An elderly relative of mine in Japan is planning to visit Australia soon and needs to apply for a Class 601 Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). Unfortunately, some genius bureaucrat has decided to require that ETAs can only be applied for using their terrible mobile app (1.6 stars on App Store), and our relative speaks zero English, struggles with even the simplest IT tasks, and didn't even have a mobile phone until last year.

Is there some kind of service in Tokyo that could walk them through the entire process? Open to travel agencies, paying somebody via some Japanese equivalent of Fiverr, etc.

And before you ask:

  • There really are no alternatives to the app for applying for an ETA. (Yes, there used to be a simple web form, but there isn't any more.)
  • The app requires taking a live selfie and scanning the passport's NFC chip, so we can't do it on their behalf.
  • The relative is not eligible for an e-Visitor visa and we'd really prefer to avoid going down the subclass 600 full tourist visa route, which is much more expensive ($150 vs $20), slower (10% of applications take over 35 days) and generally a lot more uncertain.
  • 1
    This is an extremely recent change, ETAs could be applied easily on 3rd party websites for as long as I can remember, pretty sure the scanning part requires that. I was proposing AnyDesk/Teamviewer, but they, rightly, blocked screenshots on the Android app, making it impossible to do that Feb 21 at 13:02
  • 2
    The easiest option is often to get a younger person they know to go and help, like a grand child or neighbour kid in their teens. But that depends on them having someone who can help.
    – Willeke
    Feb 22 at 16:36

1 Answer 1


We ended up dialing in a video call from another device and walking her through the entire process, which took literally three (3) full hours, including no less than 30 minutes to enter an email address correctly. (I was anticipating trouble with spelling and the "@" sign, but I did not expect that finding the Western "." character on a Japanese keyboard would be so hard!). But the marathon paid off, the ETA was granted immediately.

Slightly more usefully for future readers in the same pickle, our Plan B was to hire a benriya (便利屋, lit. "convenient person") to do the job. Major chains include https://otasuke365.com/, which has outlets all around greater Tokyo and rates from 3,300 yen/hour.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .