Returning to Australia
This page covers border controls and processes that follow your arrival in Australia. If you are looking for information about trying to return to Australia, see our page on trying to get home during COVID-19.
COVID-19: Arriving home
Australia has strict border measures in place to protect the health of the Australian community.
You cannot come to Australia unless you’re an Australian citizen, permanent resident or in an exempt category. The Department of Home Affairs looks after this entry ban. Check its Coming to Australia page for more information, including details on exemptions to the ban.
When you arrive in Australia, you must quarantine for 14 days at designated facilities in your port of arrival – unless you have an exemption.
- You'll be accommodated in a hotel for this mandatory quarantine period.
- You won't be permitted to travel domestically (including to your home) or continue on any domestic connections until you have completed the 14-day mandatory quarantine period.
- In some states and territories, you have to contribute to the cost of quarantine.
- 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. You may have to be tested for COVID-19 during your quarantine period. If you don’t agree to be tested, you may have to quarantine for longer.
- The quarantine requirements are managed and enforced by state and territory governments with Australian Government support.
Safe travel zone with New Zealand
On 2 October 2020, the Australian Government announced a safe travel zone with New Zealand. From 16 October 2020, you can travel from New Zealand to Australia, quarantine-free, if:
- you have been in New Zealand for 14 days or more and not been in a designated hotspot, and
- you're travelling to Australia on a quarantine-free flight.
Check the New Zealand safe travel zone (Home Affairs) page for the latest information.
State and territory COVID-19 information
- ACT: Travel advice
- 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
- COVID-19 Restriction Checker
- States and territories COVID-19 information
The Australian Border Force manages and protects 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
Advice for Australians overseas who are trying to return home to Australia.
Read our advice on COVID-19, including leaving Australia, trying to get home, arriving in Australia and staying overseas.