Australian visas online

I had seen a couple of mentions (Dec. ’01, pg. 33 & Feb. ’02, pg. 111) about getting Australian visas electronically for a fee of $15 (visit I don’t mind paying the fee, but the website did not seem to me to be secure, as I did not see any padlock.

For a trip to Australia in May ’05, I called the tourist office in Los Angeles (310/695-3200) and was told that the Australian Embassy in Washington, D.C. (888/990-8888), is the only office that issues visas in this country. I called the embassy and was assured that the website was perfectly safe, with the implication that only dinosaurs used paper visas (it would take at least a month, you have to mail in your passport, etc.).

As I live in Alaska, the alternative of going in person to the embassy did not seem feasible, so in April I did use the website, which had a warning to watch out for the Trojan virus; I was successful in obtaining the necessary visas for my husband and myself. However, the next day, on checking my e-mail, I discovered that the Trojan virus had indeed invaded. Fortunately, I have excellent virus protection and the virus was immediately quarantined.

I would like to caution travelers to Australia to be very certain their virus protection is top quality and up to date before using the electronic visa website.

Kodiak, AK