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Australia is reopening to international travelers this month

Feb. 07, 2022
5 min read
Esperance beach Kangaroos
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Australia will once again welcome tourists and other visa holders this month as its borders reopen after almost two years.

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From Feb. 21, vaccinated travelers will be allowed to enter Australia, provided that they have proof of vaccination.

Speaking outside of parliament in Canberra following a government meeting, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday: "The National Security Committee and Cabinet has decided today that Australia will reopen our borders to all remaining visa holders on [Feb. 21]."

Revealed: Australia eases travel ban for the first time since 2020, but tourists shouldn’t get excited

"The condition is you must be double vaccinated to come to Australia. That's the rule. Everyone is expected to abide by it."

At present in Australia citizens, permanent residents and their families, international students, backpackers and migrant workers are all allowed entry into the country provided they have received two doses of an approved vaccine. This rule will now be extended towards tourists too, with an exception if you qualify for a medical exemption which must be applied for should you have a medical reason for not receiving your full COVID-19 inoculations.

Preempting today's news and in an effort to buoy incoming tourism, Morrison also announced last week that the nation would refund travel visas for working holidays if you arrive before April 19, 2022. The visa application charge is 495 Australian dollars ($352) which makes for a not insignificant savings if you qualify to take advantage of the new Aussie visa scheme.

Despite the majority of the country reopening, the state of Western Australia (WA) remains under lockdown and is closed to non-residents — including those from other Australian states, unless they have permission to enter. Plans to reopen WA borders to interstate and international tourists were postponed indefinitely this month due to the spread of the omicron variant.

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According to Johns Hopkins University data Australia has reported more than 2.7 million cases of COVID-19 and more than 4,240 coronavirus-related deaths. Almost 80% of the population is fully vaccinated.

Monday's reopening announcement comes earlier than expected, following the suggestion last week that Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was looking towards an Easter reopening for international tourists in April.

Speaking to a local radio station last week, Morrison said: "I’d like to see us get there soon … certainly before Easter, well before Easter," adding that a further update would be given once the government had received additional medical advice and the current omicron waved had “washed over.”

“I don’t think it’s too far away, to be honest, but we’ve got to get some medical advice further on that, a bit more work to do with the states to make sure we’re comfortable about [reopening],” he told Cairns radio station 4CA.

Since March 2020, the Land Down Under has been all but closed off to foreign tourists, in one of the strictest and most sustained COVID-19 border policies the world has seen during the pandemic. At first, Australia would not even allow its own citizens to leave.

Related: 8 common misconceptions about visiting Australia

This changed in October last year as the first Australians were finally allowed to tentatively step foot outside of their home nation after almost two years of international isolation.

When does Australia reopen to tourists?

From Feb. 21 double vaccinated travelers will be allowed to enter Australia.

As of Nov. 1, 2021, only Australian citizens, permanent residents, their families, and people with special permission could enter the country.

On Dec. 15, it reopened its doors to returning residents, working holiday visa holders and international students as long as they are fully vaccinated.

Fully vaccinated visitors from New Zealand, Singapore, Japan and South Korea were also allowed in last year in travel bubble agreements.

What are the current restrictions, and will I need a booster?

All international arrivals to Australia must show a negative COVID-19 test result before boarding their flight, whether it’s a PCR or rapid antigen test. PCR tests must be taken within 72 hours before the flight’s scheduled departure, while rapid antigen tests must be done within 24 hours.

Eligible visitors are also required to complete an Australia Travel Declaration at least 72 hours before departure, which includes a declaration regarding their vaccination status. They will also be asked to upload their vaccination certificate.

Unvaccinated travelers who qualify for a travel exemption application will be required to quarantine at a hotel.

The state of Western Australia (WA) is currently still closed to nonresidents — including those from other Australian states unless they have permission to enter.

Who operates flights from the US?

American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and Qantas are among the largest carriers offering flights to Sydney and Melbourne from the United States. American Airlines, for example, flies to both Syndey (SYD) and Melbourne (MEL) from Los Angeles, and to Sydney from Dallas-Ft. Worth (DFW).

It is also absolutely worth keeping your eyes peeled for great flight deals and packages that are more than likely to become available across the travel sector.To hear about the latest deals first, sign up for the TPG newsletter.

Additional reporting by Matt Blake and Clint Henderson.

Featured image by Hungry Kangaroos at Lucky Bay beach in Cape Le Grand national park, Western Australia (Photo by Getty Images/John Crux Photography)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

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  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Good, Excellent

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.