When can Australians travel overseas?

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Will will Australians be able to travel overseas again? Is 2021 continues of pandemic pressures? It’s a million-dollar question that put us at loggerheads.

Airline bosses have predicted COVID-19 will halt Australian travel overseas this year 2021 as the flight industry continues to buckle under pandemic pressures.

Stepping foot off a plane with a passport in hand and into an airport overseas feels like a distant memory for most.

While other countries are reopening their borders to international travel, Australians remain confined to travel within their own state or territory.

When can Australians travel overseas?

Travel BAN

Currently, there’s a travel ban in place for all overseas travel from Australia. There are no definitive plans to lift this ban as of yet. According to Health Minister Greg Hunt, the Australian overseas travel ban is expected to be in place until 17 March 2021. This ban also restricts the entry of cruise ships into Australia. However, because this pandemic is unpredictable, this date may change or be extended without notice.

The travel ban means you cannot leave Australia for non-essential reasons like a holiday unless you get a travel exemption from the Department of Home Affairs.

Automatic exemptions

You are exempt from travel restrictions, and can leave Australia without applying for an exemption if you are:

  • ordinarily resident in a country other than Australia
  • an airline, maritime crew, or associated safety worker
  • a New Zealand citizen holding a Special Category (subclass 444) visa, even if they are usually resident in Australia
  • engaged in the day-to-day conduct of inbound and outbound freight
  • traveling in association with essential work at an offshore facility in Australian waters
  • travelling on official government business (including members of the Australian Defence Force and any Australian Government official traveling on a diplomatic or official passport)

Travel back to Australia from overseas?

Australian passport holders, residents, and immediate family members are allowed to fly back to Australia. However, it’s imperative to check with the local authorities and the airlines first. This is to ensure flights are still available and to check the rules around using this mode of transport. Some destinations are closed to anyone who is not an official resident. Because of this cap, many travelers are struggling to find a seat on a plane or an affordable plane ticket.

It is recommended that you contact your nearest embassy or consulate to ensure that you have the most up to date information on restrictions and conditions for returning to Australia. Aussies that are overseas will also be subject to restrictions placed by the country they are currently in. It is also important to check whether you can legally enter a country as part of a layover.


When can those overseas fly to Australia?

Australian citizens, residents, and immediate family members* are permitted to travel to Australia. However, as conditions are subject to change, and can change at short notice, we advise that they contact their nearest Australian consular service for the latest information and advice.

Note that flights may be limited, and anyone entering Australia will be subjected to a 14-day quarantine upon arrival.

*To find out who qualifies as an immediate family member, call the Home Affairs Global Service Centre on 131 881.


14-day Quarantine

If you are entering Australia from overseas from any country aside from New Zealand, you must complete a 14-day quarantine.

Currently, you will be directed to a designated hotel to quarantine after you pass immigration, customs, and health checks. You will need to quarantine at your entry point, and cannot get a connecting flight until after you have completed your quarantine period. 

The cost of quarantining in Australia depends on the state or territory you enter into. You may be responsible for paying all or part of the costs associated with your isolation. Prices typically range from $1500 to $3000 AUD per adult and about $1000 for each additional adult in the room. Additional children cost about $500 AUD each.


Can tourists fly into Australia?
Only tourists from New Zealand can currently enter some parts of Australia. Australia’s borders are currently closed for tourism purposes to anyone outside of New Zealand.

When will Australia’s borders open?
There is no definitive date on when Australia’s borders will open to international travelers. However, the Australian Government has enacted the human biosecurity emergency period until 17 March 2020. This restricts overseas travel and the entry of cruise ships.

How far can I travel from home?
Many states are allowing unrestricted access to residents within the state borders and are encouraging people to go for a staycation this year. Please be aware though, some states have enforced stricter lockdowns because of COVID hotspots, and you will need to check government state pages for the latest information.

Is it recommended to fly?
There is a travel ban across Australia, and all non-essential travel is restricted. If you choose to fly to a domestic destination, restrictions allowing, we advise you to follow the WHO’s safety guidelines.

Can I apply for a quarantine exemption when arriving in Australia?
Yes, you can apply for a quarantine exemption when arriving in Australia. You will need to do this prior to arriving, and this must be cleared with the state or territory government that you want to travel through. Those who are granted quarantine exemption may still be required to isolate at home or in alternative accommodation.

What is the difference between travel advice and a travel ban?
Currently, the Australian government has issued a travel ban on international travel. This is a mandatory border restriction enacted by the federal government. The government also issues travel advice, which recommends whether or not Australians should travel to a certain destination. Travel advice is solely a government recommendation and will not be legally enforced.

States and territories within Australia can also issue their own travel bans and travel advice.

Where can I find the latest Australia travel advice and travel warnings?
The best place to find the latest travel advice and travel warnings through the Australian Government’s official website, Smartraveller.gov.au. Here, you’ll find the most up to date information about travelling to and from Australia as well as specific travel warnings related to countries all around the world.

Travel overseas -aussie mandatory mask

Before the pandemic, Australians and people around the world were taking to the skies in record number, on trips for leisure, work and to visit family and friends in far-flung places.BUT at the start of last year, and we were grounded with a thud.

While international travel could begin in Australia by the end of the year, the experts indicated that the levels we’ll be flying likely won’t match those in 2019 for at least a few years. 

It’s important to note that it’s also not just a question of when, but also if we will return to travel as we once knew it. As the world adapts in many ways to living with the virus, it’ll take a long time, if ever, before we return to pre-pandemic levels of jet setting. Arguably, given the environmental cost of air travel, there are also kinds of travel which we could and should learn to live without.

Until then…

CheChe Kidcaff
CheChe Kidcaff

My name is Cheche and I'm a Filipina. My husband and I love to travel and experience the world. We are one of those crazy people who loves waiting in an international airport lounge as our flight is inevitably delayed. Please, join our travel blog community and share some of your experiences, photos, and videos. We would love to see you on the inside.

December 2022
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