What is the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA)?
The Electronic Travel Authority (or ETA) is the name given to the most commonly used Australian Tourist and Business Visa, which allows you to stay in Australia for up to 3 months each time you enter Australia, within 12 months from the date the visa was granted. ETA is therefore a multiple entry kind of Visa.
- The Australian ETA differs from traditional visas in that there are no paper application forms to fill in and no visa label or stamp in the passport: everything happens online.
- The ETA is released by the Australian Government to passport holders form a list of specified countries and regions, among whom are the USA.
- To apply for an ETA (Visitor) visa, you must be outside Australia at the moment of applying and hold a passport issued by an ETA-eligible country or region (among whom are the USA – so a US passport will allow you to apply for an Australian ETA).
- You must apply for your ETA with the passport and passport number you will be travelling to Australia with, as the ETA visa will be linked to this number. If your passport is lost/stolen or replaced before you travel to Australia, you will therefore be required to re-apply for an ETA visa.
What are the conditions of the ETA?
Visitors to Australia must be willing and able to abide by the visa validity and conditions while in Australia. If you do not abide by these conditions, your visa may be cancelled or you may be subject to other penalties. These conditions essentially are:
- You must not work whilst in Australia. Limited volunteer work may be acceptable;
- You must not engage in any studies or training for more than three months;
- You must be free from tuberculosis at the time of your travel to Australia;
- The holder must depart within the validity of the Visitor Visa (ETA);
- If applying for an ETA with criminal convictions, you could be refused entry into Australia.
If the above quick reference points did not satisfy your need of information about Australian ETA visas, quick reading for more in-depth information on:
- How an Australian ETA differs from a Travel Visa
- Australian ETA Types
- Australian ETA Subclasses and Visa Streams
- Australian ETA-Eligible Countries
- Getting an ETA for Australia From The USA
- Australian ETA Requirements for US Citizens
- Australian ETA Application Process
- Australian ETA Approval Time
- Australian ETA Validity
- Australian ETA Price
Australian ETA: What it is and How it Differs From a Travel Visa
Many Americans planning their first trip to Australia may be confused by the visa regulations put in place by the immigration department of the Australian government, and most of them end up wondering “what is an ETA visa for Australia, and how it differs from a visa?“. If you are among them you are in the right place: keep reading to find all there is to know about the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) for Australia.
First of all, an Australian ETA is an electronic record of your authorization to visit Australia – essentially a travel visa. The main difference is that when you apply for an Electronic Travel Authority visa, you eliminate the need for a stamp on your passport or a printed visa.
Using the government ETA, you essentially have a visitor visa for Australia without the need of a traditional paper visa to enter the country. If you are wondering about an ETA vs visa, they are basically the same. An ETA is a visa, and it allows you to enter Australia as a tourist or as a business visitor. However, it is an electronic record housed in a database that is “virtually attached” to your passport: you do not need and ETA card for Australia, everything is done online as is digitally registered.
As an American visitor, Australia requires a travel visa if you plan to visit the country for tourism or business purposes, and ETA is the most used form of such authorization. Essentially, in most cases you cannot travel from USA to Australia without an ETA.
The electronic travel authority ETA for Australia is for travel to the country for short durations. Also known as a short stay visa or electronic travel authorization services, ETA is the fastest and easiest to obtain Australian visa for US citizens. Watch out though: an easy ETA is only for U.S. citizens and citizens of countries with visa-exempt agreements with Australia: as of 2023, the online ETA countries are Brunei, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea.
You can apply for an ETA visa online using our official application form: our agency will look at your enquiry as soon you apply online to verify it is 100% compliant with government requirements and the ETA issuing authority will then be the Australian Department of Home Affairs.
If you need more ETA support or help with your application, please feel free to send us a message in your preferred language via our contact information form. If any problem arises while filling in your application, you can also save your application or check the status of your application at any time.
Australian ETA Types
Australia implemented the Electronic Travel Authority system in 1996, and in 2001 the country began taking applications from residents of countries who needed a travel visa to visit Australia for vacation or business purposes.
From that moment, ETAs largely replaced traditional paper visas, as ETA-eligible countries no longer needed paper tourist visas, and the only difference between ETAs and tourist visas is that the electronic visas to enter Australia are digitally linked to passports.
The most common Electronic Travel Authority authorization is the tourist ETA visa subclass 601. When you enter Australia with a tourist visa 601, you can stay for up to three months during one year. You can use the visa to visit friends or family, take a vacation or enter Australia as a business visitor. You can stay or leave as many times as you wish during the 12-month period. If you wish to stay longer, you must instead apply for another kind of visa.
Also as a business visitor, with this visitor ETA you can attend meetings, conferences, review business contracts and take part in seminars.
However, you cannot work using this visa or study for more than three months using a tourist ETA. This visa also does not allow you to sell any services or offer any goods to the public.
Australian ETA Subclasses and Visa Streams
A visa stream is a category of visas that allow you to participate in certain activities as a visitor to Australia. For example, there are tourist streams for Americans who want to visit Australia, and there are frequent traveler streams for people who need to travel to the country often. Instead, a business visitor stream allows you to enter Australia for business reasons. Each stream has subclasses of Visas. In this context, an ETA falls under the tourist stream category and is known as a subclass 601 visa. Your country of origin often determines what type of visa you need to enter Australia. For example, a subclass 601 visa is the ETA visa for countries with visa-waiver programs with Australia.
As an example, a US visitor can also apply for a subclass 600 visa. The difference between a subclass 600 (Visitor) vs 601 (ETA) visa is a 600 lets you stay for up to three, six, nine or 12 months. The subclass 600 has different travel streams for different travel reasons. The streams include the sponsored family visa, the frequent traveler visa, the tourist visa and the business traveler visa. Even if you are from a country other than the US you may apply for a subclass 600 visa under a specific stream. A UD/601 ETA is for U.S. citizens.
Australian ETA-Eligible Countries
As of 2023, there are eight online visa ETA-eligible countries. The list of countries includes:
- Hong Kong
- South Korea
- United States of America
European travelers can instead apply for a visa online using Australia’s eVisitor system. The eVisitor system helps simplify the application process for travelers from European Union countries: it is a visa that lets you stay in Australia for up to three months, and it is good for one year. Instead of applying using a travel agent or government entity, also as a EU citizen you can apply online using your passport. In many cases, if you have entered all your information accurately and truthfully you will receive an instantaneous approval. Essentially, we could say that eVisitor is the equivalent of ETA for European citizens.
Australia requires residents from some countries to apply for a visa using traditional methods. So if you are not from an eVisitor- or ETA-eligible country, you may need to apply with the Australian embassy or consulate. Approval times can in this case range from 18-24 days depending on where you are from and the purpose of your visit.
Getting an ETA for Australia From The USA
So, “do U.S. citizens need an ETA for Australia?” the answer is YES. Australia requires all visitors from the U.S. to have a valid passport and visa to enter the country.
The ETA requirements for U.S. citizens are very straight forward, and as an American citizen with a valid passport and ETA, you will be allowed to visit Australia as many times as you want during a 12-month period for three months at a time.
However, you cannot have a criminal record where a conviction resulted in incarceration for more than 12 months and you must be free from tuberculosis. If you are at least 11 years of age and you intend to study in a class-room environment for a period greater than 4 weeks, you may also be required to pass a chest x-ray examination before commencing your studies.
As previously mentioned, you cannot work while visiting Australia using an ETA – in such case you must instead apply for an Australian Work Visa.
You also study or train for more than three months – in such case you must instead apply for an Australian Student Visa.
If you want to get an Australia visa online from the USA (ETA), you can apply directly here using our simple application form. Within a matter of one day or less, you will receive an answer to your ETA application. Many Americans who have used an ETA consider it the best and cheapest choice when traveling from the U.S. to Australia. However, make sure all your information is correct. Entering incorrect information could delay the approval process, and you may be required to provide additional documentation or other information.
If you do not feel that an ETA Travel Visa fits your needs, aside from the Electronic Travel Authority visa other visitor visas are available for U.S. citizens traveling to Australia.
Here is a list of alternative visas currently available online for America citizens that allow you to stay in Australia temporarily:
- Transit visa (subclass 771)
- Visitor Visa (subclass 600)
- Work and holiday visa (subclass 462)
- Long Stay Visa
- Student Visa
- Maritime Crew Visa
- Temporary Work Visa
Australian ETA Requirements for US Citizens
As a U.S. citizen, Australia has ETA requirements that you must meet before you can enter the country.
First off, you and your party must have eligible passports. Also, we recommend that from the day you enter Australia, your U.S. passport is valid for a minimum of six months: Australian Government does not strictly require this to release an ETA to US citizens, but many travel airlines will require a 6 months passport validity to allow US passengers travelling to Australia. If it does not meet these conditions, you will need a new ETA and new passport.
Australia also has health requirements for U.S. citizens. You must be free from tuberculosis at the time of travel to, and entry into, Australia. Also, in some cases you or your family may need a health examination before you can enter Australia. However, if you had an examination in the last 12 months, you may not be required to take another medical assessment. Finally, US citizens older than 11 years of age intending to study in class-room environments for 4 weeks or more may be required to pass a chest x-ray examination before commencing their studies.
Australia also has character requirements. For example, you may be denied entry in Australia if you have an extensive criminal record. When you apply, answer every question regarding any criminal history truthfully: Australian Government will considers all the circumstances surrounding your conviction. So, if you are truthful about a criminal record, the minister for home affairs may decide to grant your visa application.
Also, if as US citizen you owe the Australian government any money, you must pay back the debt before you are allowed entry. You can, in some circumstances, make an arrangement to pay back the money. Finally, if you are traveling with children, your reason to travel to Australia must also be in the child’s best interest.
Australian ETA Application Process
The long and drawn-out process of applying for a visa to travel to Australia is long gone. Today, it is easier than ever to apply online for an authorization to enter Australia if you live in a country with a visa-waiver agreement such as the US.
The process is simple:
- First, you enter your email address.
- Then, you will need to select your location as the United States since you are applying outside of Australia.
- You then enter all your personal details exactly as they appear on your passport (make sure you have your passport ready when you apply).
- Next, you will fill out any details regarding criminal history, if any.
- You finally submit all of your information and pay via Paypal or Credit Card (any valid Visa or MasterCard).
After you apply for your Australian ETA, you will receive a notification that your application and documents were received. From there, you will receive a written notification letting you know if your ETA was granted, or if you need to complete additional steps. When you receive any information such as a reference number, receipt or approval, you should print out a copy for your records.
However, there is no requirement that you print out any ETA document or information. A printable sample of your ETA will be sent to you by mail, and a non-official example is also available on our website for your knowledge, but there is no need to take the printouts with you on your trip to Australia.
When you will arrive in Australia, you will also need to fill out an incoming passenger card. All visa holders, including American ETA holders, must fill out the card. The card acts as an affirmation that you meet the health and character requirements as a tourist in Australia.
Once you enter Australia, you can then travel anywhere in Australia as long as you do not exceed the stay period. Also keep in mind that if your US passport expires while you are in Australia, then also your Australian ETA expires. You will then need to complete the entire process over again, including obtaining a new passport.
If your ETA expires while you are in the country, Australian officials may detain you and force you to return to the United States. Therefore, it is imperative that you notify Australian immigration officials immediately if there are any changes to your status.
IMPORTANT: As an American citizen, you cannot obtain an ETA on arrival when you visit Australia, you need to apply online before leaving the US.
Australian ETA Approval Time
The ETA visa processing time for Australia often happens instantaneously. Many U.S. citizens use an ETA as an urgent visa since the process is so fast. In most cases, you will receive a notification in less than one day. However, several factors determine how long the processing time takes. Here are some factors that affect processing times.
- Providing all necessary supporting documentation
- Responding to requests for additional information
- Checking on information you have provided
- Health, character and national security checks
- Passport eligibility
It is recommended that you do not arrange travel to Australia until you receive an ETA approval. We recommend that you apply for an ETA visa at least two weeks before the date you want to start traveling.
Australian ETA Validity
The Australia ETA visa validity period is one year, and it allows unlimited entries, for three months at a time maximum. In other words, you can leave and re-enter Australia as many times as you want – as long as each stay lasts no longer than three months. An ETA gives you multiple entries into Australia. However, this is a temporary visa that is valid for 12 months. Also, if the expiry date on your passport is shorter than the ETA expiry date, your visa is no longer valid. In that case, you will need a new passport that covers a sufficient length of time for the duration of your stay, and you will need an ETA renewal.
Australian ETA Price
Many people who travel to Australia wonder about the ETA visa cost. Fortunately, a short-term visa is not expensive. When applying online via our website, the TOTAL cost of an ETA for Americans visiting Australia is 69 USD. This total ETA visa cost for a subclass 601 ETA is the result of processing fees, and there is no tax charge for the actual visa, which is why and an online ETA is considered a cheap Australia ETA.
As an example, online Long-Term visas and Work and Holiday visas cost more: you can typically expect to pay more than $350 U.S for each Long-Term visa and more than $500 US for a Work and Holiday visa.