Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for international travellers

Biosecurity measures and travel restrictions are in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Read about what measures are in place when travelling in or out of Australia.

On 24 February 2021, the Australian Chief Medical Officer advised:

  1. As a result of the recent community transmission of a variant of concern in Auckland, New Zealand, Auckland will be designated a Commonwealth hotspot.
  2. No person who has been in Auckland in the last 14 days will be permitted to board a green flight into Australia.
  3. Auckland airport, for the purposes of travel only, is exempt.
  4. Normal green flight arrangements will continue for travellers who have not been in Auckland in the last 14 days.  
  5. These arrangements commenced at 11.59 pm AEDT Wednesday, 24 February 2021 and operate until 11.59 pm 9 March 2021.

The additional conditions are reviewed every 72 hours. Updates to these conditions will be provided on this webpage.

Note: some jurisdictions have implemented arrangements which differ to those above. All travellers should check the arrangements in both their place of arrival and place of final destination.

Travel into Australia

Australia’s borders are closed. The only people who can travel to Australia are:

  • Australian citizens
  • residents
  • immediate family members
  • travellers who have been in New Zealand for the previous 14 days (excluding Auckland, which has been declared a Commonwealth hotspot). 

Learn more about who can enter Australia from the Department of Home Affairs.

Australian Border Force liaison officers will work with airlines at overseas airports to identify those who should not board flights to Australia.

Since 27 March 2020, no foreign-flagged cruise ships may enter Australian waters (with limited exceptions). The cruise ship ban has been extended to 17 March 2021, but this does not mean the ban will be lifted at that time. The Australian Health Principal Protection Committee reviews the ban regularly.

Non-commercial vessels arriving in Australian territory from an overseas location must be aware of their obligations to keep Australia safe from COVID-19, this includes:

  • leisure boats
  • yachts
  • superyachts
  • non-commercial vessels that have been in contact with an international vessel.

For more information about COVID-19 requirements for non-commercial vessels there is a relevant factsheet on the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment's website.

People arriving in Australia may be quarantined for 14 days and might have to comply with other state and territory travel restrictions.

All people travelling to Australia on flights departing on or after 22 January 2021 (local time at departure point) must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) result at the time of check-in. Travellers must wear a mask while on the flight and while in the airport environment. Further information is provided below and on the Frequently Asked Questions for International Travellers page.

Pre-departure testing

Passengers travelling to Australia must be tested for COVID-19 72 hours or less prior to the scheduled flight departure, and display evidence of a negative test result at the time of check-in. COVID-19 PCR testing is required. Passengers arriving on a green safe travel zone flight are exempt from pre-departure testing requirements. Countries where COVID-19 PCR testing is not reasonably available are also exempt, as determined by the Australian Government.

Members of a travelling party who have been primary close contacts (e.g. household contacts) of a traveller who has a positive COVID-19 test result will also not be allowed to travel to Australia until all members of the party are no longer infectious.

For more information please view our FAQs for international passengers or international airlines operating to Australia

Mask requirements

Passengers and crew on all international flights must wear a face mask during their flight and while in an Australian airport. Passengers are also encouraged to wear masks in overseas airports. Masks are not required for children under 12 years of age and those with an official medical certificate stating the passenger cannot wear a mask.

For more information on mask requirements view our FAQs for international passengers or international airlines operating to Australia

Exemptions to masks and pre-departure testing requirements

Exemptions to the requirements are outlined below. For more information on exemptions, please view our FAQs for international passengers or international airlines operating to Australia.

Exemptions to pre-departure testing:

  • children who are 4 years of age or younger (exemption automatically granted based on age on passport)
  • people with a relevant medical condition (who can provide a medical certificate. See FAQs for more information)
  • international air crew
  • travellers entering Australia on a 'Green Safe Travel Zone' flight (Note: additional conditions apply to Green Safe Travel Zone flights – see above and below).   
  • passengers travelling from countries where no PCR testing available, as determined by the Australian Government
  • exceptional circumstances.

Exemptions to masks:

  • children who are 11 years of age or younger (exemption automatically granted based on age on passport)
  • people with a relevant medical condition (who can provide a medical certificate. See FAQs for more information)
  • exceptional circumstances.

Health screening

Travellers arriving from any country may be health screened when they arrive in Australia.

If you are on an international flight and show signs of an infectious disease:

  • the airline must report you to biosecurity officers
  • biosecurity officers will assess you before you get off the plane
  • when you land you may be quarantined or sent to hospital

If you’ve flown recently, check whether someone on board had COVID-19:

Quarantine for incoming travellers

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, travellers arriving in Australia by air or sea may need to go into government approved mandatory quarantine for 14 days from arrival. Exceptions include travellers who are: 

State and territory governments, with support from the Australian Government, manage quarantine arrangements including:

  • transport for travellers from their arrival point to their quarantine accommodation
  • quarantine arrangements at the accommodation facility

You must quarantine in the city you arrive in for 14 days, even if you plan to travel elsewhere in Australia.

Once you have completed quarantine, you can travel within Australia in line with state and territory domestic travel restrictions. This may include further quarantine requirements.

You may be tested for COVID-19 in the first 48 hours and then between days 10 to 12 of quarantine. If you refuse testing, you may have to quarantine for a longer period. Exact testing arrangements depend on states and territories.

In some states and territories, you may also have to pay a contribution to the cost of quarantine.

To learn more or to ask about someone you know who is quarantined, contact your state or territory government health department.

Preparing for quarantine

Why do I need to prepare?

Quarantine involves staying in a room for 14 days with no visitors. It is an unfamiliar experience for most people. You might find it challenging, so it’s important to have a plan. Use the two-part guide described below to help prepare for your quarantine stay.

Before you depart 

Get across the latest advice and what you can expect – then prepare and pack for quarantine. 

Part one of our guide provides a general overview of the quarantine experience. It also has a checklist of ideas of what to bring and what to do before you depart. 

When you’re in quarantine – plan your time

Setting up a routine or a schedule will help make quarantine more manageable.

Part two of our guide provides tips and advice that will help you get through quarantine. 

These materials provide general advice and guidance. You should use it together with location-specific information from state and territory governments and further information provided to you once in quarantine.

Travel zones

Travellers arriving in Australia will arrive either via a red or green travel zone. Passengers arriving from a high-risk country for COVID-19 will be considered as arriving from a red zone. Passengers arriving from a low-risk country or area will be considered as arriving from a green zone.

Green travel zone

As of 16 October 2020, only people who have been in New Zealand (excluding Auckland – see details below) for 14 days prior to travel will be considered to be from a green zone.

This means travellers coming from New Zealand (excluding Auckland) do not need to complete a 14 day mandatory quarantine if:

  • they travelled on a green zone flight, and
  • have been in New Zealand (excluding Auckland) for 14 days prior to travel.

On 24 February 2021, the Australian Chief Medical Officer advised:

  1. As a result of the recent community transmission of a variant of concern in Auckland, New Zealand, Auckland will be designated a Commonwealth hotspot.
  2. No person who has been in Auckland in the last 14 days will be permitted to board a green flight into Australia.
  3. Auckland airport, for the purposes of travel only, is exempt.
  4. Normal green flight arrangements will continue for travellers who have not been in Auckland in the last 14 days.  
  5. These arrangements commenced at 11.59 pm AEDT Wednesday, 24 February 2021 and operate until 11.59 pm 9 March 2021.

The additional conditions listed above were reviewed on 1 March 2021 and remain in place.

Note: some jurisdictions have implemented arrangements which differ to those above. All travellers should check the arrangements in both their place of arrival and place of final destination.

Passengers arriving in Australia should check local requirements prior to any domestic travel. Certain states and territories may still require travellers from a green zone to quarantine on arrival.

Passengers should check with their airline before purchasing tickets to find out if their flight will be considered a green zone flight.

Travellers will have to complete the Australian Travel Declaration which includes stating that they have been in New Zealand (excluding Auckland) for the past 14 days. They must not have any signs or symptoms of COVID-19, or have been in contact with a confirmed case. They must also provide contact details while in Australia to help with contact tracing if required.

Travellers in the green zone may have to go through additional health screening. This will be either before boarding their flight in New Zealand or on arrival in Australia.

Travellers in the green safe travel zone will not be in contact with passengers from any other countries when transiting through the airport.

Find out what the current situation and case numbers are in New Zealand.

Recommended quarantine exemptions for some industry workers

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) recognises some industry workers should be exempt from quarantine requirements as long as they take steps to mitigate risk.

The AHPPC recommends the following groups be exempt from 14-day mandatory quarantine requirements when entering Australia.

These are national recommendations. However, because mandatory quarantine is managed by state and territory governments, other requirements may apply depending on the state or territory you arrive in, including requirements for COVID-19 testing.

Red zone flight crew

Airline, medevac and air ambulance crew are exempt from the mandatory 14-day quarantine requirements. This includes off-shift crew who are travelling as passengers on an aircraft to reposition at another location.

Crew flying on international flights are required to undergo a COVID-19 test every 7 days in Australia, or be tested on arrival in Australia, as directed by jurisdictions.

  • Airline crew who have been on international flights must quarantine in their crew accommodation, designated quarantine facility, or home for 14 days after arrival, or until their next international flight. Whichever is shorter. Where air crew are required to quarantine is at the discretion of the relevant jurisdiction.
  • Essential flight-related duties from a regulatory or safety perspective may be undertaken during this time. This may include flight simulation training, safety and security training.
  • Medevac and air ambulance crew may request an exemption from home quarantine requirements to return to duties beyond the essential flight-related duties already exempt.

Green zone flight crew

Note: Auckland has been declared a Commonwealth hotspot, however there are no changes to air crew requirements.

Airline crew are not permitted to operate green zone flights unless they have only been in Australia and/or New Zealand for the previous 14 days.

Green zone airline, medevac and air ambulance crew are exempt from all quarantine requirements (including self-quarantine in crew accommodation or home) if they have only been in Australia and New Zealand for the preceding 14 days while operating green zone flights to Australia.

Airline crew operating green zone flights may be subject to health screening on arrival in Australia. This is at the discretion of the state or territory health department.

Flight crew are exempt from mandatory quarantine because of the:

  • industry infection prevention requirements
  • training the industry provide to their staff, and
  • vital role of these industries in Australia.

Flight crew must not board an aircraft or travel domestically if you feel unwell. Seek medical help immediately.

Domestic flight crew

Domestic flight crew must follow the quarantine requirements of the relevant state or territory.

Maritime crew (excluding cruise ships and non-commercial vessels)

States and territories may choose to implement a variety of requirements for maritime crew. This could include:

  • mandatory quarantine in designated accommodation at the point of arrival in Australia
  • self-quarantine at their accommodation or on the vessel.

Industry should ensure they are aware of individual state and territory requirements for maritime crew before arrival.

If necessary, you can seek an exemption from state and territory requirements from the relevant state or territory.

Learn more about national quarantine requirements for maritime crew from our marine industry fact sheet.

Cruise ship crew and non-commercial vessels

Cruise ship crew and travellers on non-commercial vessels are not exempt from quarantine requirements.

Recommended quarantine exemptions for some other travellers

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) recognises some other travellers should be exempt from quarantine requirements. This is as long as they take steps to mitigate risk.

These are national recommendations. However, because mandatory quarantine is managed by state and territory governments, other requirements may apply depending on the state or territory you arrive in.

These travellers must apply for a quarantine exemption in line with state and territory requirements.

Transit passengers

International transit passengers arriving into Australia can leave on another international flight that leaves from the city you arrived in. You must:

  • stay at the airport if you must wait for your next flight for up to 8 hours
  • go to mandatory quarantine at a state designated facility if the wait for your next flight is from 8 to 72 hours

Transit passengers cannot travel within Australia, even to meet a departing international flight in another city.

Unaccompanied minors

Unaccompanied minors may be allowed to travel within Australia after arrival to quarantine with a parent or guardian, unless otherwise specified by the relevant state or territory.  For further information, please contact your state or territory government health department.

Official government travel

Government officials, and/or their dependents, who are returning from official government travel need to quarantine for 14 days on return to Australia. They may quarantine at their home, usual place of residence, or private accommodation.

Government officials must travel on an Australian Government issued Official or Diplomat passport when completing Official Travel.

Strict conditions apply on this exemption class. Government officials are not allowed to take a domestic connecting flight within 14 days of arrival in Australia. Government officials must comply with all state or territory public health requirements.

For further information, contact your Australian Government agency employer.

Foreign diplomats

Foreign diplomats need to quarantine for 14 days on return to Australia. They can quarantine at their mission or usual place of residence.

Australia has legal obligations under the Vienna Convention to ensure diplomats’ freedom of movement and travel, and protection from detention.

Compassionate or medical grounds

Submit applications for a quarantine exemption on medical or compassionate grounds to the relevant state or territory. They will consider requests on a case by case basis.

Apply for a quarantine exemption

You won’t be permitted to travel domestically (including to your home) or continue on any domestic connections until you have completed the 14-day mandatory quarantine period.

If you would like to apply for an exemption based on compassionate or medical grounds, you must apply to the state or territory you will arrive in well before you travel in Australia.

If you are applying for an exemption and are required to travel through more than one state or territory within the 14 day mandatory quarantine period, you must apply for a quarantine exemption from each one you are required to travel through.

If you are granted a mandatory quarantine exemption, you might still have to self-quarantine at home or in other accommodation..

Find out how to apply for an exemption from the state or territory quarantine authority:

Travel out of Australia

There is a ban on all overseas travel, unless granted an exemption.

Our 3-step plan guides us towards a COVIDSafe Australia. Under Step 3, we will consider the possibility of travel to New Zealand.

Stay informed

Whether you’re travelling in Australia or overseas, make sure you know the facts about COVID-19.

Keep informed through our COVID-19 news and media.

Frequently asked questions

For more information on mask requirements view our FAQs for international travellers or international airlines operating to Australia

Smartraveller

Visit the Smartraveller website regularly to check for international developments and subscribe to updates.

Consular assistance

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Last updated: 
6 March 2021

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