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When will Australians be able to Travel Overseas?

There's a ban on overseas travel from Australia. So when will international travel resume for Australians? What we know about travel restart, bubble, vaccination and more.

February 11, 2021

Australia closed its international border in 2020, restricting inbound and outbound travel in an attempt to keep the country safe from Covid-19. With vaccinations now being rolled out around the globe, leisure and business travelers alike are hopefully awaiting news regarding the return of international travel.

There’s currently a great deal of ambiguity around the future of international travel, so we’ve done some research in an attempt to provide some clarity.

Can Australians travel overseas right now?

The Australian government closed its international border in March 2020, placing a ban on all overseas travel. Australian citizens and residents can return home from overseas destinations, however there are strict caps on the number of people allowed back into the country each week. This is making it difficult for some individuals to get home. Returning individuals are subjected to a mandatory two-week quarantine period when they return to Australia, which they must pay for themselves.

There are a few exceptions to the rule. As it currently stands, it is possible to apply to travel to a destination outside of Australia for one of the following reasons:

  • You are working to provide a response to the Covid-19 global pandemic
  • You are travelling for business reasons 
  • You need to receive urgent medical treatment that’s not available within Australia
  • You have a valid reason for travelling outside of the country for a minimum of three months
  • You need to travel for compassionate or humanitarian reasons
  • Your need to travel is in the interest of the country
  • Each application will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Will overseas travel be possible for Australians by the end of the year?

Many people are holding their breath as they wait for an answer to this one, but the reality is that nobody has a definitive answer about whether international travel will resume by the end of 2021. Qantas appears to be hopeful as they have released tickets for international flights departing from the middle of the year, however the federal government has indicated that there are currently no plans to lift the travel ban. Unfortunately, only time will tell.

Will Australians be able to travel to New Zealand?

The much talked about Trans-Tasman travel bubble has certainly got people excited, but it has not been without its trials. An arrangement where travelers would not need to quarantine for 14 days was agreed upon by the New Zealand government in 2020, however Australia then experienced a spike in cases which put the entire endeavor on hold. 

New Zealanders are currently allowed to travel for leisure and business purposes to New South Wales, Northern Territory and Queensland without serving the quarantine period, but no date has been confirmed for Australian travelers being able to do the same in reverse.

Will I need a vaccination when I can finally travel again? 

Again, there is no concrete answer to this question. The uncertain nature of the current situation means many decisions around international travel are yet to be made. That being said, it is looking likely that vaccinations will be required for international travel in the future.

At this stage, we aren’t exactly sure what this will look like. Federal governments may make it mandatory for individuals to be vaccinated when entering their country, or it may be left up to airlines to implement their own policies. For instance, Qantas was the first airline in the world to state that they will be requiring all travelers to be vaccinated against Covid-19 for international flights.

When will travel be back to normal?

There is no crystal ball that will allow us to see into the future. While international travel might resume for Australians by the end of the year (most likely in a limited sense), there is no way to predict when travel will return to the normal that we knew. The new ‘normal’ will likely look quite different, with a range of different policies and procedures in place to protect travelers as they navigate a post-pandemic world. 

In terms of numbers, it is anticipated that it will take at least a few years to see the frequency of travelers return to what they were. Many Australians are now embracing the opportunity to explore their own country and companies are restricting trips to essential business travel only.

We currently live in a rapidly-changing world and things could certainly change overnight. While we can remain hopeful for a quick return to international travel, there are still a number of factors at play that will influence exactly when this happens.