Unlocking the World

Travel to Australia during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go

CNN StaffUpdated 17th December 2021
Australia's tough border controls have worked in its favor during the pandemic.
Editor's Note — Coronavirus cases are in flux across the globe. Health officials caution that staying home is the best way to stem transmission until you're fully vaccinated. Below is information on what to know if you still plan to travel, last updated on December 17.
(CNN) — If you're planning a trip to Australia, here's what you'll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the global coronavirus pandemic.

The basics

Australia relaxed its border restrictions after a 20-month closure on November 1. Australian citizens, residents and their families can now travel without quarantine restrictions on the way home -- unless they are arriving from one of eight southern African countries (see below).
However, those rules are at a national level -- and not all regions are allowing international travel.
The borders are still closed to all other arrivals. The Australian government had previously suggested that restrictions might ease to visitors in 2022.

What's on offer

Are you looking for wild open spaces? World-class beaches? A thrumming food and drinks scene? Australia has all of that in spades. From Uluru to the Sydney Opera House, its icons span the Outback to the cities, sacred spaces to cultural centers. Plus, of course, there's that laidback, beach-driven lifestyle.

Who can go

Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family (including parents) may enter. From November 1, quarantine rules in some Australian regions have been relaxed (see Entry Requirements below).
On December 15, the borders also reopened to overseas students and skilled migrant workers.
A two-way "travel bubble" between Australia and New Zealand began April 19, but has now been paused until the end of the year as the Delta variant has hit Australia -- which, previously, had been largely unaffected by the pandemic.
However, one way quarantine-free travel from New Zealand to participating jurisdictions in Australia for fully vaccinated travelers resumed November 1. For more information on the bubble, see here.
Australia also reopened quarantine-free entry to fully vaccinated arrivals from Singapore on November 21. Only Singaporean citizens are eligible -- permanent residents who are third country nationals are not.
Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family members who have been to South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, the Seychelles or Malawi in the last 14 days are allowed entry but must undergo enforced quarantine. No other travelers may arrive from those destinations, even if they qualify for a travel exemption.
The internal border with the island of Tasmania reopened December 14, and that of Queensland December 13.

Entry requirements

All arrivals to Australia must be fully vaccinated and present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival.
The previous strict quarantine regulations have been dropped at a national level -- other than for those coming from the countries below -- meaning that individual states and territories must take their own decisions.
Arrivals who have been to South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, the Seychelles or Malawi in the last 14 days are allowed entry but must undergo enforced quarantine in line with state requirements.
New South Wales and Victoria, for example, have dropped the quarantine for fully vaccinated arrivals and for children under 12. Western Australia, however, requires 14 days quarantine.
Passengers from some destinations in the Pacific may present a test taken within 96 hours of departure.
Travelers to Tasmania from high-risk areas must present a negative test taken within 72 hours of arrival. They must also be vaccinated, unless they hold a travel exemption. Queensland also requires visitors to be fully vaccinated.

US CDC Travel Advisory:

Level 3: High. Unvaccinated travelers should avoid travel. There have been nearly 243,000 cases and 2,134 deaths as of December 17. Australia's first case of community transmission of the Omicron variant was recorded December 3.

Useful links

Our recent coverage

Australia is a country of superlatives. Start with our list of essential places to go, or check out what we think are the most beautiful places in Australia. Are you really into Instagram? You'll want to visit Perth, and its specially designated Instagram shed.
And if you're feeling sentimental, here's a story about a couple who met by chance on Byron Bay.
With Omicron on the rise, Australia's largest state, New South Wales, has started to ease restrictions. Read all about it.