As a preventative measure against the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the Australian government has implemented temporary travel restrictions, including an entry ban for all foreign nationals.
On March 20th, 2020, the government announced that only Australian citizens, residents, and immediate family members can travel to Australia until further notice.
A compulsory 14-day quarantine in the port of arrival applies to all these travelers arriving at Australia’s borders.
Arriving passengers will be directly transported to designated quarantine facilities after passing through immigration, customs, and enhanced health checks. The facilities will ordinarily be located in the city of entry.
The borders of the island state of Tasmania have also been closed to all visitors, including domestic travelers from Australia. Any Australian citizens who do wish to travel to the island are also required to undergo a mandatory 2-week quarantine.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has justified the coronavirus restrictions by stating that “about 80% of the cases we have in Australia are either the result of someone who has contracted the virus overseas or someone who has had direct contact with someone who has returned from overseas.”
Exemptions from the Travel Ban for Australia
Travelers who are either an Australian citizen, an Australian permanent resident, an immediate family member of an Australian citizen or permanent resident or a New Zealand citizen usually resident in Australia are still able to enter the country.
However, immediate family members in possession of a temporary visa for Australia are required to present immigration officials with proof of relationship to gain entry at border control points.
Some foreign nationals may also be granted exemption from the COVID-19 travel ban if they can prove a compassionate or compelling reason to travel to Australia, by submitting an application to the government through an online form.
All those exempt from the entry ban for Australia are still subject to the 14-day mandatory quarantine upon arrival.
Coronavirus Restrictions for Traveling from Australia
In addition to the entry ban, restrictions for traveling overseas from Australia have also been in place since March 25th, 2020.
However, some exceptions also apply to this temporary restriction:
- Those ordinarily resident in a country other than Australia
- Airline and maritime crew and workers
- Those who work in outbound and inbound freight, or whose travel is associated with essential work at offshore facilities
- Individuals traveling on official government business, including members of the Australian Defence Force
- Citizens of New Zealand holding a Special Category Australian Visa. Nationals of New Zealand in possession of a permanent Australia visa are required to apply for a Commissioner’s discretion to receive permission to travel
Travelers who believe they meet a travel restriction exemption can submit an online application to the Commissioner of the Australian Border Force (ABF).
It is necessary to apply for the exemption as early as possible before the intended time of departure for Australia, at least 12 hours in advance. Those who are granted an exemption to travel from Australia must bring evidence of the approval with them to the airport in order to board a flight.
As travel advice for Australia is subject to change as the situation surrounding COVID-19 develops, foreign citizens are advised to check visa requirements for Australia regularly for updates.