Aussies have been restricted from leaving and coming in for 590 days, since March 20, 2020.
Some nations have mandatory quarantine periods, others require negative COVID-19 tests — which could add up to hundreds of dollars for a family — and of course having both jabs is a must.
NSW, Victoria and the ACT have removed quarantine for all, although getting into other states remains difficult, so their residents will remain largely stuck in Australia.
The end of the ban also means some Aussies who have been trying to get home for months — 46,800 are currently registered with authorities as trying to return — can finally fly into Sydney and Melbourne without the need to do mandatory hotel quarantine.
The first quarantine-free flight which landed in Sydney was a Singapore Airlines plane, which arrived a few minutes before QF12, a Qantas flight from Los Angeles.
What are the rules on travel?
It means fully vaccinated Aussies and permanent residents from any part of the country are now free to leave, with the rule beginning on November 1.
Previously, everyone needed an exemption if they wanted to leave, which could be hard to obtain and was only issued for compassionate reasons and later for travel over three months.
Returning was hard due to the flight caps imposed to limit numbers in hotel quarantine. For many states, and for unvaccinated Aussies, restrictions remain.
“Children under 12 and those who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons will also be able to travel overseas without an exemption.”
Each destination country has different rules in place for testing and quarantine, while each state and territory in Australia has different rules on returning.
For now, travel is only easy from NSW, Victoria and the ACT.
Do I need a COVID-19 test before flying out of Australia?
It depends on the country you are traveling to.
Special COVID-19 PCR tests for travel — costing around $150 each — are needed for many places.
These must be done at private clinics, rather than the free testing sites, so you can get a certificate with your details, rather than a text message.
Some airlines do have guides.
If you’ve had COVID recently, you’ll need a medical certificate from a doctor.
What about getting tested on arrival?
Some nations need more tests on arrival.
They must do a rapid test after 48 hours.
New Zealand also requires a negative test before flying in, as does Thailand.
Check the official government website of the place you are heading for the latest details, or ask your travel agent.
Do I need an exemption to leave Australia?
Not anymore, if you are a citizen or permanent resident and you are fully vaccinated.
You’ll need to provide evidence of your vaccination status when you check in at the airport.
People living in Australia on temporary visas, who have always been allowed to leave without permission, will still require permission to return so cannot yet travel freely.
What are Australia’s approved vaccines?
Australia says children over 12 need to be vaccinated.
Mixed jabs given overseas are also now recognized by the Australian government.
You can go anywhere. Unlike some nations, Australia is not classifying countries.
Do I need an international travel vaccine passport?
Do I have to quarantine outside of Australia?
It depends where you’re travelling.
For example, Fiji visitors must book an approved hotel for three days, and return a negative test after 48 hours.
Bali, which is not yet allowing Aussies but soon might, is sending tourists to a quarantine hotel for five days.
The UK has not quarantined for vaccinated arrivals.
The USA, which has never banned Aussies from traveling there unlike most other nations, has announced new travel rules.
There won’t be quarantine, but people will need to provide vaccination as the nation reopens to the world on November 8.
Thailand is now allowing vaccinated travelers from Australia, but there are many rules.
Other places with no quarantine include Italy, Greece, Germany, South Africa and Canada, but travelers should check government sites for the latest requirements.
Do I need a COVID-19 test before traveling back to Australia?
And it is. You won’t be allowed on the plane home without a negative test from a lab which does PCR tests for travel.
It has to be done fewer than three days before your flight.
And you’ll have to pay for it, from around $150 in the UK to over $200 in Fiji.
It must state your full name, date of birth or passport number, plus the result, testing method and date and time it was collected. It must also be in English or be a certified, translated copy.
Of course, travel insurance is a must, in case you do test positive, or become sick with COVID-19 or anything else.
You will also need to get a COVID-19 test when you arrive back in Australia.
Do I need to quarantine after arriving in Australia?
Not if you’re vaccinated with a TGA-approved vaccine and landing in NSW, Victoria and the ACT.
You are considered fully vaccinated if you have had the second jab a week before travelling.
This means travel into those states and territories will remain hard for months to come.
Do I need to be vaccinated?
To return to Australia without quarantine for those states which allow it, you must be vaccinated.
Quarantine rules for returning travelers remain up to individual states, with only NSW, Victoria and the ACT not requiring any quarantine for vaccinated people from Monday.
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews has flagged easing restrictions on other visitors soon.
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“Before the end of the year, we anticipate welcoming fully vaccinated skilled workers and international students,” she said this week.