Falling sick while travelling is never ideal but when it’s COVID-19 it can seriously disrupt travel plans.
If you’re thinking of travelling overseas, it’s important you understand the risks of contracting COVID-19 in your destination and what to do if you test positive while travelling. You’ll also need to understand the requirements for returning to Australia.
Arming yourself with the latest travel advice and information is essential. Read our travel advice for your destination so you’re aware of the risk of COVID-19 in that location and standards of medical care, in case you get sick. And subscribe for updates so you’re informed if anything changes.
Before you travel, arrange suitable travel insurance and check what the policy covers for COVID-19. And make sure you have sufficient funds to cover an extended stay if you need to quarantine or isolate.
What happens if I test positive to COVID-19 while I’m travelling
If you or someone in your immediate travelling party tests positive for COVID-19, you should isolate immediately and contact the local health authority for advice on what to do. You should also contact your airline or travel provider to reschedule your travel plans and seek advice from your travel insurer.
For information on managing COVID-19, including what to do in isolation and when to seek medical advice, see Health Direct.
If you need medical care, there’s a list of ‘local emergency contacts’ in our travel advice for your location. There’s also information on seeking medical assistance overseas as well as mental health and wellbeing resources on our website.
Will I have to quarantine?
If you test positive to COVID-19, you may be required to quarantine or self-isolate depending on what country or city you’re in. Many countries have penalties for breaking isolation rules, so it’s important you check with local authorities what the requirements are.
Some countries have government managed quarantine facilities or you’ll need to find suitable accommodation. You’re responsible for covering any costs involved with quarantine, which can be significant.
Be prepared for the possibility you may be in your destination longer than planned.
What can the Australian Government do for me?
If you have serious concerns about your welfare or that of another Australian overseas, the Australian Government can provide assistance in accordance with the Consular Services Charter.
Will I be able to return to Australia?
If you or a primary close contact of your travelling group tests positive, you won't be allowed to travel to Australia until you have recovered.
If you have isolated and recovered but your PCR test results continue to be positive, you may be eligible for an exemption if you have a certificate from a medical practitioner. It’s important to note, the certificate must meet certain requirements outlined on the Department of Health website.
Local authorities, airlines and transit locations may have more rules in place for departures. We recommend you check these before arriving at the airport. If you're transiting during your trip, check the local requirements at each transit destination. Confirm any specific rules for onward travel with your airline.
See our re-entry and quarantine measures for more detail on returning to Australia.
Will I be able to travel to another country?
If you’re planning to travel to another overseas destination you will need to check the entry requirements for that country. Read our travel advice for your destination If you have any queries about entry or exit requirements, check with the relevant embassy or consulate of the destinations you’re transiting and travelling to. You should also confirm rules for departure with your airline, noting these rules may vary between airlines.
I’m a close contact of someone who has tested positive what can I do?
If you’ve been exposed to someone in your travel group who has tested positive to COVID-19, you’ll need to follow the requirements for isolation and testing in the city you are located.
Where can I get a PCR test?
For information on where to get tested, contact the local health authority in your location. Always use an accredited testing facility. Scammers are taking advantage of travellers by charging for fake tests.
If you’re in a country where COVID-19 PCR testing is not reasonably available, you may be eligible for an extension or exemption when returning to Australia. For the list of countries see the Department of Health website.
Will I be covered by travel insurance?
Some travel insurers now offer limited cover for COVID-19. It will likely only cover medical, quarantine and cancellation costs if you test positive to COVID-19.
See our CHOICE travel insurance buying guide: COVID-19 edition for more information and carefully check the details of your travel insurance policy before you leave.
Want to know more?