I had spoken to a local travel agency and they required me to obtain/buy from them a visa in order for me to pass through Australia when my final destination would be New Zealand. I would probably stay in the airport for several hours until the next flight out, and I would take the same route going back to my origin about 3 weeks later. Is this true about the visa for a US citizen (and if so, what sort of visa are they referring to)? In advance, thanks.
US citizens, the Queen, Condi Rice, and even the Pope. Everyone has to have a visa to set foot on our shores. Those who don't are called illegal immigrants.
They would be talking about a transit visa. It means you cannot stay longer than 72 hours. The visa is free [no government charges], but they are probably charging you to process and send the application, and retrieve the visa, which is quite simply a service fee and they are quite justified in doing so as long as they are not charging you hundreds of $$$.
You could do it yourself.
I had some similar questions a couple of days ago after I booked up my Trip from London to Christchurch - via Bangkok and Sydney.
If you are just a transit passenger, who is from one of the following nationalities and your stopover is no longer than 8 hours you do not need a visa.
Check here for further information:
'Some non-citizens, who belong to certain categories of passengers, who:
intend to transit Australia by air within 8 hours of their arrival; and
hold confirmed booking and documentation necessary to enter the country of their destination;
do not need a transit visa, as they are deemed to hold a special purpose visa provided they do not leave the airport transit lounge.'
Hope that helps.