Fri. May 20th, 2022

Overseas travel is on the horizon for Australians as the federal government prepares to reopen the international border next month.

But visiting family members or vacationing in another country is not as simple as booking a plane ticket.

Travelers should navigate the rules of COVID-19 tests and vaccines depending on where they are going and where they have been.

When can I leave Australia?

Australian nationals and permanent residents will be able to leave Australia without exception as early as November with some conditions.

Travelers aged 12 and over must have received two doses of a “recognized vaccine”. These vaccines include:

  • Pfizer (Comirnaty)
  • AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria)
  • Modern (Spikevax)
  • COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen (Johnson & Johnson)

The requirement that travelers be fully vaccinated does not apply to children under 12 years of age.

Those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons are also excluded, but there are few and limited medical reasons why a person cannot get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Unvaccinated travelers must apply to leave Australia below the current limit restrictions.

Temporary visa holders do not need to be vaccinated or apply to leave Australia.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is currently reviewing which COVID-19 vaccines used abroad may be among the “recognized vaccines”.

The TGA has announced that Chinese-made Sinovac and Indian-made Covishield vaccines will be considered “recognized vaccines” when determining whether an incoming international traveler has been suitably vaccinated.

Does the type of vaccine I have had affect where I can travel?

For some countries, yes, the type of COVID-19 vaccine you have had will determine if you can get into countries like Singapore, the UK and Qatar.

But the three countries recognize the COVID-19 vaccines offered in Australia.

What will have a greater impact on where you can travel abroad from Australia are vaccination policies for airlines, limited available routes and nations’ entry requirements.

The airline’s vaccination policy

Qantas and Air New Zealand both require that passengers on international flights be fully vaccinated.

Virgin has not announced a requirement for international travelers to be vaccinated.

A COVID-19 vaccination is also not a requirement for travel with Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Scoot, Thai Airways, Fiji Airways, Cathay Pacific, Air Niugini, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines or Lufthansa.

However, passengers must receive a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 48 or 72 hours of their flight depending on their airline or destination.

Limited available routes

There will not only be fewer direct routes for Australians to travel when the border reopens, but also fewer flights.

Following Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement last week that international travel would resume, Qanta’s CEO Alan Joyce said the airline had already sold out some flights by December.

Here are some of the direct routes open between Australia and overseas destinations:

  • Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington (New Zealand)
  • London, United Kingdom)
  • Los Angeles, San Francisco (USA)
  • Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
  • Doha (Qatar)
  • Singapore
  • Hong Kong
  • Bangkok (Thailand)
  • Tokyo (Japan)
  • Nadi (Fiji)
  • Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea)

There are currently no direct flights to Bali. While Indonesia is reopening the tourist tour for international travelers this month, Australia is not on the list.

Admission requirements

Just because there is a flight to a country does not mean that you are allowed to enter or even be able to board the plane.

Each country has its own rules for incoming travelers based on theirs citizenship or visa, vaccination status from which they traveled and in some cases where they have been visiting for the last few weeks or months.

These rules not only determine if you can enter a country, but if you are, you must be quarantined on arrival.

These entry requirements may change quickly with little or no notice.

What are the rules for the US and UK?

Australians can travel to United States as long as they prove a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than three days before the trip.

You do not need to have had a COVID-19 vaccine to travel to the United States.

Traveling to The United Kingdom who are fully vaccinated (with any of Australia’s recognized vaccines) must take a pre-ordered COVID-19 test on or before day two of arrival.

Unvaccinated travelers to the UK must be quarantined for 10 days and take a COVID-19 test on days two and eight.

Qatar allows tourists to enter without quarantine if they are fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine.

That United Arab Emirates also allows fully vaccinated visitors from “green countries” (including Australia) to enter without quarantine.

New Zealand has put its travel bubble on pause with Australia, meaning travelers must have a dispensation to enter and undergo a 14-day hotel quarantine.

Tourists are not allowed to enter Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Fiji or Papua New Guinea.

When can I return to Australia?

It is expected by the federal government light restrictions for Australians returning home as early as November.

However, Morrison has said that this will depend on the outcome of the home quarantine trials in New South Wales and South Australia.

If the attempts are successful, so will Australian citizens and permanent residents fully vaccinated will be able to quarantine at home for seven days.

Travelers who have not been vaccinated or have received a vaccine that is not approved by the TGA must complete a 14-day hotel quarantine.

Australian nationals and non-vaccinated permanent residents, e.g. People under the age of 12 or those in a medical condition will be treated as vaccinated during their journey.

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