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I booked a cheap (nightmare) ticket from Wellington NZ to Kathmandu via Sydney and KL. I am a US citizen and New Zealand resident; my wife is a dual US and Australian citizen. We have to pick up our bags after every flight and re-check them in. The holdover in Sydney is just about 4 hours a bit over.

Will I need a visa to go and get my bags and then re-enter the terminal for my next flight? The first airline is Air New Zealand, the next is Air Asia. I know I will not need a visa for KL as we get it on arrival and same in Kathmandu, but Australia is somewhat complicated. Should I apply for an online electronic travel visa?

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    Is this a single, through-ticket? – Calchas Nov 8 '15 at 11:42
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No, neither of you needs a transit visa for Australia, as long as it's under 72h.

Quoting the Australian border agency on the matter (emphasis mine):

The following categories of travellers are eligible to transit through Australia without applying for a visa:
Citizens of the following countries:

Andorra, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kiribati, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Monaco, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Samoa, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Tonga, Tuvalu, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom (including its colonies), United States of America, Uruguay, Vanuatu and Vatican.

However, as Calchas noted you would need a proper visa if you need to recheck your bags

If passengers are required to pass through Immigration clearance and check-in to their onward flight, including managing their luggage, they will require a visa to enter Australia. An appropriate visa for this purpose will need to be applied for and granted before travelling to Australia.

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    But to be clear this provision relates to a straight international-international transit, using the bypass lane that goes back to the international lounge, without passing through the Australian border. If @JaySessa needs to collect and re-check luggage, he may need an e-visa. [Quite who spends 72 hours in a transit lounge is another matter] – Calchas Nov 8 '15 at 15:16
  • @Calchas quite right, updated. Not sure my answer is more confusing than helpful now – blackbird Nov 8 '15 at 15:27
  • As far as I know, Americans can just use an ETA and do not need a visa for a landside transit. – Michael Hampton Nov 9 '15 at 0:52
  • The 72 hour limit and the need for a visa to recheck bags apply only to the OP. His wife will never need a visa unless she loses her Australian nationality. – phoog Nov 9 '15 at 4:09

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