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Round Trip Cruise (RTC) status
Round Trip Cruises are cruises for up to 30 days duration that start and end in Australia, and include certain overseas ports for transit purposes only.
Each year, a number of international cruise ship voyages are approved for RTC status by the Department's Seaport Policy Section, National Office.
This is because under immigration legislation those passengers and crew on approved RTC voyages, which commence and end their voyage in Australia, are deemed not to have left Australia for the purposes of the Migration Act 1958, even though passengers and crew on the RTC may have travelled to overseas ports.
Important RTC information for travellers
Travellers should note the following important information about voyages that have been granted RTC status by the department:
- where immigration legislation requires a person to be outside Australia to make an application or be granted a visa, these requirements cannot be met if he or she undertakes a voyage with RTC status, as the effect of the RTC provision is that the person is deemed not to have left Australia for the purposes of the Migration Act 1958
- passengers who intend to travel to Australia to join a RTC should apply for a Visitor visa. (A transit visa, even with the multiple entry provision is not appropriate as it will cease after 3 days and the passenger will become an unlawful non-citizen)
- a further period of stay in Australia cannot be obtained by applying for an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) or other temporary visas, as the person is deemed not to have left Australia
- a further period of stay in Australia cannot be obtained by persons holding a visitor visa that provides for multiple entries, with a stay period of 3 months on each entry, as the person is deemed not to have left Australia on a RTC
Example: John Smith arrives in Australia by air on 1 June holding a visitor visa that provides for multiple entries with a stay period of 3 months on each entry.
John's visa will cease and he will become unlawful unless he departs Australia by 1 September.
John joins a 10 day cruise from Sydney to New Zealand on 15 August that returns to Sydney on 25 August. The voyage has RTC status, so John's voyage to New Zealand is not recognised as a departure from Australia. Therefore John's visa will still cease on 1 September.
- a single entry visa will not cease when undertaking a RTC because the person is not taken to have left Australia.
Example: Jane Doe arrives in Australia by air on 1 June holding a visitor visa that provides for single entry with a stay period of 3 months.
Jane's visa will cease and Jane will become unlawful unless she departs Australia by 1 September.
Jane joins a 10 day cruise from Sydney to New Zealand on 15 August that returns to Sydney on 25 August. The voyage has RTC status. Under immigration legislation, since Jane commences and ends her voyage in Australia, Jane is not deemed not to have left Australia. Therefore Jane's single entry visitor visa will still be valid and Jane can complete her stay in Australia until 1 September after undertaking the RTC.
Note: All passengers and crew upon arrival in Australia must be able to comply with immigration clearance if directed by a clearance officer. This means all passengers and crew will require passports/identity documents and, other than Australian citizens, be the holders of an Australian visa that is valid for the duration of the voyage.
Find out if the voyage you plan to undertake has RTC status
You should ask your travel agent, your cruise ship operator or you can contact Seaport Policy Section of the Department.
See: Enquiries – Seaport Policy Section
Important RTC information for Cruise Operators applying for RTC status
Applying for RTC status
Applications requesting RTC status should be lodged by email for specified voyages, as identified in a voyage schedule, which includes all the following details:
- the Australian port from which the voyage will commence
- any other Australian ports visited before departure from Australia
- foreign ports to be visited, the date and time in each port
- the Australian port at which the vessel will return to Australia
- the port at which the voyage terminates.
The following should be noted:
- Applications for RTC status should be made no later than 2 months before the proposed voyage and no earlier than 2 years before the proposed voyage
- The voyage must commence and terminate in Australia. The voyage should be confined to ports in countries that are adjacent to Australia, that is, no further north than the equator, no further east than the 180th meridian (180 degrees longitude), and no countries to the west of Australia
- Each foreign port is visited once only and the period of stay does not exceed 24 hours
- The voyage does not raise significant border security concerns
- The vessel's absence from Australia must not exceed 30 days.