COVID-19: Frequently asked questions
We’ve gathered some information to answer your commonly asked questions.
If your question is about overseas financial assistance, see our Financial assistance FAQs.
If your question is about registering with DFAT, see our information on registering with DFAT.
I need urgent consular assistance now – who do I contact?
If you’re in a life-threatening situation, contact the local emergency authorities. Find the local emergency numbers under ‘Local contacts’ in the travel advisory for your destination.
If you’re overseas and need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest Australian embassy, high commission or consulate, or call our 24-hour consular emergency call centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305.
See I need urgent help for more information. See also our Consular Services Charter on what we can and can’t help with. Be aware that some Australian embassies, high commissions or consulates overseas are still operating at limited capacity due to COVID-19 restrictions.
How do I book a flight back to Australia?
We strongly encourage you to continue seeking commercial flight options through an airline or travel agent, even if you have registered with DFAT.
DFAT has arranged a number of additional facilitated commercial flights however places on these flights are limited and those that have been identified as the most vulnerable are given priority.
Make sure you’ve considered all your available options and be prepared to put in place alternative arrangements in case your flights are cancelled at short notice, or while en route.
Read and subscribe to Smartraveller travel advice for the latest updates on the country you’re in and any country you seek to transit through. Also check the website of your nearest Australian embassy or high commission and follow them closely on social media.
Is the Australian government organising flights for Australians stuck overseas?
The Government is continuing to help Australians who have been trying to return home by arranging flights with commercial airlines.
If you're trying to return to Australia, you can register your details with DFAT via our registration portal. Registering your details with us doesn't guarantee we can facilitate your return to Australia. However, it does allow us to better understand who’s trying to return home and help us with our planning. The Government is prioritising helping vulnerable Australians who have been trying to get home for a long time.
The number of seats on flights into Australia is restricted by the quarantine capacity made available by states and territories, and the final decision on seating rests with the airline. DFAT will never bump passengers off a booked flight or instruct an airline to replace one passenger with another.
There are still commercial flights from many destinations. We understand you may have to wait longer than you planned to access these flights, and that they may be expensive. Continue to check with your airline or travel provider to discuss your flight options.
If you’ve been unable to return to Australia due to COVID-19 restrictions and are experiencing financial distress, you may be eligible for interest-free loans to help cover the costs of the flight and/or to cover living costs while you wait for a flight to return to Australia. Find out more on the COVID-19: Overseas financial assistance page.
How do I register with DFAT? What does this do?
If you're trying to return to Australia, you can register your details with DFAT via our registration portal.
Registration doesn’t guarantee we can facilitate your return to Australia. However, it does help us better understand who is seeking to return home and how we can be most effective in helping.
For more information about registration, read our page on registering with DFAT.
I’m trying to register but I’m having trouble. What should I do?
If you’re having trouble with the registration portal, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with a detailed description of the issue and any error messages you’re receiving.
How long will passenger caps be in place?
There are temporary caps on how many Australians are permitted to enter Australia. As airlines need to comply with these caps, your ticket may be cancelled or rescheduled. Check with your airline or travel agent if there are any changes to your flight.
If you’re trying to return to Australia, make preparations to remain where you are if you’re unable to secure a flight home while these temporary caps are in place.
If you have further questions about the flight caps, please contact your Australian state or territory government.
What do I do if there are no flights to my Australian city?
If you’re looking for flights to Australia, be prepared there may not be flights to your desired Australian destination.
Contact your airline or travel provider to discuss your flight options. You may need to accept a flight to a different Australian city than you would prefer. You can then make onward domestic transit arrangements to your home once you have completed the mandatory 14-day quarantine period.
Get the latest information on domestic travel restrictions for each state and territory.
What can I do to get financial assistance?
We understand that returning to Australia has become more expensive. If you require emergency financial assistance to fund your return to Australia, in the first instance, contact family, friends, your travel insurer or financial institution.
You may be eligible for interest-free loans to cover living costs while you wait for a flight to return to Australia and/or to help cover the costs of the flight. Find out more on our financial assistance page.
There are other options for financial assistance during this time, including:
- Income support for individuals
- Payments to support households
Information on these can be found on the Department of Treasury website.
Services Australia has established a hotline for people impacted by travel restrictions who may be able to access Centrelink payments. The phone number for people located overseas is +613 6222 3455. See the Services Australia website for more information, including country-specific hotlines.
If you need urgent financial assistance, after you’ve explored all other options, call our 24-hour emergency call centre in Australia on +61 2 6261 3305.
What can DFAT do to support me?
If you wish to return to Australia, first contact your airline or travel provider to discuss your flight options.
If you’re having difficulty finding flights, you can register with DFAT. Registering your details with DFAT doesn't guarantee we can facilitate your return to Australia. However, it does allow us to better understand who’s trying to return home and help us with our planning.
Facilitated commercial flights may be available to those who have registered with DFAT as trying to return, however seating priority on these flights is given to people who have been assessed as vulnerable.
Financial assistance may be available to Australians overseas who have been unable to return home and have exhausted all other avenues of support.
If you need urgent consular assistance, call our 24-hour emergency call centre in Australia on +61 2 6261 3305.
What will happen when I arrive in Australia? Do I need to quarantine?
Australia has strict border measures in place to protect the health of the Australian community.
Before you fly, you must provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR test.
When you arrive in Australia, you must quarantine for 14 days at designated facilities in your port of arrival, unless you have an exemption or you're travelling on a green zone flight. You may have to contribute to the cost of quarantine. You’ll probably have to be tested for COVID-19 at least once during your quarantine period.
Travellers arriving on a green zone flight from New Zealand don't have to quarantine on arrival or provide a COVID-19 PCR test. For information about travelling from New Zealand, visit the New Zealand safe travel zone (Home Affairs) page.
The quarantine requirements are managed and enforced by state and territory governments. DFAT does not administer return traveller quarantine.
For more information on what to do before you travel to Australia and what to expect on arrival, including where to find state and territory COVID information, see our page on re-entry and quarantine measures.
How much do I have to pay for hotel quarantine?
Prices for hotel quarantine are set by the state or territory government. Contact the state or territory government where you will do quarantine for details.
How long will quarantine arrangements be in place?
At this stage, quarantine arrangements will be in place for the foreseeable future. For information on quarantine arrangements in your state or territory, contact your state or territory government.
For information about travelling from New Zealand, visit the New Zealand safe travel zone (Home Affairs) page.
I’ve got a flight booked to Australia. Do I need to let the Government know I’m coming?
It’s not mandatory to let us know you’re returning to Australia. However, you should complete the Australian Travel Declaration at least 72 hours before your return flight departs. For more information on what to expect when you arrive see our page on re-entry and quarantine measures.
The airline you’re flying with may have its own requirements for boarding – make sure you check these before you travel.
When will I be allowed to leave Australia?
Australian citizens and permanent residents cannot travel overseas except in very limited circumstances. This may include dual citizens.
Do not make travel plans unless you have been granted an exemption for travel from the Department of Home Affairs. Prepare for the ban to remain for some time. When making the decision to leave, you should consider that:
- international flights are hard to find and frequently changed or cancelled at short notice;
- DFAT may not be able to help you in the event you can’t find a return flight; and
- most travel insurance policies will not cover COVID-19 related claims and are often not offered for Do Not Travel destinations.
Read more on our page about leaving Australia.
I can’t get a refund from my airline or travel provider
Contact your insurance provider to discuss claims and cancellations. See our page on COVID-19 travel advice level changes for information on previous advice level updates. You may find the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission website helpful.
Does Smartraveller give advice on travelling inside Australia?
Our role is to help Australians travel safely overseas. We aren’t the right people to ask about domestic travel. For information about domestic travel restrictions, go to the Australian Government COVID-19 website for updates.
I’m not an Australian citizen, but when will I be able to travel to Australia?
There’s currently a travel ban in place so only Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family can enter Australia. This travel ban remains in place until further notice.
On 2 October, the Australian Government announced a Safe Travel Zone with New Zealand. Passengers from New Zealand will be able to travel to Australia, quarantine-free, from Friday 16 October, if they haven't been in an area designated as a COVID-19 hotspot in New Zealand in the 14 days before. Check COVID-19 and the border (Home Affairs) for the latest information on entry and exit restrictions.
I have a question about my Australian visa
Smartraveller doesn’t give advice on visas. You can find the information you’re looking for on the Department of Home Affairs website.
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