Travel Guide 2023: Australia ETA & New Zealand ETA Visa Applications Simplified For Malaysians

From incredible metropolitan cities like Sydney, Melbourne or Auckland to indigenous cultures and cuisine of Aboriginal Australians or Maorians, popular beaches, breathtaking natural landscapes and native wildlife, including cuddly koalas, iconic kangaroos and unique kiwi birds, most Malaysians have a tough time choosing between a holiday to the Land Down Under or hopping over to New Zealand.

The first hurdle you need to cross is visa applications. Fortunately, you don’t need to rack your brain to figure out the different types of Australia and New Zealand visas for Malaysian tourists, how to apply for the Australia ETA or New Zealand ETA, and essential travel documents and requirements. All you need to do is check out our guide below for a smooth visa application process!

Australia ETA vs Australia visa: What’s the difference?

Australia ETA - Australia visa
Traditional visas are stamped or glued into your passport and include your name, passport number, place of birth, the reason for travel and expiration date. | Credit: Agus Dietrich via Unsplash

Malaysian tourists can apply for several types of documentation for travel to Australia. The most common types of travel documents are:

1. Electronic Travel Authority (Subclass 601) (ETA)

An electronically stored authority that allows you to enter and stay in Australia for up to 90 days for tourism (including cruises) or limited business visitor activities (e.g., general business or employment enquiries, participating in conferences, trade fairs or seminars). An ETA is available to eligible Malaysian passport holders. You can apply online via the ETA app or through a travel management company.

2. Visitor Visa (Subclass 600)

A Visitor Visa is a visa that allows you to enter and stay in Australia for up to 12 months for tourism or to visit family or friends. Eligible Malaysian passport holders aged 18 and above must have enough money to stay in Australia and cannot work in Australia during the period of their stay. Malaysian can apply for this visa online by creating an ImmiAccount. This type of visa requires additional documentation beyond an ETA.

3. Work and Holiday Visa (Subclass 462)

This visa allows you to enter and stay in Australia for up to 12 months for tourism. It also permits you to work with an employer for up to six months to fund your trip. You become eligible for a second Work and Holiday visa when you work for 3 months in the specified subclass 462 work categories (e.g., critical COVID-19 work in the healthcare and medical sectors anywhere in Australia). This visa is available to eligible Malaysian passport holders aged 18 to 30 without accompanying dependent children. Similar to the Visitor Visa (Subclass 600), the visa application must be made online via an ImmiAccount.

In simple words, an Australian ETA applies to visa-exempt countries like Malaysia. It is not a full visa but merely an electronic form of authorisation linked to your passport number that notifies the Australian government that a Malaysian tourist intends to visit their country. An ETA is valid for up to 12 months (or until your passport expires, whichever is earlier) and allows you to stay or enter Australia multiple times for up to 3 months per visit. An Australia ETA is the most suitable option for short-term travel.

On the other hand, an Australian visa document allows entry into Australia for a specific purpose and stipulated time. Some visas can be applied online, while others require paper applications and supporting documents. Each visa has its own eligibility criteria, application process, and conditions.

5 Benefits of the ETA for Malaysian tourists

#1 Easy and convenient application process

An Australian ETA is easy to obtain online via the ETA app without the hassle of spending hours travelling and queuing up at the Australian embassy in Malaysia. Malaysians can apply for an ETA from the comfort of their homes or offices without taking time off work or spending money on travel.

#2 Cost-effective

You only need to pay a processing fee of AUD20 for the Australia ETA. Meanwhile, the New Zealand ETA requested through the mobile app costs NZD17, and the website form costs NZD23. This makes Australia and New Zealand ETAs more affordable options for Malaysian tourists as it is cheaper than an Australian visa application charge for a traditional visa.

#3 Quick processing time

The Australian ETA is usually processed immediately or within 12 hours of application submission. This means that Malaysian tourists can receive their ETA fast and make travel arrangements without undue delay. However, the processing time may take longer if your particulars are inaccurate or if the Australian government needs additional information or more time to verify your details. As for the New Zealand ETA, the processing time is within three business days.

#4 Flexibility

With permission for multiple entries into Australia for up to three months per visit, Malaysian tourists have the freedom to make travel plans to visit all six states and two territories in Australia multiple times or stay with family and friends for an extended period. On the other hand, the New Zealand ETA allows Malaysians to vacation in New Zealand for up to 90 days at any one time within two years.

#5 Greater accessibility

The Australian ETA and New Zealand ETA are available to Malaysian tourists who meet the eligibility criteria, including a valid passport and not having any criminal convictions. This means that many Malaysian tourists can take advantage of the ETA and enjoy the benefits of visiting Australia or New Zealand without going through a complicated and time-consuming application process.

Australia ETA: Visa Requirements and Documents Required for Application

Before applying for the Australia ETA via the Australian ETA app, you need to ensure that you meet the following Australia travel requirements:

1. A valid Malaysian passport. It is advisable to ensure your passport is valid 6 months or one year ahead of your visit to Australia. You can now renew your Malaysian passport online without much hassle.

2. The purpose of entry into Australia must be for tourism or business purposes only. According to the official website of the Australian High Commission in Malaysia, business visitor activities include:

  • making general business or employment enquiries;
  • investigating, negotiating, signing or reviewing a business contract;
  • activities carried out as part of an official government-to-government visit participating in conferences, trade fairs or seminars. You must not be paid by the organisers for your participation.

Generally, business visitor activities do not include undertaking paid work in Australia, like picking fruits. There have been reported cases of Malaysian tourists working illegally in breach of a tourist visa, such as picking fruits. Any traveller found violating their visa conditions may be detained and deported in addition to a 3-year re-entry ban.

3. The duration of stay is no longer than 3 months (90 days) at a time.

4. No criminal record or convictions that resulted in a sentence of 12 months or more. Among crimes or criminal convictions viewed seriously by the Australian government include sexual crimes involving minors, drug trafficking, human trafficking, domestic violence, and immigration offences, to name a few.

5. No previous visa cancellations or refusals for entry into any country, including Australia.

6. Good health (free from tuberculosis) and not a risk to public health or safety.

7. Have sufficient funds for your stay in Australia.

In case of doubt, refer to the Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) to check your eligibility for an Australia ETA and visa conditions.

Despite the fast processing time, Malaysian applicants are advised to obtain the Australia ETA at least one month before booking flight tickets and making travel arrangements. The essential documents you need to prepare ahead of the application are:

  • Valid passport.
  • Valid email address.
  • Debit or Credit card to pay the ETA processing fee.
  • Health insurance policy, etc., to meet foreign visitors’ health and character requirements.

Other supporting documents:

  • Reason for your visit, including details of proposed accommodation and activities.
  • List of immediate family members and their contact details.
  • List of travelling companions and their contact details.
  • List of family, friends or contacts in Australia and their contact details.
  • Bank statements from the last 3 months (if applicable).
  • Evidence of your employment and commitments in Malaysia, such as an employer statement.

How to apply for an Australia ETA

1. Download the Australian ETA mobile app

Australia visa application - Australian ETA
Australia began rolling out the ETA electronic visa in the run-up to the Sydney Olympics in 2000 to facilitate the entry of foreign athletes without much hassle. | Credit: The RESEARCH Files via Youtube

All applications for the Australian ETA can only be made via the Australian ETA mobile app. You can download the app on the App Store or Google Play Store. Ensure your mobile device is NFC-enabled. Most current iPhones since iPhone 6 are NFC-enabled.  Android phone users can check NFC settings by searching the Settings app > Connections > tap NFC and contactless payments. Your mobile device must have a functional camera and enable the location services feature.

If you are travelling with family, each family member has to make a separate ETA application. However, you can still use the same mobile device to submit each ETA application and pay in one go.

You can engage a travel agent to make the ETA through the mobile app. However, you must be physically present when the application is made for your passport to be scanned and your photo taken.

2. Read the Terms and Conditions and Tap ‘Agree’.

3. Secure your profile with a Face ID or Passcode.

4. Tap on ‘New ETA’ to start an application.

Next, you need to read and agree to the consent agreement. You will be directed to an instructions page. Read through the instructions and tap ‘Start’.

5. Scan your passport

Australia travel requirements - Australia visa application
The whole personal data page must be clearly visible. | Credit: via Australian Government, Department of Home Affairs

Open the personal data page in your passport for scanning. The personal data page contains your personal particulars, such as your full name, date of birth and passport number. Remove your phone cover before scanning, and align your mobile device over the passport.

The red outline will turn green when the passport is aligned correctly. A successful scan shows the whole personal data page, including the two lines of letters and numbers at the bottom. Avoid obstructing the camera with your fingers. Shadows or glare may also result in a failed scanning process.

The next step is to scan your passport chip. Remove any cover from your passport before scanning, and enable the NFC function on your mobile device. Place your mobile device directly on top of the front cover of the passport for the built-in reader to detect and scan your passport chip. Ensure your phone touches the passport until the app recognises the chip and a reading message is displayed on your mobile device. Avoid moving your phone until the scan is complete.

Android phone users

You will receive a notification on your screen advising you to hold still while the phone reads your passport chip.

iPhone users

A yellow line will progress as the chip is read.

Once the app has scanned your passport chip, you can review and confirm the particulars taken from your passport.

6. Take a photo of yourself in portrait mode

Australia - Australian ETA application
Ensure your face, eyes, and hairline are visible against a light background without any shadow or obstruction. Female applicants should avoid wearing heavy makeup. | Credit: via Australian Government, Department of Home Affairs

Your face must fall within the oval frame on your mobile screen. Stand in front of a plain, light background. Look forward directly at the camera and ensure your eyes are open and visible on the screen. If you wear glasses, we recommend removing them. If you wear prescription glasses, we recommend removing them, if possible. Otherwise, ensure your eyes are open and can be seen clearly through your glasses. Females with long hair should tuck their hair behind their ears or tie a ponytail for a clear view of their face and hairline.

7. Apply for the ETA and answer some basic questions

As a new applicant, you must answer some questions, including your requested ETA type and current location, whether you have any criminal convictions and your contact details in Australia.

8. Pay the service fee

The service fee for the ETA application is AUD$20. You can make payment via debit card or credit card.

9. Submit your application

Before submitting your application, check all your details, including your name and date of birth. The processing time is fast, within 12 to 24 hours. If your application is granted, you will be notified via email of the decision, your visa grant number, the date your visa starts, and visa conditions. You need to carry a copy of this decision to enter Australia and keep it safe throughout your stay in Australia.

However, it may take longer to know your visa outcome if the Australian government needs more time to verify your details or require additional information from you. If your application cannot be processed without additional information, you will be directed to a link with a form that contains additional questions to provide more information, such as the reason for your visit or a copy of your identification card. Alternatively, you can also consider applying for a different type of visa that suits your travel needs, such as a Visitor Visa (Subclass 600).

Where your visa has been refused, you will be notified by email with reasons for the refusal and whether you can review the decision. You cannot make further ETA applications through the app, which will return the same results.

New Zealand ETA

Since Malaysia is a visa-waiver country, Malaysians can apply for the New Zealand ETA to visit New Zealand without a physical visa. Malaysians can either choose to fill in the online application form or apply via the New Zealand ETA mobile app. With the New Zealand ETA, Malaysians can visit New Zealand multiple times up to 90 days per visit during the 2-year ETA validity period via a cruise ship or as a transit passenger from Auckland International Airport to Australia and vice versa.

The categories of travellers eligible for the New Zealand ETA for short-term travel are:

  • Tourists, including people visiting family & friends or holidaying;
  • Business travellers who intend to visit the country for trading purposes, training, conferences, or other business gatherings;
  • Visitors participating in amateur sports;
  • Travellers applying for short-term paid or unpaid jobs in the country.

New Zealand ETA: Travel Requirements and Documents Required for Application

Before making your New Zealand ETA application, check the eligibility requirements below and prepare the essential documents.

1. A valid Malaysian passport. Your passport should be valid for at least 3 months from the date you intend to visit New Zealand. If your passport expires, your New Zealand ETA will expire simultaneously. This means you must apply for a new ETA when applying for a new passport.

2. A valid email address for communication regarding your New Zealand ETA application.

3. A credit card or debit card to pay the ETA service and tourist fee.

4. A clear photo of your face that meets the New Zealand ETA requirements.

5. Proof of sufficient funds to finance your visit to New Zealand.

6. Return or transit ticket or hotel accommodation details in New Zealand.

7. No prior criminal record or convictions.

8. Good health and pose no health risk to the public.

9. Proof of onward travel or return ticket to leave New Zealand before the expiry of your ETA.

10. Medical insurance covering your stay in New Zealand.

11. If travelling with minors, additional documents may be required, such as a consent letter from the parents or guardians and proof of their relationship with the minors.

New Zealand ETA application: Online form

1. Request and fill up the New Zealand ETA visa application form on HTTPS://NZETA.IMMIGRATION.GOVT.NZ/

New Zealand ETA - New Zealand ETA application
All New Zealand ETA applications are paperless and must be completed electronically (via an online form or mobile app). | Credit: New Zealand Immigration

Enter the following information:

  • Passport details – The passport details include the passport issuing country or territory, date of issue, your passport number and expiry date.
  • Personal details – Once you provide all passport details correctly, enter your personal information, such as your full name, gender, valid email address, etc. Your name or other particulars must accurately match the information provided on the passport you intend to carry on your visit to New Zealand.

2. Upload your photo

Next, you must upload either an existing photo (less than 6 months old) or take a new one with your mobile device camera. We recommend uploading a current photo. The photo should be clear and identify you properly. If you wear a hijab or head cover for religious or medical reasons, ensure your face and hairline can be seen clearly. Females with long hair should tuck their hair behind their ears or tie a ponytail.

If you are taking a new photo with your mobile device, the camera must have a minimum resolution of 540 x 720 pixels while the photo must be less than 10 MB in JPG (or JPEG) format. Large photos will be automatically formatted.

The photo (an existing one) submitted with an online application form must be in portrait mode:

  • between 500 KB and 3 MB
  • between 900 x 1200 pixels and 2250 x 3000 pixels
  • a JPG (or JPEG) file.

However, if you receive an error message while uploading your photo, don’t worry! You can refer to the official website of the New Zealand Immigration Department for the list of online errors and how to fix them.

3. Declaration

Next, you must confirm that all the details in the New Zealand ETA application are correct, complete and truthful. You also need to declare that you have no prior criminal record or convictions, and in good health and do not pose a severe health risk to others.

4. Review and confirm details

Once you have completed all the details correctly, review the information and confirm before submission.

5. Make payment

Like an Australia ETA, you can make payment via debit card, credit card or PayPal account. The cost of the online application service fee is NZD23. You also need to pay the International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy (IVL) while paying the fee for New Zealand ETA. This may cost around NZD35.

Further, you may choose the visa processing time when submitting your application. Standard New Zealand ETA approvals will take between 24 hours and 72 hours, while urgent applications can be processed within 1 to 24 hours. However, faster processing times may require an additional fee.

6. Submit your application

After making the payment online, submit your application. It will be sent to New Zealand Immigration Authority for further processing. The estimated processing time is within 3 business days. If your application is approved, you will receive an email and a text message notifying the same. The email may also contain a link where you can check the status of your application and/or download and print a PDF copy of the visa.

Ensure you carry a hard copy of your ETA on departure to New Zealand and during your New Zealand trip. Even if you hold a valid New Zealand ETA, you will still be subject to random immigration checks and questions upon arrival in New Zealand. If the immigration officers find any discrepancies, they have the right to deport you immediately.

New Zealand ETA application: Mobile App

You can download the New Zealand ETA mobile app on the App Store or Google Play Store. Like the Australia ETA mobile app, the New Zealand ETA mobile app is the fastest and most convenient way to apply for a New Zealand ETA.

Ensure your mobile device is NFC-enabled, has a functional camera (with a minimum resolution of 540 x 720 pixels) and turns on the location services feature. Before registering as a new applicant, we advise you to read through the photo requirements on the New Zealand Immigration Department to avoid any photo error messages that may delay your application process.

Scan your passport and upload a clear photo of yourself that meets the requirement of the New Zealand Immigration Department (i.e., your mobile camera must have a minimum resolution of 540 x 720 pixels, and the photo must be less than 10 MB in JPG or JPEG format). Fill in your passport details, and answer some questions, including reasons for your visit, whether you have any prior criminal record or convictions, etc.

Remember to check your passport details, as any incorrect information will result in your application being refused. Finally, pay the service fee of NZD17, the IVL fee, and submit your application. The processing time usually takes between 24 hours to 72 hours. However, it may take longer if the New Zealand Immigration Department requires additional information from you or need more time to verify your details. You can check the status of your application on the app, too.

At the end of the day, entry into Australia or New Zealand is at the discretion of the Australian or New Zealand immigration authorities. Even with a valid ETA, you may be subject to additional screening or questioning at the airport or border, so answer all questions truthfully and accurately. With proper preparation and adherence to the application process, Malaysians can enjoy a hassle-free trip to these beautiful countries.

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