Use this for your Sydney business meetings, training, conventions and conferences
- Work, as such, is not allowed; except for a one off limited period to do something that can’t be done by any Australian citizen or permanent resident
Family Vacation Planning
If your family joins you for a short Sydney holiday you’ll need to get a separate ETA for each person. Even minors (under 18s) who are on your passport will need their own Australia tourist visa. It doesn’t matter whether you’re on a tourist or business ETA, they’ll need their own.
Young children should not be applying for a business ETA, even if that’s what their parent has.
The terms and conditions of entry, length of stay and exit rules are the same for both types. You don’t need to all carry exactly the same ETA.
Apply for what makes sense for each person.
When you apply for an ETA for a child who is in your passport, enter the passport details exactly as in your own application. Just replace the name, date of birth, sex and country of birth with your child’s details as they appear in your passport.
Australia Tourist Visa Online Cost
There is an AUD$20 fee to process each online ETA application. Airlines and agents may charge a further fee for their Australia tourist visa services if you go through them.
The fee is payable irrespective of your success or failure in obtaining the ETA.
After You Have Your Visa
You’ll need to organise your flights. Here are my tips on getting the cheapest flights to Sydney.