Australia eases border rules for unvaccinated foreigners

Exemptions for unvaccinated tourists will finally be a thing of the past.

By Matt Lennon, July 4 2022
Australia eases border rules for unvaccinated foreigners

International visitors will be able to enter Australia without declaring their Covid-19 vaccination status, with Federal Health Minister Mark Butler confirming the controversial border requirement will officially be scrapped from Wednesday July 6.

While Australian passport holders are currently free to enter regardless of vaccination status, unvaccinated foreign travellers are required to seek an exemption on limited grounds. 

However, that will finally be a thing of the past, with the requirement deemed “no longer necessary” based on the latest advice of Australia’s Chief Medical Officer. 

Just over 1,000 applications were made for unvaccinated foreigners seeking to enter the country in May, with only 158 approved, mostly on compassionate grounds. 

In addition, the need to complete a Digital Passenger Declaration will also be temporarily removed, with Home Affairs Minister Clare O'Neill noting the system – expected to eventually take the place of paper arrival cards – will return in a more user-friendly form.

"I know anyone who has travelled internationally since the borders have opened will find this as one less thing to worry about – especially as more Australians get back to travelling overseas," O'Neill says. 

“While in time it will replace the paper-based incoming passenger card, it needs a lot more work to make it user friendly”. 

Prior to the pandemic, tourism added more than $120 million per day to Australia’s national economy and supported over 650,000 jobs. With fewer hurdles stopping travellers, it’s hoped the tourism industry can return to its former glory. 

All travellers will still be required to comply with any remaining rules of airlines and shipping operators, including the use of face masks on inbound international flights. 

Qantas is the only Australian carrier not enforcing masks on select outbound flights, opting to follow the rules of the intended destination instead. This includes non-stop flights to Rome, the United States, and the United Kingdom, departing from New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Feb 2015

Total posts 351

Common sense is slowly returning.

01 Oct 2021

Total posts 16

This will be good for airlines to increase capacity. I saw a Singapore Air A380 leave storage in Alice Springs to Singapore via Sydney. Seems as though they are re-activating more and more A380s and we could even get more SQ A380s flying to Australia. 

26 Mar 2020

Total posts 52

Qantas Group (Qantas & Jetstar) current vaccination policy onboard their aircraft for International flights is now outdated and probably needs to be revoked (from a commercial point of view)  

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 533

Indeed. The only reason they still have it in place is for virtue signalling purposes.

It should be revoked immediately, except of course for destinations, where vaccination proof is still required. These include Manila (although unvaccinated Filipinos should be allowed on board, as they have the option of a 5-day quarantine) and Jakarta/Bali (which are about to require 3 shots for entry, for foreign nationals). Also, for the time being, Singapore, Hong Kong, the USA/Canada for unvaccinated foreigners. New Caledonia and New Zealand - depends on residency status, but New Zealand is close to revoking the requirement in general. 

Every other destination that Qantas/Jetstar serve, no longer require vaccination proof (or never required it to begin with) including London, Rome, Bangkok/Phuket, Ho Chi Minh City, Japan, Australia, South Africa (Johannesburg).

01 Nov 2017

Total posts 15

The demand is certainly there for more flights, but the airlines and airports seem to be struggling with staffing issues still, not just here but around the world as well. Still a lot of issues at Heathrow (as an example).

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 533

Excellent news all around. After all this time, common sense has returned to Australia. Well done!

Now the final hurdle is to remove ALL masking on inbound flights to Australia and within the country.

That being said, I understand that foreign carriers can still make their own rules, but even supposedly "strict" carriers are no longer enforcing the regulation much anymore, particularly on routes to countries which don't enforce them, even if such carriers enforce them for domestic flights. Examples include for example, Vietnam Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, THAI Airways and Malaysian. These carriers are likely to enforce masks on domestic flights but reports that I've read suggest that on international routes, particularly to Europe and the Middle East, mask wearing rules are widely flouted and cabin staff no longer try to enforce them like they did a few months ago.


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