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18 Mar 2022

Australia lifts travel restrictions for UK travellers: What are the latest entry requirements?

Everything you need to know about Covid tests, vaccinations and travelling with children
Sydney Harbour, Australia

Australia's white beaches and magnificent national parks can be visited once again now that borders have finally (albeit cautiously) reopened. If you're planning a trip, we've unpicked all of the latest entry requirements to make life simpler for you.

Australia has reopened cautiously with Covid restrictions still in place on the ground, which means trying to understand exactly what you need to do to travel there can be a real headache. What's more, each territory and state has its own restrictions. But don't worry. We've unpicked Australia's latest entry restrictions, including vaccine requirements, pre-departure tests, and the rules for travelling with children, to make your life easier.

But first, a caveat: While we keep this page regularly updated, travel restrictions can change quickly and without much notice, so make sure you still check the latest guidance from the FCDO as travelling against that guidance could invalidate your travel insurance. It's always a good idea to keep an eye on the gov.uk website and Australia's Department of Home Affairs website in the lead up to your holiday.

In these uncertain times, make sure you've got travel insurance with good Covid policies in place and that you've booked your trip with a provider with flexible booking policies.

When is Australia open to tourists?

Australia reopened its borders to international tourists on 21 February.

Currently, only fully vaccinated travellers and children accompanying them are allowed to enter Australia. See below what the Australian government counts as fully vaccinated and who exactly is allowed in for tourism.

If you are not considered fully vaccinated, you will need a compelling reason to enter Australia. You will also need to apply for a travel exemption. You can do this via the Australian Home Affairs website.

It's also worth noting that the individual Australian territories set their own travel requirements (such as potential quarantine and post-arrival testing requirements), so be sure to check those on the Australian government website before you book your holiday, and if you plan on travelling around Australia during your trip.

Travel rules for UK passengers heading to Australia will vary depending on which territory they arrive in. But here are five basic steps all holidaymakers need to take to enter Australia.

  • STEP 1 - Prove your vaccination status
  • STEP 2 - Make sure you meet the local requirements of the territory you're travelling to.
  • STEP 3 - Obtain a tourist visa. Apply at least three days before travel.
  • STEP 4 - Take a PCR or other NAAT (Nucleic Acid Amplification Test) up to 72 hours before or an antigen test up to 24 hours before departure and sign an Australian Travel Declaration form up to 72 hours before departure.
  • STEP 5 - As of 18 March, you no longer need to test, fill out a passenger locator form or quarantine to enter the UK.

Read on to find out what evidence you will need to show at the airport, and what you will need to return home. We also explain the rules children must follow and any differences depending on age.

Travel to Australia from the UK: What to do before you go

STEP 1: Fully vaccinated holidaymakers from the UK can enter Australia from 21 February. Check that you meet the vaccine requirements for entering Australia below.

Australia travel essentials:

  • Negative pre-departure test result
  • Proof of Covid-19 vaccination via NHS App
  • Australian Travel Declaration form completed at least 72 hours before departure
  • Masks - enough to change at least every four hours for the duration of your journey
  • Tourist visa
  • Travel insurance

What counts as 'fully vaccinated' for travel to Australia?

You are considered fully vaccinated, and therefore allowed to enter Australia for tourism, if you have completed a course of one of the following vaccines no less than seven days before travel.

This can either be:

Two doses at least 14 days apart of:

  • AstraZeneca Vaxzevria
  • AstraZeneca Covishield
  • Pfizer/Biontech Comirnaty
  • Moderna Spikevax or Takeda
  • Sinovac Coronavac
  • Bharat Biotech Covaxin
  • Sinopharm BBIBP-CorV (for people under 60 years on arrival in Australia)
  • Gamaleya Research Institute Sputnik V
  • Novavax/Biocelect Nuvaxovid.

Or one dose of:

  • Johnson & Johnson/Janssen-Cilag Covid vaccine.

Alternatively, if you are medically exempt from vaccination and have valid proof, you may also enter Australia without the need for a travel exemption.

The above list of vaccines are approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), which the Australian government has said is continuing to evaluate other Covid-19 vaccines. If yours isn't currently on the list, don't lose heart, it could get added at a later date.

Having a mixture of vaccines approved by the TGA also counts as being 'fully vaccinated'. For example, if your first dose was AstraZeneca Vaxzevria and your second was Pfizer/Biontech Comirnaty, you are classed as fully vaccinated and can therefore travel to Australia.

However, if one of your vaccine doses isn't on the list of TGA approved vaccines, you won't be classed as fully vaccinated and will therefore need a travel exemption to enter Australia.

What if I've recently recovered from Covid-19?

Recent recovery from Covid-19 in lieu of completing your course of vaccination will not be accepted for travel to Australia.

You can prove you have recently recovered from Covid-19 in lieu of doing a pre-departure test, but you will still need to be fully vaccinated to travel to Australia.

Is the NHS Covid Pass accepted in Australia?

Yes. The Australian government adds that paper and digital certificates are equally acceptable.

Tip: We strongly advise that you print out your NHS Covid Pass, or at least save it in your phone's document wallet. Some travellers have missed their flights when the Covid Pass app stopped working at the airport, leaving them with no way of proving when they had their vaccinations.

If you don't have a smartphone, you can access your vaccine status on the NHS Covid Pass website and print it off. You can also request proof of vaccination in letter form for yourself or on somebody's behalf if you don't have access to a printer.

If you are printing a Covid Pass, make sure it's in date at the time of travel. Read our guide to how to use the NHS app and the options for residents of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Do I need to quarantine in Australia?

STEP 2: Each Australian territory sets its own requirements for entry, so make sure you know what they are and what you need to do - long before you even think about booking a holiday.

Some territories may require you to fill out another declaration form, take another test upon arrival and even quarantine until you present a negative test result, so it's really important that you're in the know. The local restrictions can apply to children too.

To make things easier for you, we've linked to the travel restrictions page for each state/territory on the government website below.

If you are travelling around Australia, you will need to pay attention to the rules for entering each state/territory for interstate travel.

When will Western Australia open to international travellers and what are the restrictions?

Western Australia's borders have technically been open to tourists since 21 February. But unlike other states and territories, all international arrivals were still required to self-quarantine and test for seven days, regardless of vaccination status.

But as of 3 March, holidaymakers can visit Western Australia without needing to quarantine, provided they are fully vaccinated (as per the national requirements above).

To enter Western Australia, you will need a registered G2G pass. You will also be asked to take a rapid antigen test and report the results within 12 hours of arrival. The test is provided by the authorities.

For more information about Western Australia's reopening and the entry requirements, see the state government website.

Do I need a visa to go on holiday in Australia from the UK?

STEP 3: Holidaymakers with a British passport will also need to apply for a tourist visa to enter Australia.

Visas aren't available on arrival in Australia, so stay mindful of this step while jumping through all of the Covid-19 hoops.

You can apply for your tourist visa online via the Australian Department for Home Affairs website, and we'd recommend planning ahead and applying for visas as soon as you've booked your trip to allow plenty of time for it to come through.

What pre-departure test do I need to travel to Australia?

STEP 4: You will need to present a negative Covid-19 test result, from a test which has been taken under medical supervision, in order to board your flight to Australia. You can either take:

  • A PCR or other NAAT up to 72 hours before departure, or;
  • A rapid antigen test up to 24 hours before departure.

Can I use the free NHS rapid antigen tests?

No. You cannot use free NHS tests for travel. The reason for this being is that when purchasing a private Covid test for travel, you'll be provided with a unique reference number. This needs to be included on a passenger locator form or used to generate the required paperwork to prove you have tested negative for Covid-19.

Moreover, the Australian government requires you to take a test under medical supervision, which isn't necessary with the NHS free rapid antigen tests.

Both paper and electronic formats of the test results are acceptable. You can read more about pre-departure test requirements on the Australian Department of Health website.

Children under the age of four, medically exempt passengers, and passengers who have proof that they have recovered from Covid-19 in the 30 days before travel, do not have to do a pre-departure test, as long as they can provide valid evidence.

Use our Which? Travel expert advice when booking your pre-departure test.

What should I do if I have been in close contact with someone with a confirmed case of Covid-19?

If you've been in close contact with a confirmed case of Covid-19 without PPE up to three days before you're set to travel, the Australian government has said you should not attempt to board your flight to Australia. There's more on this on australia.gov.uk.

If this is the case, speak to your travel provider. If you've booked with a good company with flexible booking policies, you should be able to reschedule your trip at the very least.

Tip: In these uncertain times, we always recommend you book your holiday as a package, and you choose a provider with good flexible booking policies. Make sure you do your research before booking so you're confident you won't be left out of pocket - and with no holiday - if travel plans do change suddenly.

Australian Travel Declaration form: When and what to do

You will also need to complete an Australian Travel Declaration (ATD) form up to 72 hours before departure.

To complete the ATD, you will need to upload your vaccination certificate (or medical exemption certificate). You will be asked to provide your contact details, including one contact number to reach you while you're in Australia. You will also be asked to make a legally binding declaration about your vaccination status and confirm you understand Australia's travel requirements in relation to Covid-19.

The Australian border force is taking Covid restrictions very seriously. A person who fails to comply with the requirements may be liable to a civil penalty (fine) of 30 penalty units (currently $6,660 AUD).

As you don't require your pre-departure test result to complete the ATD, you can do this while you're waiting for your results.

Masks must be worn during your flight

Passengers over the age of 11 must wear a mask for the duration of their flight and while inside Australian airports.

If you don't wear a mask, you won't be allowed to board the flight unless you have valid proof that you are medically exempt.

You are allowed to remove your mask for eating and drinking during the flight. You are also advised to change your mask every four hours or before if the mask gets damp.

Travelling to Australia with children and teenagers

Regardless of their own vaccination status, non-Australian children under the age of 12 years and three months at the time of travel can enter Australia if the adults they are travelling with are classed as fully vaccinated.

However, children over the age of four (unless medically exempt or recently recovered from Covid-19) will still need to do a pre-departure test the same as fully-vaccinated adults. Children under 12 can be added to their parents' ATD form.

As far as we can tell, only Australian kids between 12 and 17 years are exempt from vaccination requirements. So for British passport holders travelling to Australia, the rules are anybody over the age of 12 years and three months must be fully vaccinated as per the Australian government's definition in order to be allowed to go on holiday in the country.

Be aware that individual states or territories may have their own vaccination and testing requirements for young people, before they are allowed to enter, so make sure you read those carefully.

Proof of vaccination has now been added to the NHS app for 12-15 year olds. Here's everything you need to know about using the Covid passport.

How long are pre-departure tests valid for when travelling to Australia?

Travelling to Australia is no mean feat, what with flights taking around 16 hours, or more. So how does this affect the validity of your pre-departure test result?

The pre-departure test you take in the UK before leaving for Australia remains valid throughout your entire flight. Even if your flight gets delayed, the Australian government has said you won't need to take another Covid-19 test.

However, if your flight gets cancelled or rescheduled, you will need to take another test, either a PCR or NAAT up to 72 hours before, or a rapid antigen test up to 24 hours before the new flight. Again, these tests will need to be medically supervised.

Do I need to test again if I have a layover on the way to Australia?

If you're travelling to Australia from the UK, you might have a layover somewhere in between.

Our advice is to check the travel requirements for the country you'll be transiting through and see what your airline says too. The chances are if you are simply catching a connecting flight and won't be leaving the airport, you shouldn't need to test again and you should be exempt from that country's travel restrictions. Again, the rules change frequently and without much warning, so keep a close eye on relevant websites.

Emirates Airlines, for example, says that passengers who have a connecting flight from Dubai Airport (a popular connection route for those travelling to Australia) will not be asked to test or quarantine. However, passengers who have got a long layover and have booked Connect/Stopover packages with the airline will be subject to the same requirements as holidaymakers whose final destination is Dubai.

This is just one example. You still need to check how long your layover is and what rules apply to you. You don't want to get halfway to Australia and then get stuck because you didn't check the requirements for the country you're transiting through.

What if my connecting flight gets cancelled or rearranged? Will I need another test?

If your connecting flight to Australia gets cancelled or rescheduled and you are stuck in your layover destination, the best bet is to seek advice from your airline or package holiday provider.

Covid-19 restrictions in Australia you need to follow

Local restrictions you will need to follow while in Australia depend on which territory you're visiting.

In general, mask-wearing is required in public places across Australia and you might be subject to temperature checks or asked to show your vaccine certificate to enter certain venues. Again, this all depends on where in Australia you're visiting.

Returning to the UK from Australia

STEP 5: As of 18 March, you won't need to complete a passenger locator form or book any pre-departure tests to travel to the UK.

See how the UK's travel rules changed on 18 March.