The United States of America and Australia are two of the wealthiest nations on the planet. The two countries have a very warm relationship shared over time. Both have English as their official language. They also have some of the most powerful passports in the world. For these and other reasons, it is normal for many people to make certain assumptions. One of these assumptions is that as an American citizen, you do not need a visa to enter any country in the world. We will know very soon if that assumption is correct.
Do US citizens need a visa for Australia?
Well, the resounding answer to that question is yes. This is a shock to many but even American citizens must get a visa before they are allowed entry into Australia. This does not diminish the strength of the American passport in any way. It actually has more to do with Australia than the United States.
Why Do US Citizens Need A Visa For Australia?
As stated earlier, the passport of an American citizen is one of the most powerful of all countries. To visit almost everywhere on earth as an American citizen is easy. All you need to have is your passport and your flight ticket. But, there are a few places in the world where even an American passport alone will not get you access. Australia is one of those places.
Shock will grip some when they hear this. Others will have a lot of questions. Some will even assume it might be because of some hostility between the two countries. That assumption is false. This is because the United States and Australia have excellent inter-country relationships. In fact, the third-largest number of visitors to Australia are Americans. Only New Zealand and China have more visitors streaming into Australia.
Thus, it is very clear both countries are quite close. They do a lot of trade together. They conduct joint military exercises and agree on almost everything. So, if that is the case, why does an American citizen need to get a visa to enter Australia? That is a question you are most likely going to ask and answers will be available in this section of this piece.
The reason why US citizens must get a visa before entering Australia boils down to the law of that country. According to the visa policy of Australia, no one can enter the country without a visa. It does not matter the country you are coming from. As long as you are a non-citizen, you need to get a visa.
This type of policy is a universal visa regime and it has been in place in Australia since 1994. It is not a new policy. Australia does not even seem to show interest in changing or amending the policy any time soon. The country also does not offer visas on arrival. Hence, as a US citizen, you have to apply for a visa like others. You can apply for an electronic visa here.
Entering Australia As A US Citizen
Okay, it is now established that you need to have a visa before you can enter Australia as a United States citizen. But, Australia has made the process easy and you can apply online. This electronic visa (E601 category) costs 20 Australian dollars. The entire processing is in a matter of seconds.
With the Electronic Travel Authority, you have some benefits as a US citizen. Electronic Travel Authority is the official name of the electronic visa. You can travel to and from Australia for a period of 12 months. But, you can only stay in the country for only 90 days in a stretch. Once you hit the 90-day mark, you have to exit the country and return again.
Information On The Australian Electronic Travel Authority (ETA)
Now you know what you need to enter Australia as a citizen of the United States. The next is to talk about the document itself. An Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) is the authorized document that empowers you. It allows you to enter and exit Australia. It is a digitally-generated document. There is a digital connection between the ETA and the passport you are carrying.
An ETA is ideal for short-term visits and stays for tourists. Others will also find the ETA useful. These are those who are into business. Such people are in Australia to attend a business event or they are there forother corporate purposes. That you have an ETA does not qualify you to work in Australia. There is another very interesting dimension to the ETA. Not all citizens of all countries can apply for it online.
Only holders of passports from certain selected countries can enjoy this advantage. These include the United States of America, Brunei, and South Korea. Others include Malaysia, Singapore, Canada, Hong Kong, and Japan. Those are the only countries from which their citizens can apply for and get the ETA online.
This specific type of ETA belongs to subclass 601. It commenced in January 1996. Then, the first country of the trial was Singapore. By the middle of 2001, applications were available online. It carries no visa application charge. The 20 Australian dollar fee mentioned earlier is the service charge. There are also some other conditions that go with the ETA.
There are some regulations that must be observed. This is applicable at the time of your travel to, and entry into the country of Australia. All those whose applications of ETA are successful must not have tuberculosis. Also, they must not have any criminal convictions. These are convictions for which the sentence on the case is a cumulative sum of one year or more. This does not matter whether the sentences have been served or not.
The process is a very easy one for US citizens. It is so easy that many will not believe it. It is possible for airlines to send in applications on behalf of American travelers. The travel agents in the United States of America too can do the same. Thus, if for one reason or the other you are unable to do the online application yourself, it is not a problem. Place a call to your favorite airline or travel agent and they will get it all done for you. It is actually that easy, easier than many people think.
Extra Information For United States Citizens Planning To Visit Australia
There are some other details that United States citizens are going to find very useful. That is the normal expectation at this stage. This is especially true for those who are planning to go to Australia any time soon for one reason or the other. This extra information is provided in the sections below.
Your passport has to be valid. It has to be valid at least at the time of entry. Only one page is for the entry stamp.
On entry into Australia, there are restrictions on the amount of money you can take into the country. That applies to you even as a US citizen. If you are traveling with more than 10,000 Australian dollars or its equal, it applies. You must declare such at the point of entry.
The same conditions apply when you are exiting. If you are leaving Australia as a US citizen, the same applies. If you have more than 10,000 Australian dollars or the equal, you must declare at the point of exit.
In any situation where you need help as a US citizen in Australia, there is a source of help. United States embassy and consulates are in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, and Perth.
Do not overstay your ETA or any other visa given to you by the Australian authorities. If you do so, there are consequences. This is true even if you do overstay for a short duration. Some of the consequences include detention, exclusion or even removal. It all depends on the decision of the Australian Department of Home Affairs.
Traveling with American ePassport:
There are those who will be traveling using a valid United States ePassport. For those, there are more requirements. The ePassport is a passport that has an electronic chip embedded in it. If you are using this and you are up to the age of 16 and above, pay attention. You can make use of the automated border processing system when you arrive in Australia.
This system is SmartGate and there are more details on it here. To make use of the SmartGate system, there are no extra processing or fees. There are more helpful information and details on the SmartGate website. On the same platform, you will see all the relevant airports in Australia. These are those airports that have keyed into the SmartGate system. There are 10 international airports in Australia that are on this system.
Australia, like other countries, is very strict when it comes to the control of diseases. There are entry restrictions on HIV/AIDS patients who want to live in Australia for life.