Craving a smear of Vegemite? Thinking of heading Down Under? Don’t forget to apply for your visa! I’ll be heading there for a quick turn work trip in a couple of weeks and am getting ready.
To visit, Australia requires an Electronic Travel Authority (aka ETA). You can apply for an ETA online, but you cannot be in Australia when you do so. According to their website, “The ETA allows people to visit Australia for short-term tourism or business purposes of up to three months. There is an AUD20 service fee only for an online application for each ETA applicant. An ETA is available to passport holders from over 30 countries, regions and locations.”
To learn more about Australian Electronic Travel Authority, click here: http://www.immi.gov.au/e_visa/visitors.htm
Applying was easy and they sent me the approval very quickly with instructions. In addition, a day or so later I got another email from the Authority outlining a few more benefits…..A few months ago I applied and was accepted into the US Trusted Traveler program. It basically means Uncle Sam did a background check and interviewed me so I can reenter the US from trips without going through the long customs/immigration lines. According to the Aussie email, “Late last year, Australian Customs and Border Protection opened up access to its automated border processing system, SmartGate, to U.S. Trusted Travelers. Now when you arrive in Australia, you can bypass the passport processing queues and self-process using an ePassport.”
US Trusted Travelers can use SmartGate when flying into Australia without any additional due diligence. FANTASTIC! It will take me more than 25 hours of travel to get there and I’m flying coach (since my company is paying and there are no upgrades available!) so I imagine I’ll look a bit like these jet lagged people once I arrive!
Needless to say, the thought of not having to deal with long passport lines when I arrive is a welcome relief.
To learn more about the US Trusted Traveler Program, click here: http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/trusted_traveler/