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Getting here and advice about your stay

Entry requirements 

Entry rules in response to coronavirus

Due to COVID-19, Australia’s entry requirements are constantly being changed and updated in order to be in line with the country's guidelines during the pandemic. For more information see guidance from the FCDO at: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/australia/entry-requirements, for up-to-date guidelines for entering Australia.

Visas

You must have a visa in order to visit Australia. The following types of electronic visitor visa are available to British citizens:

  • eVisitor visa obtained directly from the Department of Immigration & Border Protection. You do not need to pay an application and/or service fee for this 

  • Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) obtained from your travel agent or airline. You do not need to pay an application fee for this, although a A$20 service fee is required

More information on the types of visa available to you can be given by the Department of Home Affairs: https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/, or the Australian High Commission in London: https://uk.embassy.gov.au/lhlh/home.html.

In some situations, for example if you are 75 years old or over, a health examination may be required before a visa will be granted. Ensure that you factor in extra time for these checks to take place.

When you arrive in Australia, be aware that you may be required to prove that you have funds available to cover the cost of your stay and return/onward ticket. 

If you have an ePassport, you may pass through Australian passport control using SmartGate. More information on this is available on the Australian Border Force website at: https://www.abf.gov.au/entering-and-leaving-australia/smartgates.

Working holiday visas

Ensure that you are aware of your employee rights if you are in Australia on a working holiday visa, and be aware of how to report any concerns you may have about unfair or unlawful treatment.

Amongst the thousands of British travellers who are in Australia on a working holiday visa, issues are rare, and working conditions, accommodation and medical facilities tend to be good quality. 

According to a report published by the fair Work Ombudsman in October 2016, exploitation of people working under the working holiday visa program does occur in some isolated and remote workplaces. If you are worried about your treatment or the conditions of your workplace, contact the Fair Work Ombudsman on 13 13 94. You can report concerns anonymously.

If you think your treatment at work is unfair or unlawful, email the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) at the British High Commission Canberra: Australia.WHVreferrals@fco.gov.uk. The NCA works with the Australian authorities in order to identify and address unlawful employer behaviour that affects British nationals. 

For more information, see the FCDO’s 'Information for British working holiday makers in Australia' brochure at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment
_data/file/741243/Information_for_British_working_holiday_makers_in_Australia_-_2018_brochure.pdf
.

Passport validity

In order to enter Australia, your passport must be valid for your proposed stay duration. You are not required to have an additional period of validity.

Check the entry requirements of any country you are transiting on your way to Australia as many countries require you to have a six month period of validity remaining on your passport. 

Dual nationals

Dual nationals and British nationals living in Australia with Australian citizenship should leave and enter Australia on their Australian passport, or there is risk of difficulties and delays. For more information, visit the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade website: https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/before-you-go/who-you-are/dual-nationals.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate on the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/country/15/australia#Vaccine_recommendations

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents are valid for entry into, transit through, and exit from Australia: https://www.gov.uk/emergency-travel-document.

[Source – FCDO Foreign travel advice: Australia, gov.uk]

 

Local laws and customs

Anyone found importing or trafficking illegal drugs will face consequences imposed by the Australian authorities. Prosecution can result in long prison sentences and deportation. 

Individual states across Australia have differing rules on the use of e-cigarettes. Liquid nicotine is banned from sale throughout Australia as it is considered a poison; however, in some states it can be imported for personal use and you can use e-cigarettes without nicotine. Ensure you seek local advice surrounding potential restrictions.

On 7th December 2017, Australian national law changed to recognise same-sex marriage. Any overseas same-sex marriages that pre-dated this change were immediately recognised. Australia is traditionally tolerant towards homosexuality, but isolated homophobic crimes do occur. Be cautious when visiting rural communities. You can use the Visit Gay Australia website: https://visitgayaustralia.com.au to plan your trip and you can also visit the Australian Human Rights Commission website at: https://www.humanrights.gov.au for more information on LGBT issues.

For more information see the UK Government’s advice page for the LGBT community before you travel to Australia: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transgender-foreign-travel-advice.

Quarantine

There are strict quarantine rules in place in Australia in order to keep out pests and diseases that could harm plants, animals and people. On arrival, luggage will be x-rayed and items of concern are inspected, treated, and potentially confiscated. If you breach quarantine rules, you could face a large fine. 

On the plane, you will receive an incoming passenger card on which you must declare food or goods of plant and animal origin, such as sporting equipment (including camping gear), nuts, dried fruit and vegetables, herbs and spices, biscuits, cakes, confectionary, tea and coffee and milk based drinks. You can find a complete list on the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment website: https://www.agriculture.gov.au

You must also declare if you have visited a rural area, or been in contact with, or near, farm animals outside Australia in the past 30 days.


Taxes

Different tax rules and rates apply to residents and non-residents. If you are a working holiday-maker, you will usually be considered as a non-resident when it comes to tax regulations so you will not qualify for tax-free personal allowance on any earnings. You can find more information on residency for tax purposes, as well as income tax rates, on the Australian Taxation Office website: https://www.ato.gov.au

[Source – FCDO Foreign travel advice: Australia, gov.uk]

 

Safety and security

Crime

Crime levels in Australia are no higher than in the UK. Be careful with your possessions and travel documents in cities and destinations that are popular with tourists. 

Split your belongings between multiple bags, and do not leave them unattended in vehicles, cafes, pubs or clubs. In cheaper hotels and hostels, theft from safety deposit boxes does occur. 

Take extra care at night in Sydney’s busy tourist areas, such as Kings Cross, downtown George Street, Hyde Park and Centennial Park.

When travelling in remote areas, seek local safety advice from your hotel or hostel.

Sexual assaults against British nationals have taken place in Australia, so be sure to stay alert, in control and aware of your environment. Know your alcohol limits and be aware that drinks sold in bars abroad can be stronger than those in the UK.

Be cautious of online letting scams involving transferring a deposit to an overseas bank account in exchange for the keys to a rental property in Australia. British travellers have been victims of these scams. 

You should get a proof of age card in order to reduce your risk of losing your passport. It is an accepted form of ID in many situations, such as to open a bank account or to enter licenced premises. The card will reduce the need for you to carry your passport with you.

Should you lose your passport, you may be able to obtain an Emergency Travel Document (ETD). An ETD is only to be used for urgent travel and not as a general identity document.

Local travel

Australia is a very large country. If you are exploring a national park, or bushwalking, emergency help could take hours to arrive. The terrain is also difficult and the intense heat can severely impede your capabilities, so ensure you take sufficient amounts of water and a way to shelter from the sun. 

Further advice on bush safety for each state and territory which can be found at:

A variety of dangerous species inhabit Australia, including crocodiles, jellyfish, sharks, venomous insects, spiders and snakes. Visit the Wet Tropics Management Authority website at: https://www.wettropics.gov.au for more information.

For extensive information about travelling around Australia, see the Tourism Australia website: https://www.tourism.australia.com/en

Swimming safety

The main surf hazard for beach users in Australia are rip currents. These can occur on any beach and can sweep even strong, confident swimmers out to sea. 

The following guidelines should help you to keep safe: 

F - Find the red and yellow flags and swim between them

L - Look out for any safety signs

A - Ask a lifesaver or lifeguard for advice before entering the water

G - Get a friend to swim with you

S - Stick your hand up, try to stay calm, and call for help if you get into trouble

For further guidance on beach safety, see the Surf Life Saving website at: https://sls.com.au

Rivers and pools in Australia can experience sudden flash flooding due to heavy rainfall in the area. British nationals have been injured by diving into shallow water, so ensure that the water is sufficiently deep before you dive. Always follow any warning signs that are present. 

Diving safety

Snorkelling accidents involving British nationals have occured, and some have been fatal.

Australian law requires you to complete a medical declaration for resort diving and snorkelling. You can find this, alongside more advice, on the Workplace Health & Safety Queensland website: https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au

In order to protect your own health and safety, you must be honest about your medical conditions. 

Road travel

You can use your UK driving licence to drive in Australia if you remain a temporary overseas visitor with a valid UK licence that is not suspended or cancelled and you have not been disqualified from driving anywhere or had your visiting driving privileges withdrawn. 

If you plan to stay in Australia and you have a permanent visa, you can use your UK licence for up to three months. After the initial three months, you must get a local licence to continue driving. 

You are required to carry your driving licence and passport with you whilst driving. You must also make sure you have adequate insurance, including when borrowing a car from friends or relatives. Hire-car insurance often does not include coverage for driving on unsealed roads so ensure you have checked your policy before you leave. 

Driving laws depend on the state/territory you are in. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal and you must wear your seatbelt at all times.

If you intend to hire a car upon arrival into the country, be aware that you will be tired and jet lagged. Take regular rest breaks, especially when driving long distances as there will be stops provided. 

When driving through isolated Outback areas, make sure you are adequately prepared. Always carry two spare tires, and ensure your vehicle is roadworthy and fitted with a working GPS. Take maps and extra food, water and fuel with you on your journey and plan your route carefully using local advice before you set off. Provide the local tourist authorities, police, your hotel or family and friends with your planned route and let them know that you have arrived safely. 

Before you set off, make sure you have checked the safety of any roads you intend to use. If your vehicle breaks down, stay nearby and avoid travelling during times of extreme heat. Sudden storms and strong wind can make driving difficult and dangerous. Be cautious when driving on unsealed roads, 4WD tracks and desert/beach roads. If possible, you should stay off unsealed roads in remote areas as the Northern Territory Police have warned tourists to do so following reports of stranded motorists. 

All vehicles on Fraser Island must observe a speed limit of 80 km/h on beaches and 30 km/h in towns. Any 4WD vehicles must not carry any more than eight people (including a driver) and all luggage must be inside. Avoid driving at night and be cautious of hazards such as ditches on the beach. Fraser Island is remote, so be aware that the emergency services can take hours to reach you. Ensure that your first-aid kit is well stocked and that you have any necessary medication with you as the island has no pharmacy.

Mobile phones

Mobile phone service is generally not a problem in cities and large towns; however, coverage elsewhere can be limited or non-existent. If you intend to visit a remote area, check the coverage with your phone provider. UK mobiles can be used in Australia if you have data roaming, although it can be expensive to make and receive calls. It is often advised to buy an Australian SIM on arrival, which are available at some airports, as well as convenience stores and supermarkets. 

Political situation

Ensure you keep up to date with the Australian news, as well as with local and international political developments. 

Avoid demonstrations and large gatherings of people.

Terrorism

Terrorist attacks in Australia are likely. 

You can find advice on staying safe abroad, as well as information on what to do in the event of a terrorist attack, on the UK Counter Terrorism Policing website: https://www.counterterrorism.police.uk

Attacks may be indiscriminate and can include places visited by foreigners. Ensure you are vigilant, and keep up to date with local media reports. Follow any advice given to you by the local authorities.

Australia changed its national terrorism threat advisory system on 26th November 2015. The current threat level for the country is ‘probable’. A number of attacks have been linked to Daesh-inspired terrorism (formally known as ISIL).

UK interests and British nationals face a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally from a group motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. Ensure you remain vigilant. 

[Source – FCDO Foreign travel advice: Australia, gov.uk]

 

Natural disasters

Bushfires

There is a risk of bushfires in Australia, especially in the height of summer (November to February). Bushfires may start or change direction with very little or no warning. If you are visiting an area that has a high risk of bushfires, follow the advice of local authorities. 

There have been a number of devastating bushfires in Australia during the 2019/2020 summer season. They have resulted in the loss of lives and property, and have led to many being evacuated until it is safe to return. 

If you are visiting or travelling near an affected area, stay safe and follow local authorities' advice:

Australia operates a fire danger rating system across the country which indicates the possible consequences if a fire were to start. The highest rating is ‘catastrophic’, and has been issued in several locations. 

Smoke caused by bushfires can have a negative effect on air quality, which in turn could provoke respiratory conditions. Smoke can travel many kilometres away from the fire, including urban areas and major cities. Most state and territory governments provide in depth information on air quality and what to do if you find yourself in a smoke affected area:

Flooding

Flooding occurs in some areas of Australia due to heavy rain and tropical cyclones. Follow local media and check with local state authorities for up-to-date information about flooding. See more information on the Queensland website: https://www.qfes.qld.gov.au/Pages/default.aspx, and New South Wales website: https://www.ses.nsw.gov.au

Tropical cyclones

Some parts of Australia experience tropical cyclones, particularly Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia. The cyclone season typically lasts from November to April. 

Keep up to date with both local and international weather updates from the World Meteorological Organization at: https://public.wmo.int/en and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology website: http://www.bom.gov.au

Dust storms

Dust storms are a regular occurance in Australia, although they are usually limited to Outback areas. 

[Source – FCDO Foreign travel advice: Australia, gov.uk]

 

Health

Preparing for travel

Make sure you check the latest country-specific health advice at least eight weeks before your trip. This advice can be found on the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s (NaTHNaC) TravelHealthPro website: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries. This website has up-to-date information regarding outbreaks, health risks and vaccination recommendations. The NHS (Scotland)’s FitForTravel website is also available for further information: https://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/destinations.aspx.

The NHS has general information regarding vaccines: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/travel-vaccinations/ and also has a checklist of items you may need to stay healthy abroad: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/travel-health-checklist/.

Medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK may have a different legal status and regulations in Australia. Read the guidance from the NaTHNaC: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/factsheet/43/medicines-abroad if you plan to travel with prescription or over-the-counter medicine. You will need to contact the British High Commission, Embassy or Consulate of the country/territory you are travelling to: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/foreign-embassies-in-the-uk for more information regarding the legal status of specific medication.

Although travelling can be enjoyable, it can have effects on your mental health. If travelling with a mental health condition, information can be found on the UK Government's guidance page: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/foreign-travel-advice-for-people-with-mental-health-issues as well as from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC): https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/factsheet/85/travelling-with-mental-health-conditions.

Local healthcare

Ensure that you have comprehensive medical insurance arranged before travelling to Australia. If you are not covered by the reciprocal healthcare arrangements in place between Australia and the UK, treatment can be expensive. 

The standard of healthcare in Australia is high. Under the reciprocal healthcare arrangements in place between the UK and Australia, British citizens resident in the UK, travelling with a British passport are entitled to limited subsidised healthcare for medically necessary treatment provided by Medicare. This does not apply to existing conditions or treatment that is not urgent. Those who are considered non-visitors, e.g. if you are studying in Australia, are not included. Other exclusions include pharmaceuticals when not an in-patient, ambulance costs, and medical evaluations which tend to be very costly. 

Should you require emergency medical assistance during your stay in Australia, call 000 and ask for an ambulance. Contact your insurance/medical assistance company as soon as possible if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment. 

For more information, visit the Medicare website: https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/medicare. If you visit a Medicare office while in Australia, take your passport and NHS card with you if possible.

COVID-19

Australia is affected by the global outbreak of the coronavirus, COVID-19. Make sure you comply with all screening measures that local authorities have put into place, see: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/australia/coronavirus, for more information.

For more information when travelling during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, see the UK Government’s advice at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus.

FCDO Foreign travel advice

If you are travelling to Australia for business, the Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) website has travel advice to help you prepare for your visit overseas and to stay safe and secure while you are there.

For up-to-the-minute advice please visit the FCDO Foreign travel advice pages on the gov.uk website: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/australia.

Travel insurance

Make sure you have comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel, as well as accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

[Source – FCDO Foreign travel advice: Australia, gov.uk]


 

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