Visas and Passports in Australia

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: July 2013

Australia is a popular destination for tourists and those on working holidays. As there is a high demand for some immigrants, particularly skilled workers, many come for a more long-term stay as well. The first stage of preparing for immigration is to make sure you have the correct entry documents. To enter Australia, you will always need a passport to or an equivalent travel document if for example you are a stateless person or refugee.  The passport or other document must be valid for the entire length of your planned stay in Australia.  Depending on the reason for your stay, you may also need to provide various other documents and passport-style photos of yourself to complete the immigration process.

You will generally need a visa attached to your passport to enter Australia. However, tourists and business visitors, that is, those who come to Australia to perform business activities that do not constitute work, such as attending conferences and investigating job opportunities, may apply for an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) if they come from one of these countries:

The ETA links directly to your passport and allows you to enter Australia for stays of up to three months within a twelve-month period without needing a visa. You can apply for an ETA here:

You can find general information about visas in this section. More details about residence, family and work-related visas are in the three sections that follow. Due to factors such as Australia’s attractiveness as a tourist location, its remoteness from the rest of the world and the many different requirements that immigrants have, there are many different kinds of Australian visa.

Firstly there are three main divisions of Australian visa: temporary, provisional and permanent. Temporary visas are for short stays such as tourism, and permanent visa are for those who want to make Australia their home. A provisional visa, such as certain partner visas, is a kind of temporary visa that may lead to your being granted a permanent visa if you meet the required conditions.

After these divisions, visas are organised into ‘streams’, so, for example, Visitor visas can, depending on the circumstances, be part of the Tourist, Sponsored Family or Business Visitor streams. If you are not sure which visa you will need, the below visa wizard from the government’s highly informative immigration website should help:


You can apply for an Australian visa online, or download and print your visa application form via the government website here:

You can scan and attach documents to the online application, and, when it is complete, submit it to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC). Alternatively you can arrange an appointment and then visit your country’s nearest Australian embassy or consulate. You will need to take your completed application form, together with evidence that you have enough money to finance your stay (i.e. bank statements) and enough money to pay the visa fee, to the Visa Application Centre who will then supply you with the correct visa.

In addition to passport and visa requirements, all permanent and many temporary immigrants need to fulfil the approved health requirement. To do this, you will have to undergo a health examination, which may include a chest X-ray. The result of the health examination must show that you are in good health. All visa applicants are also expected to be of good character and may need to provide police certificates from all the countries they have recently lived in.




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