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Simon Calder's Holiday Helpdesk: Do we have to pay for an Australian visa if we hold British and Irish passports?

  • @SimonCalder

Q. We hold British and Irish passports. Do we have to pay for an Australian visa, or can we get them free?

Tracey Kelly, Luton

A. If, like most travellers to Australia, you plan a holiday or a family visit, all you need is an eVisitor – an electronically stored travel authority for tourists (and business visitors) to Australia.

The application process is quick and easy, and confirmation is normally given rapidly. It is valid for a year, for stays of up to three months. When you turn up at the airport for your flight to Australia, the airline checks with the authorities that you have the necessary permission. The main exclusion for eligibility is for people who have been sentenced to a year or more in prison in the past. You should also ensure your passport has at least six months to run.

The eVisitor is free – unless you inadvertently go through a website that seeks to divert visitors from the official government site and charge fees while adding no value.

Tap “eVisitor Australia” into Google, and the first listing is an ad from eta-evisitor.com, which asserts “UK & Ireland citizen must apply for Evisitor/ETA for Australia Travel”. The company – which appears to be based in Florida – pays Google to appear at the top of the search list. It says that visitors are obliged to pay fees. This is nonsense – but sadly, some travellers are duped into paying €49 to a firm which reveals only in the mis-spelled small print that “This wesbite is not affiliated with the australian. Government” (sic).

However, I have made a short link to the right web page that will allow you to begin the free process: just use www.bit.ly/OzVisa

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