Australia has a universal visa system. This means that all people travelling to Australia (except Australian citizens) require a valid visa or authority to enter Australia. This ensures that the department is able to facilitate the entry of people on arrival.
When you arrive at the check-in counter overseas, you will need to present your travel documents to airline staff. Airline staff will then check your details against immigration data systems to ensure that you have a valid visa or authority to enter Australia.
If you do not hold the correct documentation or visa/authority to enter Australia, the airline may refuse to allow you to board the aeroplane.
Your travel documents may also be checked prior to boarding the plane as an additional border security measure.
Information that helps you understand your security requirements when arriving at Australian airports can be found at the TravelSECURE website.
The pages include information about prohibited items, passenger and baggage screening, and liquids, aerosols and gels (LAGs) restrictions. Travellers will also find recommendations about travelling with children, laptops, medicines and sports equipment.
Travel documents for entry to Australia
This section provides information about what you need to know about immigration clearance requirements when arriving at an Australian airport.
When you arrive at an Australian airport
Everyone who arrives at an Australian airport must present their travel documents and Incoming Passenger Card (IPC) to officers in immigration clearance.
See: Passenger cards
If you are not an Australian citizen, you must hold a valid visa or authority to enter Australia. This must be arranged before travelling to Australia. Special provisions apply to most New Zealand citizens, and to people eligible to transit Australia without a visa.
See: Travel documents for entry to Australia
Fact sheet 17 –
New Zealanders in Australia
If you arrive without a valid travel document, visa or authority to enter Australia, you may be delayed until your identity and claims to enter Australia are checked. If you do not meet immigration clearance requirements, you may be refused entry to Australia. For more details see 'Immigration clearance at the airport' section below.
After you pass through immigration clearance, your baggage can be collected. It may be checked by Australian Border Force officers.
For more information quarantine requirements, go to the
Department of Agriculture website.
Immigration clearance at the airport
As part of immigration process, clearance officers inspect your travel documents when you arrive at the airport.
See:Travel documents for entry to Australia
Once your identity and authority to enter Australia are confirmed, the clearance officer formally approves your entry into Australia. Australian Border Force officers perform immigration clearance processing at Australian airports.
Note: The Australian Government no longer provides a Port and Date Stamp in travellers’ passports on arrival and departure from Australia. This change supports Australia's move to automated border clearance processing.
Australia issues electronic visas and records all movements of passengers arriving in and departing from Australia. You can access your International Movement Records by sending the form below to the Department of Home Affairs.
See: Request for International Movement Records (275KB PDF file)
If there are any issues surrounding your identity or authority to enter Australia, the matter is referred to for further assessment by officers at the airport. Officers may check your travel history, contacts in Australia, or other travel plans.
In some cases, you may be formally interviewed to determine further information about your immigration status. The interview is conducted by officers in an office at the airport, and may be recorded. Non-English speaking travellers may be interviewed with the help of an interpreter.
See: Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS)
If you do not meet immigration clearance requirements, you may be refused entry to Australia and removed immediately.
The Australian Government has implemented security measures at Australian airports. You can find further information at the TravelSECURE website. Its purpose is to help you to navigate the security checks at the airport quickly and easily and to ensure you are prepared for your trip.
The Electronic Travel Authority is an electronically-stored authority for travel to Australia for a short-term tourist or business entry.
All travellers to Australia, other than Australian and New Zealand citizens, are legally required to hold a valid visa to travel to Australia.
Australia's Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) system is the world's most advanced and streamlined travel authorisation system.
An innovative enhancement to ETA arrangements allows a traveller to apply for an ETA over the internet.
ETAs are issued within seconds of being requested through computer links between the department, travel agents, airlines and specialist service providers around the world.
See: Fact Sheet 55 The Electronic Travel Authority, Electronic Travel Authority (Subclass 601)
Technical and operating instructions
To assist travel agents and airlines, the ETA System Operating Manual is available on this website.