Australia drops ‘do not travel’ warnings for UK, US, Singapore, Fiji

The revised safety ratings will make it much easier to get travel insurance and Covid cover.

By David Flynn, October 28 2021
Australia drops ‘do not travel’ warnings for UK, US, Singapore, Fiji

Another roadblock in the return of international travel has been removed after the Australian government dropped its 'do not travel' warning from over 150 countries, making it easier for people to obtain insurance and Covid cover ahead of their flight.

While no country carries the lowest 'Level 1 – exercise normal safety precautions', more than 100 have been downgraded to 'Level 2 – exercise a high degree of caution', for which most insurance companies will still issue a policy.

The Level 2 list includes popular destinations such as the UK, Europe, the USA, Canada, Fiji, India, Singapore and indeed much of Asia.

Singapore's Vaccinated Travel Lanes – which will extend to Australia in November – requires that inbound travellers hold a policy which includes at least SGD$30,000 for Covid-related medical expenses.

However, some 50 countries – including Thailand, which plans to reopen to Australian visitors from November 1 – are at the amber alert of 'Level 3 – reconsider your need to travel', which may exclude it from many travel insurance policies offered in Australia.

Entry to Thailand currently requires medical insurance with a minimum coverage of USD$50,000.

"It's important to check the reason that the country is under advice level 3, as you may not be covered for it," advises the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

"We know it has been a difficult 18 months for Australians overseas trying to return, and for Australians with family and friends overseas," Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne said in a statement regarding today's changes, which came just days ahead of the November 1 restart of international travel.

"The changes announced today are a vital next step in re-uniting Australian families and safely re-opening Australia to the world."

PREVIOUS [October 20, 2021] With international travel back on the cards from November 1 – at least out of Sydney and Melbourne – and thousands of Australians headed overseas for the first time in over 18 months, the government is now revising its travel warnings for almost 200 countries.

It's a critical step in the restart of overseas travel, as the warnings – published on the Smarttraveller.com.au website operated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – impacts the availability of travel insurance.

And international travel insurance will be more important that even in the Covid era of travel, especially as several countries make some form of 'Covid cover' a condition of entry.

Also read: As Australia's borders reopen, will your travel insurance cover Covid-19?

DFAT and Smarttraveller.com.au currently list all of the 177 countries on their watchlist as 'Level 4 – do not travel' destinations, with the sole exception of New Zealand which remains pegged as 'Level 3 – reconsider your need to travel.'

Australian travel insurance providers typically won't offer a policy if you're headed for a country which DFAT has flagged as a Level 4 destination, which means that many people booking airfares right now for flights in November aren't able to get travel insurance.

Travel insurance coverage is normally extended only to countries earmarked as 'Level 1 – exercise normal safety precautions' or 'Level 2 – exercise a high degree of caution.'

Executive Traveller understands that DFAT is now working through a 'risk assessment' of all countries to update its travel advice to align with the reopening of Australia's international border.

However, many countries are expected to remain at the current global 'Level 4 – do not travel' advisory or be nudged up to 'Level 3 – reconsider your need to travel.'

Also read:

11 Mar 2012

Total posts 307

If after I book (taking a punt on a Oneworld Award flight) the classification drops to L1 or 2 would I be able to insure the trip?

Yes, as the article says, L1 and L2 are generally acceptable for travel insurance providers. I doubt though that any country will be L1, as this category is described as 'exercise normal safety precautions' and the sort of precautions you need to take with Covid are far from normal. L2 sound a bit extreme, 'exercise a high degree of caution' but as there's not an L1½ then I expect a lot of countries open to Australia such as the UK and USA will be L2.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Jun 2014

Total posts 212

Fairly certain UK or at least some other European countries were L2 previously due to terror threat anyway...

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 711

Reading one insurance guide it has to be L1 or L2 when booking and the travel insurance taken out at that point in time as well.

28 Aug 2019

Total posts 34

There is absolutely no guarantee about insuring anything.  This is where you need to do some homework, and find out from your travel agent by asking them all the questions regarding your trip and what if any are you entitled to.

11 May 2020

Total posts 9

Travel agent? It's not 1992. Who uses travel agents these days...

Etihad - Etihad Guest

21 Jul 2019

Total posts 107

@DavrosLives.

Who uses travel agents these days, you innocently ask? Answer: smart travellers who know they can save $$$$$$ off their business/first class tickets (even more than by using airlines' own sites or aggregated pricing sites). And BTW, 1992 was a fantastic year to be a teenager!  

28 Aug 2019

Total posts 34

You'll be surprised at the number of people that use Travel Agents. People check online to see what's available including costs, then visit their travel agent to do all the relevant bookings. This removes the hard slog of jumping from page to page to finally get what you want, and paying online. Another thing is that travel agencies employ people (jobs) to help those that are not computer savvy.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 362

A lot of people still use travel agents, and a lot of businesses especially, and I think Covid will actually increase the use of travel agents in some areas because things are so much more complicated these days.

Back before Covid and when all you had to do was book a flight and a hotel room, then sure, you can do it yourself. And when travel was so straight-forward, sure.

But the more travel you're doing, or is being done by your business, the better it can be to have an agent, in the same way that not all people do their own taxes. And when things go seriously wrong, a good agent takes care of it all.

And with Covid making travel so much more complicated I wouldn't be surprised for some people to have an agent help them with all the extra paperwork, insurance etc etc, plus in case there's an outbreak and suddenly can't leave the country on that flight the next day and you also have to stay in a hotel for another week.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 509

I know ET did a few articles on international travel for COVID-19 world just a few months ago (including one just last month) but I suspect the insurance market will change significantly in November and December so might not be a bad idea to revisit products inclusion and exclusions and any ET readers willing to share actual experience in getting them and using them. 

Doesn’t have to name names but more of increase awareness and cautionary tales in cheap or useless products

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Aug 2012

Total posts 210

SmartTraveller has never been that smart. It could be a really useful resource, but it is pretty much the opposite.

An example is the silly booklet accompanying new passports. Its 'advice' is so generalized  it is useless. I guess it's that way to avoid much need of updating for 5 years or so.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

21 Jul 2019

Total posts 107

@MissBasset

I thought I was the only one who thought SmartTraveller (what an ironic name!) advice in general, and their passport booklet in particular was a laugh. Good to know I'm not the only one. In their revised booklet, I fully expect to read things like: Do not fall into a manhole. Foreign countries have different laws. Do not fire a gun at a foreign soldier. Avoid taking part in a riot. Do not enter your hotel if it is burning, etc. etc.

29 Jan 2020

Total posts 33

My concern is, even if you have travel insurance, what happens if in last week of your os trip, you catch Covid, go down in your hotel for 3-4 days with flu like symptoms, then feel reasonable again.

Do you have to have a negative Covid test to board your flight back to Australia?

As you can remain Covid positive for anywhere between 7days to a month or so, if you do require a per departure test, will you then have to remain os until you test negative?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Mar 2018

Total posts 7

Hi Boeing 727  - I have that concern, mainly yes negative Covid test required before boarding (not transit)  - although it depends on the airline and country you are returning from for specific rules

I'm booked to London late Dec with Singapore and the rules as they stand today are that I need to by fully Covid vaccinated and have a negative PCR test 72 (or 48 depending on the webpage) hours before the flight - both out and back. If I'm negative on the way out all good, but catch it in the UK and test positive 48 hours before I wont be allowed to fly. Not sure how quarantine would work in that instance - plus the hassle of rebooking the flight and extending the stay in the UK. Not to mention is the hotel going let you quarantine in their establishment. Luckily I have family there but I'm not sure they would want a Covid case in the house for a week - 10 days. I have insurance I just hope I don't have to test it out.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 711

Be good to have some guide to the best travel insurance from 1st of November 2021. I normal have one covering multi trips for 12 months anywhere in the world, credit card and HCF travel insurance.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 496

Not sure why Thailand is at level 3 but Singapore only at level 2. Singapore's case numbers are at record highs. Another discriminatory move by Australia, which likes to look down on less developed countries? Must be.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 362

Is India also a 'less developed' country? Because it's at Level 2. I think you're reading too much into this.

30 May 2018

Total posts 27

Given the rigor or risk aversion of the Australian COVID strategy, the UK being open for Australian travel raises some eyebrows. Have you seen the state of COVID in the UK?  Touching 700 cases per day per 100 000 population. No mask mandates and no social distancing or health pass to enter venues.  Here in France and most of Western Europe we are around 75 to 100 and would not consider the UK a very safe destination currently.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Mar 2016

Total posts 48

That is the best news I have had for a while I took the gamble back in late April 2021 to grab a seat as a classic award through Qantas on CX to London for April 2022 which really wasn't a gamble as Qantas was offering free cancellations on classic awards hoping that 1 we would be able to leave and return to Australia without 2 weeks hotel quarantine, 2 flights would restart and 3 the government would lift the do not travel level to the countries I wanted to visit as I wouldn't travel overseas without insurance. 

Looks like all 3 have now happened and hopefully 2022 will make up for not being able to go anywhere in 2020 or 2021, I just now have to renew my passport.

I'm just renewing my passport, hoping to see my brother in England next year and possibly a tour in Switzerland.  And yes, I do use a travel agent for most of my overseas travel.  I've booked travel in UK myself--it's easy to book trains.  A few years ago I travelled from Hampshire to Vienna by train, stayed overnight in Cologne and Zurich, booked by myself, but the travel agent booked the flights and tours.


Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Australia drops ‘do not travel’ warnings for UK, US, Singapore, Fiji