Hallelujah! Monday is the big day! Australian citizens who have been fully vaccinated and permanent residents over 12 years old can travel internationally again without needing to apply for an exemption.
A vaccine must be approved by or recognized by Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration in order to qualify for full vaccination. This includes two doses of AstraZeneca Vaxzevria or AstraZeneca Covishield at least 14 days apart, as well as one dose of Janssen Cilag Covid vaccine.
International travel is possible for children under 12 years of age and those who are unable to be vaccinated due to medical reasons.
There is no better incentive than getting vaccinated if you travel a lot and love to travel.
Smart Traveller has removed its global advisory to not travel and updated the travel advice levels for 177 countries based on the most recent risk assessments regarding Covid-19 and other security threats. No destination will be lower than Level 2, which is to exercise a high level of caution.
Before you rush to book your flights, it is worth asking these key questions:
What are Australia's exit and reentry requirements?
What are the requirements for your destination country's visa?
How much tolerance do you have for the potential disruptions caused by Covid-19 and what is your budget?
Exit: vaccination evidence
International travel without an exemption is possible if you show your International Covid-19 Vaccination Cert (ICVC) when you leave Australia. Your myGov account can generate your ICVC. You will receive it in PDF format to print or electronically store on your phone.
Test before departure
Everyone aged five years or older must show proof of a negative Covid-19 molecular test. This must be done at check-in no later than 72 hours prior to the departure of the first leg. This must be done in conjunction with the Covid-19 vaccination. If your flight is delayed beyond the 72-hour window, a negative PCR test certificate will still be valid. However, if the flight is rescheduled, or cancelled, you must take another test within 72 hours.
Qantas starts preparing planes to return international flights from Sydney. Photograph: Loren Elliott/Reuters
While the Australian government regulates visas, exemptions, state and territory governments regulate quarantine and other inbound health-related requirements. Even if you are allowed to leave Australia, you need to be aware of the rules in your state for your return.
On Monday, fully vaccinated Australians returning from Australia will no longer be required to quarantine at home or in hotels upon their arrival into NSW, Victoria, and the ACT. Children younger than 12 years old will not be considered unvaccinated.
You will be required to quarantine your luggage if you travel from abroad. Tasmania will open its doors on 15 December, and South Australia announced that it would reduce restrictions gradually starting on 23 November. Queensland has a cautious plan for reopening its borders. This plan will change as vaccine targets are met. For interstate arrivals to the Northern Territory, there is a home quarantine plan that will be in place around 23 November. Western Australia has yet to announce its reopening plans.
Where are you going?
Australians are increasingly interested in traveling to Fiji, Singapore and Thailand as travel restrictions become less restrictive. Due to the Covid-19 epidemic, Quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand is currently suspended.
Fiji will reopen its borders to fully-vaccinated tourists (18 and over) from Australia, New Zealand, and select countries. Everyone 12 years old and older must show proof of a negative RTPCR test that was taken within the last three days. All travellers should download careFIJI to their smartphones upon arrival. Once there, they can head straight to their hotel where they will spend the first two days with all the hotel amenities. They will be able to access a variety of tourist-appropriate areas in the country after a 48-hour rapid antigen (swab), test.
Non-US citizens are now required to be vaccinated before they can enter the US. Australia was previously considered low-risk for Covid-19 and therefore Australians were not required to be vaccinated in order to travel to the US. However, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) now states that, starting on 8 November, all non-US citizens aged 18 and above coming into the US by air must be fully vaccinated at least 14 days before travel with any of the following Federal Drug Administration-approved vaccines: Pfizer/BioNtech Comirnaty, Moderna and Janssen; or World Health Organization Emergency Use Listing vaccines (including Australian-made AstraZeneca Vaxzevria).
No matter their citizenship, all inbound passengers aged 2 and over must have a negative Covid-19 result. This test is dependent on age and vaccination status. It is especially relevant for families travelling together. Check-in requires that all adults who have been fully vaccinated and any accompanying children between 2 and 17 years old, must show proof of a negative Covid-19 PCR test. This should be done no later than three days prior to departure.
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You can also provide documentation from a licensed health provider proving that you have recovered from Covid-19 within the last 90 days. Although no quarantine is required, the CDC will issue an instruction to airlines directing them to collect contact information for a contact tracing program that is still being developed. It is still recommended that international travellers receive a test within three to five working days of their arrival, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated. Some states in the US require this.
Changi airport. From 8 November, vaccinated Australians can travel to Singapore unrestricted. Photograph: Edgar Su/Reuters
From 8 November, vaccinated Australians can travel to Singapore unrestricted. You can apply for a Vaccinated Travel Pass starting Monday to be allowed to travel as a short-term visitor in accordance with the Vaccinated Travel Lane. Two weeks prior to travel, you must prove that your child is fully vaccinated. Children under 12 traveling with their families are exempt. On arrival at Singapore airport, you will be required to undergo a PCR test and then remain isolated until a negative result is obtained. Travel insurance must cover Covid-19 hospital treatment and costs. VTL flights are currently only available by Singapore Airlines.
The UK has recently removed its traffic light country system. It will also remove its red listing of countries starting Monday. This will mean that all international travelers fully vaccinated will not have to quarantine at a hotel. The UK recognizes Australian Pfizer/BioNtech Colmirnaty and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines. A negative test result is no longer required to travel to the UK if you are fully vaccinated. However, all airlines flying to and from Australia require passengers to undergo PCR tests prior to departing. Before arriving in the UK, you must complete a contact locator and book a Covid-19 test before the end on the second day. There are different rules for England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Heathrow airport, London. The UK has recently removed its traffic light country system. It will also remove its red list on Monday. Photograph: Matt Dunham/AP
Thailand is somewhat of a gray area. While the country opens to Australia and 45 low-risk nations on Monday, current Smart Traveller advice is Level 3. (Reconsider your travel needs). Although there are not many direct flights to Thailand, Thai Airways announced that they will be increasing their flights. They will also offer nonstop Sydney-to-Phuket flights three times per week and daily Sydney-to Bangkok flights beginning on December 8. It is important to keep checking the website for any updates.
Travellers who have been fully vaccinated (Australias Pfizer/BioNtech Moderna, AstraZeneca Vaxzevria, and Australias Pfizer/BioNtech BioNtech Comirnaty) will need to present proof of vaccination at the airport. They also need to provide proof that they paid for their first night's accommodation in government-approved hotels. Travellers who have negative results can travel anywhere in Thailand. To cover any medical expenses including Covid-19 treatment, all travellers must register at the Thailand Travel Pass website at minimum seven days prior to departure.
Bali recently opened its doors to fully-vaccinated travelers from 19 countries. They must stay in quarantine for five days, and comply with strict visa requirements. Australia is not currently one of these countries, but there are signs that it will soon. There are no direct flights to Australia at the moment.
It is important that you remember that many airlines have their own requirements. Except for eating, all airlines require mask-wearing at airports and during flights. Children as young as 2 years old are required to wear masks on flights to or from the USA. All airlines that fly into or out of Australia require PCR tests. In some cases, you might be required to undergo a rapid antigen test. This will ensure you have a negative result. It is important to consider the additional time and inconvenience that comes with the Covid-related checks you will be subject to while traveling.
It is difficult to find travel insurance that covers Covid-related medical expenses abroad and cancellations due Covid illness. It is likely that there will be unexpected costs and tears.
It is important to consider the possibility of contracting Covid-19 overseas, as well as the cost of staying in hotels or managed facilities, or in extreme cases, ICUs in foreign hospitals, until you are able to get a negative result and return to Australia.
It is possible for another international epidemic to occur while you're overseas, and Australia may close its borders once again. To be able to stay longer in another country, you will need to have enough resilience and a substantial budget.
A travel agent can be a valuable resource in these ever-changing times. A travel agent is knowledgeable about all aspects of travel logistics and government requirements. They can also help you with refunds if you need to cancel or modify your travel plans.