If you are an individual looking to visit Australia, then there is a range of visitor visa options which you will need to consider. The type of visitor visa you can get will depend on your country of passport and the reason for your travel.

Visitor visas that are currently available include:

  1. Visitor (Subclass 600) Visa
  2. Electronic Travel Authority (Subclass 601) Visa
  3. eVisitor (Subclass 651) Visa

For more information on Visitor Migration, please contact Laymens on 1800 529 636.

Things You Need to Know Before Travelling to Australia

Getting into the country

Visa

There are several types of visas so make sure you get the right ones for residency, visiting and/or working.  Most likely you’ll need a ‘tourist’ or visitor visa to enter Australia which can be one of many visas, depending on the length and type of trip you’re making.

Short term visas include:

Visitor visa (subclass 600): for a tourist, for business visitor activities, to see family, on tour with a registered travel agent.

Electronic Travel Authority visa (subclass 601): for a tourist, for business visitor activities. In most cases this allows you to visit several times within a year.

eVisitor (subclass 651): this is a free visa that lasts 3 months for a tourist or business visitor activities.

Work or Holiday visa (subclass 462) or Working Holiday visa (subclass 417): you have to be at least 18 but younger than 31 and mustn’t have children. You must also have a passport from eligible partner countries.

Try the Visa Finder to learn more.

Passport

When travelling to Australia, you need to make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months in conjunction with a visa. You must ensure your passport is valid for the entirety of your stay. Those with passports from Britain, EU, Canada and USA are required to have a visa as well.  

If you have children also travelling to Australia, they will need their own passport and visa to enter the country. Even if your child is on your passport they still need their own ETA/eVisitor visa.

Travel and migration laws

To enter Australia, as part of your visa application you might have to pass character and police certificate requirements. This includes a police clearance certificate or other evidence that meets the character requirements.

You will also be required to complete and sign an incoming passenger card which includes health and character declarations. You should also ask an officer if you are in doubt about duty/tax-free allowance on the form.

Laymens Lawyers can help you with any immigration law or travel migration you may be planning.

Duty-free

If you’re over 18 you can bring 2.25 litres of alcoholic beverages duty-free when travelling to Australia. You can also bring 50 cigarettes or 50 grams of tobacco.

If you exceed the duty-free limit, duty and tax will apply on all items, not just the items over the limit.

Health

Get a check-up at the doctors and stock up on your medications before travelling to Australia. Bring your prescriptions and a medical note from your doctor outlining your medications and condition. This is because your medications must be declared on arrival and they need to ensure you aren’t bringing in anything illegal.

On the plane

Contact the airline you’re flying with directly if you’re unsure about particular items you can bring on the plane. In general, you can’t bring gel, liquid or dangerous items on board. You can only take a total quantity of less than 1 litre of liquids, gels, aerosols etc. in your carry-on baggage. Baby products and medications are excluded from this limit. Maximum container size is 100mls and must be presented for inspection.

Declaring items

Be aware of the travel laws and what you can and can’t bring into the country. Generally, food and animals are a no-go. If you have any of these, put them through customs. Some pretty obvious prohibited items are things like weapons and drugs.


Money

Converting money

You can use CurrencyFair in Australia to transfer money without crazy fees. You can compare the exchange rate prices before you go on their site: There are various places you can physically exchange money in Australia and there is usually one at most airports.

Internet

Wi-Fi costs extra and isn’t in most places like in other countries. For example, going from the US to Australia might be a bit of a culture shock in that regard.

Various internet cafes and hostels have Wi-Fi. Some places like Starbucks and McDonalds, if you buy something you can get the Wi-Fi code but that generally only lasts about half an hour.

Alternatively, if you pick up a pre-paid phone and plan, you can access the internet via the 3G/4G networks. This is a little bit more expensive. However, pocket Wi-Fi is also available for purchase.

Loose change

Change (money) is actually useful. The lowest coin is 5 cents (they don’t have pennies) but there are $1 and $2 coins. Also, it’s wise to carry cash as most local places only accept cash otherwise you’ll end up spending way too much time at an ATM.

Budget

Travelling to Australia is expensive. A smart traveller will most certainly plan their expenses. But, on the upside for anyone light on cash, you don’t need to tip and taxes are already included in the prices. Most people who visit Australia find it’s about double the amount they expect to pay. For example, takeaway food is generally $10-$20 AUD, and restaurants are closer to $40 AUD per meal, depending on the type of place. If you’re going from US to AU this will be an adjustment as food prices are lower in the US.

However, tours and transportation are generally less expensive than other countries, but again, it depends where you look.

Mobile plans

You’ll have to choose a mobile company or plan. If you’re going into the middle of nowhere, you’ll need a phone. Australia’s main mobile service providers are Telstra, Vodafone, Optus and Virgin.


Accommodation

If you are travelling to Australia you should book accommodation before you arrive to avoid being left stranded. Hotels are rated from 1 to 5 stars in Australia. 1 being bad, 5 being excellent. Most sites will have the hotels rating on it. Hotels Combined is an ideal site to use as you can compare and contrast quality and price.

There are also plenty of variations of accommodation. For example, motels, hotels, hostels, Airbnb, self-catering and more.


Insurance

When travelling to Australia, you’ll need travel insurance, and you’ll need to make sure it covers all situations. You can either buy a policy from your own country or get overseas visitors cover.

Alternatively, if you’re only worried about medical cover, you can get medical insurance from a handful of companies in Australia. But, remember, that doesn’t cover cancellations, misplaced luggage or things of this nature that aren’t related to health concerns.

If you’re planning to be in Australia for a long time, non-permanent residential insurance is better for you than a visitor’s policy.


Weather

Pack for all types of climate. Australia is known for the heat, but it can also get really cold and rainy. Before travelling to Australia check the season and then cover all of your bases by packing variations. The weather can be unpredictable.


In an emergency

For anyone travelling to Australia, it’s extremely important to know the number for emergency services. Call 000 in an emergency and you will be directed to police, fire or ambulance service departments.


Working in Australia – Getting a working holiday visa

While visiting Australia on holidays or while studying, many people choose to work. Not only does this allow visitors to have an income but also make friends and adapt to the culture. This is a good way to integrate into Australian culture and lessen the culture shock. However, you also have to make sure once you’ve got a job that you’re getting the correct pay and being treated fairly. Just because you’re from overseas doesn’t mean you don’t have rights.

To begin with, you will need a visa and you will also need to get TFN (Tax File Number), this ensures you don’t have to pay the highest tax.

Tax File Number (TFN)

A tax file number is a personal reference number in the tax and super systems. It is an important part of your tax and super records so make sure the information is safe. It’s true that you don’t need a TFN to work but you will pay more tax and won’t be able to get government benefits or a tax return.

As a temporary visitor in Australia, to get a tax file number you need to be a working holiday-maker, from NZ, an overseas student with a working visa, a valid visa to stay in Australia indefinitely or a valid visa holder with work rights. You can apply for a TFN online.


Visa

You need to ensure you have the correct visa.

Working holiday (temporary) visa subclass 417

This visa is for young people who are looking at working in Australia while on holidays.

To get this visa you must be between the age of 18-30, you can’t have a dependent child and you need a passport from a selected list of countries.

If this is your first working holiday visa, you must apply for this visa while you’re out of Australia. If it’s your second working visa you must ensure that wherever you apply for the visa, either in Australia or out of Australia, that you are in the place you filed for the visa when it’s granted.

Generally, you can only work for one employer for 6 months, study for 4 months and the visa lasts a year, during which time you can travel in and out of Australia as many times as you like.

Other than a passport and relevant travel documentation, you must make sure you don’t already have a visa that has a ‘no further stay’ condition.

Work and holiday visa (462)

This visa has the same rules as the working holiday visa but you need a passport from selected countries, please check to confirm which of the visa’s you are eligible to apply for when looking at working in Australia.

You can check this visa finder to ensure you’re getting the correct visa: https://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Visa-1

Whichever visa you get, you need to make sure you comply with the conditions of the visa. Some visas have conditions of types of work and the length you can stay with one employer while working in Australia. If you’re found to be breaching your visa, it is likely to be cancelled.

You also need to ensure you live up to the character requirements of a visa holder, you need to state if you’ve had any criminal convictions in any country and you need to make sure you are aware of when your visa ceases.

Character requirements of a visa include being a law-abiding citizen and passing a character test. You won’t pass the character test if you have a criminal record, tried to escape an immigration detention centre or committed an offence while you were there, you have been involved with people smuggling, people trafficking, genocide, a war crime, slavery or torture and most generally unaccepted forms of behaviour or activity.

You won’t be accepted if there is a risk of you participating in criminal activity in Australia, harm another person in any way or if there is a risk to the community.


Seek an Immigration lawyer for help

The deadlines and protocol for filling out and successfully completing the sections, forms and application for working in Australia can be overwhelming. You can seek out the help of an Immigration lawyer to assist you with the process. When you find a good migration agent or lawyer, it can save you time and possibly money (due to late fees or incorrectly filled applications).


Working hours/Fair Work Australia

Enterprise or other agreements set out the minimum and maximum hours in a day and the times that should be worked. A normal employee working in Australia will work a maximum of 38 normal hours in a week. Beyond this, overtime should apply. You need to confirm this and make sure you’re getting paid fairly. This is generally outside of the agreed upon daily hours (e.g 9am-5pm daily, adding up to 38 hours in a week).

There is a National Employment Standard that you should be aware of if you’re planning on working in Australia. An agreement or employment contract may provide more than what you’re entitled, but it can’t be less. Most companies put a new worker on a probation period which ranges from a few weeks to a few months. You are entitled to the same entitlements during this period as you would if you weren’t on probation. Even if you don’t pass probation, you are still entitled to receive notice of your termination and receive pay for unused annual leave hours.  

If you’re hired on a full-time or even part-time basis, you are entitled to earn annual and sick leave. You must ensure that you sign an employment contract and you’re getting correctly paid for the hours you’re working in Australia, including overtime.

If you need to quit your job, you need to make sure you give the proper amount of notice and that you get your final pay. You should always be aware of your employee entitlements and expected working hours in Australia.