Road Conditions and Safety:
- Traffic operates on the left side of the road, and all vehicles use right-hand drive.
- Use caution when crossing streets and when driving.
- When crossing roads on foot, make sure you look carefully in all directions.
- Seat belt use by drivers and all passengers is mandatory, and fines apply for not wearing them.
- Motorcyclists must wear helmets.
- Speed limits and laws are rigorously enforced. Speed limits vary throughout Australia and are measured in kilometers, not miles. Be aware that speed cameras are everywhere and you will be ticketed for driving over the speed limit.
- Roads and streets are frequently narrower and less graded than U.S. highways.
- Outside major metropolitan areas, most highways are two-lane roads with significant distances between destinations.
- When driving in Australia, exercise caution while passing or merging with adjacent traffic.
- If driving in rural areas, be alert to free-roaming animals, such as kangaroos, and "road-trains" (several semi-truck trailers connected together).
- Passing road-trains is dangerous, and you should pull over to allow on-coming road-trains to pass to avoid being sideswiped.
- If you have no experience with a 4-wheel drive vehicle, you should exercise common-sense when driving in the Australian outback.
- Each state/territory has different rules about using a foreign driver?s license and the conditions under which a visitor might have to get an international driver?s license. More information about driving rules and regulations is available by state.
- Texting or holding your phone while driving is against the law in Australia, but you can use a hands-free system to communicate while driving.
- For specific information concerning Australian driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, mandatory insurance, and the rental and operation of motor vehicles in Australia, visit the Australian Tourist Commission website.
Public Transportation: Australia has an extensive and safe public transportation network consisting of buses, streetcars, ferries, trains, and subways. Metered taxis and ride sharing services are also prevalent. Use common sense safety practices, such as guarding valuables and remaining aware of your surroundings, on all public transportation.
See our Road Safety page for more information.
Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of Australia?s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of Australia?s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA?s safety assessment page.
Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to Australia should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts. Information may also be posted to the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the NGA broadcast warnings website portal select ?broadcast warnings?.
For emergency services in Australia, dial 000.
Ambulance services are widely available.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not apply overseas. Most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept U.S. health insurance.
- Excellent medical care is available in Australia.
- Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services.
- Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
- Although many health insurance companies will pay "customary and reasonable" hospital costs abroad, very few will pay for your medical evacuation back to the United States.
- See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
- We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage. Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information on type of insurance you should consider before you travel overseas.
- If traveling with prescription medication, check with the government of Australia to ensure the medication is legal in Australia.
- Always, carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor?s prescription
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Air Quality: Visit AirNow Department of State for information on air quality at U.S. Embassies and Consulates.
The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of hospitals and a link to the Australian National Health Services Directory at https://au.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/doctors/. We do not endorse or recommend any specific medical provider or clinic.
Medical Tourism and Elective Surgery
- Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for information on Medical Tourism, the risks of medical tourism, and what you can do to prepare before traveling to Australia.
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Food and Drug Administration are responsible for rules governing the transport of medication back to the United States. Medication purchased abroad must meet their requirements to be legally brought back into the United States. Medication should be for personal use and must be approved for usage in the United States. Please visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Food and Drug Administration websites for more information.
- Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information about Adventure Travel.
Air pollution is a significant problem during certain months in Australia due to bush fires. Consider the impact seasonal bush fire season pollution may have on you, and consult your doctor before traveling if necessary.
- The air quality varies considerably and fluctuates with the seasons. It is typically at its worst in the bush fire season. People at the greatest risk from particle pollution exposure include:
- Infants, children, and teens
- People over 65 years of age
- People with lung disease such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema;
- People with heart disease or diabetes
- People who work or are active outdoors
Local laws and Special Circumstances
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, imprisoned or deported.
- It is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings, such as inside certain areas of Australian airports, near prisons, and at military bases.
- Furthermore, some laws are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.
Alcohol and Drugs:
- Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking of drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect lengthy sentences and fines.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol can result in jail time.
- Random breath testing of a driver’s blood alcohol level is a common occurrence.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
Potential Health Screening: The 1908 Quarantine Law gives Australian authorities broad powers to prevent the entry of diseases and other materials into Australia that might pose a threat to its welfare. In the event of a public health emergency involving a communicable disease, passengers arriving in Australia may be subject to strict health screening measures, including testing, monitoring, and assessment for possible quarantine.
Customs: Australian customs authorities enforce very strict regulations concerning the importation from all countries of items such as agricultural goods, including plants and food products, and wood products, as well as very strict quarantine standards for animals and pets.
Contact the Embassy of Australia in Washington, D.C., or one of Australia’s consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements, and visit the Australian Government?s Department of Agriculture website for additional information.
Australia experiences a range of natural disasters, including bushfires, floods, and severe storms. These events are difficult to predict and can result in loss of life. You should be aware of conditions around you and monitor local weather and safety reports so you can take appropriate action when needed.
See our Natural Disasters pages for information on storm preparedness and response.
- Be aware that Australian fauna can be dangerous. From jellyfish to crocodiles, sharks, poisonous insects, and snakes, the continent and its waters host wildlife that merit awe and respect in equal doses.
- Visit the Wet Tropics Management Authority visitor information guide for information on Australian wildlife and marine life.
- Take important safety precautions when swimming, such as swimming only between the flags where a lifeguard is present, and never swimming alone.
- Further information on beach safety can be found on the Surf Life Saving website.
- Follow recommended precautions when snorkeling and scuba diving and never dive alone. Over the past few years, there have been numerous deaths related to snorkeling and scuba diving incidents.
Faith-Based Travelers: See the following webpages for details:
- Faith-Based Travel Information
- International Religious Freedom Report ? see country reports
- Human Rights Report ? see country reports
- Hajj Fact Sheet for Travelers
- Best Practices for Volunteering Abroad
LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in Australia. Australian federal law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.
As of December 9, 2017 Australia defines marriage as ?the union between two people.? Australia grants temporary and permanent visas to same-sex partners of Australian citizens.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance
- Australia enforces laws prohibiting discrimination with regard to access to premises, facilities, and accommodation.
- Many of the downtown areas of Australian cities were built in the 1800s. These areas often have narrow sidewalks crowded with pedestrians and tourists.
- Generally, most public transit, parking, streets, and buildings are accessible to disabled travelers.
- Tourist spots at the beach or in the Australian outback can have varying degrees of accessibility.
- Many accommodations and venues provide accessibility information on their websites.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Safety and Security
Terrorism: Terrorists have targeted, and will likely continue to target, Australia.
- There have been six successful terrorist attacks and over a dozen disrupted plots in recent years. The Australian government is concerned about the potential for future attacks.
- Australia has an alert system for possible terrorist attacks. The threat levels range from ?not expected? to ?certain.? The Australian National Security website has up-to-date information regarding the current terrorism threat level. You may also contact the Australian National Security Hotline at 61-1-800-123-400.
- U.S. citizens in Australia should remain vigilant with regard to their personal security and exercise caution.
- Australian law protects the right of individuals and groups to engage in peaceful protest and to publicly express their views. Demonstrations and political rallies are generally approved by local authorities and well publicized. However, even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. You should avoid the areas of demonstrations if possible and be careful within the vicinity of any demonstrations. You should stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
- Although U.S citizens are not specifically targeted for crime, you should be aware that robberies, burglaries, assault, and auto theft are common in Australia?s larger cities.
- Foreign visitors in popular tourist areas are targets for pickpockets, purse-snatchers, and petty thieves. Most petty crime can be avoided if basic security precautions are taken.
- Be careful when visiting bars or clubs in the entertainment areas of major cities, as ?bar brawls? and other assaults sometimes occur. Also, watch out for drink spiking when consuming alcohol with unfamiliar people.
Victims of Crime:
- Report crimes to the local police at 000 and contact the U.S. Consulate in your district.
- Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes.
- See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
- assist you in reporting a crime to the police
- help you find appropriate medical care
- contact relatives or friends with your written consent
- explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
- provide a list of local attorneys
- provide information on victim?s compensation programs in the U.S.
- provide information about Australian Victim Assistance programs
- provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
- help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
- replace a stolen or lost passport
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the U.S. consulate in your district for assistance.
Tourism: The tourism industry is generally regulated, and rules with regard to best practices and safety inspections are regularly enforced. Hazardous areas/activities are identified with appropriate signage and professional staff is typically on hand in support of organized activities. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is widely available throughout the country. Outside of a major metropolitan center, it may take more time for first responders and medical professionals to stabilize a patient and provide life-saving assistance. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Entry exit Requirementsh
You must have a valid U.S. passport and a visa or approved Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) to enter Australia. Most U.S. passport holders traveling to Australia for tourism or business purposes for less than 90 days can obtain an (ETA). The ETA is an electronic label-free visa and can be obtained at the ETA website for a small service fee. Airlines and many travel agents in the United States are also able to apply for ETAs on behalf of travelers.
If you overstay your ETA or any other visa, even for short periods, you may be subject to exclusion, detention, and removal by the Australian Department of Home Affairs.
If you are travelling on a valid U.S. ePassport (a passport that contains an electronic chip) and are 16 years of age or older, you are eligible to use Australia?s automated border processing system, SmartGate, upon arrival in Australia (SmartGate kiosks are available only at participating airports). There is no additional enrollment process or fee to use SmartGate. Visit the SmartGate website for more information and for a list of participating airports in Australia.
Visit the Embassy of Australia website for the most current visa information.
HIV/AIDS restrictions. Some HIV/AIDS entry restrictions exist for visitors and foreigners seeking permanent residence in Australia. Depending on the type of visa you apply for, the length of your stay, and your intended activities in Australia, you may be required to undergo a medical examination before the Australian Department of Home Affairs will issue you a visa.
If during the course of the application process, you are found to be HIV positive, a decision on the application will be considered on the same grounds as any other pre-existing medical condition (such as tuberculosis or cancer), with the main focus being placed on the cost of the condition to Australia?s health care and community services.
See the Department of State?s Fact Sheet on Australia for information on U.S. – Australia relations.
Travel Embassy and Consulate
19-29 Martin Place
Sydney, NSW 2000
Telephone: +(61) (2) 9373-9200
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(61) (2) 4422-2201
Fax: +(61) (2) 9373-9184
U.S. Embassy Canberra
(The Embassy does not provide consular services.)
Yarralumla, ACT 2600
Telephone: +(61) (2) 6214-5600
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(61) (2) 411-424-608
Fax: +(61) (2) 6214-5970
U.S. Consulate General Melbourne
553 St. Kilda Road
Melbourne, VIC 3004
Telephone: +(61) (3) 9526-5900
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(61) (3) 9389-3601
Fax: +(61) (3) 9526-5968
U.S. Consulate General Perth
16 St. George’s Terrace
Perth, WA 6000
Telephone: +(61) (8) 6144-5100
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(61) (8) 9476-0081
Fax: +(61) (8) 9325-5914