Industry news, Travel tips

Overseas travel is back: what Australians need to know

Fully vaccinated Australians are now allowed to travel internationally without needing to apply for an exemption to leave the country.

Smart Traveller has removed the global ‘Do Not Travel’ advisory. Travel advice levels have also been updated for over 170 countries, based on the latest Covid-19 risk assessments and other safety or security threats.

While bans are being lifted and advice levels are changing, there are still requirements that you’ll need to meet before travelling. Here’s what you need to know when you plan an overseas trip.

Departing Australia

Proof of Vaccination
To qualify as fully vaccinated, eligible adults will need to have received two doses, at least 14 days apart, of a TGA-approved or recognised vaccine. These include: AstraZeneca Vaxzevria, AstraZeneca Covishield, Pfizer/BioNtech Comirnaty, Moderna Spikevax or Sinovac Coronavac, or one dose of Janssen-Cilag Covid vaccine.

At check-in, you will be required to show an International Covid-19 Vaccination Certificate (ICVC). To obtain an ICVC, go to your myGov account and receive a PDF certificate for printing or electronic storage on your smart phone.

Pre-Departure Test
As well as carrying an ICVC, all travellers aged 5 years and above must provide proof of a negative Covid-19 molecular test (PCR). The PCR test must be conducted by a laboratory and done within 72 hours before the scheduled departure of your international flight from Australia.

A PCR test for travel is not the usual Covid-19 test and CBT can help make the process easier and cheaper for our clients. We’ve partnered with Healius for real time RT-PCR around the country. You will receive a test certificate with the necessary report and country-specific requirements. Please speak to your CBT consultant about how you can save on the cost of your test.

If your flight is delayed longer than the 72-hour time frame, a negative PCR test result will remain valid. However, if the flight is rescheduled or cancelled, you will need to take another test no more than 72 hours before the new flight.

Returning to Australia

In Australia, the Federal Government is responsible for visas and exemptions, but the state and territories regulate quarantine requirements. This will impact the rules that apply to returning to your home state, and we recommend checking the local requirements.

NSW, the ACT and Victoria – international arrivals no longer need to quarantine in hotels or at home.
Queensland – direct arrivals from overseas will be directed to mandatory hotel quarantine. This will alter as the state’s vaccination targets are reached.
South Australia – direct arrivals from overseas will be directed to mandatory hotel quarantine. The state has announced a gradual easing of restrictions from 23 November.
Tasmania – direct arrivals from overseas will be directed to mandatory hotel quarantine until 15 December, at which time borders will open.
Northern Territory – for interstate arrivals a home quarantine plan is scheduled to begin around 23 November.
Western Australia – the state is yet to announce its reopening plan.

Where can you go?

We’ve recently seen more travel bubbles opening and new flight routes coming on line. Although quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand remains suspended, other busy business destinations like Singapore, Thailand, the USA and UK are open. Popular leisure destinations such as Fiji and Bali can also be booked now.

United States
America’s Centres for Disease Control (CDC) now states that from 8 November, all non-US citizens aged 18 and above arriving in the USA by air must be fully vaccinated at least 14 days before travel with any of the following FDA-approved vaccines: Pfizer/BioNtech Comirnaty, Moderna and Janssen; or World Health Organisation Emergency Use Listing vaccines (including Australian-made AstraZeneca Vaxzevria).

Before boarding a flight, all fully vaccinated travellers aged two years or older must present proof of a negative Covid-19 viral test taken no more than 72 hours before departure. Alternatively, the USA will accept documentation from a licensed healthcare provider showing recovery from Covid-19 in the 90 days preceding travel.

Under the U.S. Covid-19 Travel Guidelines, air passengers must provide contact information to airlines for the purposes of contact tracing. Quarantine is not required for fully vaccinated travellers, but the CDC recommends that arrivals get a test 3-5 days after entry regardless of vaccination status (this may also be a requirement in some states).

United Kingdom
International arrivals no longer have to complete hotel quarantine in the UK if they are fully vaccinated. The UK recognises Australian Pfizer/BioNtech Comirnaty, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines.

Prior to arrival in the UK, you must complete a passenger locator form and book in for a Covid-19 test within 48 hours of arrival. Please check the specific conditions for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as requirements may vary.

A negative test result is also not required upon entry to the UK for fully vaccinated travellers. But a negative PCR test result is still a condition of carriage with any of the airlines flying from Australia to the UK.

In one of the latest announcements, quarantine-free travel to Singapore will be available to fully vaccinated Australians from 8 November. Australia will be added to the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) program. To be eligible, you must provide proof of being fully vaccinated at least two weeks before travel and have a negative PCR test result within 48 hours of arrival. You will also be required to take a PCR test on arrival at Singapore airport and remain in isolation until a negative result is received. Travellers must hold travel insurance that covers Covid-19 medical treatment and hospital expenses.

Prepare for Disruptions

It’s exciting to be able to travel overseas again, but it’s important to be aware that it will be different to how we travelled pre-covid. For starters, you’ll need to allow time to get the necessary pre-departure tests and check-in at the airport will be a slower process.

All airlines require that masks are worn at the airports and for the duration of the flight. The only exception is during meals and in the case of destinations like the USA, this applies to passengers as young as two.

PCR tests are also required by all airlines and some carriers require a rapid antigen test with a negative result before you can board.

It can be harder to find travel insurance that will provide the necessary cover for coronavirus-related incidents. Insurance companies such as Covermore are providing new Covid-19 benefits and CBT can assist with making sure you have the right policy.

There’s also the risk that an outbreak could occur while you’re away and that it could impact border restrictions. This is when using the services of a travel agent can be the difference between being stranded and getting the help you need to quickly change plans or return home.

At CBT, we make it our business to be aware of all the latest travel logistics and government regulations. We are also well equipped to respond promptly with any changes to your travel arrangements and help facilitate refunds when required.

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