Useful tips for travelers to Australia from abroad
Citizens of most countries traveling to Australia need to have a current passport and obtain visa.
Many travelers who do not plan to stay in Australia for more than three months are eligible for a special electronic version of visa called Electronic Travel Authority. There is a nominal charge for the ETA and one can apply via the Australian government DIMIA web site at eta.immi.gov.au
Arriving travelers usually need to complete the Incoming Passenger Card, and choose one of the two customs channels to go through: green (nothing to declare) or red (if you have something to declare).
For the list of items you must declare and other information, please go to the Australian Customs Service web site. In particular, check out the arriving travelers, and departing travelers information
You must dispose of or declare all food, animal and plant products on arrival. Your baggage may be examined - whether you have goods to declare or not
Yellow Fever vaccination is the only health requirement for travellers entering Australia - it is only necessary in some circumstances. Please check the Department of Health and Ageing web site for complete details. Also visit the US Centers for Disease Control web site for general health information in the region
If you are taking traveler's checks, it is recommended that they would be in the local currency – Australian Dollars. Still, acceptance of traveler's checks is usually limited to banks and larger stores. Many more places accept VISA/MasterCard credit and debit cards. A grooving number merchants accept American Express, sometimes additional fees apply.
It is good idea to have pocket money in Australian Dollars, as some places do not accept anything but cash. Your local bank may also be happy to sell you some Australian Dollars, so you have cash in hand when you arrive.
ATM machines in Australia, unlike ATM machines in some European countries, accept ATM cards with any number of digits in the pin code; there is no need to request your bank to reset your card to four digits if you have a larger pin number. As long as your ATM card has VISA Plus or MasterCard Cirrus logo it should work in virtually any ATM machine in Australia. Even at remote places it should be possible to pay and in some cases draw money at Point of Sale terminals. Check with your bank, as to fees, and conversion rates.
The most popular cell phone standard in Australia is CDMA with GSM (900 and 1800) gaining in popularity. If you have a GSM phone without SIM lock, you can buy a prepaid SIM card in Australia. Or you can buy a whole prepaid phone. Here are links to some of the Australian mobile phone companies: Vodafone, Optus, Telstra, Pivotel.
Prepaid mobile phones can be bought at post offices, most office supplies shops, computer retailers, or any mobile phone shop.
Coverage in remote areas is not particularly good; in case funds allow and phone service is a must a satellite phone may be a viable option. Another satellite gadget you may be interested in is Emergency Position Indicating Radio beacon (EPIRB). Those can be purchased or rented from many car rental companies or specialty stores.
One of the best ways to call other countries from Australia is by using rechargeable phonecards. They work with cell phones as well as regular phones. There is wide variety of phone cards available. Some cards have a magnetic strip. Other cards come with a special number to call and a code. With the later kind you usually have a choice to put a few coins into the phone and use a 1-800 number, or use a long-distance toll number, with additional per minute charge placed on the card. Rates to call other countries from Australia are considered amongst the lowest in the world. For instance, an average AUD 20 card is good for about 8 hours of talking to United States (plus local call charges). Another way that may be a good choice is to use a callback service if one is available in your country.
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