Coronavirus (COVID-19) – information for Australian travellers
This page covers the following topics:
What is COVID-19?
Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause a range of respiratory illnesses. Initial human infections of a new, or ‘novel’ coronavirus were first notified to the World Health Organization (WHO) in late December 2019 after a cluster of pneumonia cases emerged in Hubei Province, China. The disease caused by this novel coronavirus is named COVID-19. On 11 March 2020, the WHO declared the outbreak a pandemic.
COVID-19 information, fact sheets and resources for the public, health professionals and industry are available from the Department of Health.
- Coronavirus (Department of Health)
- Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak (World Health Organization)
What we recommend
We now advise all Australians: do not travel overseas at this time. This is our highest advice level (level 4 of 4).
Regardless of your destination, age or health, our advice is do not travel at this time.
On 24 March 2020, the Prime Minister announced a ban on Australians travelling overseas under the Biosecurity Act 2015. This will help prevent travellers returning to Australia with coronavirus.
There are limited exceptions, for example to allow people to return home if their normal place of residence is overseas. This process is managed by the Department of Home Affairs.
If you do secure an exemption and plan to depart Australia, be aware that flights may be difficult to find. Read the Smartraveller advice for your planned destination before booking, as some countries have completely closed their borders to foreign citizens or have new entry requirements.
Returning from overseas
If you wish to return to Australia, and there are still commercial flights available, take them as soon as possible. While we know it can be frustrating or expensive to travel at the present time, departure options may soon cease altogether. Contact commercial providers to explore your options for early return.
When you arrive back in Australia you’ll be subject to the Australian Government’s mandatory quarantine period of 14 days at your first Australian destination. You’ll be provided with suitable accommodation to stay in during this period. You won’t be able to travel domestically (including to your home) or continue on any domestic flight connections, until the 14 day mandatory quarantine period has been completed.
A number of key transit hubs for Australians returning from Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia are either closed or severely restricted. These include Singapore, Bangkok, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Hong Kong. Regulations can change at short notice. If you have decided to come home to Australia, check your route carefully before booking and again before departing for the airport.
To stay up to date with any changes, subscribe to our travel advisories on Smartraveller, contact your travel agent or airline, and follow any official announcements from your transit airports and governing authorities. Contact the nearest embassy or consulate of the countries you are transiting before you travel if you have any queries about their entry or exit requirements.
If you’re overseas and you either can’t or don’t want to return to Australia, follow the advice of local authorities. Subscribe to the Smartraveller advice for your location, and follow your local Australian embassy or high commission on social media. Make arrangements for an extended stay, and take care to minimise your risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Many countries have strict public health measures in place to curb the spread of COVID-19. In addition to border measures, there may be specific quarantine or self-isolation requirements, local or country-wide lockdowns, curfews, or domestic travel bans. It’s your responsibility to be aware of the local rules and regulations. Restrictions can change at short notice, and breaches can result in serious penalties such as large fines or jail time. Monitor the media, subscribe to our Smartraveller advice for your location and follow the social media accounts of your nearest Australian embassy or high commission for updates.
Minimise your risk of exposure by practising good hygiene, avoiding contact with others, and monitoring your health closely. Follow the health advice of local authorities, including by wearing a mask if that is recommended for your location. If you develop symptoms, follow local processes – usually, this will mean isolating yourself until you receive medical advice, or calling local emergency numbers if your symptoms are severe. Read the Smartraveller advice for your location for local information such as emergency contact details.
Australian Government payments
If you're receiving an Australian Government payment and are overseas and unable to return to Australia due to COVID-19, you may be eligible to request a portability extension so that you continue to receive your payment.
You should contact Services Australia to discuss your situation.
We advise all Australians to not travel overseas at this time, including on international cruises. Disruptions to cruise ship itineraries due to COVID-19 can have significant consequences for travellers.
DFAT is working closely with the cruise line industry, cruise line operators and countries where ships with Australians aboard are located and affected by travel disruptions. Read more on our Coronavirus and international cruises page.