Planning a holiday is all excitement until you get to the dreaded part: visas. For many people it might not even cross their minds to find about visas until it’s too late.
According to the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade,
a visa is “a form of permission for a non-citizen to enter, transit or remain in a particular country.” In other words: “Hold up, where do you think you’re going? Fill out some information and we’ll let you know if you can enter!”
There are two important things to know about visas: Firstly, no Australian department can give you a visa for overseas travel, nor provide you with clear-cut information on visa. Only the countries you intend on visiting can be relied on to provide the right information. Secondly, not every country has representation in Australia.
Thus, your best course of action is to start looking into the question of visas even before you even book your flights. The reason being? Let’s say there’s a last minute ticket sale for flights to an international destination that you’ve always wanted to visit. The travel dates the sale is offering are for next month only, but that’s okay because you have that time off. “Perfect”, you think, and book the tickets on a whim! Now that you’ve sealed the deal, you start browsing the net for travel tips for your upcoming destination, and sooner or later you come across an official site that states Australian residents need a visa to visit their country, and the visa takes at least 4 weeks to process… You see why researching visas in advance is a good idea?
There are some destinations that are easier to find visa information on than others. These are countries which Australians visit frequently and/or which our government may have bilateral agreements with that make it easier for their citizens to travel between – these include Canada, Fiji, Japan, New Zealand, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States of America and a few more. Formal information on travelling to these destinations can be found on the Smartraveller website
For any other regions, the best thing to do is a Google search with the country’s name plus the keywords ‘Australians’ and ‘visa’, and that government’s official travel information website should come up at the top of the search results.
But if you’re booking a holiday through a licensed travel agent such as Travellers Choice then they will inform you of any visa requirements and most likely even manage the whole process for you.