Australia’s international travel ban to be lifted in November

It’s finally time to dust off your passport!

By David Flynn, October 1 2021
Australia’s international travel ban to be lifted in November

  • Fully-vaccinated Australians will finally be allowed to leave the country
  • Home quarantine to replace hotel quarantine on return from overseas
  • State-by-state approach based on 80% vaccination, with NSW expected to be first 

Australia's 18-month long ban on international travel will be lifted in November, allowing fully-vaccinated travellers to freely leave the country.

The current cap on international arrivals will also be removed for the double-jabbed, a move long awaited by the estimated 44,000 Australians who have registered with DFAT as remaining stranded overseas – many of them since March 2020 when the country closed its borders.

However, both measures will be up to individual states to implement once they reach an 80% vaccination threshold.

NSW is expected to be the first to embrace the return of international flights, as the state will reach the 80% vaccination milestone in late October; Victoria is on track to hit that same mark by mid-November.

Queensland and Western Australia will hit 80% vaccination in the first weeks of December, but both states have repeatedly pushed back on reopening their borders until a time of their own choosing. South Australia is estimated to be at 80% full vaccination by December 3.

On a national basis, current estimates put Australia at 80% full vaccination around November 10.

"It's time to give Australians their lives back," said Prime Minister Scott Morrison in announcing the move following today's meeting of the National Cabinet.

Home quarantine for seven days

Fully-vaccinated Australians and permanent residents returning from overseas will be able to quarantine at home for seven days; unvaccinated travellers will still have to enter 14 days of quarantine at a hotel or dedicated facility, and at their own expense.

Australian citizens and permanent residents who cannot be vaccinated – such as those under 12 or with a medical condition – will be treated as vaccinated for the purposes of their travel.

Australia would also continue to work towards establishing  "completely quarantine-free travel" for some countries, Morrison said, such as New Zealand and Singapore.

Also read: ‘Smart selfies’ the key to home isolation?

A key qualification for stranded Australians returning from overseas will be which vaccines are recognised by Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration.

The TGA currently recognises AztraZenica, Pzifer and Moderna, but China's Sinovac and India's COVID Shield are also expected to be given the nod, along with Novavax and the US single-shot from Johnson & Johnson.

Airlines reopen flights

Airlines which have continued flying to Australia throughout the pandemic – including Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways and United Airlines – but were limited in the number of seats they could sell due to arrival caps will now be able to 'unlock' those flights.

While Qantas still plans a December 18 reboot for many international flights, the airline will bring forward the resumption of Sydney-London and Sydney-Los Angeles services to November 14.

The resumption of international travel will be accompanied by the introduction of an internationally-recognised 'vaccination passport' in both digital and paper forms, which will tie into a global QR code system to indicate vaccination status.

"Australians who want to travel overseas once restrictions are removed will be able to access an internationally recognised proof of vaccination document," Morrison said.

"That will be in the coming weeks, to prove their vaccination status abroad. And that proof of vaccination for international travel will include a QR code that is readable globally."

Also read: Will international travel insurance cover Covid-19?

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Jun 2014

Total posts 210

Hallelujah!

26 Mar 2020

Total posts 40

The day has arrived - I cannot believe it!!!!!!!!!!!

@David Flynn you need to change the website and put a special celebratory banner for this special occasion 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Jan 2018

Total posts 23

So happy to hear this news. About time!

But, I wonder what if a State/Territory does not permit home quarantine (even when it has reached 80% vaccination rate as per the initially-agreed upon definition) but it is allowed at the Federal level. What happens then?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Sep 2018

Total posts 155

I think they made it pretty clear. Once at 80%, VIC and NSW definitely will open up and allow it. So will SA and probably NT. The hold outs will probably be Tassie, QLD and WA. WA probably has no hope, QLD might open just before Christmas to not commit politcal suicide and no offense, but who cares about Tassie. What might happen is you can leave the country, but upon return to your state, you'll have to foot the bill for a 14 day quarantine, just like you do now, just with arrival caps lifted. 

23 Jul 2017

Total posts 83

NSW & Victoria, the most badly infected states allowing people to travel abroad when 80% of the population are vaccinated. What are the authorities wanting - to get them out of the states so the numbers of infected seem to reduce? I'm from Queensland where the smug anny pally is ruling the roost and with the fewest people vaccinated, but for the time being, I'm happy to stay home even though it's ages since I had my second injection.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 999

The pressure will now come onto individual states to make a clear announcement as to their plans and timing.  You would assume NSW, ACT and Victoria will reopen before Christmas but the plans of the remaining states particularly WA, Qld and Tasmania are more vague.  

It will be great that those who have been unable to return to Australia up until now will get a clear opportunity with airlines being able to sell more seats on flights they are already operating.

Obviously, before Australians can book too many journeys overseas, the situation with travel insurance Covid coverage needs to be resolved.

29 Sep 2021

Total posts 24

all Australians should be able to fly out by 18 Nov 2021, instead of having to make up some story about it being for business.

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 643

Get those A380's fired up Alan.

01 Oct 2021

Total posts 9

There is high booking demand on the QF1 SYD-LHR so maybe we could get the 380!!

24 Dec 2013

Total posts 100

I don't suppose an article can be written  on which countries are currently accepting Australian travellers?

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 473

Whichever countries accept Australian travellers will only consider those vaccinated to be exempt from full quarantine duration (probably isolate until PCR test negative) but I seriously doubt other receiving countries are as generous as what our government is in considering  “ Australian citizens and permanent residents who cannot be vaccinated – such as those under 12 or with a medical condition – will be treated as vaccinated for the purposes of their travel.”

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 487

That is simply not true at all XWu. Europe accepts 1) proof of vaccination OR 2) proof of recovery OR 3) a Covid negative test. Any of these is acceptable for Australians. Many other countries are similar...or they have no requirements (such as Mexico, Costa Rica etc.)

Asian countries, Canada and the USA are likely to be the most adamant in insisting on vaccination proof, but it depends. In this interim period, many countries still quarantine the vaccinated, albeit for shorter periods of time. Thailand has a quarantine free sandbox scheme, now reduced to 7 days for the vaccinated to Phuket and Samui and from next month more destinations will be covered. Alternative state quarantine is 7 days for the vaccinated and 10 days for the unvaccinated.

29 Sep 2021

Total posts 24

poms already accepting vaccinated Australians with any quarantine, if you fly out now.

Air Canada - Aeroplan

28 Feb 2015

Total posts 69

Canada is accepting fully vaxxed Australians. All vaccines currently authorised in Australia are accepted. Negative PCR test required, taken not more than 72 hours before departure of the flight that actually deposits you in Canada, not your first flight out of Australia, should you be on a multi-stage ticket.

Air Canada - Aeroplan

28 Feb 2015

Total posts 69

I'm heading for Adelaide from Canada but was unable to get a ticket direct to there, could only get Sydney. I'm triple vaxxed but have no "home" or equivalent where I could quarantine in Sydney. Do I therefore have to do 14 days' hotel quarantine despite full vaccination? Does anyone know if reducing this to 7 days is under consideration? I'm assuming I would not be able to take an immediately connecting domestic flight to Adelaide and home quarantine there?

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2545

Hi Anon – my concern with that would be that not only would it take quite some time to pull together (which pulls us away from the many other stories needing to be written) but it could change fairly quickly, which means it either quickly loses any value as it's inaccurate and unreliable, or it becomes one of those stories which we have to go back and check and update on a very regular basis, which then becomes a whole new drain on our very limited resources.

j13
j13

13 Jan 2021

Total posts 7

Qld Premier will do everything in her power to delay the free travel of citizens. She has demonstrated this time and time again as her purpose is political point scoring against ScoMo. Just look at the cruelty and inhumanity she has dished out and continues to dish out to Queenslanders. There is no science to her decisions, just look at the hypocrisy with the NRL grand final. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Nov 2019

Total posts 74

From all Victorians, hold my beer 

29 Sep 2021

Total posts 24

Anna P has just lost big time. Interstate borders will have to open now. Is she tries to hinder any going to Brisbane Int, when you can fly internationally out o SYD-she'll be in big trouble. I think her bosses will be telling her right now, to play the game or get out of politics.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Sep 2018

Total posts 155

Better than WA at least. She hasn't explicitly said no, just flip flopping right now. My guess is they'll be open by Christmas. You don't want a bunch of angry Queenslanders knocking on your door at Christmas time. 

27 Feb 2014

Total posts 4

Can't wait to hear the words 'Do you want the chicken or the beef?'  Happy days ahead for those of us that will be able / allowed to travel.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

12 Apr 2017

Total posts 186

Great news. Of course it is 18 months late!

Banning your own citizens from leaving was and still is despicable.

Restriction on entry is fine but to imprison us was one of the worst things a Government can do.

Qantas

24 Oct 2014

Total posts 6

I've been using this website to find out where & how my clients can get into ... for most of this madness it's been 100% accurate ...

https://www.tripsguard.com/

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Apr 2016

Total posts 5

Great to see South Australia not mentioned anywhere again...

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2545

Hi Dutch - it's now mentioned, but at the time the article was being written, you can appreciate we were well under the hammer with this and a few other stories, so we had to draw the line somewhere and then loop back to add more info as and when we could. Hope you've got some good travel planned for 2022!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Jun 2014

Total posts 210

David, thanks for staying on top of all the info today and getting these articles out promptly!

Great to see some positive stories, especially as the travel opening has largely been overshadowed by the GB resignation on mainstream media!

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 487

I'd be seriously concerned if all states and territories don't allow travel sometime in 2022. They have to start somewhere, so don't expect much until January 2022 at earliest. Qantas flights from Sydney and Melbourne are only resuming to a select few destinations on December 18, which almost the end of the year, so don't plan anything for the remainder of this year. If the reopening keeps at the pace it's going, then by April or May 2022 things should start to look fairly normal.

Very concerned with the USA and its stance on Astra Zeneca, my understanding is that this drug presently is non approved hopefully they will add it to their approved list. Luckily tens of millions of UK travellers were given Astra Zeneca which will improve our position.

Does anyone know if Astra Zeneca (Vaxzevria) is now an approved vaccination?

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 999

I believe it will be accepted; it is not approved for use in USA mainly because it was never submitted for approval to the FDA with the US choosing to use its locally developed Pfizer, Moderna and J&J vaccines.  A-Z Vaxzevria is the most used Covid vaccine in the world with it being used widely in Europe, Canada and Asia.

It is a similar situation to what Australia has announced today accepting J&J and Sinovac.  Neither is approved for use in Australia and were never submitted for such approval but the government has decided to rely on other world drug approval bodies and will accept them as being sufficient for entry into the country.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 676

I'd be a little careful in quoting the (unattributed) paragraph from David's article, which you cite above (para 1).  

"The TGA currently recognises AztraZenica (sic) Pzifer (sic) and Moderna, but China's Sinovac and India's COVID Shield are also expected to be given the nod, along with Novavax and the US single-shot from Johnson and Johnson."

There are some points here which lead me to suspect the veracity of the above, due to the level of supposition.

  • China has produced, approved and successfully used two home-developed vaccines - Sinovac and Sinopharm. It would be odd to preface one over the other. Or not to mention Sinopharm at all. Do we only value half of the Chinese tourism market? 
  • The comment re: approval of the Novavax product is purely presumptive and nothing more. Novavax development is behind schedule and hasn't yet finished clinical trials, let alone securing full or even "emergency use" approval. So right now, it is a total unapproved non-entity. This was the third  Covid vaccine that our Government ordered in late 2020 - and we have millions of doses of it on order. IINM, the first Novavax delivery to Australia was meant to be Sept-Oct 2021. One woud hope that some is keeping an eye on this. 
  • The single-shot J&J / Janssen dose vaccine will undoubtedly be conditionally approved for visiting arrivals and and returning Aussies who may have been vaccinated outside Australia. Whether it be approved for 'local' use / dispensation is anyone's guess. It is identical to the AZ product, with the exception that it is a single shot, rather than a two shot. 
  • There is also no mention of the Russian Sputnik vaccine, which has been distributed to many countries globally including Africa, Central and South America such as Cuba, Brasil, Peru, Venezuela etc.

    So, it would appear that - if true - the TGA is substantially under-prepared for an influx of global travellers into Australia.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Jun 2014

Total posts 210

I have heard they are accepting all WHO emergency approved vaccines which includes AZ. Weather or not you can use AZ to get a 'vaccine passport' for use within the country may be another story, depending on state that may not matter too much though.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Jun 2013

Total posts 17

Fantastic news! However, I still hold reservations about ability to travel with the decisions being left to the individual states to manage. Will put a lot of pressure on those Premiers now to clearly outline rules

29 Sep 2021

Total posts 24

can states stop any international travel ? Not sure they can. They might say they can, doesn't mean it's true.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

15 Nov 2018

Total posts 2

I don't really know for certain but they can certainly put you in to quarantine. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Sep 2018

Total posts 155

Can't stop you from leaving, just force you to pay for quarantine instead!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Oct 2012

Total posts 25

This is exciting news.  I cant believe it's close to starting up again...  what will be interesting is to see how Qantas treats its loyalty program.  I think there will be quite a few people who wont meet the requirements for platinum or gold given that business folk that use to travel regularly wont as much with changed working habits and remote conferencing... 

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 999

Qantas have extended the rollovers of status a number of times and depending on your expiry date you may find you have at least another year of status remaining even if you have not travelled at all.  Obviously, 2022 will have to be the last year such rollovers will exist as it seems there should be opportunity to travel both domestically and internationally next year.

There are numerous reports that Qantas has ratcheted up the points required for rewards travel in 2022 particularly on overseas routes.  I can't imagine that will go down well with many members who thought they had enough for a once-in-a-lifetime F trip to Europe only to find they haven't even got enough for a one-way ticket anymore.

13 May 2015

Total posts 24

What are these reports, or maybe they’re just scaremongering?

Etihad - Etihad Guest

05 Apr 2019

Total posts 3

Where and when can we get some idea of the practical rules likely to apply..

* Can a returned traveler quarantine in a home where there are other family members who have not traveled?

* If so do all the residents have to quarantine?

* Can you choose to quarantine at your holiday home to avoid the other occupants having to quarantine?

* If you are going to home quarantine in a regional area how do you get there? If you can arrange for your car to be delivered to the airport can you then drive yourself?

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2545

All valid questions, and ones we'll have to wait for the relevant government authorities to answer in the coming weeks.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2545

Hi GB – I'd expect all this to be addressed in the coming weeks by the relevant government health authorities.

Time to find the passport but am sure WA will be next year before allowed to ‘home quarantine’

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Mar 2016

Total posts 47

Does this mean the government will be removing countries from the "DO NOT TRAVEL" list so that those of us that do travel will be covered by travel insurance. I have had conflicting information from travel agents after checking with insurance companies and the companies themselves some saying they will cover other claims in the DO NOT TRAVEL countries like luggage, medical except COVID and car rental excess and others saying if you are in a DO NOT TRAVEL country there is no cover for any event.

I have been lucky enough to secure seats to Europe in April from Brisbane to London on Cathay and returning in August from Paris to New York on BA and then to Tokyo and Sydney on JAL through Qantas classic rewards in business and don't want to travel with the benefit of travel insurance which is something the government recommends.

Read on ABC News today that "Do not travel" will still apply to countries deemed too risky from a Covid perspective by the Chief Health Officer.

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

18 Apr 2017

Total posts 2

So we can travel interstate from a yet to reach 80% state to one than has (assuming one tested ok) & fly internationally ?

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 214

That remains to be seen, but there would not be a lot of examples, with QLD and WA and TAS keeping their borders closed for now anyway. The ACT is well ahead of even NSW on vaccination, so maybe the only example that fits your question would be South Australia, and if you could fly ADL-SYD-LHR for example would be up to the SA government. If they have border entry paperwork where you have to list where you've spent the past 14 days and you write down 'London' you'd be in for two weeks of hotel quarantine. But if you are talking about just a one-way trip, or going overseas for an extended period so that you return after SA has reached 80% or even sometime in the new year when there might be no quarantine or 'test and release', maybe that might be possible.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Jun 2014

Total posts 210

Yes. The issue would then be returning to your home state and what exactly the quarantine situation would be on return to a state you don't live in as obviously you can't home quarantine.

25 Jun 2018

Total posts 13

Having learned to be cautious, I’m delaying major travel for 12 months.  You never know what may happen in the meanwhile.  Strain Delta now, epsilon next???

"However, both measures will be up to individual states to implement once they reach an 80% vaccination threshold."


Does it mean a fully vaccinated person from say Darwin or Cairns can travel overseas and upon return can do home quarantine (AirBnb perhaps) in NSW or VIC as they seem to be the only states who would allow it as of now?

15 Sep 2021

Total posts 5

I am so doing my Happy Dance at the moment!

Exactly the news we have all been waiting for.

25 Oct 2010

Total posts 23

Another Scomo announcement with no details and the devil being in the detail.

What does "home quarantine" mean?  How do expats with no home  in Australia do home quarantine in Australia?  Can we do it in a vacation rental? In someone else's home? How

And how does home quarantine work when you dont have the facilities of a hotel?  How do meals work? Who can deliver them? Can you interact with delivery people? Will you be tested? How often, and by whom?  

How do you get from the airport?  Is it government transport or private?

There are a thousand more questions that need answering. It is so frustrating to have to rely on a government that rules by press release and announcement and not detail. 

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2545

Hey Tim! Yes, those are just some of the details we're all waiting on, and I'm sure they are being beavered away on right now and we'll know all in the weeks to come.

Agreed they need to follow up with more detail... but I'm confident it won't be government transport from the airport to your home quarantine (they don't have the vehicles or manpower to do this). I guess it will be up to the states whether to require testing. Hopefully they will specify the date soon so airlines can start ramping up.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 487

Those are some good questions but expect that in the first stage - only Australian citizens, permanent residents, those on work visas moving to Australia and international students will be coming in. Business travellers and tourists will wait until there's no quarantine at all, which won't be until sometime in the first or second quarter of 2022 at the earliest.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Aug 2014

Total posts 39

Will be interesting to hear the state premiers reaction.  Until they agree it is just another announcement.

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 214

NSW has already said it would allow international travel once it gets past 80% full vaccination.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

18 Aug 2020

Total posts 34

NSW is on board.

That’s 8 million happy people right there.

08 May 2020

Total posts 69

Living in Melbourne we may be able to travel to London before we can go down to Frankston Beach due to the Melbourne Lockdown

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Jun 2017

Total posts 1

There are two pieces of information that are quite unclear to me atm. 

Are there any countries that will remain "no go" for COVID reasons?

We are planning a trip at Christmas but while I am a citizen, my partner is here on a visa. Will they be allowed to return to Australia? (assuming they are double-vaxed, of course). Currently the websites (homeaffairs, etc) all state they can leave but can't come back.

The announcement is so welcomed and I understand the changeable nature of the situation, but we don't want to make a mistake and be stranded somewhere off-shore!

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 487

I wouldn't be planning a trip for Christmas. Too much uncertainty. I'd wait until Easter 2022.

08 May 2020

Total posts 32

This raises a lot more questions for me tbh.

So at 80% the door swings open for specific states.

Assuming only NSW reaches 80%...  

If you had a flight from Townsville via SYD to LA, would they let you on at Townsville?
Would you have to travel to Sydney on a separate flight, stay overnight in a hotel and then travel on the next day?

If some states keep more restrictive border controls at 80% then presumably you can leave but coming back is an absolute nightmare?  Probably arriving back via NSW would be no better coz you'd have to prove you hadn't been abroad in the last 14 days etc when you reach QLD/WA?

Etihad - Etihad Guest

15 Mar 2019

Total posts 6

What about the business travellers and tourists? There is no information about them

29 Sep 2021

Total posts 24

there will be no quarantine at all for vaccinated & kids under certain age.

GoRobin Banned
GoRobin Banned

07 May 2020

Total posts 151

I just flew from Sydney to Frankfurt via Singapore. I had to have a negative PCR test to get on the Singapore Airlines flight in Sydney. Singapore has a big problem right now with exploding covid cases and therefore requires such a PCR test. A medication card was not required, nor is it required to get into Germany. Thats just the fact whatever anyone wants to tell you.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

12 Apr 2017

Total posts 186

Counting cases is pointless. Singapore reports that 93% of cases right now are showing zero symptoms, not ill in any way. This is vaccination working as it should. The citizens can catch it but only a tiny few get ill. Also reported that only people with symptoms will be tested soon as it’s a waste of time and resources to test and then report these meaningless numbers. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Jan 2015

Total posts 7

Is there any clarification on what countries will be on the "allowed" list to travel to and from? 

And if so, is there any indication if Home Quarantine would apply for returning travellers from ALL countries or is there likely to be a similar where (1) some countries will be  part of a bubble, (2) others will fall into a "home quarantine" category and (3) others will be allowed but require home quarantine?

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2545

Hi Stich – while we believe there will be a set of countries which will remain on the govt's "do not travel" list, we've seen no additional info from the government on the make-up of any allowed / not-allowed list.

As to home quarantine, it's understood the government will continue to work on establishing travel bubbles with selected countries and once in place, those counties will be exempt from any quarantine requirement.

GoRobin Banned
GoRobin Banned

07 May 2020

Total posts 151

Richard W....I agree that testing asymptomatic people and counting infections is a pointless exercise. But many governments still love to do this, and run their policies accordingly. I hope one day countries will follow the examples of Norway, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands, ie. no more covid restrictions, mask wearing, qr registrations and health card requirements. These countries are showing the way forward.


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