QLD launches mandatory border pass for all domestic, overseas arrivals

From 1am on June 19, all QLD arrivals will need to complete one of three border passes: and the requirements are a real minefield.

By Chris Chamberlin, June 17 2021
QLD launches mandatory border pass for all domestic, overseas arrivals

Queensland is introducing new requirements for interstate and international travellers from this weekend, with everybody who enters QLD – including returning residents – required to complete one of three declarations ahead of their arrival.

The new protocols, as take effect from 1am on Saturday June 19, have hints of a ‘traffic light’ system, but with significantly more complexity.

Green and amber passes will be granted to most interstate and New Zealand arrivals, with red passes used for those arriving from a COVID-19 hotspot, and a separate system handling broader international travellers.

While the Queensland arrangements lack the simplicity of Victoria’s single green/orange/red border pass requirements, here’s who needs to apply for each pass:

  • Queensland Border Declaration Pass – must be completed by anybody who has visited a current COVID-19 hotspot, as well as anybody who has travelled to a state, territory or ‘safe travel zone’ country in which a current hotspot is declared, even if they haven’t been to the hotspot, or only transited through the hotspot.
  • Queensland Travel Declaration – must be completed by everybody else travelling to Queensland from across Australia and New Zealand. Can be issued as an ‘amber’ pass after visiting an interstate COVID-19 exposure site, or as a ‘green’ pass.
  • Queensland International Arrivals Registration – exclusively for those arriving into Queensland from a country outside the ‘safe travel zone’ (currently, anywhere other than New Zealand). This system, as already in place, is in addition to federal Home Affairs/Border Force declarations.

The pass you hold, as well as the details contained within, will dictate the requirements when you enter Queensland, as follows.

  • Queensland Border Declaration Pass – you’ll either be required to enter hotel quarantine in Queensland (having recently spent time in a COVID-19 hotspot), or will enjoy free movement in Queensland with no requirement to quarantine, if you haven’t spent time in a hotspot.
  • Queensland Travel Declaration – those with an ‘amber’ pass will either need to enter hotel quarantine or quarantine at home (or other suitable accommodation), having visited an interstate exposure site, while those with a ‘green’ pass can enter freely.
  • Queensland International Arrivals Registration – all people completing this pass are arriving from countries outside the ‘safe travel zone’, for which hotel quarantine is mandatory.

As above, the passes granting quarantine-free arrival include the Queensland Border Declaration Pass when completed by those who haven’t entered a hotspot, and the ‘green’ Queensland Travel Declaration for everybody else who similarly haven’t been to a hotspot.

Queensland's complex travel restrictions

Separate to broadly defined “hotspots”, Queensland also maintains a list of “interstate exposure venues” for which travel restrictions and quarantine can apply.

Their recent introduction alongside those broader “hotspots” came as a welcome alternative to Queensland closing its border to entire local government areas – or even to whole jurisdictions – where COVID-19 transmission numbers were relatively low and contained.

Under these latest changes, travellers who enter Queensland after visiting a listed “interstate exposure venue” will receive an amber Travel Declaration, signalling a need to quarantine upon arrival.

But whether that quarantine must take place in a government-managed facility, or can take place at home (or at accommodation chosen by the traveller) also hinges on whether Queensland declares an “identified date” for a particular interstate cluster.

Even more confusingly for travellers, Queensland's “identified date” can be either before or after the date of exposure at any given site.

Arrive in Queensland after that “identified date” – having visited an exposure site – and it’s 14 days of government-arranged hotel quarantine for you, at your own expense.

Arrive before the “identified date”, or where such a date hasn’t been declared, and private quarantine (at home, or your own choice of hotel) is permitted.

You can check for the latest interstate exposure venues, as well as any identified dates, on the QLD Health website.

Hotel quarantine, or home quarantine?

Here’s an example: QLD currently lists a number of “interstate exposure venues” in Sydney (along with relevant dates and times of exposure), and has now declared a separate “identified date” for the cluster, which is what triggers hotel quarantine requirements.

Those coming from Sydney who have visited an interstate exposure venue at a date and time listed would be granted an amber pass.

With the "identified date" being 1am on Friday June 18, anybody arriving before that date (and time) has the ability to quarantine at home or a hotel of their choice under their amber pass.

The same is true at times when no “identified date” is declared.

But if that same traveller entered QLD after the “identified date”, having visited an “interstate exposure venue”, quarantine is only then possible in a government-arranged facility (with the same amber pass), and must be for 14 days from arrival in QLD, not 14 days since visiting the venue.

Again, a list of current “interstate exposure venues”, as well as any relevant “identified dates”, can be found on the QLD Health website.

Checklist for travel to Queensland

Confused about which pass you need, and whether you’ll have to quarantine upon arrival?

Follow our handy checklist from the top down (accurate as at June 17 2021, but subject to change):

  • Been in Victoria? Apply for a QLD Border Declaration Pass.
    • Been to Greater Melbourne in the last 14 days (except to transit)? Hotel quarantine in QLD, if allowed to travel.
    • Haven’t spent time in Greater Melbourne, or only transited? You’re clear to enter QLD, quarantine-free.
  • Been to an interstate exposure venue? Apply for an amber QLD Travel Declaration.
    • Arriving in QLD before the “identified date”, or where no “identified date” is declared? Quarantine at home or a hotel of your choice, until 14 days have passed since visiting exposure site.
    • Arriving in QLD after an “identified date”? It’s 14 days of hotel quarantine for you.
  • Haven’t been to an interstate exposure venue, or to Victoria?

Those requiring a Queensland Travel Declaration (green or amber) should apply online within three days of arriving into Queensland, while those needing a Queensland Border Declaration Pass must apply online at least three days before their Queensland arrival.

Queensland's latest travel restrictions

Although Queensland no longer considers the entire state of Victoria to be a COVID-19 “hotspot”, the Greater Melbourne area remains a hotspot, for now.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk today confirmed that QLD “will maintain restrictions on travel from Greater Melbourne for another seven days,” requiring hotel quarantine for all those arriving who’ve been in Greater Melbourne in the 14 days prior to their QLD arrival.

Quarantine is not required for those who merely transit Greater Melbourne on their way to Queensland – such as for a Mildura resident flying from Mildura to Brisbane via Melbourne, when they don’t leave the confines of Melbourne Airport.

Palaszczuk also added, “we strongly advise those planning travel to Greater Sydney to reconsider,” in light of a small number of recent exposure sites.

However, under Queensland’s current travel settings, those arriving from Greater Sydney – who have not visited an “interstate exposure venue”, or Victoria, would be granted a green Queensland Travel Declaration: for which quarantine and isolation is not required.

Queensland has also now listed an “identified date” of 1am Friday June 18 for the recent exposure sites in Sydney.

This signals that home quarantine remains available before that date and time for those having visited an exposure site, with hotel quarantine mandatory from 1am on June 18, for those entering QLD after visiting an interstate exposure site.

Domestic border passes now commonplace

QLD’s decision to implement travel pass requirements for all cross-border arrivals brings the state into line with Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory.

Like Norfolk Island and the Indian Ocean Territories too, these jurisdictions all now require an online pass be granted prior to travel.

Only New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory don’t mandate a standard pass for all travellers, instead requiring only those arriving from locations of interest to complete a declaration.

Also read: Gov't to trial overseas travel for vaccinated Australians

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 May 2011

Total posts 363

This is the most complex and confusing thing I’ve ever read

A simple green/amber/red framework (like Victoria has) would certainly be more straightforward, as opposed to Queensland's three distinct border pass systems, with two different quarantine outcomes within two of those three passes. How a typical tourist (or business traveller) is supposed to get their head around all of this is beyond me!

22 Jul 2020

Total posts 3

Queensland, you're good to go*

* Maybe.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 May 2019

Total posts 27

Are they serious? I feel sorry for their tourism industry. It is so confusing and will no doubt end up with people inadvertently being locked up for 14 days in quarantine.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Mar 2014

Total posts 192

Even domestic travel is so hard and unenjoyable these days ive almost given up

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 929

Could it be any more confusing?  Whoever thought this up needs to spend more time in the real world.  Meanwhile, we are 8 days from school holidays and, unless something changes, resorts across Queensland and the airlines are about to be hit with a deluge of cancellations.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 May 2018

Total posts 36

I cancelled a weekend trip from Brisbane to Sydney this morning.. plat with Qantas, had a 10 min wait and talking to the guy who cancelled the flights  was informed that they had been flat out with cancellations. Qld tourism is in for a real hit.

29 Oct 2018

Total posts 2

I'm sure this will cause mass confusion and delays exiting the terminal when flights land into Qld and half the passengers haven't completed a permit (or the correct one). 

But as someone who has flown between Syd and OOL weekly, I feel this has been coming for a while - police and Qld health officers manning the exits always seem quite frustrated having passengers rather flippantly scan a whiteboard of covid exposure sites and shake their heads when questioned to make a quick getaway.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 377

In theory, a border declaration could be uploaded to the system at the time of check-in and those not holding proof be denied boarding so such problems don't exist upon landing.

While I am strongly against such measures for reasons of privacy and liberty, in Asian countries they're ensuring only those who will meet their requirements can fly, even domestically. Just saying it wouldn't be difficult to prevent such occurrences from happening if state governments and/or the airlines strengthened their mechanisms.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

21 Jul 2019

Total posts 75

As a Queenslander, let me explain the probable rationale for this ill-conceived system to our interstate brethren. It's long been a tradition for state politicians to be 'seen' by voters to be 'doing something'. In Queensland this much more so than elsewhere in Australia, which is really saying something. This used to be an exclusive preoccupation with Qld state politicians; but has been filtering into the Qld public service for the past decade and been accentuated and accelerated by c-19. The result of this 'must be seen to be doing something' attitude is to add layer upon layer of hardly justified or unneccessary bureaucratic processes (and the more wordy the better!) in the cynical belief that Queenslanders will view it as a job well done.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 628

As a Queenslander I had a simply way of fixing the stupid state government, I moved interstate to somewhere that had practical common sense

07 May 2020

Total posts 105

The Perpetual Pandemic in play.

07 May 2020

Total posts 105

The Chook reigns supreme.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 377

Well said!

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 377

How long will this be going on for? Correct me if I'm wrong but during quiet times with no Covid cases declared, isn't it the case that when state borders have opened up, the border pass has not been required? In other words, it's only required when there are cases declared, with checkpoints set-up and thus some scrutiny applies to those crossing the border?

This will be an ongoing requirement in Queensland regardless of community COVID cases in Australia, much like the border pass requirements in VIC, SA, TAS, WA and NT are also ongoing requirements regardless of community cases.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 377

I see. So that means it will be an ongoing requirement until Covid is declared over?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer - Chairmans Lounge

01 Sep 2011

Total posts 398

Why doesn't each state issue its own formal passport? That in essence is what they're doing (apart from sensible Gladys in NSW). We are no longer one nation and its sad. Not one of the leaders (used lightly) should ever again say we are in this together.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer - Chairmans Lounge

01 Sep 2011

Total posts 398

Seriously ... what a joke. I looked to see if it was 1st April. I'm in London at the moment and I have been criticising the ridiculous system here to enter the UK. What those in Queensland are doing is as pathetic, crazy, stupid, frustrating and infuriating. I thought we, at times, had more sense. I guess I was wrong.

04 Jun 2018

Total posts 25

Perhaps this will give credit card concierge staff some additional work. I wonder if they are prepared to answer questions about internal borders in Australia, especially if the agents themselves are based offshore.

26 Mar 2020

Total posts 19

Why don't they just have "passport control" upon entry into each state it would be much more easier.

A domestic passport could be created and two lines created on arrival "Queensland Residents" and all "Interstate Residents".

Queensland Government could set up permanent road check points like they do when you cross from USA into Mexico, airport checks in and make travelers fill out an arrival card. 

Queensland Customs and Immigration officer can inspect each arrival card similar to Border force.

Essentially each state is acting like a sovereign country so why not make it more official 

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 628

STOP suggesting that idea they might do it and have an entry and exist tax.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 377

Travellz, good point, although definitely a dreadful idea. In the USA there are internal border patrol checkpoints located within 100mi (160km) of the Mexican border. These are positioned on nearly all roads leading away from the Mexican border. Foreigners are asked to provide documentary proof of their legal status in the country in the form of a valid passport with visa or a green card. For US citizens, verbal proof based on the honor system is enough.

I understand Mexico also operates similar checkpoints though I'm not sure whether there are only a few of these or whether it's widespread.

07 May 2020

Total posts 105

Travellz....better still, each state should just formally declare that they have seceded. They have done this informally anyway and told Scomo that his federal jurisdiction is redundant, but a formal declaration would at least make it clear to the citizens of each independent state. A Titanic where the captain has already helicopted himself to safety to watch it all unfold on the 7pm news. Oh what a mess!

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 628

I find it interesting there isn’t a question on the Qld border pass “Have you been vaccinated against Covid-19” I thought it would be one of the first questions listed. It’s interesting that no State is taking this into account but they want us to get vaccinated? BTW I have been vaccinated against Covid-19 but I haven’t been vaccinated against coming into contact with idiots.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 377

That would set up a dangerous precedent. Currently One Nation are trying to prevent Covid vaccine passports for domestic travel being introduced. I agree with them and signed the petition against their use. Many American states have banned their use; I hope Australia follows suit. "Papers please" has no place in a free society.

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 361

I am supposed to be going in december.at my wits end of what to do.I have not paid for anything other than airfares and insurance.should I just keep everything as is or seek any kind of alternative.I am happy to look at Perth or Hobart if it comes to that.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 416

Of interest the Queensland government also expects incoming travellers to work out what is interpreted as being a hotspot, for example using a shuttle bus service between an offsite parking site and Melbourne airport.

So a family from regional Victoria found out when they landed in Cairns when they were told they have to go into hotel quarantine for 14 days because QLD police and government considers the shuttle service which is only for customers of the airport parking as being in a hotspot as they considers this the same as using public transport to get to the MEL airport as being in a hot spot at this time.

Just search Traralgon Cairns hotel quarantine 

I don’t pretend I know the exact details of the rule before this new border control measure but it almost feels like someone made up their mind and interpretation In cairns and the authorities rather back up this twisted interpretation of the rules rather than admit they were wrong

In the next few days it will be interesting to see how the authorities handle the story with an international flight attendant testing positive by routine flight crew testing after being released from the 14 days hotel quarantine; one thing for sure if there is anything wrong by the individual however minor or innocent, he/she will be hung out to dry, otherwise it will be federal government fault not to built specialised quarantine facility or a complicated explanation why something like this happened how the quarantine exit testing wasn’t done properly and it should be the federal government job to run the system etc

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 416

As a postscript for last few months various Queenslanders returning from interstate travel had reported being treated poorly almost like criminals or guilty by police officers at the airport and there is no doubt this mandatory border declaration requirement will be policed by (over)zealous officers (which means a queue and random interviews standing up) and be prepared for a delay getting out of the airport in your schedule to meetings 


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