Returning to Australia
COVID-19: Australian border controls
Information for returning travellers
Effective from midnight AEDST 28 March 2020, if you’re arriving 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’ll not be permitted to travel domestically (including to your home) or continue on any domestic connections, until the 14 day mandatory quarantine period has been completed.
What to expect upon arrival to Australia
- You’ll be required to fill out a form confirming you understand you have to complete the mandatory quarantine period of 14 days.
- You’ll collect your luggage and go through the normal border clearance processes (customs, immigration and biosecurity).
- Following border clearance, government officials will direct you to buses that will take you to your accommodation.
- You may have to wait for transfer to and check in at your accommodation. Government officials will endeavour to make these waiting periods as comfortable as possible. Your cooperation and patience is appreciated
Arrangements for your 14 day quarantine period
- A number of hotels across Australia have agreed to provide appropriate facilities for you to complete this mandatory quarantine period.
- The accommodation will have all of the amenities and services you’ll need during your stay. It will be safe and hygienic. Food, water and medical support will be provided. You will not incur costs as part of these quarantine arrangements.
- Should you have health needs, for example prescriptions for regular medications, arrangements will be made to facilitate these requirements.
- Under the Biosecurity Act 2015 and applicable state legislation, you’ll have to remain in the allocated accommodation until you’re medically cleared to enter the Australian community.
Government officials at the hotel will be awaiting your arrival. They’ll answer any questions you may have and assist you during your period of quarantine.
These arrangements will be enforced by State and Territory Governments and supported by Commonwealth agencies.
Information for family and friends of returning travellers
We understand that your families and friends will want to see you when you return to Australia.
However, we’re asking that your families don’t go to the airport or to hotels to see you.
You’ll be transferred to hotels directly. You’ll be able to contact your loved ones on-line or by phone.
We understand this is tough. But each of us is being asked to make sacrifices to save lives.
The Australian Border Force controls our borders. You'll need to comply with all requirements from border agents. This protects Australia's environment, economy and security. If you don't, penalties and fines may apply.
To reduce the risk of experiencing delays and problems when you return to Australia, consider:
- the documents you need to pass through SmartGate or border control
- biosecurity requirements
- import requirements
Documents, passport and SmartGate
All travellers returning to Australia must have a:
- valid passport
- completed Incoming Passenger Card (IPC)
You can use SmartGate when arriving at Australian international airports if you:
- hold an Australian or New Zealand ePassport
- are aged 16 or older
All Australian passports are ePassports. An ePassport contains electronic information that helps to confirm your identity.
SmartGate uses ePassport data and facial recognition technology to let you go through passport control by yourself. It is quick and secure, meaning you may leave the airport faster.
Australia has strict biosecurity controls to help minimise the risk of exotic pests and diseases entering the country.
All travellers must comply with the requirements before entering Australia, this is regulated by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture.
You must declare certain food, plant material and animal products on your Incoming Passenger Card (IPC). An IPC is a document that identifies and records a person's entry into Australia. It is where you declare goods for custom and quarantine inspection.
If you declare goods on your IPC, go to an inspection point on arrival. A biosecurity officer will assess them.
If you don't want to declare goods, dispose of them in the bins at the terminal before the inspection points.
You could be fined or prosecuted for carrying undeclared controlled goods.
Officers screen your luggage using:
- detector dogs
- x-ray machines
- baggage inspection
In many cases, they'll return your declared goods to you after inspection. Some items may need treatment to make them safe. Some items are not allowed into Australia because of the risk of pests and disease. Officers may seize these for export or destruction.
Before you travel, check if you can bring your items back into Australia.
Check detailed import conditions on the Biosecurity Import Conditions system (BICON) website.
Australian Border Force regulates which goods you can and can't bring in and whether you'll need a permit.
You must declare these restricted or prohibited items upon arriving in Australia:
- firearms, weapons and ammunition
- currency (A$10,000 or more, or foreign equivalent)
- agricultural and veterinary chemical products
- pornography and objectionable material
- heritage-listed goods, such as works of art, stamps, coins, archaeological objects and specimens
- defence and strategic goods
Medicines, drugs and herbal remedies
You need to declare all medicine including:
- prescription medications
- alternative and herbal medicines
- vitamins and mineral preparation formulas
- performance- and image-enhancing drugs
- veterinary medicines
Wildlife, plants and animals
Wildlife products need approval from Australian Border Force and the Department of Agriculture. Many also require permits from the Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy.
'Wildlife' includes any whole, part or derivative of a plant or animal, living or non-living. Examples include:
- protected wildlife, such as coral, orchids, caviar and hunting trophies
- wood and seeds
- ivory and products made from ivory
- leather or fur
- traditional medicines containing animal organs, teeth or body parts
- live plants
- fresh or dried flowers
If you buy wildlife products overseas, find out if you need a permit. If you don't have the correct permit, authorities will seize your product. Penalties or fines may apply.
- Read the Department of Agriculture's advice on bringing items back to Australia
- See the Australian Border Force information guidance on returning to australia through quarantine
- The Department of the Environment and Energy publishes information for travellers returning to Australia
- See the Therapeutic Goods Administration for information about bringing medicines and medical products into Australia
- The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority regulates what veterinary pharmaceuticals you can and can't bring in to Australia
Foreign authorities may request a document to be issued with an Apostille or an Authentication certificate before they will accept it. This is called ‘legalisation’.
If you're going overseas to get married, you may need a Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage (CNI) to prove you're single and free to marry.