Australia does not offer visa exemption to any nationality. Australia ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) is the closest thing to visa exemption.
The ETA has subclass 601 in Australia’s visa documentation. It’s also referred to as the Australia ETA visa or Australia Visa 601.
Even though ETA is synonymous with visa exemption, ETA is technically a visa that you must obtain before traveling. ETA can only be applied through the Australian ETA app.
- Eligibility: 33 nationalities are eligible
- ETA validity: ETA is valid for 1 year, unlimited entries for up to 90 days each time
- ETA fee: ETA is free of cost, but 20 AUD is payable for using the App
- Processing time: In most cases, the ETA is granted immediately.
If you haven’t already, read the Australia Visa Guide to familiarize yourself with Australian visa requirements, available visa options and entry procedure at the border.
Table of Contents
Understanding Australia ETA
The ETA is valid for 1 year from the date of issue.
ETA is electronically linked to your passport. If your passport expires, your ETA also expires or becomes invalid. In such a case, you would need to apply for a new ETA using the new passport.
Duration of stay
With an ETA, you can stay up to 90 days each time you enter Australia. There is no maximum time you can spend in Australia per year. There is also no minimum time outside of the country before you can enter Australia again.
If you make frequent visits to Australia, you may be asked about your reasons for traveling and have to prove that you are a genuine visitor.
Allowed number of entries
Australia ETA is a multiple-entry visa. You can enter Australia as many times as you want while the ETA is still valid.
When to apply
Most ETA applications are approved immediately. It may take longer if you make a mistake or if more documents are requested. Since the ETA is valid for 1 year, it’s smart to apply well in advance of your travels.
Extensions to the ETA are not allowed. You are allowed to apply for a different visa to extend your stay in Australia.
Australia ETA Requirements
Only the following 33 passport holders are eligible for the Australian ETA:
- Hong Kong
- San Marino
- South Korea
- United Kingdom (Citizens and Overseas Nationals)
- United States of America
- Vatican City
If you have a criminal conviction from any country, you are not eligible for the ETA and must apply for a regular Visitor Visa instead.
The following documents are required to apply for Australian ETA.
- A valid passport
- A credit or debit card for service fee
Your passport must be valid during your stay in Australia. Unlike other countries, there is no 6-month passport validity requirement for Australia.
In some cases, you may asked to provide some or all of the following documents.
- Reason for your visit, including intended place of stay and activities
- List of immediate family members and their details
- List of family, friends or contacts in Australia and their details
- Bank statements
- Evidence of your employment and commitments in your country
Australian ETA app
Australian ETA can only be applied using the mobile app. ETA cannot be applied online. You must have a smartphone or have to take the help of someone who has one.
If you do not have a smartphone or cannot get help from someone, your only other option is to apply for another type of Australian visa. Below are alternative options to ETA.
- European passport holders can apply for an Australia eVisitor Visa
- Non-European passport holders can apply for an Australian Visitor Visa
You can download the Australian ETA app from the following locations.
The smartphone must have the following capabilities to use the Australia ETA App.
- Camera: The phone must have a camera to take a photo of your passport. It must also have a front-facing camera to take a photo of yourself.
- NFC enabled: The phone must have NFC (Near Field Communication) capability and enabled
- GPS enabled: The phone must have GPS capability and location services enabled
Instead of a smartphone, you can also use a mobile device such as a tablet. But the tablet must have NFC enabled.
The ETA application itself is free of cost. There is a 20 AUD service fee to use the Australian ETA App.
The ETA App is developed by SITA and Arq Group in collaboration with the Australian Department of Home Affairs. So the service fee is charged by these third parties that built it to maintain and process your data.
In most cases, ETA is approved immediately. In some cases, it can take up to 48 hours.
The ETA processing may take longer in the following situations.
- You made a mistake while filling out the ETA application
- The home affairs could not verify the submitted information
- The home affairs requests for further information or documentation
ETA Application Process
How to apply
Australian ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) can only be applied using the Australian ETA App. So the first step is to download the app on your smartphone.
After you open the app, go through the following steps.
- Scan your passport to pre-fill your personal and passport details
- Take a live photo of yourself (selfie)
- Answer a few basic questions
- Pay for the service fee
- Submit your ETA application
The Australian Government has made a nice step-by-step ETA app guide to help apply for your ETA.
If you are the only applicant, the process is straightforward. You go through all the steps, pay the fee and submit the application.
Each family member must submit an individual ETA application. Family members can use individual smartphones or one smartphone for all.
If all family members are applying on the same smartphone, then the service fee for all of them can be paid together in the app.
How to track status
After you submit your ETA application, you will receive an email from the Australian Government informing you of the outcome of your application. This is usually within seconds after you apply.
If your ETA visa application is taking longer to process, you can check the status on the ETA App or Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) portal.
If your ETA visa application is approved, you will receive a Grant Notification email with your ETA attached.
Requires further information
If your ETA visa application requires further information, you will receive an email with a link to an online form. You must fill out the online form and attach any supporting documents requested. The result of your ETA application will be sent to your email.
If your ETA visa application is refused, you can apply for ETA again. But the outcome will likely be the same. In such a case, you will have to apply for another type of visa such as eVisitor or Visitor visa.
How to download approved ETA
You do not need to download or print your approved ETA. The ETA is electronically connected to your passport.
Airlines that operate to/from Australia have access to the Advance Passenger Processing (APP) portal. The airline check-in staff can verify if you hold a valid visa or ETA by scanning your passport. Therefore, the airline staff may not ask for your ETA print.
For some reason, if the airline staff at check-in asks for your ETA proof, you can just show the ETA approval email or the ETA pdf on your phone.
If you need any help with your ETA application, you can use the “Contact us” form in the App.
Procedure at the border
Countries eligible for the ETA are considered the lowest immigration risk by Australia. As such, going through the border with an ETA is usually quick and easy.
Since the ETA is digitally attached to your passport, you don’t need to print or show the ETA. If eligible, you can use the Smart Gate system which will allow you even faster arrival and departure.
You must fill out the Incoming Passenger Card on arrival. Incoming Passenger Card is mandatory for all visitors including Australian citizens.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is an Australian ETA the same as a visa?
The Australian ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) is a visa for all intents and purposes. The only difference is that the ETA is much easier to obtain than a regular Visitor Visa.
What is the difference between ETA and an eVisitor visa?
The difference between ETA and an eVisitor visa is that ETA is for select countries around the world, whereas the eVisitor visa is for European countries. Another difference is that the ETA costs 20 AUD because of the use of the ETA App, whereas the eVisitor visa is free of charge.
Other than the above, the ETA and the eVisitor visa for Australia have no differences in specifications: both are valid for 1 year for unlimited entries of up to 90 days each.
Some countries are eligible for both. It’s up to you which one you apply for.
Can I get an Australian ETA at the airport?
No, you cannot get an Australian ETA at the border. You must obtain it outside of Australia, before traveling. You must have a valid passport, a smartphone and a credit or debit card to apply for ETA.