All visitors to Australia, except New Zealanders, require a visa – electronic or paper – to enter the country; if you’re heading overland, you’ll also need to check visa requirements for the countries en route. Almost all applications are now made and paid for online. In the unlikely instance you need one, application forms can be downloaded from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship website whttp://www.immi.gov.au or sourced from Australian high commissions, embassies or consulates worldwide (whttp://www.embassy.gov.au).
The easiest option to find out which visa suits you is to visit the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s Visa Wizard at whttp://www.immi.gov.au/visawizard; this links to visa application pages based on a few multiple-choice questions. For nationals of European countries (including the UK & Ireland), the US, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea and some Middle Eastern countries, who intend to stay for less than three months this will be an eVisitor visa (for European nationals) or ETA (for US, Canadian and some Asian and Middle Eastern nationals). These computerized visas replace a stamp in your passport and are valid for multiple entries into Australia over periods of three months, six months or one year and applied for prior to travel, or through travel agents and airlines for a small administration fee when you book your flight.
Citizens of other countries, including South Africa, should apply for a tourist visa, valid for three to six months, which costs Aus$105, and can be lodged in person or by post to the embassy or consulate, or online at whttp://www.immi.gov.au; you’ll need to complete an application form and deliver it either in person or by post to the embassy or consulate. If you think you might stay more than three months, it’s best to get the longer visa before departure, because once you get to Australia extensions cost Aus$225. Once issued, a visa usually allows multiple entries, so long as your passport is valid.
Twelve-month working holiday visas are available to citizens aged 18–30 of many European countries (including Britain & Ireland), Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan and Korea. The stress is on casual employment: no single job is meant to last more than six months. You must arrange the visa several months in advance of arrival. Working visas cost Aus$235; some travel agents such as STA Travel can arrange them for you. A Work and Holiday Visa (subclass 462) offers the same deal for nationals of the US, Turkey, Thailand, Malaysia, Chile and Bangladesh (among others).
Australia has strict quarantine laws that apply to bringing fruit, vegetables, fresh and packaged food, seed and some animal products into the country, and when travelling interstate; there are also strict laws prohibiting drugs, steroids, firearms, protected wildlife, and heritage-listed products. Sniffer dogs and X-ray scanners for luggage are commonplace – if you are in doubt about an item declare it as you enter rather than risk a fine. You are allowed Aus$900 worth of goods, including gifts and souvenirs, while those 18 or over can take advantage of a duty-free allowance on entry of 2.25 litres of alcohol and 250 cigarettes or 250g of tobacco. To find out more about specific prohibited goods before you travel, visit the Australian Customs Service website whttp://www.customs.gov.au.