Traveling to Australia

by Matthew Gast

Related link: http://www.eta.immi.gov.au/



I'm co-teaching a tutorial on 802.1X and wireless security at QuestNET 2005, a conference held for the Australian research and engineering network community. I'm making some of my travel arrangements this morning.

U.S. citizens need a visa to travel to Australia, but the Australian government has applied a bit of technology to the problem. Instead of a physical piece of paper in the passport, the visa is electronic. You enter details on the Web site, and something called an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) is issued into the relevant Australian computers. I went through the process this morning, and it was handily the easiest visa process I've been through. After putting in credit card and passport details, I hit the submit button, and the Web site came back in about 30 seconds with positive confirmation. All told, the whole process took less than five minutes, which is far better than spending an afternoon heading over to the relevant consulate downtown and handing over my passport.

I have one lingering fear--that the computer systems will eat my visa and I'll have trouble getting in to the country. I figure (hope?) that it's a pretty irrational fear, but I work in the IT industry, and arguably know better than to assume everything will work the way it should every time...