Coronavirus (COVID-19) – information for Australian travellers
10 July 2020: The National Cabinet agreed today on a consistent national approach to manage the flow of international passengers into Australian airports. The number of incoming passengers will be restricted to ease pressure on state and territory quarantine facilities. If you’re overseas and wish to return home, we encourage you to plan your travel but be prepared for possible delays.
This page covers the following topics:
- What is COVID-19?
- Departing Australia
- Coming home
- Staying overseas
- Cruise travel
- Travelling to Australia by yacht or small craft
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)
If you do secure an exemption and plan to depart Australia, be aware that flights may be difficult to find. Read our travel advice for your planned destination before booking, as many countries have closed their borders to foreign citizens or have changing entry requirements. To stay up-to-date on any changes, subscribe to receive alerts on news and travel advice for your destination.
Remember that even if you get an exemption, you’ll still have to comply with entry restrictions when you come back to Australia, including 14 days of mandatory quarantine.
Coming home from overseas
Given the continuing risks from COVID-19 in many countries, if you’re overseas and wish to come home, we continue to encourage you to plan your travel. But be prepared for delays and disruptions to your plans. There are fewer international flights available due to travel restrictions and closed key transit hubs. Travel regulations and restrictions are changing often and at short notice. On 10 July, the Prime Minister acknowledged it would become more difficult to come home with reduced airport capacity.
There will be caps on the numbers of passengers coming into Australian airports from overseas.
- These measures will be temporary and will be reviewed.
- The Government will seek to provide airlines with at least 48 hours’ notice to minimise disruptions.
- It’s up to the airlines, not the Government, to decide who it sells tickets to.
- This could affect your flight into Australia.
- If you’re scheduled to fly home to Australia in the coming days and weeks, confirm your itinerary and onward travel plans with your airline or travel agent.
We know this will be stressful for some Australians who have been wanting to come home for some time. We encourage you to:
- be patient
- ensure you have a safe place to stay
- follow the advice of local authorities and
- minimise your risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Our network of embassies and consular posts will provide you with up-to-date advice on local conditions and, where possible, on available flights to Australia
If you require urgent consular assistance you can contact the nearest embassy or high commission or call the Consular Emergency Centre in Australia on +61 2 6261 3305.
When you arrive back in Australia, you must undertake a mandatory 14-day quarantine at designated facilities in your port of arrival. 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. This quarantine period is necessary to protect Australians from COVID-19 and to save lives.
You may have to be tested for COVID-19 at different times during your quarantine period. If you don’t agree to be tested, you may have to quarantine for longer.
You may also have to contribute to the cost of quarantine. We expect more states and territories will introduce charges. These requirements are managed and enforced by state and territory governments with Australian Government support. See the list below for relevant links.
State border controls and interstate travel
Smartraveller doesn't provide advice about interstate travel. For state and territory specific border control information, see:
- ACT: COVID-19 Travellers page
- NSW: COVID-19 Travel and transport advice
- NT: Border controls
- QLD: Self-quarantine
- SA: Travel restrictions
- TAS: Coming to Tasmania
- VIC: Information for overseas travellers - coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
- WA: COVID-19 coronavirus: Travel advice
For detailed information on returning to Australia, visit the Department of Home Affairs.
- COVID-19 and the border (Department of Home Affairs)
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for travellers (Department of Health)
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 news and the travel advice for your location
- follow your local Australian embassy or high commission on social media
- where the local Australian embassy or high commission has called for it, register your details with them so they can provide advice directly to you, including on possible flights
- make arrangements for an extended stay
- 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.
- Read and subscribe to our news and travel advice for your destination.
- 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 travel advice for your location for local information, such as emergency contact details.
Travel to a third country or within other countries
As borders open up and restrictions ease overseas, you may be wondering if the ban on overseas travel applies to you. The border restrictions, including the outwards travel ban, the entry ban and quarantine requirements are about protecting Australia from the further spread of COVID-19. They don’t apply if you’re staying overseas.
However, travel between countries, and even within some countries, is still unpredictable and risky. We urge you to read our travel advice for your destination so you can weigh up the risks and make informed decisions about your travel. Read more on COVID-19 – advice for Australians living, working or studying overseas.
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.
Contact Services Australia to discuss your situation.
- What to do when you can't get home
- COVID-19 – advice for Australians living, working or studying overseas
An overseas travel ban is in place for all Australians, with few exceptions. You won't be able to depart Australia to travel overseas, including on international cruises.
Travelling to Australia by yacht or small craft
If you’re planning to sail your yacht or small craft back to Australia, carefully consider the risks to your personal health and safety and that of your crew members from COVID-19 and related restrictions. Due to border closures and other restrictions, you may not have access to ports and supplies en route. It’s not the responsibility of the Australian government to negotiate access or facilitate your journey.
At this time, we recommend you either moor your boat and stay where you are, or if you wish to come home and flights are available, store your boat and fly back to Australia.