Travel in Australia and New Zealand
So you just got back from a Baz Luhrmann movie, and you've suddenly become infatuated with the land down under. You have no choice: You must go to Australia. However, Australia is a huge country. Don't ruin your trip by just showing up and not knowing where to go or what to do.
Get Your Paperwork Done
Get a passport: The first thing you need to do is get into the country. This means, of course, that you need a passport.
If you're an American, you can check out the U.S. State Department's Passport Services website. American citizens can also get passport applications at any federal or state courthouse or at a post office. You can also look for locations in the government listings of your phone book. You will need to pay a fee, and the passport will be valid for 10 years. To get your passport, you'll need to provide proof of citizenship (a birth certificate, a certificate of naturalization or a certificate of citizenship) as well as two photographs.
If you are Canadian, you can check out the Canadian Passport Office Website or write to them the old-fashioned way at:
Canadian Passport Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
Get a visa: So you have your passport; now you have to get a visa. Australia requires everyone on the planet except New Zealand residents to obtain a visa before leaving on their trip. Tourist visas are free. They're valid for three months, and they expire one year from the date of issue.
There are two ways to apply for an Australian visa:
1. You can apply for a three-month visa through the Electronic Travel Authority. This process takes only a few minutes and the information is stored electronically, rather than as a stamp in your passport.
2. If you want a visa other than the standard "three-month tourist" visa, you can get yourself a paper application in the U.S. at:
1601 Massachusetts Ave. NW
Washington, D.C. 20036-2273
Voice: (202) 797 3000
Fax: (202) 797 3168
Australian Consulate General
50 East 42nd St.
New York, NY 10017-5612
Voice: (212) 351-6500
Fax: (212) 351-6501
And in Canada, at:
Australian High Commission
50 O'Connor Street
Ottawa, ON K1P 6L2
Voice: (613) 236-0841
Fax: (613) 236-4376
Don't mess around with these visas. If you don't have one, the airline won't let you on the plane. Also, be aware when purchasing your plane ticket that you will have to prove to Australian customs officials that you will be able to leave the country, either through the return portion of your ticket, or with a ticket elsewhere. It is a serious offense to overstay your visa. If your three months fly by and you find yourself wanting to stay longer, visit the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs.