Travelling to Australia
What you need to know.
VISA APPLICATIONS - GENERAL INFORMATION
The following information is provided by the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection. We recommend that all overseas participants read this carefully.
Under Australia's universal visa system, all visitors to Australia must have a valid visa to travel to and enter Australia (the only exceptions to this are New Zealand passport holders and permanent residents of Norfolk Island).
There are many visa options available to people wishing to visit Australia. The appropriate visa option will depend, amongst other things, on the person's purpose for visiting Australia, and the passport they are holding.
The following "visa finder" web page can be of help to find out which visa is suitable for you: http://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Visa-1
Please also refer to the Business Information Sheet for guidance on the visa options that may be most suitable for you.
Please also refer to the General Information for Visa Applicants.
Please take into account processing times and lodge visa applications as early as possible.
NB: These are the visa options available presently but the Department of Immigration and Border Protection reserves the right to change regulations. Assistance will NOT guarantee a visa grant. Visa applicants must demonstrate that they meet all the legislative requirements for an Australian visa.
Australia is divided into three separate time zones: Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST), Australian Central Standard Time (ACST), and Australian Western Standard Time (AWST).
- AEST is equal to Coordinated Universal Time plus 10 hours (UTC +10). This covers the following states (which includes Melbourne); Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory.
- ACST is equal to Coordinated Universal Time plus 9½ hours (UTC +9½). This covers the following states; South Australia and the Northern Territory.
- AWST is equal to Coordinated Universal Time plus 8 hours (UTC +8). This covers the state of Western Australia.
You may need an adapter in order to plug your appliances into the power sockets: the adapter required for Australia is Type 1 Australia plug. The plugs in Australia have two flat metal pins, forming an inverted 'V' shape, and occaisionally a third pin in the centre. The electrical current in Australia is 220-240 volts, AC 50Hz
Post offices are usually open 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday, with some city post offices open on Saturday morning. Travellers can arrange to collect mail at post offices throughout Australia.
In Australia cars, trams, bikes and other vehicles travel on the left-hand side of the road of a bi-directional traffic. Pedestrians also walk on the left-hand side of a path or a corridor in general. Look to your RIGHT first then left to check incoming traffic when crossing a street or road. Same rules apply when you are making turns when driving. The steering wheel of an Australian car is on the right-hand side.
Australia's national currency is Australian Dollars (AUD), which comes in denominations of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 notes. Coins come in 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent and one and two dollar denominations.
Credit cards such as American Express, Bankcard, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa, UnionPay and JCB are accepted in Australia. VISA or MasterCard can be used everywhere credit cards are accepted. American Express and Diners Club are accepted at major supermarket and department store chains and many tourist destinations. A good tip is to carry multiple credit cards and a little cash. Merchants may impose credit card surcharges in some places.
Traveller's cheques are not widely accepted in Australia. If you do purchase traveller's cheques, it is best to buy them in Australian dollars as smaller shops, restaurants and other businesses are unlikely to know what the exchange rate is if you present a cheque in a different currency such as US dollars or British pounds.
Australia has a Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 10 per cent. You may be able to claim a refund for the GST paid on goods if you have spent AUD $300 or more with a single business, no more than 60 days before departing Australia. Tourist Refund Scheme facilities are located in the departure are of international terminals.
Australia's seasons are at opposite times to those in the northern hemisphere. June to August is winter, and during July Melbourne experiences average maximum temperatures of around 14 degrees Celsius (or 57 degrees Fahrenheit) and average minimum temperatures of 6.7 degrees Celsius (or 44 degrees Fahrenheit). Melbourne typically experiences around 50 mm average rainfall in July.
Hotels and restaurants do not add service charges to your bill, and tipping is always your choice. In upmarket restaurants, it is common to leave a tip to waiters of 10 per cent of the bill for good service.
Some restaurants and cafes will add a 10 per cent surcharge to prices on weekends and bank holidays. This is supposed to cover a slightly higher minimum wage for working these days. Some will also charge an extra 1.5 to 3% for card payments. These extra charges will be clearly stated on the menu or at the cash register.
INTERNATIONAL DIALLING CODES
The international dialling code for Australia is 61. Each region also has an area code, including Central East (New South Wales, Australia Capital Territory) with area code 02; South East (Victoria, Tasmania) with area code 03; Mobile telephones (Australia-wide) with area code 04; North East (Queensland) with area code 07; and Central and West (Western Australia, South Australia and Northern Territory) with area code 08. When calling from outside Australia, leave out the leading '0' from the area code or mobile phone number.
- The outgoing IDD (international direct dialing) code from within Australia is 0011.
- Mobile phone network coverage is available across Australia, however coverage may be limited in some remote areas.
- Internet access and free WiFi is widely available at internet cafes, accommodation and libraries.
- The emergency number in Australia is 000