So you just rented Crocodile Dundee for the fifteenth time and you've suddenly become infatuated with boomerangs, koala bears, convicts, and all things Paul Hogan. You have no choice: you just GOTTA go to Australia. But wait . . . Australia is a huge country. Don't ruin your trip by just showing up and not knowing where to go or what to do. With this SYW, we will help you organize a tourist visit to Australia, and perhaps inspire you to reconnect with Olivia Newton-John. Why? Because we love you. We honestly love youuuuuuuuu. . .


Get a passport

If you've never left home before, congratulations on your newfound spinal cord. So 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 web page. 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 $65, and the passport will be valid for 10 years. To get your passport, you'll need to provide proof of citizenship (e.g., a birth certificate, a certificate of naturalization, a certificate of citizenship) as well as two photographs. Yes, these photographs must be of you.

If you are Canadian, you can check out the Canadian Passport Office web page or write to them the old-fashioned way at:

Canadian Passport Office
Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0G3

Get a visa

So you have your passport, but the fun is just starting. Now you have to get a visa. Australia requires everyone on the planet except New Zealanders (also known as "Kiwis") 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 can be done through your travel agent, who has access through his/her computer reservation system. This process takes only a few minutes and the information is stored electronically rather than as a stamp in your passport. This method is available in both Canada and the US, and is so convenient that you should not even bother reading about the second method.

  2. You just don't listen, do you? Well, if you are scared of technology (or if you want a visa other than the standard "three month tourist" visa), you can get yourself a paper application in the US at:

Australian Embassy
1601 Massachusetts Ave NW
WASHINGTON, DC 20036 2273
Voice: (202) 797 3000
Fax: (202) 797 3100
Counter hours: 8:30am - 12.30pm


Australian Consulate General
2049 Century Park East, 19th Floor
Voice: (310) 229 4840
Fax: (310) 277 5620

And in Canada, at:

Australia House
Strand, London WC2B 4LA
Tel: 020 7379 4334;
Fax: 020 7240 5333

Don't mess around with these visas. If you don't have one, the stewardess won't let you on the plane. Then you'll cry. And the stewardess will laugh. The bastard. 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 Multi-Cultural Affairs. We have more information about extending your visit in step 5.

For more info about visas, check out our SYW "SoYouWanna get a visa?" If you're lucky, you might also find out how to get a Master Card.