Australians can travel abroad again: what you need to know | Trip

Halleluja! Monday is the big day where fully vaccinated Australian nationals and permanent residents aged 12 and over can travel internationally again without having to apply for a waiver to leave the country.

To qualify as fully vaccinated, a vaccine must be approved or accredited by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). This includes two doses at least 14 days apart: AstraZeneca Vaxzevria, AstraZeneca Covishield, Pfizer / BioNtech Comirnaty, Moderna Spikevax or Sinovac Coronavac or one dose of Janssen-Cilag Covid vaccine.

Children under the age of 12 and those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons will also be able to travel abroad without a dispensation.

If you love to travel but have not been vaccinated, there could not be a better incentive to get tickled.

Smart Traveler has removed its global “Do Not Travel” alert and has updated travel advice levels for 177 destinations based on the latest risk assessments related to Covid-19 and other security and safety threats. At this point, no destination will be set lower than level 2 (“Show a high degree of caution”).

But before you rush out to book airline tickets, it’s worth asking some important questions:

  • What are Australia’s requirements for departure and return travel?

  • What are the requirements in your destination country?

  • What is your tolerance and budget for potential interference caused by Covid-19?

Output: vaccination certificate

To travel internationally without having to have a dispensation, you must show your international Covid-19 Vaccination Certificate (ICVC) at check-in when you leave Australia. You can create your ICVC in your myGov account. It will be delivered in PDF format for printing or electronic storage on your phone.

Test before departure

At check-in, anyone aged 5 or over must document a negative Covid-19 (PCR) molecular test provided by a laboratory, which must be performed no later than 72 hours before the scheduled departure of the first part of your return flight to Australia. This is required in addition to the Covid-19 vaccine. A negative certificate for PCR test results will still be valid if your flight is delayed beyond the 72-hour window, but if the flight is rerouted or canceled, you must take a new test no later than 72 hours before the new flight.

Qantas is starting to prepare flights for the return of international flights in Sydney
Qantas is starting to prepare flights for the return of international flights in Sydney. Photo: Loren Elliott / Reuters

Re-entry

The Australian government regulates visas and exemptions, but states and territories regulate quarantine (and other inbound health-related requirements). Therefore, even when you can leave Australia without a dispensation, you must keep up to date with your state’s rules for your return.

From Monday, fully vaccinated returning Australians will not be required to quarantine in hotels or at home on arrival in NSW, Victoria and ACT. Children under the age of 12 will not be treated as unvaccinated.

Australia Weekend registration

If you arrive from abroad directly to another state, at this stage you will still be sent in mandatory hotel quarantine. Tasmania opens its borders on December 15, and southern Australia has announced a slow reduction of restrictions from November 23. Queensland has a very cautious reopening plan that will evolve as vaccination targets are met. The Northern Territory has a home quarantine plan for interstate arrivals that begins around Nov. 23. Western Australia has not announced its reopening plan.

Where can you go?

As travel restrictions ease, Australians are showing the greatest interest in traveling to Fiji, Singapore, Thailand, Bali, the United States and the United Kingdom. Quarantine-free travel from Australia to New Zealand is currently suspended due to the Covid-19 outbreak there.

Fiji

From 1 December, Fiji will reopen its borders to fully vaccinated tourists (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen), aged 18 and over, from Australia and a select group of countries, including the United States and New Zealand. At check-in, everyone aged 12 and over must document a negative RT-PCR result from a test taken within three days of departure. Upon arrival, all travelers must download careFIJI to their phones and go directly to their hotel, where they will spend their first two days with access to all hotel facilities. After a negative fast antigen (swab) test, taken after 48 hours, they will have access to a number of tourist-friendly areas throughout the country.

United States

The United States has changed its vaccination requirements for non-US nationals entering the country. Previously, when Australia was considered a low-risk country for Covid-19, Australians did not need to be vaccinated to travel to the United States. However, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) now states that all non-US citizens aged 18 and over start on November 8 Arrival in the United States by air must be fully vaccinated at least 14 days before travel with one of the following vaccines approved by the Federal Drug Administration: Pfizer / BioNtech Comirnaty, Moderna and Janssen; or World Health Organization Emergency Use Listing vaccines (including Australian-made AstraZeneca Vaxzevria).

All incoming air travelers of two years and older, regardless of citizenship, must show a negative Covid-19 test result. The timing of this test depends on the vaccination status and age, something that is particularly relevant for traveling families. At check-in, fully vaccinated adults and their accompanying children between the ages of two and 17 must provide evidence of a negative PCR result for Covid-19 from a test taken no later than three days before departure.

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Alternatively, you can provide documentation from an authorized healthcare provider showing cure from Covid-19 in the 90 days prior to travel. No quarantine is required, but the CDC will issue an order instructing airlines to collect travelers’ contact information for a contact tracking system not yet described. International travelers are also still advised to get a test three to five days after arrival regardless of vaccination status, and some US states make this a requirement.

Changi Airport
Changi Airport. Vaccinated Australians will be able to travel to Singapore quarantine-free from 8 November. Photo: Edgar Su / Reuters

Singapore

Vaccinated Australians will be able to travel to Singapore quarantine-free from 8 November. From Monday, you can apply for a Vaccinated Travel Pass to enter as a short-term visitor under Vaccinated Travel Route (VTL). You must show proof that you have been fully vaccinated at least two weeks before the trip (children under the age of 12 traveling with family are excluded). You will also be asked to take a PCR test on arrival at Singapore Airport and remain in isolation until a negative result is received. You must have travel insurance that covers Covid-19 medical treatment and hospital expenses. Currently, only Singapore Airlines operates VTL flights.

United Kingdom

Britain recently scrapped its traffic light country system and will remove its red list of countries on Monday so that all fully vaccinated international travelers no longer have to be quarantined at a hotel. The UK recognizes Australian Pfizer / BioNtech Comirnaty, Oxford / AstraZeneca and Modern vaccines. Fully vaccinated travelers no longer need to show a negative test result before traveling to the UK, although all airlines operating in and out of Australia currently require passengers to take PCR tests before traveling. You must complete a contact form before arriving in the UK and pre-order a Covid-19 test to be taken before the end of day two after your arrival. Specific rules vary between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Heathrow Airport
London Heathrow Airport. Britain recently scrapped its traffic light country system and will remove its red list of countries on Monday. Photo: Matt Dunham / AP

Thailand

Thailand is a bit of a gray area, because while the country opens to Australia and 45 other “low-risk” nations on Monday, the current advice on the Smart Traveler page is at level 3 (“Reconsider your need to travel”). There are currently limited direct flights to Thailand, but Thai Airways has announced an increase in flights from 17 November as well as direct flights from Sydney to Phuket three times a week and daily flights from Sydney to Bangkok from 8 December. Things change quickly, so it’s worth checking for updates regularly.

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Fully vaccinated travelers (Australian Pfizer / BioNtech Comirnaty, Moderna and AstraZeneca Vaxzevria all approved) arriving by plane must present proof of vaccination at least 14 days before departure (children under 12 are excluded), a medical certificate with a negative result on a PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before departure, and proof of a fully paid reservation for their first night’s stay at state-approved hotels to wait for a negative result from a PCR test taken on arrival. With negative results, travelers can take anywhere in Thailand. All travelers must register their information on the Thailand Travel Pass website at least seven days before departure and purchase travel insurance of at least $ 50,000 per person. person to cover medical expenses, including Covid-19 treatment.

Bali

Bali has recently opened up to fully vaccinated travelers from 19 countries who will be quarantined in hotels for five days and follow strict visa requirements under new entry rules. Australia is not one of them, though there are indications that it will be added soon. But there are currently no direct flights from anywhere in Australia.

Potential disturbances

It is important to remember that most airlines add their own requirements in addition to those of the destination countries. Everyone requires a mask at airports and during flights, except when eating. For flights to and from the United States, this applies to children as young as two years old. All airlines operating in and out of Australia also require PCR tests, and in some cases you may be asked to take a quick antigen test that requires a negative result before boarding. You should also take into account the extra time and hassle of all the Covid-related checks while traveling.

Insurance

Finding a travel insurance policy that covers Covid-related medical expenses abroad and cancellations due to Covid illness, not to mention lockdowns or government restrictions, is a monumental task. Suffice it to say that there will likely be tears and unexpected costs involved.

Covid-related risks

You should also include the risk of getting Covid-19 while traveling abroad and the costs associated with extending your stay in a hotel or managed facility, or in the worst case, an intensive care unit at a foreign hospital, until you can get a negative test and return to Australia.

And it is always possible that another international outbreak will occur while you are abroad and Australia will close its borders again. You need sufficient resilience and a significant budget set aside to allow for a longer stay abroad.

For peace of mind, in these ever-changing circumstances, it may be worth using the services of a travel agent. They are not only across all the latest travel logistics and government requirements, but are also equipped to help with refunds if you need to cancel or change your travel plans.

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