The sad fact at the moment is that despite the many natural attractions of visiting Australia as a tourist, this is unlikely to become a reality while the Covid-19 pandemic rages unchecked around the world. Australia has a strict policy on entry to the country at the moment that prohibits anyone who is not an Australian citizen or resident from entering. Even many Australians cannot get back to their own country because of caps on flights, the cost of flights and the cost of mandatory 2-week quarantine. This article is written in the hope that eventually things will get back to ‘normal’ and foreigners will once again be welcome to visit Australia.
Visiting Australia as a Tourist – three Categories of entry Pre and Post-Covid
Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents and New Zealand citizens do not need any documents on arrival at any Australian international airport or port of entry by boat.
Citizens of just over 30 countries, mostly in Western Europe, North America and the wealthier countries of South East and East Asia, only need an electronic travel authority (ETA) obtained through an internet application for relatively short periods of travel as tourists or study, but not to work. There is a bare minimum of paperwork and only a small fee of $Aus20 for an ETA which lasts for 12 months from the date of issue. Once an ETA has been granted, the holder can travel to Australia for tourism or short term study purposes for 3 months at a time. The only requirement apart from the ETA is a valid passport, one that has a minimum of 6 months validity left on it.
All other prospective tourists wishing to visit Australia as bonafide tourists must obtain a Visitor Visa (subclass 600) before arrival. There are a number of documents that must be submitted with the visitor visa application and a fee paid.
Like any visa classes, even in normal times, e.g. the ‘normal’ pre-Covid times, you could expect to take several weeks before a visa was granted. It is always best to plan well ahead and make sure you understand what the rules are before booking a flight to Australia.
Also, note that the official language used in Australia is English. That means that all documents that are required for submission with the visitor visa application must be in English or translated into English by an accredited translator. If an Australian based translator is used, then make sure they have accreditation with NAATI, the national accreditation authority that is recognized by Australian government departments. If a foreign-based translator is used, then the translated documents should be certified b the translator and notarized before submission.
Documents needed for a Visitor Visa
Note that the list of documents may depend on your personal circumstances. Australian immigration authorities may ask for further documentation if they want confirmation of your exact reason for a visit. Here is a list of the most common documents required to gain a visitor visa.
- Valid passport:
Notarised copies of each page of your passport.
- Reason for visit:
If this is for travel and tourism, then you may need to provide:
- An itinerary of the places you wish to visit
- Confirmation of accommodation booked
- Confirmation of outward and return flights
- Financial status:
You need to show that you have sufficient funds to last you comfortably while in Australia. Documents that may be requested to support your visa application may include:
- Bank statements
- Other assets
- Pension confirmation if you are of pension age
- Employment confirmation e.g. nature of employment or self-employment including proof that you are to return to work after your visit.
- Health status:
You may be asked about your health condition. You may be asked for a recent medical check and/or chest x-ray. You may be asked to show evidence of travel / medical insurance.
- Character reference:
You may be asked for a character reference from someone standing in your community who knows you or a police criminal record certificate.
- Recent photos:
You will be asked for 2 recent passport-sized photos each. These should be of passport quality, e.g. taken in the good light, pale uniform background, no hair obscuring the face, hat or sunglasses on, no smiling.