Travel Consideration: Australia

Contributed By RealAdventures

Australia is a highly developed stable democracy with a federal-state system. Tourist facilities are widely available. The Australian Tourist Commission, which has a wide range of information of interest to travelers, can be contacted via the Internet at

U.S. citizens may travel to Australia on a valid U.S. passport and, if eligible, on an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) which replaces a visa and allows a stay of up to three months. The ETA is free of charge and is available from airlines and many travel agents. More information about the ETA and entry requirements may be obtained from the Embassy of Australia at 1601 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036, telephone (202) 797-3000, via the Australian Embassy home page on the Internet at or from the Australian Consulate General in Los Angeles, tel (310) 229-4840.

Australia's crime rate is low. However, foreign visitors from the U.S. or elsewhere are sometimes targets for pick-pockets, purse snatchers and petty thieves. Automobile burglaries and theft of personal belongings also occur. The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police, and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet "A Safe Trip Abroad" for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington D.C., 20402 or via the Internet at, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at

Good medical care is available. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.

U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas may face extreme difficulties. Check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, including provisions for medical evacuation. Ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death. Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure "Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad," available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page.

While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Australia is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance:

Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Good
Visitors are reminded that all traffic operates on the left side of the road, and that all vehicles use right-hand drive. Visitors should use caution when crossing streets and when driving. When crossing roads, pedestrians are reminded to look carefully in all directions. Seat belts are mandatory. Speed limits and laws regarding driving while intoxicated are rigorously enforced. Roads and streets are frequently more narrow and less graded than U.S. highways. Outside the major metropolitan areas, most highways are two-lane roads with significant distances between destinations.

Drivers are urged to exercise caution while passing or merging with adjacent traffic. When driving in rural areas, particularly in the Northern Territory where there are no speed limits, drivers should be cautious of free-roaming animals and "road-trains" (several semi-truck trailers hooked together). It is dangerous to pass road-trains, and it is advisable to pull over and allow on-coming road-trains to pass to avoid being sideswiped. A number of fatalities have occurred in the Northern Territory when vehicles, driven at high rates of speed, have skidded and overturned after hitting the loose gravel shoulder of the road. U.S. drivers, especially those inexperienced with 4-wheel drive vehicles, should exercise common-sense judgment when driving in outback Australia.
For specific information concerning the rental and operation of motor vehicles in Australia, contact the Australian Tourist Commission via the Internet at

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than for similar offenses in the United States. Persons violating Australia's laws, even unknowingly, may be arrested, imprisoned and deported. Criminal penalties for possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

Australian customs officials encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters, located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information call (212) 354-4480, send an e-mail to, or contact their website at

For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at's_issues.html or telephone (202) 736-7000.

Registration/U.S. Embassy and Consulate Locations: U.S. citizens living in or visiting Australia are encouraged to register at the U.S. Embassy or at the nearest U.S. Consulate and to obtain updated information on travel and security within the country.

The U.S. Embassy in Canberra is located on Moonah Place, Yarralumla, A.C.T. 2600, telephone (61)(2) 6214-5600, fax (61)(2) 6273-3191, home page NOTE: Registration, passports, and other routine citizen services for Canberra and the rest of the Australian Capital Territory (A.C.T.) are provided by the U.S. Consulate in Sydney (see contact information below).

The U.S. Consulate General in Sydney serves New South Wales, Queensland, and the Australian Capital Territory and is located on Level 59, MLC Centre, 19-29 Martin Place, Sydney NSW 2000, telephone (61)(2) 9373-9200, fax (61)(2) 9373-9184, home page

The U.S. Consulate General in Melbourne serves Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, and the Northern Territory and is located at 553 St. Kilda Road, P.O. Box 6722, Melbourne Vic 3004, telephone (61)(3) 9526-5900, fax (61)(3) 9525-0769, home page

The U.S. Consulate General in Perth serves Western Australia and is located on Level 13, 16 St. Georges Terrace, Perth WA 6000, telephone (61)(8) 9231-9400, fax (61)(8) 9231-9444, home page

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