Traveling to Australia: Things to Know Before You Go
Aside from deciding which cities to visit and which sights you want to see, there are other essential elements of planning your trip to Australia. Before you even book a flight, it’s best to do some research and make sure you know what you’re dealing with. Here are some important things to know before traveling to Australia.
Do you need a visa before traveling to Australia?
If you’re going to Australia as a tourist, you will need a visa. The only exception is if you’re a citizen of New Zealand.
Citizens of the US and Canada, as well as Brunei, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, and South Korea, can apply for an ETA online here. It costs just 20AUD, which is about US$18.50.
As long as there are no problems, you should get a confirmation email fairly quickly, usually within a few days. There’s no need to print anything out. Just show up at the airport, and they’ll look you up in their computer with your passport.
The ETA gives you up to three months of travel within Australia during a 12 month period. It does not allow you to study for longer than three months, and it does not allow you to work.
If you’re not from one of the countries listed above, you can’t apply for an ETA online. How and where you apply for a tourist visa, how much it costs (if anything) and what the restrictions are vary depending on what country you’re from.
For more information check the website here and select your country of citizenship.
When should you travel to Australia?
The time of year you choose for your trip depends heavily on what part of the country you’re traveling to. Remember that Australia is in the southern hemisphere, so their seasons are opposite of those in the northern hemisphere.
The summer months of December, January and February are a popular time to travel to the southern part of the country, like Sydney and Melbourne, due to the warm weather. However, this is also high season, so it will be more crowded and more expensive.
Consider going in October, November, March or April to avoid some of the crowds and save a little money but still enjoy pleasant temperatures.
Up north in the tropics, summer means very hot and humid. This is the wet season and can be an uncomfortable time to visit. If you’re planning a trip to the northern region of Queensland, consider going in the winter months of June, July or August.
Winter is also a good time to visit the hot desert regions, such as Uluru.
If you’re planning on visiting the southern cities as well as the tropics in the north all in one trip, plan your trip during the shoulder months (spring or fall) as a compromise.
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What are you prohibited from bringing into Australia?
Australia is pretty strict about what they let you bring into the country. Food, including fruits and vegetables, meat and eggs, is not permitted. You are also prohibited from bringing in plants, seeds, skins and feathers.
Laws also prevent you from bringing in drugs, weapons, fire arms and protected wildlife. Read about customs and quarantine here for more details.
Certain medications for personal use are subject to controls. It’s best to have a letter from your doctor stating what medicines you are taking and what your medical conditions are.
The Australia tourism website simply states that medications must be declared, but the Australia customs site says you only need to declare medications which may be subject to abuse or dependence.
For more information about what you can and can’t bring into Australia, check out the “entering and leaving Australia” section of this site.
Do you need vaccines before traveling to Australia?
You don’t need any vaccines before traveling to Australia. However, if you have come from or have visited a yellow fever infected country within six days of your arrival in Australia, you will need to show proof of a yellow fever vaccination. See Australia’s yellow fever fact sheet here for more information, including a list of yellow fever countries.
Read more about traveling to Australia:
- Great Ocean Road Tour Review
- Simple Australia Itinerary
- Ultimate Guide to Australia Itineraries, a great book written by an Australia expert
August 26, 2020 @ 11:29 pm
Can you go to Perth AU in November from Bangkok via USA without quarantine for 14 days
August 27, 2020 @ 4:47 pm
Hi Tim! Unfortunately it is highly unlikely. From what I’m reading, you can only go to Australia right now if you fall under specific categories, and everyone must quarantine at designated facilities for 14 days, usually at your own cost. I don’t see anything about an end date, but November seems too soon. However, I don’t know all the details about their requirements or your situation, so please go to this site for more information.
August 14, 2020 @ 11:57 pm
Hi! I’m planning on visiting my boyfriend in Australia for a few weeks and was wondering if I need the ETA to do that or would just having a passport be alright?
August 15, 2020 @ 9:04 am
Whether you need an ETA depends on your nationality. Citizens of the USA and a few other countries are required to get one, but it’s super easy to apply. Check the ETA link I put in the post (or here: https://www.eta.immi.gov.au/ETA/etas.jsp) to see if your nationality is on the list of countries that need one, and if your country isn’t on the ETA list, you might need a different type of visa.
February 27, 2020 @ 12:03 pm
Entering Australia with a USA passport do I need to show a BTA? I m just little confused. I have a ETA
February 28, 2020 @ 11:32 pm
Hi Kerrie! As far as I know, you just need the ETA, which is kind of like a visa. Always check the embassy website for the most current info about visa and travel requirements.
February 6, 2020 @ 5:19 pm
Should I bring a written notice about birth control pills if I use them?
February 12, 2020 @ 5:10 pm
I wouldn’t worry about birth control. They’re mostly concerned with medications with controlled substances, like codeine or steroids or something.
April 27, 2020 @ 2:58 pm
hi how about travelling from philippines to Australia?
April 28, 2020 @ 12:58 pm
Hi Joy! You’ll have to check the Australia embassy website to see what the visa requirements are for citizens of the Philippines.
February 6, 2020 @ 12:56 pm
Do we allowed to take cigarettes with us while traveling to Australia? If yes then how much of quantity ?
February 12, 2020 @ 5:09 pm
Most countries allow you to bring in some cigarettes, but the amount varies, so you’ll have to look at the Australia customs info. Try here https://www.abf.gov.au/Search?k=cigarettes and read some of those articles. I’m sorry I don’t know the exact information myself.
Lawrence Kibii Toroitich
January 25, 2020 @ 6:28 am
I’m from Kenya and I would like to travel to Australia and love to live Australia. I would like to know how I may conduct myself and my family before and after traveling and subsequently living in Australia. Also I would like to work there with my family as I advance my course in law and also enrol in mental health and psychiatry course.
January 27, 2020 @ 3:10 pm
I’m sorry, I can’t help you with anything to do with moving to Australia.
December 22, 2019 @ 3:06 am
What part of Australia is the zoo in? I would love to visit. And what would be the best time of year? Thanks!
December 23, 2019 @ 1:30 pm
Hi Starla, there are zoos all over the country, so I’m not sure what you’re referring to. Maybe you’re talking about this one: https://www.australiazoo.com.au/, which is about an hour from Brisbane. I’m not sure there’s a bad time to visit, but it is a rather warm region, so you might want to aim for the not-so-hot months.
November 17, 2019 @ 3:57 pm
Hi, myself and my wife are planning Australia next year in October for Cricket WC. I understand ETA is an easy process as a Canadian citizen, but my wife is a Canadian PR, what would be the procedure for that ? And will she encounter any issues in getting it ?
We are planning Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne in 9 days.
November 19, 2019 @ 4:47 pm
Hi Waz! I can’t answer visa questions because there are too many variables, and I’m not a visa expert. I think the best you can do is read through the website about the ETA and see what it says about applying with whatever citizenship she has and see if there’s any mention of exceptions for people with residency in another country.
November 9, 2019 @ 10:49 am
I am travelling to Australia next week and i really need help on what and what not to bring. I am flying for work. The links that you gave are not valid. Please help.
November 9, 2019 @ 11:27 am
Hi, the link to the customs and quarantine section wasn’t working, so I’ve updated that, but if you’re just bringing normal things, you shouldn’t need to worry about that. Most foods won’t be allowed, don’t bring plants or animals or insects, wooden things from certain parts of the world aren’t allowed. But clothing, toiletries, etc. should all be fine.
October 18, 2019 @ 5:09 pm
My partner and I are planning to visit australia by august..Actually ,we booked already our tickets since we’ve got a cheapest rate on our selected dates though we are already aware that its not guaranteed if we could have a successful application but still we are still aiming and looking forward for the positive vibes ..
Our trip will be in august,when is the right time to apply and lodge our application for the visa?
October 21, 2019 @ 10:48 am
Hi Kent! In most cases, you’ll find out if your visa is approved within a few hours or a few days, and it’s valid for 12 months starting from the time it’s approved, so I wouldn’t do it too soon. Since your trip isn’t until next August, you probably want to wait until you get a lot closer to that time. I can’t find anything on their site about a recommended lead time for applying, so it’s really a judgement call.
August 31, 2019 @ 2:03 am
Hi there. I’m travelling to Australia for 2 weeks in the beginning of January with 2 friends.
We’re hoping to book accommodations on the fly, so to speak, so we can stay flexible with our itinerary but we’re also concerned that it will be difficult to find suitable places to stay. We’re likely going to be staying in hostels for the most part.
Do you think we will have a lot of difficulty finding good hostels to to stay in during that time, since it’s high season?
September 3, 2019 @ 10:30 am
Hi Peter! I think if you’re not super picky about where you stay, booking hostels as you go could work out ok. So *good* hostels might be booked up, but if you can handle mediocre or not-as-centrally-located, you’ll be fine. You do have to keep in mind that things could be booked up in January, so if you can also be a little flexible about the exact places you’re visiting, that will help. If there’s a specific place you really want to visit, you might want to book that ahead of time just in case, especially if it’s a smaller town. And if you can reserve rooms that are refundable, that could help too. I’ve always booked my rooms ahead of time when traveling to Australia, but I’ve gone the spontaneous route in other countries. Maybe try to plan out a few days ahead of time and see what’s available where, that way if things are looking booked up, you can adjust your plans. You could also check the booking sites a month or two out and see what things are looking like, so if things are filling up fast, you could decide if you want to book ahead instead of waiting until you get there. One last thing, I’d recommend booking at least your first night in advance since you’ll probably be really jet lagged when you arrive. Good luck and enjoy your trip!
August 27, 2019 @ 6:36 am
My daughter is planning to travel to Australia in 4 weeks. Does she need to have her ticket booked in order to apply for an ETA or does she apply for her ETA before she buys her ticket?
August 27, 2019 @ 1:23 pm
Hi Anita! I don’t see anything about it in either direction. I had my flights booked before applying for my ETA each time, but it doesn’t look like you have to do it in that order. The ETA is also really fast to get approval in most cases, so if you wanted to apply first, that should be fine. You could start filling out the form, and then if it asks for flight info, you could come back to it after booking a flight. But I don’t think it asks for exact flight details.
Architect Bright O.
July 23, 2019 @ 11:37 pm
Greetings! I’m planning to visit Australia soon, for a permanent resident. I am an architect. Please how can i achieve that?
July 27, 2019 @ 7:20 pm
I’m sorry, I can’t help with that. I give travel tips, not advice about moving to another country and getting residence/work visas. You should look for info on the Australia embassy website.
Johanna C. Lagundino
May 23, 2019 @ 11:05 am
Hi Ms. ali ,
I want to go there in australia to visit hillsong church?
May 25, 2019 @ 10:27 am
I don’t know anything about that one!
May 23, 2019 @ 6:49 am
Do US citizens require a tuberculosis test with proper documentation prior entry into Australia? We are very confused with reading several websites and a “correct” response. We acquired our ETA visa already.
My husband and I are going on a tour with Monograms from June 20th – July 11th.
May 25, 2019 @ 10:26 am
Hi Jeannette! I didn’t have to do that for any of my trips to Australia, and when I dig around, I don’t see anything that requires that. I’m not an expert and they could’ve changed something recently that I’m not seeing, but what I’m finding seems to say that it’s a question on the entry card (check yes or no) but nothing about needing documentation about it. If you’re going with a tour company, they might be able to give you a more definite answer.
April 7, 2019 @ 5:28 pm
As US citizen I plan on traveling to Australia this month. I carry a valid US Passport the expiry date of which happens to be Aug. 11th 2019. Is this OK as I have only 100 days of validity of my Passport from the day of my travel ! Please respond
April 8, 2019 @ 1:50 pm
I don’t see anything on the Australia government sites or on the US State Department travel section about Australia that lists a number of days you need to have left on your passport. Many countries require 90 days or 180 days, but I can’t find anything similar for Australia. That doesn’t mean this kind of requirement doesn’t exist, but I can’t find it anywhere. I think you’ll be fine, as long as your return flight is before the expiration date of your passport. Might be good to have your flight details printed out to show immigration in case they ask.
February 26, 2019 @ 11:32 am
My name is Brad
I have an American internet girlfriend who wants to visit me for 2 months. She insists that she needs $600 US BTA money before Immigration will allow her to leave the US. Is this correct? She actually didn’t even mention obtaining a Visa, or Electronic on-line visa.
February 26, 2019 @ 6:46 pm
Hi Brad! No, that’s not correct. First, there is no exiting immigration in the US. Someone from the airline will check her passport to make sure she has permission to enter Australia (the airline gets in trouble if they let people on the flight who don’t have a visa) but that’s about it. There are no official border control or passport control agents when you’re leaving the US, only when you’re entering. The electronic visa Americans (and lots of other nationalities) are required to get to go to Australia is cheap (about AU$25 if I remember correctly) and super easy to do. In general, she should have enough money to cover her expenses while traveling in Australia, and Australia immigration officers could potentially ask her for proof, like a recent bank statement, but I think it’s rare that they ask. Might be a higher chance of them asking if she is booking a one way ticket, but even in that case, they would want to see much more than $600 since that doesn’t get you very far in Australia. But mostly what I find when I search for BTA money is articles about scams. Not to say she’s scamming you, but she absolutely does not need to show any proof of funds to anyone in the US to get on a plane to Australia or any other destination in the world.
February 16, 2019 @ 12:04 pm
Please can you check Prices for flights and Accommodation Cheapest Please.
From Port Elizabeth/ Johannesburg (South Africa) to SYDNEY Australia – Accommodation near Baulkham Hills Sydney Australia – Depart 29/06/2019 and return 13/07/2019
I’ve found this name – don’t know if you can look into this Please – Song Hotel Sydney –
Trust to hear from you soon.
February 16, 2019 @ 8:43 pm
Hi Sharon! This is a travel blog, not a travel agency, so that’s not the kind of thing I can help you with. You can check my resources page here for sites I recommend to search for flights, accommodation, tours, and more. (By the way, I removed a few details from your comment that I didn’t think you’d really want to be public.)
November 19, 2018 @ 10:12 am
Hi there, i am travelling to Australia relatively soon and i was wondering what documentation i need to take to the airport with me. Can you please point me in the right direction or give me some advise on what to take with me?
November 20, 2018 @ 5:35 pm
Hi Kyle! Other than your passport, you might need a visa, depending on your country of citizenship. I’m not a visa expert, but check this website here for more info. If you’re not eligible for the electronic visa, look here for more info about visas available to you. If you take any medication, I’d also recommend getting a letter from your doctor that explains what you take, how much, and what for. It’s possible no one asks anything about your medication, but it’s always good to be prepared just in case. You can read more about what you can and can’t bring into the country here under “entering and leaving Australia”. I hope that helps!
October 19, 2018 @ 9:09 am
Hello, I’m planning to travel to work in Australia. I’m a health worker but I have hepatitis B infection years ago. Recent tests says it’s too low to pass to someone else, it’s inactive. Will my Visa be approved?
October 19, 2018 @ 11:35 am
I’m sorry, I’m not a visa expert, I have no idea if your visa will be approved or not.
July 24, 2018 @ 2:13 pm
Hi good day I just want to ask, I am from PHILIPPINES and my Australian boyfriend wanted me to visit to Sydney. My questions is it hard or difficult for me to go there even though we don’t meet yet in person???
Thanks and God bless:)
July 24, 2018 @ 5:43 pm
Sorry, I don’t think this is something I can help with. You’ll have to check with the Australian embassy to see what the requirements are for a visa for Philippines passport holders.
July 19, 2018 @ 8:39 pm
Hello. Thank you for your topic. I will be travelling to Australia in October. They approved me for a Visa, but one of the comments in the Visa saying that I should be Tuberculosis free which I am. Do they need approve of that when I go to the airport or when I get to Australia? Have you had such a thing before? Is there something I need to do? I mean should I go to my DOCTOR and ask for a report for a TB?
Thank you in advance
July 21, 2018 @ 10:20 am
Hi Debby! What I’ve been able to find in my research is that it’s just a question on the entry card, so you’ll just check “no, don’t have TB” (assuming you don’t) on your card. There doesn’t seem to be any requirement to get a letter from your doctor. I’ve never had to do anything like that.
May 30, 2018 @ 3:32 am
My friend and I applied for our working holiday visas, I got accepted right away but she has to do a health examination before she can be approved, I was wondering if you had any clue as to why?
May 31, 2018 @ 12:41 pm
I’m sorry, I never did the working holiday visa, so I don’t know anything about it. Could be random? Could be the way she answered something on the application?
Jean leon de
May 28, 2018 @ 2:00 pm
Hi! I am jean. I’m interested visiting on australia 2 weeks but i don’t know how. My australian b.f sponsord . What are the first steps going to do?
May 28, 2018 @ 11:13 pm
Hi Jean, check out our Australia itinerary here to get started with researching what you might want to see/do in Australia. If your boyfriend is from Australia, maybe he can give you some pointers. It really depends on your interests – cities, nature, ocean, mountains, different activities, etc.
April 5, 2018 @ 9:38 am
I am interested on visiting Australia April 2018,I have a Passport only . I don’t know where to start as I am interested on Jobs in NSW( Maintenance Fitter)
April 6, 2018 @ 2:43 pm
Unfortunately I have no information to help you find a job in Australia.
February 20, 2018 @ 5:49 am
Hi, I hope to visit Australia in April 2018. I have some issues to ask? I am travelling with may husband and daughter. Can I bring hair oil, hair dye, shampoo, cinditioner, facial cream etc for my personal use?Also I need to bring some herbal medicines for my personal use? Will I be allowed to bring them?
February 22, 2018 @ 1:19 pm
Hair oil, shampoo, conditioner, facial cream, and other cosmetics are fine. If they are 3.4 ounces (100ml) or less, you can pack them in your carry-on in a one quart (one liter) clear zip top bag. Anything bigger must go in your checked luggage. Hair dye is a little tricky. That could be considered flammable, so you should check with the airline to see if they will allow it. If not, you can buy just about anything you need once you get to Australia. Herbal medications can be tricky to bring into Australia, depending on what’s in them. Check out this site here for more info on bringing medications to Australia.
January 18, 2018 @ 4:05 am
What kind of currency is used in Australia. I am traveling April 2018 to Australia. I wasn’t sure if you used Euros or American cash! I was planning on bringing my Visa debit card and charge card.
Thank you very much. Good day!
January 18, 2018 @ 11:07 am
Hi Geri! In Australia, they use the Australian dollar. Be sure to look up the exchange rate on a site like XE.com when your trip gets closer. Use your ATM card to get cash when you arrive, and using your Visa credit card should be fine in most cases. Just make sure your bank and your credit card company know you will be traveling to Australia and using your cards there. Have a great trip!
November 26, 2017 @ 9:23 am
Hey! I am travelling to Australia in January next year. I am a bit confused about the prices that are listed in the shops. Are these inclusive of the surcharge that the bank charges or are they exclusive of the surcharge ?
November 26, 2017 @ 11:37 pm
I don’t know the specific rules at this level, but if they are allowed to charge you extra for using a credit card (I’m finding conflicting info on this) then they’ll have to let you know that ahead of time, which also means the price tag on an item would be the cash price, not the credit card price. Keep in mind that your credit card company probably also charges some sort of international transaction fee – check with them before your trip. You’re probably better off using ATMs to get cash and paying for most things that way. Check with your bank about their foreign ATM fees. There’s really almost no way to completely avoid paying something extra, such as credit card fees, ATM fees, exchange rate differences, etc. Your best bet is to find out what fees your bank and credit card company charge, and try to stick with whichever is cheaper.
September 9, 2016 @ 7:33 pm
I have a question about credit cards in Australia. Are there specific cards in use for the whole country or will my VISA work everywhere?
September 12, 2016 @ 11:07 am
Hi Mary! I think it’s more about which stores accept credit cards. In general Visa should work in almost every place that accepts cards. Always have some cash on you in case they don’t, especially since certain types of stores might not accept credit cards at all. But overall I think you’ll be fine with your Visa card.
Leonard Shelton (Leo)
April 21, 2017 @ 12:45 pm
I am new to your site, (like literally 30 minutes ago) I just enrolled (?) to receive your newsletter and the free E-book. So…I am starting to make plans to visit my best friend, he lives in Sydney, I will be staying with him ( for 1 week, my plans is to work it out that I am there a day or two before the “main” party, and then recover lol, and then travel back home/Miami, Fl. a day or two after the main party) ( for Mardi Gras 2018). I am a “newbie”…like REALLY NEW to traveling! I have not traveled outside of the U.S. since my Army enlistment days ( Stuttgart, Germany – 1988-89) I read your comment above in regards to Visa credit cards…now, my question is: Does this include the Visa Debit Card – you know the card that is linked to my bank account with the Visa logo on it? ( I do not have credit cards, so I will be using cash, and my Visa logo debit-bank card. Also, is there an area on your site ( Travel Made Simple and btw…I literally chose YOUR site, just because of the name…I really need and want Traveling made simple for me. ) for a newbie like me, that literally gives “step-by-step” instructions or is that all covered in the free E-book? I am SO EXCITED… to manifest my travel plans to Sydney, Australia into my reality! I figured I best start now, for my March 2018 visit. I look forward to your reply. Thank You – Leo
April 24, 2017 @ 11:49 am
Hi Leo! Thanks for signing up! I hope you find the free ebook to be helpful. You’ll also be receiving a few emails over the next week or two with helpful tips for planning a trip. I also recommend checking out the full Australia section of the site, my 7 steps to research and plan a trip, and when is it worth booking a tour.
As far as credit cards go, if you’re in a place where Visa is accepted and you want to use your debit card that has the Visa logo on it, that should be fine, but the store will probably run your card as a credit card, not debit card. I do that with mine quite often, and it deducts right from my checking account even though the store runs the card like a credit card. But also make sure to tell your bank ahead of time that you’ll be traveling to Australia.
I hope that helps, and I’m so excited for you to get out there and travel!