Last updated 21 January, 2021
After months of dormancy due to the raging pandemic, the travel industry is gearing up for a return to small normalcy with borders reopening, easing of quarantine requirements, and creation of travel bubbles. Travellers around the world are now keen to find out if, when and where they can travel abroad. Can anyone travel to Australia now?
Who can travel to Australia?
Citizens, residents, and others
Based on the Australian Department of Home Affairs’ official page, Australian citizens, a permanent resident or a New Zealand citizen, usually residents in Australia, are all allowed to enter Australia.
Holders of Refugee and Humanitarian (Class XB) visa are allowed only if they’ve already entered Australia.
A New Zealand citizen, usually resident in Australia and their immediate family members, can travel to Australia.
Immediate family members of an Australian citizen or permanent resident
If you’re an immediate family member of an Australian citizen, you’ll be allowed in, but you have to produce evidence of your relationship, and you must have a valid visa before you travel.
An immediate family member is defined as a
- a spouse
- a de facto partner
- a dependent children
- a legal guardian
Other exempt categories:
You’ll also be automatically exempt from the travel restrictions if you are:
- a person who has been in New Zealand for 14 days or more immediately prior to arrival by air in Australia
- a diplomat accredited to Australia, including their immediate family members (each member of the family unit must hold a valid subclass 995 visa)
- a person transiting Australia for 72 hours or less
- airline crew, maritime crew including marine pilots
- a person recruited under the Government approved Seasonal Worker Program or Pacific Labour Scheme
- a person who holds a Business Innovation and Investment (subclass 188) visa.
The Commissioner of the Australian Border Force may grant you an individual exemption if you are:
- a foreign national travelling at the invitation of the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority for the purpose of assisting in the COVID-19 response
- a foreign national whose entry into Australia would be in the national interest, supported by the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority
- providing critical or specialist medical services, including air ambulance, medical evacuations and delivering critical medical supplies
- a foreign national with critical skills or working in a critical sector in Australia
- a foreign national sponsored by your employer to work in Australia in an occupation on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL)
- military personnel, including those who form part of the Status of Forces Agreement, Commonwealth Armed Forces, Asia Pacific Forces and Status of Armed Forces Agreement
- a person who resides on a vessel that seeks safe port at the closest appointed port for reprovisioning or safety reasons for a limited duration, supported by the relevant State or Territory government where safe haven is sought
- a student completing year 11 and 12, with support from the relevant Australian State or Territory government health authority and education department
- a student in your final two years of study of a medical, dental, nursing or allied health profession university degree, where you have evidence of a confirmed placement in an Australian hospital or medical practice which commences within the next two months
- travelling for compassionate and compelling reasons.
You must hold a visa and an exemption (apply here) to Australia’s travel restrictions before you travel. You can request an exemption online and must provide appropriate evidence to support your claims. Requests may be finalized without further consideration if insufficient evidence is provided. All documents need to be officially translated into English. You need to apply for an exemption at least two weeks, but not more than three months, before your planned travel.
To complete a travel exemption request, you should already hold a visa, and you should provide information and documents to support your claim. Proposals may be finalized without further consideration if insufficient evidence is provided. This may include the following:
- proof of identity
- evidence that you hold a valid visa
- travel itinerary
- marriage, birth, death certificate/s
- proof of relationship or residence (such as a shared tenancy agreement, joint bank account etc.)
- letter from a doctor or hospital, indicating why travel is necessary
- letter from an employer indicating why travel is necessary
- supporting letter from a business or government agency, advising why your skills are critical
- statutory declaration to support your claims.
You need to apply for an exemption at least two weeks, but not more than two months, before your planned travel.
Update as of 21 January: From 22 January, all passengers travelling to or transiting through Australia must present a COVID-19 negative certificate of an RT-PCR test taken 72 hours or less before your scheduled departure. Without it, you won’t be permitted to board your flight.
Do I need to quarantine if I travel to Australia?
Australian official Health Department page stated that all travellers arriving in Australia by air or sea must go into mandatory quarantine at designated facilities for 14 days in the city they come in, even if they plan to travel to other parts of Australia. The state and territory governments manage quarantine arrangements that cover transport from arrival point to the quarantine facility and the quarantine arrangements (including food). The cost will be charged to travellers.
National exemptions from mandatory quarantine may apply to:
- Travellers from a green safe travel zone
- Airline, medevac, and air ambulance crew, including the off-shift team who are travelling as passengers on an aircraft to reposition at another location
- Domestic flight crew, but they must follow the quarantine requirements of the relevant state or territory
- Transit passengers if they stay in the airport (if the wait is under 8 hours) or go to mandatory quarantine at a state-designated facility (if the delay is between 8 to 72 hours)
- Unaccompanied minors. They may be allowed to travel within Australia after arrival to quarantine with a parent or guardian unless otherwise specified by the relevant state or territory
- Diplomats, but they must isolate at their mission or in their usual place of residence on arrival for 14 days
- People with compassionate or medical grounds. They need to submit applications for a quarantine exemption on medical or compassionate grounds to the relevant state or territory.
Different states and territories may have additional quarantine requirements. If you are looking to travel through more than one state or territory during the 14 days, you may need to consider the guidelines of each state/territory.
Are there flights to Australia now?
Australia travel bubble news & dates
After numerous delays and setbacks, as of 16 October 2020, New Zealanders can now travel to New South Wales and the Northern Territory via the trans-Tasman travel bubble. While Kiwis may travel to select destinations in Australia without necessitating quarantine, Australians do not currently enjoy the privilege of being able to visit New Zealand. Furthermore, New Zealanders are still being advised not to travel overseas and must still quarantine when they return home.