Australia's entry requirements

International air carriers have certain responsibilities as defined in the Migration Act 1958 (the Act) and Migration Regulations 1994.

Prior to boarding passengers and crew, carriers must:

  • ensure that the passport or travel document presented by the passenger or crew member is acceptable for entry into Australia, that is, the passport or travel document is valid and belongs to the passenger or crew member
  • confirm the traveller holds a valid visa, or will be eligible for a visa on arrival in Australia
  • provide advance passenger information via the Advance Passenger Processing system for every passenger and crew travelling to Australia.

Carriers that do not meet these obligations may have financial penalties imposed on them or face prosecution under the Act, unless they demonstrate all reasonable steps were undertaken at check-in to fulfil these responsibilities.

Carriers and check-in staff can contact the Border Operations Centre (BOC), and Airline Liaison Officers (ALOs) to enquire about and resolve the immigration status of passengers or crew who are intending to travel to Australia.

Travel documents

Everyone travelling to Australia, including Australian citizens, is required to prove their identity. A passport is the most common and preferred document used for identity purposes.

Other acceptable documents include:

  • Australian Migration Status Immicard
  • Document of Identity
  • Certificate of Identity
  • Convention Travel Document such as Titre de Voyage
  • Laissez Passer
  • Military Identity Documents

More information is available on the TIMATIC website.

Fraudulent documents

If a travel document has been fraudulently altered, it is usually done so on the biographical page. Check-in staff should carefully check that the photograph in the document matches the passenger or crew.

Check-in staff should also to examine the following areas of the document for tampering:

  • Cover
  • Pages
  • Numbers
  • Biographical data
  • Binding
  • Photograph
  • Lamina
  • Ultra violet features
  • Production quality

If it is suspected that the document has been tampered with, check-in staff should refer the document to a supervisor or the Australian Airline Liaison Officer (ALO), if available.

Authority to travel to Australia

Most passengers and crew travelling to Australia, except for Australian and New Zealand passport holders, must hold a valid:

  • Visa, or
  • Electronic Travel Authority (ETA), or
  • Crew Travel Authority (CTA)

The TIMATIC website lists passengers who do not need to obtain a visa before travelling to Australia.

Additional information can also be found using the Visa Finder.

Electronic Travel Authorities and electronically issued visas

All visas are now issued electronically. As such, there is no physical evidence in a travel document that an ETA or electronic visa has been issued.

ETAs are granted only to eligible passport holders. A list of eligible passports is available at Electronic Travel Authority

To determine that a passenger holds an ETA or electronic visa, check-in staff should complete either an APP transaction through the APP System or a TIETAC check through the ETA System.

As ETAs cease when the ETA holder obtains a new passport, check-in staff should be aware of passengers claiming to hold ETAs on their cancelled or invalid passports, and not process these passengers.

However, some passengers may present with two passports – a valid passport and an expired passport holding a valid Australian visa. Check-in staff should refer to the BOC. Provided the visa is still valid, the BOC will electronically link the visa to the new passport.

Visa labels

As all visas are now issued electronically, only a small number of passengers travel with visa labels, which are either printed or stamped in passports.

Some of these passengers may present with two passports – a valid passport and an expired passport holding a valid Australian visa. Check-in staff should refer to the BOC. Provided the visa is still valid, the BOC will electronically link the visa to the new passport.

Return Endorsement and Authority to Return visas

These older style visas will only be seen in very limited circumstances in expired passports.

Check-in staff should check the date the passenger last departed Australia and, provided the passenger has not been absent from Australia for more than three years and is travelling on a new, valid passport, they are considered to be adequately documented for travel to Australia.

Crew Travel Authority (CTA)

As well as holding both a valid passport and airline identification, all air crew must be registered with a Crew Travel Authority (CTA). A CTA is valid for the life of the passport.

Crew members can register online through the Carrier Portal. Carriers can also use the Portal to check that crew members hold a CTA and the validity of a CTA.

Visa, ETA and CTA exceptions

Certain passengers are able to travel to Australia without applying for a visa - refer to TIMATIC for a comprehensive list.

Australian passport holders

Genuine holders of valid Australian passports have an automatic right to enter Australia.

New Zealand passport holders

New Zealand passport holders do not need a visa to travel to Australia. Most New Zealand citizens will apply for a Special Category Visa (SCV) when they arrive in Australia.

The Border Operations Centre (BOC)

The BOC operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Phone: +61 1300 368 126 or (02) 6264 1301