Careers in Australia

Backpacking in Australia: What Visa & Requirements Do I Need?

Australia is one of the world’s most popular backpacking destinations because of the climate, the friendliness of the people and the ease of getting around the country. There’s so much to see, do and learn that you’ll want to stay as long as possible but you need to make sure you have your ducks in a row first.

Allianz Global Assistance Overseas Health - Backpacking in Australia; What Visa & Requirements Do I Need?

You have to travel on the correct visa and there are a few other requirements you’ll need to address. So if you’re thinking of backpacking in Australia, here are the visa and other requirements you need.

Which visa do you need as a backpacker?

You can come into Australia as a backpacker on one of a number of visas. In each case, you must be free of tuberculosis at the time you travel to and enter Australia and you must have no criminal convictions for which your sentence is for 12 months or more.

Non-working holiday visas

The following backpacker visas do not permit you to work while travelling in Australia:

  • Electronic Travel Authority (subclass 601) – This is a temporary visa which is granted for whichever period is shorter: 12 months from the date of issue or how long your passport is valid for. You are not allowed to work in Australia, but you can study or engage in training for a maximum of three months. You can enter, leave and re-enter Australia as many times as you desire during the validity period and stay up to three months each time. An online application fee is involved for the 601 visa.
  • eVisitor (subclass 651) – Stays of up to three months can be granted. You cannot work in Australia and you can study or engage in training for up to three months.
  • Visitor (subclass 600) – Can be granted for stays of 3, 6 or 12 months. You cannot work in Australia and you can study or engage in training for up to three months. You must maintain adequate arrangements for health insurance during your stay in Australia. If you enter Australia on a Tourist stream visa, you cannot apply for any extended stay visas and you must leave before your visa expires. Also, you can’t stay in Australia for more than 12 months in an 18-month period.

Working holiday visas

If you need to work to fund your holiday in Australia, you will need to apply for one of the following visas. You must be able to show that you have sufficient funds or pre-booked tickets for your return or onward fare and have enough money (around AUD5,000) to be able to finance the first part of your stay.

  • Work and Holiday (subclass 462) – This visa is available for travellers aged 18 to 30. It allows you to stay for up to 12 months – costs are also involved when applying for this visa. You will be allowed to do short-term work in Australia, study for up to four months and travel to and from Australia as many times as you like. With this visa, you can extend your stay by applying for a second Work and Holiday visa by completing three months of specified subclass 462 work in eligible areas of northern and regional Australia. The work must be completed while you’re still on your first visa. Some of the jobs include fruit-picking, fishing, plant and animal cultivation and some tourism and hospitality positions. You would have to work five days a week for a continuous period over three calendar months.
  • Working Holiday visa (subclass 417) – If you are aged 18 to 30 (or up to 35 if you are a Canadian or Irish citizen), you can apply for this visa which allows you to work while travelling in Australia for up to 12 months. Like the 462 visa, application costs are involved and you can apply for a second Working Holiday visa if you complete three months of specified work while holding your first 417 visa.

See more at our page on Working Holiday Visas in Australia.

Australia’s reciprocal working holiday arrangements

If you are from one of the countries that has a reciprocal working holiday visa arrangement with Australia, you can apply for these visas. The countries include Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Malta, Norway, Republic of Cyprus, Republic of Ireland, Republic of Korea, Sweden, Taiwan, The Netherlands and United Kingdom. Note that eligible countries do change, so always check the Department of Home Affairs website for the most up to date information.

US citizens have to apply for the Australian Work and Holiday visa (subclass 462).

Character, health and medical requirements

To be eligible for a working holiday visa, you have to be of ‘good character’ which means not having a substantial criminal record and not being involved in a range of criminal activities as set out in the Migration Act 1958. There are also health requirements for applying and being considered for a visa.

Adequate health insurance

When you visit Australia, you are financially responsible for any health or medical debts you incur here. When you apply for your visa, you may be required to provide evidence of adequate health insurance such as current policy documents. If you are not eligible for the Medicare program, then any hospital or medical room treatment you receive will be charged as a private patient. Be aware that most temporary visas do not include eligibility for Medicare.

Countries with reciprocal agreements on Medicare

Passport holders from a range of countries are entitled to essential medical care under Medicare when they visit Australia. As of March 2019, the Reciprocal Health Care Agreement applies to citizens of Belgium, Finland, Italy, Malta, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Ireland, Slovenia, Sweden and United Kingdom. It covers treatment or care for illnesses or injuries that can’t wait until the return home, as long as it is ordinarily covered by Medicare. The RHCA doesn’t cover students from Finland, Malta, Norway or the Republic of Ireland.

Backpacking is a major adventure

Backpacking is a cheap way to see the world! You will stay in backpacker accommodation like hostels and dormitories and meet tons of people of your own age and similar interests. Pack lightly because you will likely be carrying your possessions around on a regular basis.

Whether you choose to visit the beaches, the mountains, the outback or the major cities and small towns, you’re sure to find friendly faces and warm welcomes. The best advice for backpackers is to make sure you apply for the appropriate backpacker visa for your trip and that you know the conditions that apply.

Information correct as of March 2019.

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