Getting a foreign visa
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. Foreign governments often require you to get a visa before they let you enter.
This page provides general information only. We can't provide specific information about the kind of visa you'll need to enter a foreign country, or which entry and exit rules apply to you.
Contact the embassy or consulate of the country you'll be visiting for visa advice specific to your needs and circumstances.
This page provides general advice and information about visas overseas. It covers:
Visa requirements can change at short notice. The Australian Government can't provide definitive information for every destination or situation.
It's your responsibility to make sure you have the right visa. If you don't, the Australian Government can’t help you.
This page is for Australians looking for information about visas to travel overseas. If you're from elsewhere planning to visit Australia, see getting an Australian visa (Department of Home Affairs).
Types of visas
Types of visas include:
- transit visas, if you're just passing through
- visitor or short stay visas, usually for tourism, business, study or volunteering
- long stay or immigrant visas, if you're going overseas to live or work
Within each type, there are usually many variations. The specific visa you need often depends on the nationalities you hold and the activities you plan to do there.
For example, a country may have a general tourist that covers most short-term visitors there to see the sights. They may also have a series of tourist visas for specific activities. This could include yoga, Hajj, medical tourism or working holidays.
To find out which visa you need, ask an authority from your destination. Contact their embassy or consulate in Australia.
How to get a visa
Each country determines their own process for visa applications and approvals.
- Check the travel advisories for all destinations you'll be travelling to or through. Some provide basic visa information.
- Visit the websites for your destinations' embassies or consulates in Australia. They usually detail the process for Australian visitors.
- Some foreign embassies and consulates in Australia will direct you to an official immigration website. Others may refer to to an authorised commercial service.
Read and understand all conditions on your visa. If you get the wrong visa, or breach your conditions, you're breaking the local law. You could be arrested or jailed overseas.
Visa on arrival
Some countries grant short-term visitor visas to Australians on arrival. This means you may not need to organise it beforehand.
A visa on arrival is not the same as visa free travel. The authority at the border still issues you a visa. They may issue it electronically or in your passport as a stamp, sticker or attachment.
Applying for a visa directly or online
You may need to apply for a visa directly with your destination's authority. For some countries, you can apply through one of their embassies or consulates. They may ask you to apply in person, by mail or online.
Some ask you to give your passport to their officials for processing. This could take some time. In the meantime, you won't have your passport and can't travel anywhere else. Don't leave your application to the last minute.
Applying for a visa through commercial visa services
Some governments authorise commercial services to coordinate or issue visas on their behalf.
Don’t get tricked in to using a commercial visa service if you don’t need to. In some countries, legitimate services pose as official services online. Some charge more for visas.
Check the destination's government authority for their visa application process. Make sure any commercial service is authorised and legitimate.
Don't get scammed.
If they are legitimate, compare their costs to the government option. Some overcharge to make more profit.
Avoiding visa scams
Watch out for visa scams. There are illegal operators that take your money and give you a fake visa.
A fake visa won’t be recognised when you arrive. In some cases, you might be able to buy a real visa at the airport. You'll just lose the money you paid. In other cases, you could be accused of trying to enter the country illegally. You could be arrested or jailed.
Visa free entry
You may not need a visa to visit some countries for certain types of travel. This includes European countries in the Schengen area and destinations with visa waiver agreements.
The Schengen area is made up of 26 European countries which have common entry and exit requirements. This means you may not have to apply or pay for a visa to visit short term.
Most travellers in the Schengen area can move freely between member countries. They don't have to go through border controls, or get separate visas for each country.
Special visa rules apply in the Schengen area. See our general advice about travelling in the Schengen area.
Bilateral visa waiver agreements
Australia has agreements with some countries to waive some visa requirements. This means you may not have to apply or pay for a visa for short visits as a tourist. You can enter and travel freely on your Australian passport.
Countries can change their entry or exit requirements at short notice. Before you travel, get current visa information. Contact your destination's embassy or consulate in Australia.
Consequences of breaching your visa
You could face consequences if you have visa problems. This includes getting the wrong visa, or breaching a condition of your visa. Even if you didn't mean to make a mistake.
Consequences can include:
The Australian Government is limited in how and when it can help Australians overseas. We can't tell you what visa to get or what to do if you get in to trouble. We can't get you out of trouble, or out of jail.
It's your responsibility to stay within the law when you're overseas. This includes making sure you've got the right visa.
Learn what we can and can’t do for Australians overseas. Read the Consular Services Charter.
- Each country determines its own visa requirements. See general entry and exit information in the travel advisories for your destinations.
- Read the basics of getting or renewing a passport.
- If you travel on the wrong visa, you could get arrested or jailed.
- Learn what we can and can’t do for Australians overseas. Read the Consular Services Charter.
This page has general information on visa waiver agreements with European countries.