Asia and Oceania

Australia Flag of Australia

Still current at: 10 June 2008
Updated: 21 May 2008


This advice has been reviewed and reissued with and amendment to the Local Travel section (World Youth Day update). The overall level of the advice has not changed.  

(see travel advice legal disclaimer)

Travel advice for this country


Travel Summary

  • There remains a general threat from terrorism in Australia.  Attacks cannot be ruled out and could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreigner travellers.  The Australian authorities have carried out a number of arrests as a result of investigations into terrorist networks.  See the Terrorism section of this advice for more details.

  • Almost 700,000 British nationals visit Australia every year (Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics).  Australia is a vast country.  You should plan your journeys carefully, particularly if travelling to remote areas.  Most visits to Australia are trouble–free.  The main types of incident for which British nationals required consular assistance in Australia in 2007 were: replacing lost or stolen passports (over 2,000 cases); dealing with arrests, for a variety of offences (over 110 cases); and dealing with deaths and hospitalisations (over 100 cases).

  • British nationals are required to obtain visas for entry into Australia.  See the Entry Requirements section of this advice for more details.

  • Take extra health precautions if travelling in the Northern Territory, parts of Western Australia, and parts of Queensland.  See the Health section of this advice for more details.

  • Australia is prone to seasonal natural disasters including tropical cyclones and bush fires (forest fires). The Cyclone Season normally runs from November to April. Bush fires are common in the summer months from November to February.  See the Natural Disasters section of this advice and Hurricanes for more details.

  • Sydney will host World Youth Day, the largest youth event in the world in July 2008. This will result in some local travel disruption, and heavy demand for flights and hotel accommodation.  See the Local Travel sections of this advice for more details.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake.  See the General (Insurance) section of this advice and Travel Insurance for more details.

Safety and security

Terrorism

You should be aware that a general threat from terrorism remains in Australia.  Attacks could be indiscriminate including in places frequented by expatriates and foreigner travellers.  For further information see Terrorism Abroad.

The Australian authorities have carried out a number of arrests as a result of investigations into terrorist networks.  On 3 November 2005, the Australian government introduced an urgent amendment to the country's counter-terrorism legislation, in response to an assessment by Australian intelligence agencies that a terrorist attack in Australia is feasible and could well occur.  Subsequently on 8 November 2005, the Australian police arrested 16 people in Sydney and Melbourne in a counter-terrorism operation designed to disrupt preparations for a terrorist attack.  On 31 March 2006, a further three people were arrested on terrorism charges in Melbourne.
 
Crime
  • Like any other part of the world, be particularly careful with personal possessions and travel documents in cities and other popular tourist destinations.
  • Avoid carrying everything in one bag.
  • Luggage and other personal items left in unattended vehicles and identifiable hire cars and camper-vans may be targeted.
  • Take particular care when walking at night in some of the busy tourist areas of Sydney, such as Kings Cross, downtown George Street, Hyde Park and Centennial Park. 
  • Be alert when you are withdrawing cash from cash machines. 
  • Thefts from safe deposit facilities at cheaper hotels and hostels are common. 
Some street crime and house burglaries occur in all Australian cities but, on the whole, the level of crime is no higher than in the UK.
 
Proof of age cards are available from Roads & Traffic Authority (RTA) offices, and are an accepted form of ID for many everyday services, such as opening bank accounts or entering licensed premises.  By obtaining such a card, you would not need to carry your passport with you unless travelling – thereby greatly reducing the risk of it being lost or stolen.
 
In 2007 our Consular staff were aware of a few British nationals who were the victim of a serious sexual offence in Australia. 
 
Be aware that alcohol and drugs can lead to you being less alert, less in control and less aware of your environment.  If you are going to drink, know your limit.  Remember that drinks served in bars overseas are often stronger than those in the UK.
 
For more general information see Victims of Crime Abroad.

Political Situation

Australia Country Profile

Local Travel

Australia is a vast country.  You are strongly recommended to take regular rest breaks when driving long distances - there are many rest stops provided.  There are extremely remote outback areas, which can present unexpected hazards.  If you intend travelling to such areas you should plan your trip with care and seek and follow local advice on what precautions to take.  In addition, when travelling to remote tourist areas of the outback, it is essential to leave your route details and expected time of return with the relevant local tourist authorities or police, or with friends and relatives.  Ensure that you also notify them if your travel plans change and when you finally return.  Many tourists are reported missing, only to be found safe and well at their next destination.

Sydney will host World Youth Day (WYD), the largest youth event in the world in July 2008. Around 500,000 pilgrims – including 125,000 overseas visitors (over 2,000 from the UK) – will attend a week of formal events from 15-20 July 2008, and other informal events before and afterwards. There will be heavy demand for flights to/from/within Australia, and for hotel accommodation in Sydney. Visitors should expect heightened security at the main venues and around the city.

Advice for pilgrims, online registration, and accommodation bookings are available on the WYD website – www.wyd2008.org.  All pilgrims need to register by 1 June 2008, to give Australian Immigratiion enough time to process their visa and guarantee they will get accommodation, food and transport.  The WYD organisers cannot guarantee this fro people who register after 1 June.

The Australia Tourism website:  www.australia.com  has extensive information on travelling around the continent.
 
Swimming
 
When swimming always obey the directions of lifeguards, swim only between the flags in the designated area, and do not swim in unguarded remote locations.  Rip currents are the leading surf hazard for all beach-goers.  They can occur at any surf beach with breaking waves, and can sweep even the strongest swimmer out to sea.  Rip currents are responsible for over 10,000 beach rescues and up to 100 drownings each year in Australia.

Road Travel

In 2007 there were 1,611 road deaths in Australia (source: Australian Transport Safety Bureau).  This equates to 7.8 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 5.5 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2005.

As a visitor, you may drive in Australia on a valid UK driving licence, which covers the class of vehicle you use.  You must carry your licence when driving, in addition to a valid passport.  An international driving permit is not sufficient and must be accompanied by a separate valid driving licence.  There is an on-the-spot fine for not having your licence with you. You should also ensure that you are adequately covered for insurance purposes, including if you borrow a car from a friend or relative.

If you intend to stay in Australia and you hold a permanent visa, you are no longer considered a visitor.  You are allowed to drive on a current overseas licence for a maximum of three months, after which you must apply for a local licence.
 
Driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is illegal.  The penalties can be severe.

Weather hazards can seriously impair driving – road conditions can change rapidly.  Sudden storms and strong winds can make driving difficult.  Seat belts must be worn at all times.
 
For further information see Driving Abroad.
 
Air Travel
 
If you are returning to the UK from Australia via Osaka, Japan you must pay airport tax of 2,650 Yen (approx £20.00) in order to board the Osaka-London flight.
 
The revised EU-wide security measures that came into effect for all passengers departing from UK airports in November 2006 have also been implemented in Australia. For more details about this please see: Dft Airline Security

Local laws and customs

The Australian authorities will take action against anyone who imports or is found to be trafficking illegal substances.  Prosecution can lead to a lengthy jail sentence and non-Australian nationals are usually deported at the end of their sentence.  Deportation may lead to a ban on returning to Australia for several years.
Laws, and the penalties for breaking them, can differ from State to State.
 
Australia has an established tradition of tolerance towards homosexuality, however there are still isolated incidents of homophobic related crimes.  Gay and lesbian travellers should be aware of local sensitivities particularly when visiting rural communities.
 
Travellers spending a gap year in Australia (or elsewhere) may like to view www.gogapyear.com.
 
Quarantine Procedures
 
Australian authorities are rigorous in their efforts to keep out any pests and diseases that could affect plant, animal and human health.  All luggage is x-rayed on arrival, whether arriving by plane with visitors or by mail.  Any items of quarantine concern are further inspected, treated and, if necessary, confiscated and destroyed.
 
Before landing you will be given an incoming passenger card on the plane, on which you must declare any food or goods of plant or animal origin.  These goods includes nuts, dried fruit and vegetables, herbs and spices, biscuits, cakes and confectionery, teas, coffees and milk-based drinks and sporting equipment (including camping gear), amongst others.  A full list of items which must be declared, as well as prohibited goods, can be found on the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry in Australia website:  "What can't I take into Australia?".  Breaches of quarantine regulations can result in large fines:  The Australian Quarantine & Inspection Service.
 
You must also declare on the passenger card if you have "visited a rural area, or been in contact with, or near, farm animals outside Australia in the past 30 days".  As a result of these quarantine procedures, you should expect some delay on arrival.
 
As a result of the foot-and-mouth outbreak in the UK, you should expect longer delays on arrival in Australia from the UK at present. Australian quarantine authorities are carrying out increased inspection checks.
 
For more general information for different tuypes of travellers see Travel Advice Relevant to You.

Entry requirements

Visas
 
Visas are required for all travel to Australia. Visas for visits (an Electronic Travel Authority - ETA) can be obtained electronically in a number of ways:
Passport Validity
 
Australia does not have a minimum passport validity requirement for incoming passengers.  But if you intend onward travel to other countries in the region, please note you are advised that entry into some countries may be refused, and airlines may not carry you, if your passport has less than six months validity.  This also affects passengers transiting some countries en route to/from Australia (i.e. if they pass through immigration and enter the transit country), such as Singapore.  See the Travel Advice for Singapore. For further information on entry requirements you should check with the Embassy or High Commission in London of the country you intend to visit/transit.

Health

Reciprocal medical arrangements exist between Australia and the UK.  Under the reciprocal agreement British nationals may have unforeseen emergency medical treatment under the Australian Medicare scheme.  Australian Medicare (not the British national health) provisions apply to British visitors to Australia; but other British nationals, for example those who are studying in Australia, are not covered by the same Medicare provisions.  You should check Medicare Australia for further details.  There are also other exclusions under the reciprocal agreement such as treatment for pre-existing medical conditions, pharmaceuticals when not a hospital in�patient, use of ambulance services and medical evacuations.  The latter, in particular, is very expensive.  See the General (Insurance) section of this advice for more details on insurance.
 
Mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue and Ross River fever are common to north Queensland, the Northern Territory and north of Western Australia.  Outbreaks of Murray Valley Encephalitis (MVE), a potentially fatal mosquito-borne disease, occur in the Northern Territory and North Western Australia, with occasional cases in Queensland, Central Australia and the central regions of Western Australia.
 
In the 2006 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 16,000 adults aged 15 or over in Australia were living with HIV; the prevalence rate was estimated at around 0.1% of the adult population. This compares to the prevalence rate in adults in the UK of around 0.2%.  You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS.
 
For more general information on how to do this see HIV and AIDS.
 
You should seek medical advice before travelling to Australia and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date.  For further information on vaccination requirements, health outbreaks and general disease protection and prevention you should visit the websites of the National Travel Heath Network and Centre NaTHNaC and NHS Scotland’s Fit for Travel or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.
 
For more general health information see Travel Health.
 
Natural Disasters
 
Tropical Cyclones

Tropical Cyclones occur in some parts of Australia, mainly Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia.  The Cyclone season normally runs from November to April.  You should monitor local and international weather updates from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).  You can also access the Australian Bureau of Meteorology website for updates. 

You should be aware that (depending on the season) flash flooding of large areas can occur suddenly. You should plan your trip with care and seek and follow local advice on what precautions to take.

Bush fires

You should be aware of the risk of bush fires at the height of the Australian summer (November to February).  You should check with local State authorities for current information.  For Victoria see: http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au; for Tasmania see: http://www.fire.tas.gov.au and for New South Wales see: http://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au

General

Insurance
 
We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You are strongly advised to consider taking out separate medical insurance for the whole of your overseas visit, including any time spent in Australia.  It is also advisable to have cover for unexpected losses such as cancelled flights, stolen cash, cards, passport or luggage.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake.  See Travel Insurance.

If things do go wrong when you are overseas then this is how we can help.
 
Mobile phones
 
The mobile phone network generally works well in cities and large towns but coverage on the edge of build-up areas and in rural areas can be very limited or non-existent in the more remote outback areas.
 
Consular Registration
 
Register with our LOCATE service to tell us when and where you are travelling abroad or where you live abroad so our consular and crisis staff can provide better assistance to you in an emergency.  More information about registering with LOCATE can be found here.
 
Leaving Australia

You should ensure that you have a return air ticket and do not rely on obtaining money from sources such as tax returns to fund a return flight.

Travel advice for this country

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contacts

Australia, Canberra, Consular Section

Address:

British High Commission
Consular Section
Locked Bag 5011
Piccadilly House
39 Brindabella Circuit
Canberra Airport
CANBERRA ACT 2609

Telephone:

1902 941 555 - Consular Section (Premium rate call - domestic calls only -charged at A$2.75 per minute)
1300 367 066 - Passport enquiries (Premium rate call - A$9.90 flat fee, creditcard only)
1300 858 472 Visa enquiries (Premium rate call - A$9.90 flat fee, credit cardonly)

Fax:

 

Office hours:

Apr-Oct: 2300-0500 (GMT) 0900-1400 (Local)
Nov-Mar: 2200-0400 (GMT) 0900-1400 (Local)

Website: http://www.britaus.net



 

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