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Travel advice and restrictions related to COVID-19

14-minute read

If you have severe difficulty breathing, call triple zero (000) immediately and tell the call handler and the paramedics on arrival about your recent travel history and any close contact with a person with confirmed COVID-19.

The government has banned all overseas travel, unless it is necessary for business, aid assistance or compassionate reasons. For more information, go to the government’s Smartraveller website.

What is 'non-essential travel'?

Non-essential travel in Australia includes unnecessary travel within your own area, visiting other towns and cities, and journeys interstate. The states and territories have different rules about what travel is allowed.

For more information about your state or territory’s travel restrictions, follow the links below.

For information on the easing of restrictions in your state or territory, visit Australia.gov.au and look for ‘State and Territory Government Information’.

Can I travel to other states and territories in Australia?

Yes, but some states and territories may close their borders, allowing exceptions only for emergency services, freight delivery, medical appointments, employment and for compassionate reasons.

RESTRICTIONS — Use the COVID-19 Restriction Checker to find out what you can and can't do in your state or territory.

Can I travel overseas?

To help stop the spread of COVID-19, the Australian Government has banned overseas travel — excluding to New Zealand — unless necessary for business, aid assistance or compassionate reasons. This is because:

  • there may be a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 overseas
  • healthcare systems in some countries may be under pressure and may not be equipped to support foreigners
  • overseas travel has become complex and unpredictable. Many countries are introducing entry or movement restrictions. These are changing often and quickly, and your travel plans could be disrupted.

To apply for an international travel exemption, go to the Department of Home Affairs website at immi.homeaffairs.gov.au, go to the search box on the home page and enter “COVID-19 request to travel”.

If you’re ordinarily a resident in a country other than Australia, you’re exempt from travel restrictions. This means you can leave Australia without applying for an exemption.

From November 2021, the Australian Government will allow Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families to leave Australia from wherever they live in Australia, and return, in accordance with state and territory caps on international arrivals.

Those Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families who have received 2 doses of a recognised vaccine will be able to travel overseas without needing an exemption. Children under 12 and those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons will also be able to travel overseas without an exemption.

Australian citizens and permanent residents who do not meet the eligibility requirements must continue to follow the current border processes when leaving Australia or coming to Australia.

For more information on leaving Australia and exemptions, go to covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/leaving-australia.

High-risk COVID-19 countries

Travel to high-risk COVID-19 countries presents a serious health risk to the Australian community. Travel exemptions for any travel from Australia to these locations will be limited to very urgent circumstances only. This advice currently applies to India.

Individuals seeking an ‘exceptional circumstances’ exemption to travel from Australia to high-risk COVID-19 countries will only be approved for the following very limited circumstances:

  • critical workers providing assistance to the country of destination’s COVID-19 response
  • persons undertaking travel in Australia’s national interest
  • persons seeking urgent medical treatment for a critical illness that is unable to be treated in Australia

Travel to New Zealand

Quarantine-free travel to New Zealand is currently suspended.

You can travel from Australia to New Zealand without needing to quarantine on arrival.

Australian citizens and permanent residents who’ve been in Australia for 14 days before departure can travel to New Zealand without applying for an outward travel exemption.

To travel to New Zealand on a quarantine-free flight, you must:

  • have spent 14 days or more in either Australia or New Zealand before your departing flight. This includes spending all 14 days in Australia or travelling from New Zealand to Australia and returning within 14 days
  • not have had a positive COVID-19 test in the 14 days before you depart
  • not be waiting for the results of a COVID-19 test taken in the 14 days before you depart
  • complete an online travel declaration before you depart — you can find this form at naumaira.covid19.govt.nz
  • not have any cold or flu symptoms

You don't need to be vaccinated for COVID-19 to travel on a quarantine-free flight. Standard New Zealand immigration and biosecurity requirements apply to all incoming passengers. Find out more about these requirements at immigration.govt.nz.

When you're in New Zealand you will need to comply with all COVID-19 restrictions, including wearing a mask in certain areas. You should download and install the NZ COVID Tracer app before you arrive in the country.

If you’re transiting through New Zealand to another destination, you must apply for an outward travel exemption.

Be aware that quarantine-free travel could be paused or suspended at any time, and you may not be able to travel if you have been at a recent COVID-19 exposure site at the specified time and date. Stay up to date by monitoring the New Zealand Government’s website — covid19.govt.nz.

I have just come back from overseas. What do I need to do?

Everyone arriving in Australia — including Australian citizens — must quarantine for 14 days from the date of their arrival, unless you travel from New Zealand on a quarantine-free flight.

All eligible travellers must also complete the Australia Travel Declaration at least 72 hours before they leave for Australia. Visit covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/before-i-travel for more information.

When you arrive in Australia, you will be quarantined in a state or territory-designated facility, such as a hotel. Travellers will be transported directly to the designated facility after clearing immigration, customs and health checks. The facility will be in the city where you enter Australia, so you won't be able to catch any connecting domestic flight straight away.

If you are completing mandatory quarantine in a state or territory where you don’t normally live — or that’s not your end destination — you'll be required to organise and pay for your own domestic travel arrangements.

While you are in quarantine, seek medical help if you experience any flu-like symptoms, such as:

  • fever or chills
  • cough
  • sneezing or runny nose
  • headaches
  • shortness of breath
  • sore throat
  • fatigue
  • muscle pain (myalgia)
  • loss of sense of smell (anosmia)
  • distortion of your sense of taste (dysgeusia)
  • nausea and vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • joint pain
  • loss of appetite

If you have quarantined for 14 days, and don't show any signs of illness, you can return home.

Most states and territories require returned traveller in quarantine to take at least one COVID-19 test during your quarantine. If the test is negative, you'll be allowed to leave once the 14 days of quarantine is completed.

If you refuse the test, you may be quarantined for longer.

If your home is not in the state or territory where you were quarantined, you will still be allowed to travel home. You may need to self-isolate for a further 14 days depending on the border restrictions that are in place in your state or territory.

You should continue to monitor your health once you’re home. Use the healthdirect Symptom Checker below if you develop symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath.

CHECK YOUR SYMPTOMS — Use the COVID-19 Symptom Checker to find out if you need to seek medical help.

If the Symptom Checker indicates you should contact your GP, please make sure you call your doctor to describe your symptoms and any contact with a confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) case. You can also attend a COVID-19 clinic in your area.

From November 2021, the NSW Government will remove quarantine requirements and caps for returning Australian citizens, residents and their immediate families who are fully vaccinated with a TGA-approved vaccine.

Australian citizens and permanent residents returning to other states and territories will be subject to those jurisdiction’s quarantine and testing requirements. You must check with the state or territory that you are returning to for their quarantine arrangements.

Will I have to pay for the cost of quarantine?

States and territories are passing on the cost of mandatory quarantine to returned international travellers.

What should Australians do if they are overseas but want to come home?

All Australians who are overseas and wish to return to Australia should first contact local authorities and their travel agent or transport provider to see if commercial flights to Australia are available.

Australian airlines are currently running limited services from several countries.

Some states and territories have capped the number of international travellers that can arrive each day. This to ensure that hotel quarantine is manageable and effective. These caps are reviewed periodically and you should contact your airline for more information.

However, many countries have closed their borders and commercial flights have become very limited. Because of this, you may have to stay in the country you are in until restrictions lift, or flights become available.

Travel regulations may change with little warning, so make sure you pay careful attention to airport and government announcements, especially if you have connecting flights. Also keep in contact with your airline or travel agent.

Before you travel to Australia, you will need to get a COVID-19 test 72 hours or less before you leave for Australia. You must show evidence of a negative result when you check in. Travellers and airline crew travelling to Australia will also need to wear a mask during their flight and at Australian airports. They should wear a mask at the airport before they board their flight.

Australians are advised to contact the local Australian consulate or embassy if they have concerns for their safety or require an emergency passport.

If you are concerned about a person who is overseas, you can call Emergency Consular Assistance on 1300 555 135 from within Australia. For more information on who may or may not be denied entry to Australia, and who is classified as immediate family, call the Home Affairs Global Service Centre on 131 881.

Travelling from high-risk countries

Anyone entering Australia who has been in a high-risk country in the last 14 days before entering Australia and is transiting through a third country will need to return a negative PCR test 72 hours prior to entering Australia from the final point of embarkation.

The Commonwealth will seek rapid antigen testing (RAT) for Australians returning on direct flights from high-risk countries.

Flights from India to Australia

Flights facilitated by the Australian Government to return Australians from India have resumed.

Passengers will need both a negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test result and a negative rapid antigen test result before their departure.

The Australian Government advises Australians who are currently overseas and haven’t been able to return to register with DFAT. Find more information on flights from India to Australia.

For more information on travel-related issues, visit the government’s Smartraveller website.

Can foreign travellers still visit Australia?

Travellers who are not Australian citizens, residents or close family members of a citizen or resident are not allowed to enter Australia. Those who are allowed to enter the country, such as those approved for compassionate reasons, must quarantine for 14 days in a state or territory-designated facility, such as a hotel.

Travellers from New Zealand

There is a pause on all quarantine-free flights from New Zealand to Australia .

The Australian Government has established a Safe Travel Zone with New Zealand.

You can travel from New Zealand to NSW, ACT, Northern Territory, Queensland and Victoria without needing to quarantine.

You don't need to be a New Zealand citizen to travel to Australia, but you need to have:

  • a valid visa to enter Australia
  • been in New Zealand for 14 days before travelling to Australia
  • not been to a designated COVID-19 hotspot in New Zealand during that time
  • travelled on a quarantine-free flight

You should not travel if you are feeling unwell or have symptoms of COVID-19.

Before flying to Australia, travellers will need to print and complete a COVID-19 Declaration form to present at airport check-in. If this form isn't completed, you will not be able to board your flight.

Travellers from New Zealand do not need to have a COVID-19 test before flying to Australia, but they must wear a mask during their flight and at Australian airports. They should wear a mask at the airport before they board their flight.

To download the form or for more information, visit covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au.

New Zealand citizens, who are also Australian residents or who are transiting through Australia to get to New Zealand, can enter Australia. Pacific Islanders are also allowed to transit through Australia to reach their home countries.

For more information about foreign travellers coming to Australia, visit the Department of Home Affairs’ COVID-19 page.

What can I expect if I travel by plane during COVID-19?

Consider downloading the COVIDSafe app before your journey to help with contact tracing.

You must practise good hygiene and physical distancing — including when boarding. Scan your own boarding pass.

Airlines may separate passengers by leaving middle seats empty, for example. Continue practising good hygiene like using hand sanitiser. Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a clean tissue — put it in a bin immediately then clean your hands.

You should limit farewells at departures and greetings at arrivals.

You may need to quarantine at your destination. Check state and territory restrictions for more information.

You must wear a mask during your flight and at Australian airports.

How can I reduce my risk of being infected while travelling?

The Australian Government has banned overseas travel, unless it is necessary for business, aid assistance or compassionate reasons, and to New Zealand.

However, if you do need to travel, practising good hand and cough hygiene is the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19:

  • Wear a mask.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, or use alcohol-based hand sanitiser (for example, before and after eating, after going to the toilet, and after touching surfaces such as door handles in public).
  • Cover your cough with, or sneeze into a tissue and dispose of it straight away; wash your hands afterwards.
  • Cough or sneeze into your flexed elbow.
  • Cough facing away from other people.
  • Stay more than 1.5 metres away from people when in public.

Everyone arriving in Australia — including Australian citizens — will be quarantined in a state or territory-designated facility, such as a hotel.

Can I contact the National Coronavirus Helpline from overseas?

If you are overseas, you can contact the National Coronavirus Helpline by calling these numbers:

+61 2 4058 2975

+61 3 6145 0026

+61 2 4018 3442

Don’t forget to include the ‘six one’, which is the country code for Australia.

Looking for more information?

Visit healthdirect's COVID-19 information hub for more answers to questions about the coronavirus, or use these COVID-19 tools and resources:

RESTRICTIONS — Use the COVID-19 Restriction Checker to find out what you can and can't do in your state or territory.

VACCINATIONS — Find out how COVID-19 vaccines have been developed, how they work and when you might be eligible.

CHECK YOUR SYMPTOMS — Use the COVID-19 Symptom Checker to find out if you need to seek medical help.

Resources in other languages

COVID-19 resources in other languages are available from the Department of Health, as well as from the ACT, NSW, Qld, SA, Tas, Vic and WA health departments.

Information is also available in Aboriginal languages (NT).

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: October 2021


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