Australia has been re-opened to all expats, visitors, guests, and travelers in an exciting update since closures in 2020. So how do you enter Australia right now? What about if you have family who wants to come with you? What about others? Here's everything you need to know about entering Australia in this “post-COVID” world.
This information is current as of 23rd February 2022 and I will endeavor to update it as soon as new information becomes available. Please do comment below or send me an email if there has been news that you think needs to be included on this page.
The most important thing to know is that:
From 21 February 2022, all visa holders who are fully vaccinated for international travel purposes can travel to Australia without a travel exemption. Unvaccinated visa holders will still need to be in an exempt category or hold an individual travel exemption to enter Australia.https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/coming-australia
Contained in this article are details on all the steps required which include:
- Ensuring you are fully vaccinated (or fit into an exemption category)
- Find your vaccination certificate and proof
- Complete the Digital Passenger Declaration within 72 hours of your departure
- Undertake a pre-departure COVID-19 test
Entering Australia and ensuring you are considered fully vaccinated
Fully vaccinated Australian citizens, permanent residents, and visa holders aged 18 and over can now enter Australia without an exemption.
It's important to know for all of this information that being vaccinated is going to make your life a lot easier when entering (not to mention all the individual and societal benefits of being vaccinated – so go get jabbed!)
Right now you are considered “fully vaccinated” if you have completed a course of a Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved or recognized vaccine (listed below) and it has been at least 7 days since the last dose of vaccine. Importantly, this includes mixed doses. Current vaccines and dosages accepted for the purposes of travel are:
- Two doses at least 14 days apart of:
- AstraZeneca Vaxzevria
- AstraZeneca Covishield
- Pfizer/Biontech Comirnaty
- Moderna Spikevax
- Sinovac Coronavac
- Bharat Biotech Covaxin
- Sinopharm BBIBP-CorV (for people under 60 years of age on arrival in Australia)
- Gamaleya Research Institute Sputnik V
- Novavax/Biocelect Nuvaxovid
- Or one dose of:
- Johnson & Johnson/ Janssen-Cilag COVID Vaccine.
In some cases, there may be shortened names of these vaccines and you should check here if they are going to be accepted.
Another important note is that even if the country you are in has different rules to these and you are considered “fully vaccinated” in that country if it differs from the above requirements of Australia, it does not count for entering Australia.
Vaccination exceptions and arrangements for children
As a general rule, people who do not meet Australia’s vaccination requirements for international travel are not eligible to travel to Australia without a travel exemption, unless they are in an exempt category. In all cases, your passport will be used to verify your age at the time of departure.
The exceptions start by stating that people with acceptable proof they cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, and children under 12 who are considered fully vaccinated for international travel purposes, can access the same travel arrangement as people who are fully vaccinated for international travel purposes.
Temporary visa holders who are under the age of 18 years at the time of departure for international travel to Australia, do not require an approved travel exemption when they are traveling with at least one adult who meets the definition of fully vaccinated for international travel purposes.
Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated children aged 12-17 years old entering Australia may be exempt from passenger caps and eligible for reduced quarantine requirements (if the family is unvaccinated too, this does not apply and the whole family will require quarantine and will be subject to caps). There may be requirements however in the state you are traveling to so it's important to check that information directly.
What documentation do you need to show for your vaccination?
If you were vaccinated in Australia, you will need to show airline staff your International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate (ICVC). The easiest way to get a certificate is by using your Medicare account through myGov, or the Express Plus Medicare mobile app. Go to Services Australia for further details.
If you were vaccinated overseas and do not have an ICVC, you will need to present a foreign vaccination certificate. For those traveling from the US, you will need the physical copy of your CDC card (the white piece of cardboard).
This foreign vaccination certificate must fulfill all of these requirements and can be either paper or digital certificates:
- It must be issued by a national or state/provincial-level authority or an accredited vaccination provider
- It must be written in English or accompanied by a certified translation
- It must have your name as it appears in your passport*
- It must have either your date of birth or passport number**
- It must have the vaccine brand name; and
- It must show the date of each dose or the date on which a full course of immunisation was completed.
This information is different from the information about having your vaccination registered on the AIR which I wrote about in another article. The above will not get your vaccine registered for the Australian app and instead it will allow you to enter the country. These guidelines appear to be less restrictive and allow for more vaccination certificates, cards, and apps to count.
* If the name on the vaccination certificate differs from the name on the passport, including a name on an Australian passport, the traveler will need to show some evidence of being the certificate’s rightful holder, such as a driver's license or marriage certificate.
** If a certificate contains only a national identity number, and if that number does not appear in the traveler’s passport, then the traveler needs to show a national identity card that matches the identity number and name on the vaccination certificate.
Australian entry requirements for Australians
If you're an Australian, you just need to follow all the other steps on this page and have your Australian passport at the ready.
If you hold dual citizenship with another country, you still must enter Australia on your Australian passport, and cannot enter on your foreign passport (with or without a visa) so be sure to have that ready and valid.
There is no requirement for the passport to be valid for a certain length of time, it just needs to be valid at the time of entry.
Australian entry requirements for visitors and non-citizens
If you're not an Australian citizen (and therefore hold a foreign passport only) you will need to ensure that in addition to all the other requirements on this page, you also must have a valid visa to enter.
The full range of visas are now available again for visitors to Australia, and for most partners and family members visiting Australia from the list of countries below, you should look into the ETA (aka the “Subclass 601 Electronic Travel Authority”).
You can apply for an ETA using the Australian ETA app on your mobile device if you hold a passport from:
Hong Kong (SAR of China)
the United States of America.
This is similar to the US “ESTA” program and allows for a short-term visit without the need for an interview or very much processing time.
Applications for ETAs can be made online and cost $20. There is only one official website for ETAs and that can be found here at eta.homeaffairs.gov.au (be careful, the internet is filled with unofficial pages).
You must get this visa well in advance of your trip as they can take some time to process in rare cases. Get on this early!
Start and fill in the Digital Passenger Declaration
This step was formerly known as the Australia Travel Declaration (ATD) which has since been retired and replaced by this new form.
No matter who you are, you must fill in the Digital Passenger Declaration (DPD) within 72 hours prior to departure. You can find all the latest details about the DPD here. You can start your DPD seven days before your flight but must submit it within 72 hours prior to your departure for Australia. This is because you must provide your health information and declaration (vaccination status and COVID-19 test result) within 72 hours before your flight.
This form is free, so don't trust anything that says it's not. Before you start your declaration, you should prepare all this information:
- flight number
- valid passport
- travel history (14 days before the flight)
- destination and quarantine arrangements (if required)
- COVID-19 vaccination record or acceptable proof you cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons
And then you can create an account at the link above. You only need to create an account once, and then any future declarations can be made using that account.
It's important to note that if you entered information incorrectly, or if your flight plans or health status have changed, you need to file a new declaration.
Each passenger is required to complete a DPD. Parents or guardians should complete a declaration for any child under 16 years of age. Anyone who is 16 years old or over should complete their own declaration.
Once you've filed this you will get one of three emails:
- Complete – means you meet all the requirements for boarding and will need to show this at check-in
- Incomplete – means you haven't submitted everything needed
- Confirmation required at check-in – means you have not met requirements to travel at Australia yet and you'll need to confirm with the airline. You may need to quarantine in Australia with this status.
Get a pre-departure COVID-19 test
All travelers must show evidence of either:
- evidence of a negative COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test or other Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) taken within 3 days of your flight’s scheduled departure, or
- a medical certificate as evidence of a negative Rapid Antigen Test taken under medical supervision within 24 hours before your flight’s scheduled departure to Australia.
These tests can be taken at the airport in most cases, or you can do it yourself but you must make sure that your test results meet these requirements:
- traveller name and date of birth (age at time of test or passport number accepted, if date of birth not listed)
- the test result (such as ‘negative’ or ‘not detected’)
- the method of test conducted (e.g. NAA test or RAT)
- the brand and make of the test (for RAT tests)
- the date(for RAT also include time) of specimen collection for the accepted COVID-19 test
- that the specimen for the test was collected, and the test was carried out by or under the supervision of and, signed by an authorised person.
For a NAA test, the laboratory will provide you with your result and for a RAT, the test must be undertaken by or under the supervision of an authorised person who is not the traveller (e.g. pharmacist, general practitioner, nurse, pathologist, pathology collector or trained personnel at airport-based testing stations).
If your flight is delayed, you should not need a new test, but if your flight is re-scheduled and/or canceled then you will need to provide a new test within three days of the re-scheduled flight.
If you test positive and have recovered from COVID already, or if you have other questions, be sure to check out the Australian Department of Health's website COVID FAQ.
More information can be found here: https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/preparing-to-travel-to-australia-from-overseas
What are the rules for quarantine and testing in Australia for each state's international arrivals?
This is where it starts to get a bit more difficult. All of the other information on this page relates to entering Australia, the country, but obviously, you will be landing in a state or territory and therefore we need to understand the requirements for each of those.
I can highly recommend the Health Direct website for COVID restrictions by state. I originally tried to summarize it below but with how often each state changes the rules, this is a more accurate way of finding information. Be sure to check the information yourself to make sure you've checked all the required boxes.
In most cases, you will now be able to enter without any requirement for quarantine but you will likely have to test or receive results before you can do anything. Your movement will also be limited in many states regarding high-risk areas for the first 7-14 days.
Quarantine and testing rules for New South Wales international arrivals
More information for NSW: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/factsheets/Pages/recent-vaccinated-arrivals-guidelines.aspx
Quarantine and testing rules for Victoria international arrivals
More information for Victoria: https://service.vic.gov.au/services/border-permit/home
Quarantine and testing rules for South Australia international arrivals
More information for South Australia: https://www.covid-19.sa.gov.au/
Quarantine and testing rules for Queensland international arrivals
More information for Queensland: https://www.covid19.qld.gov.au/government-actions/border-closing
Quarantine and testing rules for Western Australia international arrivals
More information for Western Australia: https://www.wa.gov.au/government/covid-19-coronavirus
Quarantine and testing rules for Tasmania international arrivals
More information for Tasmania: https://www.coronavirus.tas.gov.au/travellers-and-visitors
Quarantine and testing rules for Northern Territory international arrivals
More information for Northern Territory: https://coronavirus.nt.gov.au/travel
Quarantine and testing rules for ACT international arrivals
More information for the ACT: https://www.covid19.act.gov.au/travel
Which states can you travel domestically to once you enter Australia?
Again, it's a little confusing when you actually land in Australia and what the requirements are per state.
I started trying to detail this but it gets so messy as every state has different rules for every other state so be sure to check out Health Direct for some great links and resources.
I have tried to detail the information for transiting through to your state from international arrivals in each state's information above.
Can families and partners enter Australia?
From 1 November, fully vaccinated immediate family members of Australian citizens and permanent residents may be able to enter Australia like other temporary visa holders detailed above.
These partners and family members will first require a visa if they are not citizens or permanent residents of Australia and information about that can be found here at the Department of Home Affairs Visa Finder. This has always been the case, and is not a new development.
The most common visa for family and partners is the ETA for short-term travel. If the website above isn't working for you, there's also an app to apply for an ETA which can be found here for iPhone and here on Google Play.
Entering Australia if you are not vaccinated
If you are an unvaccinated adult, it is going to be much more difficult to travel to Australia and you are likely going to have to follow both state and federal rules for entry and quarantine.
If you do not meet Australia’s definition of fully vaccinated, current border restrictions apply and you must continue to follow current border processes when leaving Australia or coming to Australia. This includes requesting a travel exemption and undertaking mandatory quarantine.
What proof do I need to provide if I cannot be vaccinated?
If you are someone cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons, you will need to provide proof of a medical exemption. You should also check any requirements, particularly quarantine requirements, in the state or territory to which you are traveling.
For that medical proof you will need to provide a medical certificate that indicates you are unable to be vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine because of a medical condition; the medical certificate must include the following information:
- your name (this must match your travel identification documents)
- date of medical consultation and details of your medical practitioner
- details that clearly acknowledge that you have a medical condition which means you cannot receive a COVID-19 vaccination (vaccination is contraindicated). People who have received non TGA approved or recognised vaccines should not be certified in this category and cannot be treated as vaccinated for the purposes of their travel.
It's important to note too that you may not be able to travel domestically, as this only pertains to entering the country.
Where can I find more information about entering Australia, vaccination requirements, and COVID testing requirements?
As I always say, it's best to head straight to the source: