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Current Rules For Travellers Flying In And Out Of Australia

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Tom Goward | 28/10/2021

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After more than 18 months since the abrupt closure of our international border, Australians wanting to leave the country will soon be permitted to travel without an exemption.

The international border slammed shut in March 2020, at the same time banning citizens from leaving the country without an exemption. But on Tuesday, Health Minister Greg Hunt signed off on a policy change that will allow fully vaccinated Australians to travel internationally without approval from 1 November (this means you can fly out of any Australian state but returning will depend on specific state border policies).

Mr Hunt said that fully vaccinated Australian citizens and permanent residents will be able to travel overseas as they wish. But first, you’ll need to provide proof of vaccination with a Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved vaccine. The TGA has approved four vaccines for use in Australia – Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca (rebranded as Vaxevria) and Johnson & Johnson.

“We want Australians to be able to reunite with their loved ones, whether it’s for births, weddings or just to visit family,” he said.

The changes do not affect children under the age of 12 who are are exempt from vaccination rules and will not need to quarantine on arrival, provided their parents are fully vaccinated. Children are required to return a negative test result before entry.

Kids aged between 12 and 17 who aren’t vaccinated will have the following rules applied in NSW and VIC: The affected adolescents will be required to undertake a test within 24 hours of arrival into Australia and quarantine at home for 7 days. A second test will be required on day 5 prior to completion of quarantine. They may attend school after completing 7 days home quarantine. Additionally, 12–17 year olds not fully vaccinated will not be allowed to visit other high risk settings such as disability facilities, aged-care residential facilities and hospitals until 14 days after arrival.

You can find info on this new rule here.

If you’re confused by the mishmash of border policies, we’ve compiled this state by state guide to Australia’s international border reopening to help simplify the news.

Tip: Do you need a PCR test before flying? We’ve partnered with Healius Pathology to offer readers a $20 discount on their travel PCR test. Simply visit https://consumer.healius.com.au/ and enter promo code “flthacks” to get $20 off your test.

New South Wales

Australia’s most populous state is due to accept overseas arrivals from 1 November 2021.

Travellers arriving in NSW who are fully vaccinated won’t need to quarantine but are required to undertake a COVID-19 test after arrival, and prove proof of full TGA recognised vaccination.

International travellers arriving in NSW who are not fully vaccinated must quarantine for 14 days. A cap on arrivals who are not fully vaccinated will apply.

Victoria

Fully vaccinated international travellers can enter Victoria without quarantine from 1 November. The state will also remove its arrival cap on fully vaccinated returning Australians.

You’ll need to demonstrate full vaccination status with a TGA approved vaccine, and have returned a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of departure. International arrivals must complete an additional test within 24 hours of arrival into Victoria.

From 1 November, Victoria will cap the number of unvaccinated or unverified international travellers at 250 arrivals per week.

Queensland

Queensland’s plan to accept international travellers takes a more conservative approach, with three stages as 70, 80 and 90 per cent of the eligible Queensland population is fully vaccinated.

At 70% fully vaccinated (19 November or earlier):

Passengers arriving on a direct international flight into Queensland will be required to undertake 14 days quarantine in a government-nominated facility. These arrivals will be subject to Queensland’s international air arrivals cap.

Passengers arriving from another state or territory who have been overseas in the previous 14 days, will need to meet the relevant requirements for entry to Queensland. This includes 14 days quarantine in a government-nominated facility.

At 80% fully vaccinated (17 December or earlier):

Travellers arriving on a direct international flight may enter Queensland if they:

  • are an Australian citizen or permanent resident
  • are fully vaccinated
  • have returned a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours before departure
  • undertake a period of home quarantine

These arrivals will be uncapped.

If you are arriving from overseas via another state or territory, you may enter Queensland provided you:

  • are fully vaccinated
  • have undertaken the Queensland-specified period of quarantine in another state or territory at home or in a government-nominated facility

Passengers who do not meet these criteria will need to enter within Queensland’s international air arrivals cap and undertake a period of quarantine in a government‑nominated facility.

At 90% fully vaccinated:

No restrictions apply to fully vaccinated travellers on entry to Queensland and no quarantine is required.

If you are not fully vaccinated you will need to meet the relevant requirements for entry and will be required to quarantine.

South Australia

South Australia will take a two-step approach to overseas arrivals.

From 23 November (expected 80% fully vaccinated):

Fully vaccinated international travellers will require 7 days quarantine, while unvaccinated authorised arrivals must complete 14 days quarantine.

At 90% fully vaccinated:

Borders will open to all fully vaccinated international arrivals without quarantine. Unvaccinated travellers will require 14 days quarantine

Tasmania

The island state is set to accept international arrivals from 15 December, or earlier with a quarantine period.

At 80% fully vaccinated (expected early November):

Returning international travellers must undertake 14 days of hotel quarantine, with home quarantine being trialled based on risk.

From 15 December:

No quarantine for fully vaccinated international arrivals who return a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours before travel.

WA, NT and ACT

Western Australia, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory are all yet to reveal plans to accept international arrivals. Of course, entering via another state can provide a quarantine free loophole.

How can I get a vaccination certificate?

A digital vaccination certificate is generated following your second dose. The easiest way to find this is via a Medicare account linked to myGov. See Services Australia for full instructions on how to get proof of your COVID-19 vaccinations.

The vaccine passport can be printed out or accessed on a smartphone and is also compatible with travel apps such as the IATA Travel Pass.

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Tom Goward

Editor of Flight Hacks with a passion for aviation and travel

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    • Hi Donna, from November 1st you can fly out of any Australian state. Returning will depend on specific state border policies. We recommend checking with the relevant state to find out if your medical reason is valid for entry as these are processed on a case by case basis.

      • Hi there,
        Does anyone recognize if non Australian citizens that are fully vaccinated are allowed to travel to Victoria Australia???

        • If you’re not Australian, you won’t be able to travel to Australia unless you have an exemption approved or you’re direct family of an AU citizen/pr

  1. Most countries still require a negative covid test for international arrivals regardless of vaccination status / it seems reckless to omit this requirement for fully vaccinated arrivals to Australia when it is widely acknowledged fully vaccinated individuals are still able to contract and transmit covid

    • Hi Amol, as we understand it all fully vaccinated international travellers can enter NSW from November 1st without prior approval. We recommend confirming your eligibility with NSW Health before arrival.

  2. Do we still need to provide negative COVID test before return flight ? What if test result is positive ? What happens then I mean how long we stay overseas ? What if you don’t recover from COVID you die overseas?

    • Depends on a bunch of factors: some airlines require negative PCR, some transit countries also require negative PCR for transit. Best to get a test within 48h before departure. And no, you are not allowed to travel to Australia if you’re positive.

    • Hi Beatrix, the federal government does not require travellers to take a PCR test to depart Australia, but you’ll need to provide proof of full vaccination. However, your European destination may require a negative result before arrival, this depends where you plan to visit.

  3. I got fully vaccinated in Uganda, I’m still waiting for digital vaccination certificate, I have booked my ticket to Australia on Monday. I have only vaccination card that indicates two doses, is there any problem with that?

    • You don’t need a digital vaccine certificate. Paper one is just as valid. It just depends if your vaccine brand is recognised by the TGA in Australia.

  4. Hello Tom,

    We are planning to go back to NSW, may you please enlighten if adults fully vaccinated with 4 yrs old child unvaccinated will still undergo quarantine upon arrival at NSW.
    Thank you.

    • Kids under 12 are exempt from vaccination rules and don’t have to quarantine provided the parents are fully vaccinated. They will still need to do the PCR test though.

  5. Hello, Can Skilled Visa holder (491) leave the country and come back without an exemption from NSW?
    I want to fly in last week of November and want to return in January. I have both doses of vaccine with certification.

    • You can always leave the country but you can’t come back. Unless you have an exemption to return to Australia. I would highly recommend you get this approved before leaving. I got mine within 24h.

      • Hi Immanuel. Interested to know when did u apply for your travel exemption? I’m in the process of applying at the moment and most ppl I know only hear back after 7 days, or even longer. And also, how many tries before you got exempted? Cheers!

        • Hi, I did it back in June. got mine approved within 24h on the first try. I’m technically exempt so it was just a formality.

  6. What happens to those wishing to travel who are not taking the vaccine.
    It’s an inalienable right to every person to have freedom of movement.
    How can this right be dismissed, and under what legal authority can this be done.

    • Hi Monica, the current allowance is for vaccinated travellers only (to leave the country). If you’re not vaccinated and returning to Australia, you will have to do 2 weeks quarantine.

      • I can’t find any information on whether Australians are able to fly out of Australia if they are unvaccinated. I’m able to travel around Europe at the moment as an unvaccinated Aussie but concerned that if I head back home I won’t be able to leave again?

        • If you’re an Australian citizen/pr you won’t be able to leave unless vaccinated. If you’re a resident from another country those rules don’t apply.

          • so residents of other countries can leave without being vaccinated by aus citizens can’t? doesn’t make much sense does it?

      • 2 weeks carantin on arrival to Australia, for those who are not vaccinated with approved vaccine, but what airlines company’s will sell tickets to us, those who is not vaccinated Australians?

        • Most airlines don’t require proof of vaccine. I only know Qantas and Air New Zealand require it. Singapore Airlines, Emirates, ANA, Etihad, Qatar Airways etc. don’t impose such a requirement.

  7. Hi I’m a au citerzn currently stuck in nz,I had astazenica Vax in au before travelling to nz ,had phizer Vax in nz ,how do I get covid cert,the two different Dept don’t seem to want to interact

  8. If I’m an unvaccinated resident living in Australia but have a British citizenship can I leave Australia unvaccinated without an exemption?

    • If you’re a temporary visa holder you can leave yes. However, if you’re also a PR/Citizen of Australia you might have to follow the same rules applied to Australians.

  9. Hello! I’m fully vaccinated and due to arrive on the 6th November into Sydney with my Australian husband. I was previously, this summer, granted an exemption to enter as a spouse of an Australian national. Will this exemption still grant me right to enter, and without quarantine?
    Many thanks

    • Hi Anna, if the exemption is still valid you should be good to go (based on personal experience, I don’t think they expire?)!

  10. Great, but checking:

    A) if QLD hit 80% vaccinations, then no quarantine? I thought it was still 7 days at home?

    B) if we come from Singapore to NSW (fully vaccinated AU Citizens), no quarantine in NSW. Then after 14 days in NSW we go to QLD, then no quarantine also?

  11. Hi. My daughter has a student visa, has been studying online since February and got both jabs of Pfizer. Can she come to Victoria to resume on campus studies?

  12. My fiance is fully vaxxed with a granted subclass 300 prosp marriage visa and has a travel exemption to enter Australia. Will she have go quarantine if arriving in Melbourne after 1st November??

  13. Hi there,
    I’m currently stuck in NZ and I’m booked to fly back to Perth on Dec.1st. I had my first vac done in Perth before I flew to NZ and I had my second vac done in Auckland and I’ve got confirmation certificates for both,will I be able to return to Perth ?

  14. I am Colombian by birth, Australian citizen by choice. My mother and sister are in Colombia and they want to come to Australia to visit me and my other sister who is an Australian citizen. I would like you to clarify if by direct family you mean mother and sister?

  15. Hi my destination is in western australia,theres no direct flight from here to perth but my first entry is in melbourne..do i need to quarantine in melbourne before entering perth?thank you

    • No, you won’t need to quarantine in Melbourne (if you’re vaccinated) but you will be required to do 14 days hotel quarantine in Perth.

  16. Hi, any entries for Australian citizens to the US requires 72hours covid testing beforehand so my question is will that be valid (the PCR) for when returning back to NSW instead of doing another covid test on arrival in NSW? Also where can I find information on what countries do require you to have a PCR or if quarantine is required when arriving at the selected destination?

    • You will have to do another one after arriving in Australia. All countries have different rules, the easiest way to find out is to Google search “country name + covid restrictions”

    • If you have a medical exemption you are technically treated the same as those vaccinated. However, I don’t know if foreign medical exemptions are accepted.

  17. Hi, I have applied for a subclass 651 visa and a travel exemption to be able to see my daughter in Victoria as I believe parents of Australian citizens are now allowed to travel from 1 November. Do you think I’ll get my visa and travel exemption in time for a flight from London on 20 November? ( I applied on 27 October)

  18. Hi my son is 11 year old and we are planning to go to India. By the time we are planning to return to Australia my son will be 12. So in that case what happens when my son arrive back in Australia? Thanks

    • Good question! I would go see your GP and get a temporary vaccine exemption so he can travel back to Australia. Unless he wants to get vaccinated in India.

  19. Does an international traveler, arriving in Sydney, transiting to Brisbane same day, not leaving the Airport, have to have a PCR test before leaving for Brisbane please.??

  20. My husband is a filipino citizen and holds a TSS subclass482 visa and fully vaxxed. His destnation county is in QLD. Is he required to a 14 day quarantine if he will arrive in SYD from Riyadh?

  21. Hi, I am on a graduate visa. Fully vaccinated nurse that is working here the the COVID response team in NSW. I haven’t been home to see my family in 2 years. Is there anyway I can leave NSW to go to South Africa and return in Jan without having to quarantine?

  22. Can my defacto partner & I go on overseas at Christmas time? He is on a bridging visa (can get BVB) waiting for 820 partner visa & im a citizen.

    If I travel with him on holiday will he be accepted back under “immediate family”? Is an exemption required? We have a relationship certificate but I’m confused how this is proven & when

    • Yes, it’s allowed but I would still get an exemption just in case (it’s very easy to apply and get approved). Also, make sure you get a bridging visa B when before leaving or his bridging visa might be cancelled.

  23. Do i need an exeption for my father he is fully vacsinated and im PR. His visa expired without using it because he couldn’t travel do i have to renew it or visa still valid thank you

  24. Re south australia. At 80% for international or return citizens, it’s 5 days quarantine!. where? It doesn’t say home or government facility anywhere?

  25. I am double vaccinated and parent to a resident. Question: Do I need a travel exemption approval ? Do I need PCzR upon arrival, if so, is the result immediate?

  26. Can someone advise how long does does it take to get a travel exemption? We are parents of a PR, have lodged application on 27 October. Will we get approval before our departure date on 3 Mov?

  27. Hi, I am arriving into Sydney on Nov 13th from the UK. I am fully vaccinated and am aware that I will do a PCR test on arrival. Unfortunately for me I do not live in NSW and I need to get home to VIC. My question I need answering is once I have done my PCR test in Sydney, can I continue to move into VIC while I am waiting for my result to come back or do I need to stay in Sydney until my result is negative then fly into VIC?

  28. Is it likely that my fully vaccinated Australian born daughter will be eligible to return home to Queensland from America for a visit us ( elderly parents ) with her fully vaccinated American husband in 2022?

  29. Australian citizen, got vaccinated while am overseas at the moment, booked my return ticket to Melbourne, are there any other pre-arrangements I should be aware of before I jump on my plane other than having my pcr taken prior to my flight?

  30. I’ve booked to travel from Melbourne to London next month, I’m fully vaccinated. Can I use the community drive through testing sites here in Melbourne to obtain a PCR test, or do I need to pay for a RT-PCR test, such as the one offered by Healius Pathology.
    Thank you

    • No, they won’t provide you with the certificate you need to board your flight. Additionally, public testing sites aren’t free, they are funded by the taxpayer so it’s probably questionable to make the Aussie taxpayer fund your travel expenses.

  31. My daughter is married and lives in UK she has had Covid 19 and has a serology test proving she has natural immunity. Can she come into Australia without being vaccinated

  32. How does the quarantine cap work? How do you ensure you have a quarantine spot. How is anyone (those fully vaccinated but TGA don’t recognise) suppose to book flight, not knowing if they are within the cap. Australia can not sent Aussie back to country of origin.

  33. If I renounce my Australian citizenship as an unvaccinated free individual and intend to travel to my home in Japan on a potential business visa ,will I be free to leave the country without taking the jabs? I have owned the property over there in the mountains for over 3 years.

  34. Does an International passenger, fully vaccinated, arriving into Sydney, but transiting from Sydney to Brisbane, the same day, need to take a PCR test in Sydney, before the transit flight. A PCR test, negative, was taken 3 days before departing on their flight, in Manila.??.

  35. If international parents coming to sydney first where final destination is adelaide, will they have to hotel quarantine in sydney first and then they can fly to adelaide or can take another connecting flight to adelaide?

    • They won’t need to quarantine in Sydney but they will need to quarantine in Adelaide (if restrictions there are still in place). Note that South Australia doesn’t allow non-residents to enter the state so make sure you get an exemption approved. Travellers are permitted to transit through Sydney Airport. They must not leave the airport before boarding their flight and must wear a mask for the entire time they are in the airport and on the flight or when they come in contact with a member of the public. Should you leave the airport you will be considered as a traveller from NSW and be subject to level 6 requirements (prohibited from entering)

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