International travel explained as Australia’s border reopens

Australian passports on map

Tom Hounslow

Posted February 21, 2022

With Australia’s international border finally open, we can once again plan our overseas holidays and family reunions. But there is a lot to know before you pack your bags.

On March 20 of 2020, Australia’s international borders closed due to the new and unknown threat of the COVID-19 virus.

Almost two years later, with new infrastructure and vaccination protocols, our international borders have finally reopened.

Restrictions for Australia’s inbound and outbound overseas travel has fluctuated over the past 12 months, but as of February 21, 2022, all but a few restrictions will be lifted.

A lot has changed over the past two years both from a health and safety perspective, as well as legal standpoint. Here is what you need to know before you pack your bags and book your flights.

Entering Australia from overseas

While some international travellers have already been allowed to enter Australia for various reasons (athletes, actors, politicians etc.), from February 21, the Australian border will be open to tourists, business travellers and stranded expats to enter the country. Here is what inbound travellers need to have before they arrive:

Do I need proof of vaccination to travel overseas?

As brought to light in the Novak Djokovic saga in January, all international visitors will be required to be fully vaccinated and provide evidence of their vaccination status before entry will be allowed.

You will need to prove your vaccination status to airport staff or the flight crew before departure.

Australian residents who have been in areas where they have been unable to be vaccinated can be officially considered ‘vaccinated’ solely for the purpose of their travel. For more information about vaccination that Australia accepts, as well as exemptions and travel requirements, visit the Australian government website.


plane landing on holiday destination

Vaccinated tourists can now touch down in Australia. Image: Getty. 

Do I need a pre-departure COVID-19 test?

All travellers are required to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test before travelling to Australia. It is important to note that only a PCR or other Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) test taken within three days before your flight’s scheduled departure are acceptable – not a self-administered Rapid Antigen Test (RAT). RAT tests may be accepted, but must be done under medical supervision within 24 hours of flight.

What are the quarantine requirements?

While inbound travellers to Australia are welcome to enter the country, each state has their own requirements regarding isolation periods and travel restrictions.

As Australians have come to know over the past two years, these restrictions can change very quickly and should be monitored before you arrive.


COVIDSafe face masks

All international Australian airports require masks to be worn at all times.  

Travelling overseas from Australia

While vaccinated Australians have already been able to leave the country with flights to certain destinations, the easing of border restriction on February 21 now means you will be able to return without a specialised visa or exemption.

Before you plan your long-awaited overseas holiday or family reunion, there are a few things to be aware of:

Do I need masks or face coverings?

Approved masks and face coverings are required to be worn at all times, both at all Australian international airports and for the duration of your flight.

Depending on your destination, you may be required to wear your mask at your destination’s airport as well.

Do I need proof of vaccination?

When restrictions were initially relaxed in November of 2021, Australians were allowed to leave Australia. As part of the conditions of exiting Australia, all passengers must be fully vaccinated and be able to provide evidence of their vaccination status.

Travellers vaccinated in Australia will need to present an Australian International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate (ICVC). This can be easily obtained via your myGov account or the Express Plus Medicare mobile app. If you are unable to obtain a digital copy, you can visit a Services Australia services centre or contact the Australian Immunisation Register.

Travellers vaccinated in any other countries than Australia must present an official certificate which is:

  • Issued by a national or state/provincial-level authority or an accredited vaccination provider
  • Written in English or accompanied by a certified translation

Paper and digital certificates are both acceptable.

What are the COVID-19 requirements of other countries? 

There are only a handful of countries around the world who do not have stringent COVID-19 requirements or regulations. It is important to know what the requirements are of the country you are travelling to days before departure to ensure you have the right documentation and information at hand.

Here are some of the most-visited countries by Australians and their current restrictions (at the time of publishing):

Popular destinations for Australians

Popular destinations for Australians

Can I enter?

Mask requirements

Vaccination requirement

Quarantine on arrival

New Zealand

Open for travel

Varies by area

Fully vaccinated

Not required 


Open for travel

Varies by state

Fully vaccinated

Not required


Visa required

Required at all times

Not required – negative test needed

5 days


Open for travel

Not required

Not required – negative test needed

Not required


Vaccinated Travel Pass required

Required at all times

Fully vaccinated

Not required


Permit required

Required in public

Fully vaccinated

14 days


Open for travel

Required in public

Vaccination not required, Air Suvidha declaration needed

Not required for fully vaccinated visitors


For more detailed information on each country, visit the SmartTraveller website.

What if I contract COVID-19 while overseas?

According to SmartTraveller, if you or anyone in your immediate travelling party tests positive for COVID-19, you should isolate immediately and contact the local health authority of the country you are in to seek advice for how to proceed.

It is vital to know that if you or a primary close contact of your travelling group tests positive for COVID-19 (no matter which variant), you will not be allowed to return to Australia until you have recovered and can provide a negative test result. Only under specific circumstances will you be granted an exemption.

Once you have received guidance from local health authorities, contact your airline or travel provider to reschedule your travel plans if needed.


RACV Travel Insurance can help give you the confidence to travel overseas.
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The information provided is general advice only. Before making any decisions please consider your own circumstances and the Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determinations. For copies, visit RACV Travel Insurance issued by Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co., Ltd ABN 80 000 438 291 AFSL 246 548. Terms & conditions apply, refer to the PDS. Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) Ltd AR 001243563 is an authorised representative of the issuer and receives commission for each policy sold or renewed.