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Fact Sheet 55 – The Electronic Travel Authority

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The Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) is an electronically stored authority for travel to Australia for short-term visits for tourism or business visitor purposes. It replaces the visa label or stamp in a passport and removes the need for application forms.

Most ETAs are issued immediately by computer links between the department, travel agents, airlines and specialist service providers around the world. In a small number of cases, some additional processing is required.

Background

The ETA system was introduced in 1996. It is available to passport holders from a number of countries, regions and locations.
See: Electronic Travel Authority (subclass 601)

The ETA system can be accessed by more than 300 000 travel agents worldwide, by more than 75 airlines and through the internet.

About the Electronic Travel Authority

There is only one type of Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) —the ETA subclass 601.

The ETA allows for people who want to visit Australia for tourism or business visitor purposes. It allows for up to three months stay on each visit within a 12 month period from the date of grant, or for the validity of the passport if it is less than 12 months (multiple entry).

Tourism includes holidays, recreation or visiting family and friends.

Business visitor purposes may include attending a conference, negotiation or an exploratory business visit.

Short-term business visits do not include work. If you are intending to carry out short-term, non-ongoing highly specialised work in Australia you should apply for the Temporary Work (Short Stay Activity) visa (subclass 400).

More information on the requirements for the Temporary Work (Short Stay Activity) (subclass 400) visa is available.

Fees & Charges for ETAs are available from the department's website.

How the Electronic Travel Authority works

Service providers enter the information contained in the applicant's passport into the ETA system, or through their existing travel or airline reservation system.

The ETA system interacts with departmental systems to check the applicant's details. Following these checks, the service provider is advised of the outcome of the ETA application.

If an ETA is granted, it is linked electronically to the applicant's passport. If a 'referral' message is received instead, the service provider refers the applicant to the nearest Australian visa office.

No evidence of the ETA is needed, as it is electronically stored in the system. An ETA is linked electronically to the passport. Its details can be seen by staff at airlines, travel agencies and Australian border agencies.

Online applications

Online access to the Electronic Travel Authority system was introduced in May 2001. This enabled tourists and business visitors intending to visit Australia for three months or less to apply for a subclass 601 ETA at the same time as they made their other online travel bookings.
Note: An AUD20 service fee will be incurred for online lodgement.

Applicants may also seek an ETA through their nearest Australian visa office.

Applicants who already hold another visa must apply for an ETA at an Australian visa office outside Australia and provide their passport details either in person, by telephone, by post or by email. They are not able to lodge an ETA application online or through an airline or an approved agent.

If the ETA is granted, it will not necessarily:

  • come into effect when the ETA is issued as the current visa may still be in effect
  • cancel (or cease) the existing visa.

ETAs cannot be granted, or extended, while the ETA applicant is in Australia.

Since 27 October 2008, the new eVisitor system replaced online ETAs for all European ETA eligible travellers.
See: eVisitor (subclass 651)

For ETA eligible passports:
See: Electronic Travel Authority (subclass 601)

For eVisitor eligible passports:
See: eVisitor (subclass 651

Benefits

ETA arrangements provide significant benefits to travellers, as well as airlines and the Australian Government.

Travellers benefit as the ETA provides a seamless process for providing authority to travel to Australia from places where airline tickets are obtained.

Travellers also enjoy faster processing at airports.

Airlines benefit by utilising computer systems to verify that travellers have authority to enter Australia before issuing their boarding passes. This saves airline staff time at the check-in counter and reduces their likelihood of transporting improperly documented passengers.

The Australian Government benefits by gaining access to data on all travellers to Australia. This supports maintenance of Australian border integrity by law enforcement and health authorities.

Fact Sheet 55. Produced by the National Communications Branch, Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Canberra.
Last reviewed December 2013.

Last reviewed Saturday 15 February 2014

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