Is an eTA visa necessary for a transit through Australia?

For a stopover in Australia or a simple transit through this country you will still need an eTA visa. Read about this little known but necessary procedure to ensure you can complete your travel arrangements satisfactorily.

Apply for eTA or eVisitor Australia

As you are reading this article you undoubtedly already know that it is absolutely necessary to hold an eTA authorisation or a visa to visit Australia. But what about for transits through the country? In fact, if your final travel destination is not Australia but you need to make a stopover there then, under certain circumstances, you will be required to complete an eTA travel authorisation application online in the same way as if you planned to visit Australia. Here are some explanations on this subject.


Transits through Australia that require an eTA visa:

A transit through Australia does not necessarily require an eTA visa. However, under certain specific circumstances you will be required to supply this authorisation to be able to transit through the country. Here are the two relevant cases:

  • A transit period of more than 8 hours: If your Australian transit period is for more than 8 hours then you will need to obtain an eTA travel authorisation prior to your visit. This is valid even if you do not leave the airport terminal.
  • Exiting the transit zone: If your transit time is for less than 8 hours but you wish to benefit from the time you have to make some purchases or visit the surrounding area then you will need to leave the transit zone. This is not possible without a valid eTA travel authorisation.


What happens with a transit without an eTA visa?

If you decide to undertake a trip with a transit in Australia without an eTA visa you run the risk of not being able to board your flight. In fact, all airlines are responsible for checking the validity of travel authorisations before boarding.  In the case whereby your travel represents a stopover of more than 8 hours in Australia and no eTA is electronically linked to your passport number then the personnel will refuse to allow you to board.


How to apply for an eTA visa for a transit through Australia?

If you wish to transit through Australia for a future trip you should know that you will be required to follow the same procedure for an online eTA visa application as those who wish to travel to Australia as their final destination. To apply for an eTA visa you should click on the link that is easily accessible on this website which will lead you to an application form in your native language.

Then you simply need to carefully complete this form and enter your valid passport number and correct email address. Respond honestly to all questions asked as your answers may be subject to verification.

Once your eTA application has been sent you will receive a response by email within 72 hours. If your eTA visa application has been accepted you have nothing further to do as this will be automatically electronically linked to your passport number. You can thereby easily transit through Australia and even reuse this authorisation for one or more future trips as this authorisation is actually valid for a full year.


Is it necessary to complete two eTA applications for an outgoing transit and the return?

Certain particular transit cases through Australian territory can generate some questions for visitors travelling to other countries. In fact, we particularly note the question on the possible necessity of completing two eTA visa applications if a trip has two transits, an outgoing and the return. The answer to this question actually depends on various criteria.

Firstly it is important to note that your eTA visa, once obtained, is valid for a whole year from the moment it is granted and can be reused during this period for visits to Australia for transits or stays of up to 90 days. Therefore if your eTA is still within this validity period for your travel, including the return trip, then you will not be required to create a supplementary application as it will still be linked to your passport number. In the case to the contrary, you will be obliged to complete a new eTA application as your return transit will be considered as a unique visit to Australia, independent of the outgoing transit. 

Another thing, when certain information changes between your departure and return travel it may be necessary to modify this information to be able to use your eTA or, if necessary, reapply if this is not possible. This is notably the case if your passport number has changed, if you have changed your name or address or if one of the original answers you gave to a question on the form is no longer correct.

We highly recommend that you carefully keep your eTA reference number with you during your trip in case you need to modify your information to ensure your return home via a transit through Australia is trouble free.


Are the requirements the same as for a stay in Australia?

If you are applying for an e-visa or eTA to transit Australia, the requirements are exactly the same as for a stay in Australia. Here are the details:

  • Firstly, you must hold a passport that was issued in one of the member countries of the scheme and where you are permanently resident.
  • You must not be transiting Australia for any purpose other than tourism, business or travel.
  • You must apply for an eTA visa when you are outside Australia or before you transit.
  • Your passport must be valid at the time of application and at the time of transit.
  • You must not be a carrier of tuberculosis.
  • You must not have been convicted of an offence or offences in any country with a sentence of imprisonment of 12 months or more. If you have a criminal conviction, you should apply for a Visitor Visa and not an eTA, which will be refused.

Note here that you will also be prohibited from working on Australian soil while in transit on the eVisitor or eTA. If you intend to work, you will need to apply for a specific visa such as the Working Holiday Visa or Student Visa.


What documents should I bring with me when in transit to Australia?

When you transit through Australia, you will not need to produce any specific documents to the immigration authorities. Once granted, your eTA will be automatically and electronically attached to your biometric or electronic passport. No stamps or labels will be applied to your passport. The airline you are flying with will electronically check that you have this authorisation before you board. If you do not, you will not be allowed to board. However, it is possible for airline staff to apply for an urgent eTA for you, but this will incur an additional charge.

Please note that when you transit through Australia, you must present the passport number with which you applied for travel authorisation. If this passport has changed in the meantime, you will need to apply again.

When your eTA is granted, you will receive an email with your travel authorisation number which we recommend you print and carry with you when you travel.


Can I leave the airport while in transit in Australia with an eTA?

If your trip involves transit through Australia and you have obtained an eTA visa for this purpose, you will be able to leave the airport and visit the area around Sydney or the airport where you are transiting.

This eTA is valid for both transit or stopovers and for actual stays. The only conditions are that you do not stay more than 90 days in Australia and that you do not go there to work.

So if you have a few hours or a few days for your transit, you will be allowed to move around the country before your next flight, in the same way as if you had applied for an eTA or e-visa for that purpose. There is a real advantage to applying for and obtaining an e-visa for transit purposes.

Apply for eTA or eVisitor Australia

Frequently asked questions

Can I visit the area around the Australian airport while in transit with an eTA or eVisitor?

One of the advantages of using an eTA or eVisitor when travelling through Australia is that it is a travel authorisation in its own right, just like a visa. You can therefore use this authorisation to leave the airport and visit the country if your transit lasts long enough. You can, of course, use this authorisation again later for other trips or transits.

How many transits or stopovers can I make in Australia with an eTA or eVisitor visa?

The number of transit or stopovers you can make in Australia with an eTA is unlimited as long as the eTA is still valid. Indeed, during the whole period of validity of this electronic travel authorisation, you will be able to travel as much as you want in this country, either for real stays or for a stopover to another destination.

Is it necessary to apply for two authorisations for a trip with a transit to and from Australia?

Are you travelling through Australia on both the outward and return journeys? In this case, you will not need to apply for two permits at all. Once issued, the eTA or eVisitor can be used for multiple stays, transits and stopovers in Australia for a period of two years. Unless your eTA or eVisitor expires between your outward and return dates, you will not need to obtain two clearances.