Australia Removes Testing Requirement For International Arrivals
Following the reopening of its external border earlier this year, Australia now allows international arrivals to enter testing-free if they are fully vaccinated.
Previously, the country required travelers to submit a negative Covid test result prior to boarding their flights, even when immunized. Now, this major obstacle has been officially removed as of April 18, meaning those who can prove they have received all required doses of an approved vaccine can again travel to Australia freely.
Here is a summary of all the latest entry requirements for travelers in Australia in 2022:
Pre-Departure Testing Officially Removed Following Weeks Of Speculation
While Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had already signalled previously test-free travel to Australia was not a distant prospect, many in the traveler community were suspicious of his statement.
After all, Australia used to bar entry to all foreign individuals, and even some of its own citizens, throughout the pandemic.
As Australia has adopted an overwhelmingly strict border approach during Covid, many even feared the appearance of the newly-identified BA.2 variant would lead it to put up barriers again. Surprisingly, this did not happen, and the country started reopening after months of endless delays and uncertainty.
Now, it is also following through on its promise to further ease travel rules, especially for vaccinated tourists, who had still been subject to pre-departure testing before flying. Following an update on Australia’s Department of Home Affairs website, testing is no longer required for vaccinated tourists departing to Australia after April 18, 2022.
Testing-Free Does Not Mean Requirement-Free
Despite the long-awaited relaxation of testing rules, entry to Australia is still not bureaucracy-free, even for the vaccinated.
All arrivals are still required to complete a Digital Passenger Declaration, where they will be expected to provide contact details, their travel history in the previous 14 days, and make a legally binding declaration they are aware of the Covid measures in place across different Australian states.
In summary, when seeking to enter Australia as a vaccinated tourist from now on, you will need:
- A valid passport
- A valid pre-issued visa or travel authorization, depending on your nationality
- A vaccination certificate showing you were fully immunized with an approved primary vaccination course
- A completed Digital Passenger Declaration
What Vaccines Are Accepted As Proof Of Entry?
All widely commercialized vaccines are accepted as proof of entry by Australia, with visitors required to have at least two doses of the same vaccine, or a mix of two of the following, 14 days apart and 7 days prior to entry:
- AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria)
- AstraZeneca (Covishield)
- Pfizer/Biontech (Comirnaty)
- Moderna Spikevax or Takeda
- Sinovac (Coronavac)
- Bharat Biotech (Covaxin)
- Gamaleya Research Institute Sputnik V
- Novavax/Biocelect (Nuvaxovid)
- Certain variations of the Sinopharm BBIBP-CorV vaccine
- Johnson & Johnson/Janssen*
*At least one dose
While this is far from being a complete lifting of measures as seen in Europe, it is still a huge milestone for a destination that had been completely off-limits to tourists for the best part of the pandemic.
Are Tourists Ready To Return To Australia?
As we stated previously, Australia is seeking to relaunch itself as a safe destination, as many foreigners are still wary of booking trips there.
Its controversial zero Covid approach and border closures still seem ingrained in the minds of tourists, even after international flights were allowed to restart. Even though the border is open for vaccinated individuals, Sydney Airport, the country’s most important hub, has still been ‘eerily quiet‘ compared to before.
Canadians, Brits and European Union/Schengen Area nationals do not require visas to enter or transit Australia, but they must still apply online for an ETA travel permit before flying, which only adds to the list of documents that need to be arranged in advance.
More information, including fees and other criteria visa-exempt nationals must meet, are available on Australia’s official Immigration and Citizenship website.
Once issued, an ETA is valid for up to 12 months.
What About The Unvaccinated?
Those who are yet to be immunized and who do not have a medically attested reason to qualify for an exemption to the travel ban continue to face an outright refusal of entry.
As described by the Department of Home Affairs, those who are unvaccinated and eligible for a travel exemption, as defined here, must apply in advance.
It is worth noting traveling for tourism purposes does not exempt unvaccinated visitors from the entry ban. Additionally, unlike the vaccinated, those who are exempt and are yet to be immunized must still undertake a pre-departure test.
This means either a PCR or NAAT taken within 3 days of scheduled departure or Rapid Antigen within hours.