Australia is reopening to international travelers this month

Feb 7, 2022

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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.

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.


In This Post

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 John Crux Photography/ Getty Images

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