Australia ETA Visa (Electronic Travel Authorization): The 601 Visa For US CItizens

Oct 21, 2022

14 min read

Australia requires all its visitors to apply for travel authorization that grants them entry to their breathtaking country. Here, you'll learn everything about Australia's Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) specifically and how you can easily obtain your own ETA and the types of Australian Tourist Visas available.

Surrounded by the pacific ocean is a noble continent known as Australia. There, you'll be embraced by Australia's rich history, incredible culture, and vibrant beauty. Tourism opportunities in Australia are endless. The abundance thereof is almost unbelievable, from the awe-inspiring landscapes of Kangaroo Island, the picture-perfect beaches of Henley, to the humbling culture of the Aboriginals. No wonder Australia is your next adventure!

Australia Opera House

What Types Of Australian Tourist Visas Are Available For Visitors?

You'll find that you can apply for 3 different types of Australia visas that will allows short term visits to Australia. Each visa has its own requirements and application process you need to follow to obtain it.

Keep in mind that Australian citizens and citizens form New Zealand don't need to apply for these visas.

First, I'll briefly talk about each respective visa:

What Is The Australian Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) Visa (Subclass 601)?

This type of visa will allow its visa holders to visit Australia as many times as they want for up to 1 year. You'll be allowed to stay for a maximum of 3 months for each visit. The process of getting your ETA is relatively simple and can be done with your phone (more about this later). However, only certain countries are eligible to apply for this type of visa.

In this post, I'll only focus on the ETA visa for US citizens and other eligible countries.

What Is The Australian eVisitor Visa (Subclass 651)?

This is a free visa that will allow multiple entries for 12 months. With the eVisitor Visa, you're allowed to visit for a maximum of 3 months within the granted 12 month period. It's worth mentioning that you won't be able to extend this type of visa. The eVisitor Visa is typically available for a number of European Countries, and can't be applied for if you're a US citizen.

What Is The Australian Visitor Visa (Subclass 600)?

The Australian Visitor Visa is generally available to all nationalities. It can be used for non-essential purposes such as tourism and short business trips. With this visa, you're allowed a stay for up to 3 months. However, it's possible to get an Australian Visitor Visa that allows a stay of up to 12 months (only granted under specific circumstances). Unlike the visas mentioned above, the Australian Visitor Visa isn't free and requires you to pay a visa application fee by debit or credit card.

australia visa

What Is The Australian ETA Visa?

As I mentioned, I'll only be covering the Australian ETA as this is the visa type I (an American citizen) regularly use for my trips to Australia.

The Australian ETA visa for US citizens will allow you to visit Australia for a duration not exceeding 3 months within a 12 month period. In addition, the Australian ETA will typically allow you to visit Australia for purposes that include:

Furthermore, the Australian ETA is free and only requires you to pay a small service fee of $14.22. As long as you hold an eligible passport, you can easily apply for your ETA from anywhere using the online services provided by Australia.

Next, I'll discuss:

Who Is Eligible For The Australian ETA?

The following passport holders of the following countries are eligible to apply for their own Australian ETA:

Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong (SAR of China), Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Monaco, Norway, Portugal, Republic of San Marino, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan (excluding official or diplomatic passports), The Netherlands, United Kingdom—British Citizen, United Kingdom—British National (Overseas), United States of America, Vatican City

What Business Purpose Activities Can I Attend With My Australian ETA?

As I mentioned, the Australian ETA will allow you to travel to Australia for non-essential purposes, including tourism and short business purposes. Short business purposes are defined as:

  • make general business or employment inquiries
  • investigate, negotiate, sign or review a business contract
  • undertake an activity as part of an official government visit
  • take part in a conference, trade fair, or seminar. The organizers cannot pay you to take part

With the ETA, you're not allowed to do the following:

  • work for or provide services to a person, business, or organization
  • sell goods or services to the public

How Long Can I Stay In Australia With The Australian ETA?

The Australian ETA allows you to stay in Australia for 3 months in any 12 months (or the period your visa is valid for). Here's the cool part, the ETA allows multiple entries into Australia. So each time you re-enter Australia, your 3 months restart. Meaning, you can remain in Australia for 3 months after each entry.

Keep in mind that when you plan to re-enter Australia, you'll be asked to present a valid purpose for your trip. Australian authorities hold the right to determine if you're a genuine visitor or not. If they conclude that you're a genuine visitor, you're ETA will be canceled, and you won't be able to re-enter Australia.

Also, you can't extend your Australian ETA. So if you plan an extended stay, you'll need to reapply for your ETA or apply for a different type of visa that allows such purposes.

Is The ETA A Physical Visa?

No, the ETA you receive is a digital visa that is linked to your valid passport. Therefore, you won't get a traditional " visa sticker" when applying for your Australian ETA.

Keep in mind that if your passport expires, your ETA will automatically expire as well, even if it's still valid.

Does Each Family Member Need To Apply For Their Own Australian ETA?

Yes, you won't be able to include your family members in your own Australian ETA application. Each family member that plans to join your visit must apply for their own Australian ETA and submit their own ETA application.

What Are The Australian ETA Visa Requirements?

There are certain specific visa requirements and travel documents requirements you need to meet to be eligible for the Australian ETA. Eligibility will include the following:

Have An Eligible Passport

As I previously mentioned, there are only certain passport holders that can apply for the Australian ETA. Therefore, if your passport isn't eligible, you don't qualify to apply for the Australian ETA. Click the provided link to see the list of nations that are eligible for the Australian ETA.

Be A Genuine Visitor

A particular requirement is that you must be a genuine visitor. A genuine visitor is defined as someone who plans a temporary stay in Australia and obeys the conditions and stay period attached to their visa.

Meet Australia Health Requirements

In order to qualify for the Australian ETA, you must meet Australia's health requirements. Generally, you'll be required to present a health examination that proves you meet the health requirements. Your health examination will be assessed by a Medical Officer of the Commonwealth (MOC). The dedicated MOC will determine if you meet the health requirements.

Meet Australia's Character Requirements

Bear with me. I know this might sound ridiculous, but it's not as complicated as it seems. In general, most applicants will most probably meet these requirements. The character requirement is simply required to prove you won't pose a threat to Australia's community.

When you apply for your Australian ETA, you'll be required to:

  • Present a valid criminal record certificate
  • Answer a few questions (as truthful and accurate as possible)
  • Provide additional information if it's requested from you

Keep in mind that the Minister for Home Affairs will consider all circumstances. Therefore, there is still a possibility that you'll be granted your ETA even if you have some minor criminal offenses.

After you apply for your Australian ETA, you'll be required to:

Learn more about the Character requirements for visas on the AU Government Department of Home Affairs.

Pay Outstanding Dept In Australia

Before you're allowed to travel to Australia or even apply for your Australian ETA, you'll need to pay any outstanding debt you may have in Australia. This also includes debt a friend or family member of yours has. Meaning, even if you don't have debt and your family member does, they'll need to pay it first before you can apply for your ETA. This applies to each applicant who plans to apply for their Australian ETA.

In short, if you owe the Australian Government money, you or any family members must have paid it back (or have made arrangements to pay it back).

Be In The Best Interests Of The Child

Suppose the ETA Visa is not in the best interests of children (anyone under the age of 18). In that case, authorities have the right to deny their visas. It's unclear what falls under "best interests of the child", but this is rarely a problem.

Australia Map

How Do I Apply For Your Australian ETA Visa - Step-By-Step Instructions?

Applying for your Australian ETA is relatively simple as long as you know what to do. Don't worry if you don't have a clue. I'll show you just how easy it is.

It's worth mentioning that if you have previous criminal convictions, you'll need to apply for an Australian Visitors Visa (subclass 600) to provide evidence of your criminal record. To apply for the Australian ETA Visa, you can follow these steps:

Step 1 - Check That Your Passport Is Valid

The first thing you need to do is check that your passport is eligible and valid. As your ETA will be valid for a year, I recommend that your passport has a validity of at least 1 year. Remember, if your passport expires, your Australian ETA will automatically expire as well.

Step 2 - Start The Online Application Process

Unfortunately, the only way you can apply for your Australian ETA is through Australia's dedicated app. You can find it on Apple Store or Google Play Store. There aren't any other ways you can apply for your Australian ETA. Suppose you can't access the app or don't have an eligible passport. In that case, you need to apply for another type of visa through ImmiAccount or by using the trusted service of Atlys.

It's possible for third party services like travel agents to apply on your behalf. However you'll need to present during the application process.

To apply for your Australian ETA using the ETA app, you'll need:

  • A mobile device with the camera-enabled. You'll need to take a photo of yourself and a photo of your passport, which includes all your passport details.
  • Near-field communication (NFC) must be enabled on your mobile device.
  • Location services must be enabled on your mobile device.
  • You'll need to submit a valid email address.
  • A valid payment method that is ready to pay the service fee.

Keep in mind that each applicant applying for the Australian ETA will need to complete their own application form using the app.

After downloading the app:

  • Scan your passport to pre-fill your name, date of birth, passport number, and other details
  • Take a photo of yourself
  • Answer some questions, including whether you have any criminal convictions or any last names. It will also ask for your contact details in Australia.
  • Pay the required service fee.
  • Finally, submit the application.

Keep in mind that all the information you provide must be correct and accurate. If the information you provide is incorrect, the visa processing time might be delayed, or your Australian ETA might be rejected. Therefore, always double-check the data and ensure that you answer all the questions as truthfully as possible.

Step 3 - The Australian ETA Visa Processing Time

Once you've submitted your application, you'll need to wait for your visa to be processed. Usually, you'll be notified about your Australian ETA immediately. However, sometimes there might be a delay in the processing time (12 hours). Keep checking your emails, including your junk mail folder, for any written notifications.

The reason why your application can take time to be processed include: if the application is not completed correctly, if authorities require more information from you and in some cases, it might take time to verify the information you provide.

You can check your Australian ETA on the AU Government Department of Home Affairs Website.

Step 4 - Receive Your Australian ETA Visa And Relevant Information

After a successful ETA application, you'll be informed about the details of your Australian ETA via email. The information you'll receive include:

  • notify you that your Australian ETA has been granted. It will also include your visa grant number, the date your visa starts, and visa conditions.
  • notify you that your application cannot be processed or approved without further information

In the case where your ETA can't be processed without further information:

  • You'll need to apply for another type of visa. If you decide to reapply for your Australian ETA, the outcome will most probably be the same. Therefore, applying for a different kind of visa that suits your needs is the best option.
  • If you have any missing information, you'll be notified to contact the Australian Visa Office and provide the required information. After receiving the information necessary, the office considers if you're eligible for an Australian ETA.

You'll always be notified about the reason why your Australian ETA is unsuccessful. Also, if your application is unsuccessful, the service fee will not be refunded.

And that's about it. You have now successfully applied for your Australian ETA visa and travel to Australia. Nonetheless, there are still a few things you need to consider before you board your flight.

Before Traveling To Australia

Before traveling, ensure that you have your visa and your valid passport. Keep in mind that your ETA is digitally linked to your passport and will be checked at the border. Without your passport, you won't be able to enter Australia.

Once you're at the border, you'll need to complete the mandatory Incomming Passenger Card.

Congratulations, you now have your new Australian ETA! After this guide, you can confidently apply for your new ETA and enjoy your next adventure in Australia.

What Are The Visa Fees For The Australian ETA Visa?

The only fees you need to pay for the Australian ETA Visa is the service fee provided by the app. You can expect to pay 20 AUD or $14.22. Keep in mind that these amounts can change at any time.

Important COVID-19 Notice: Currently, only fully vaccinated travelers with a valid visa can travel to Australia. Check the latest travel restrictions to learn about exemptions or simply use Atlys's up to date COVID-19 tool to check Australia's COVID-19 status.

Tourist at Australian Beach
Written By: Kaylee Young
Fact Checked By: Richard Nathan

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Need Any Vaccinations To Travel To Australia?

After the Covid pandemic people currently entering Australia do not need to provide evidence of vaccination status.

What If I Want To Migrate To Australia?

Explore visa options on the Department of Home Affairs website for options to become a permanent resident or join a partner or family in Australia.

Are Non-citizen Passport Holder Eligible To Apply For An ETA?

There are specified passports that are eligible to apply for an ETA. Individuals who hold a non-citizen passport, certificate of identity or other travel document cannot apply for an ETA.

Can I Extend My ETA?

You can't stay in Australia longer by extending an ETA. You must apply for a new visa if you want to stay longer.

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