Australia–stunning landscapes, bustling cities, diverse culture, and deadly animals! It is a dream destination for many, including Malaysian travellers. So much so that many of us tend to overstay, which leads us to our next point: getting the Australian Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) is no longer as quick and easy as it once used to be. No thanks to overstayers.

Yonks ago, you could apply for an ETA an hour before your flight and get immediate approval, but that’s no longer the case. Now, it would be wise to apply for said ETA well in advance and wait for approval before booking that flight ticket.

Here are some insider tips, as a Malaysian, on how you can make the entire process a little less stressful.

Image by Paul Kapischka.

The Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) visa is an electronically stored authorisation for travel to Australia. It’s available to citizens of certain countries, including Malaysia, who are visiting Australia for tourism, business purposes, or to visit family and friends.

The ETA visa allows multiple short visits to Australia within 12 months and permits stays of up to three months per visit.

Like all visitor visas, ETAs are strictly for visiting purposes. You can go on holiday around the country and visit family or friends. ETAs cannot be extended, so if you intend to lengthen your stay, you’d need to apply for a brand-new ETA.

Image by Andrej Lišakov.
  1. Passport validity: Ensure that your passport is valid for the planned duration of your visit. Double and triple-check that your passport is in date; you’d be surprised how many think it is when it’s actually expired.
  2. Download the Australia ETA app: Available for Apple and Android, this app is where you do the application for your ETA.
  3. Consolidate your documents: To make everything more seamless, ensure all documents are clearly scanned into soft copies.
  4. Apply early: The Australian government encourages you to apply for ETAs at least four weeks before your planned visit date and not finalise any commitments until your application has been approved.
Image by Getty Images.

Of course, the main document you’ll need is a soft copy of your passport, but what are the other documents? Read below:

  1. Bank statement: You can often obtain this from your banking app.
  2. Employment contract: There was once a time when you didn’t need this to apply for an Australian ETA but to prove you won’t be overstaying, I recommend submitting this document. It should state your starting date with complete information like your full name, identification number, office address and phone number.
  3. Letter of intent to return: What is that even, right? With the help of your company’s human resources department, prepare an employer statement with the company’s letterhead that states your job position, salary, and intent to return. Include tentative travel dates if you can.
  4. Letter of invitation: If you’re staying with family or friends, get them to draft a letter that includes their full name, citizenship status, address, contact number, and a short explanation of what sort of activities you’ll be doing together.

Other documents you can include as a Malaysian applying for an Australian ETA visa are your birth certificate, EPF statement, certificate of good conduct, and any other relevant documents to your status.

Image by charlesdeluvio. Edited by Xin Xin Lee.

It’s important to note that there is no one you can speak to over the phone or see at the Australian High Commission in Malaysia for Australian ETAs purposes. All applications should be lodged through the official Australia ETA app.

Things to know about lodging a visa application:

  • One ETA application is valid for a single person only. However, multiple applications can be made using the Australia ETA app.
  • Pay the visa application fee using a valid credit or debit card. If you’re an Apple user, the Australia ETA app makes paying easy, thanks to ApplePay compatibility. The fee for an ETA visa is considerably lower than traditional visa options.
  • Once submitted, wait for an email in your inbox. If you don’t see one after 12 hours, check your spam folder.
  • If you receive an email noting that further information is required, click on the link provided. This will lead you to an online form where you’ll need to submit it.
  • Follow the steps provided in the email, and login or create your ImmiAccount.
Image by Victor.

As mentioned, the Australian government advises that all applications should be made four weeks prior to the intended travel date. As for approval, it really varies. For example, my own application took over a week, which caused some form of distress. My sister’s took less than 48 hours, and my niece’s almost instantly. So, it really depends on your luck, but whatever it may be, prep, prep, prep!

Another thing to highlight: While an ETA visa grants entry into Australia, border control officers may still ask for additional documentation, such as proof of funds or return flight tickets. Be prepared to provide this if requested.

For more information on the Australia ETA, click here.