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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are restrictions on entry and exit from Australia. However, as vaccination rates against COVID-19 increase in Australia, border regulations are changing. As of 1 November 2021, significant changes apply. These changes apply to who can enter and leave Australia and what quarantine arrangements are in place. As a result, significantly more people will be allowed to enter Australia without quarantine. This article will explain the changes to Australian border policy as of 1 November 2021.

Can I Leave Australia?

The Federal Government has made important changes, effective 1 November 2021, that apply to all states and territories of Australia. As of 1 November, 2021, double vaccinated Australian citizens, permanent residents and New Zealand citizens who normally reside in Australia will no longer have to apply for a travel exemption to leave Australia.

Unfortunately, Australian citizens and permanent residents who are unvaccinated must still apply for an exemption to leave the country. The Australian Border Force (ABF) will only exempt unvaccinated outbound travellers if the travel is:

  • part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including providing aid;
  • for your business/employer;
  • to receive urgent medical treatment unavailable in Australia;
  • because you will be outside Australia for a compelling reason for three months or longer;
  • on compelling or compassionate grounds;
  • in the national interest; or
  • because you are ordinarily a resident in a country other than Australia.

Temporary visa holders in Australia can continue to depart Australia at any time. However, they are required to apply for an exemption to return or re-enter Australia. 

Can I Travel to Australia?

The following categories may enter Australia and are exempt from having to request permission to enter:

  • Australian citizens;
  • permanent residents of Australia;
  • immediate family members of Australian citizens or permanent residents;
  • New Zealand citizens who normally live in Australia, and their immediate family members;
  • individuals who have been in New Zealand or Australia for 14 days or more immediately before arrival by air in Australia;
  • diplomats accredited to Australia, including their immediate family members (each member of the family unit must hold a valid subclass 995 visa);
  • individuals transiting Australia for 72 hours or less;
  • airline crew members and maritime crew members, including marine pilots;
  • individuals recruited under the Government-approved Seasonal Worker Program or Pacific Labour Scheme;
  • individuals who hold a Business Innovation and Investment (subclass 188) visa; or
  • invididuals who hold a Temporary Activity (subclass 408) visa in the ‘Post COVID-19 Economic Recovery Event’ stream and is supported by the Global Business and Talent Attraction Taskforce.

The immediate family members of Australian citizens, permanent residents and New Zealand citizens who usually reside in Australia, refers to:  

  • spouses;
  • de facto partners;
  • dependent children; and
  • parents/legal guardians of dependent children.

Can Non-Citizens Enter Australia?

As of 1 November 2021, parents of Australian citizens, permanent residents and New Zealand citizens who usually live in Australia are also eligible to travel to Australia. The definition of parents includes:

  • biological parents;
  • legal (including adoptive) parents;
  • step-parents; and
  • parents-in-law.

Immediate family members and parents must hold a valid visa, apply for and receive a travel exemption before entering Australia.

Temporary visa holders are generally not permitted to enter Australia unless they are individuals in critical sectors or with critical skills, hold an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) or a Business Travel Card (ABTC). Importantly, temporary visa holders are not eligible for reduced quarantine arrangements should they be granted a travel exemption to enter Australia.

While the Commonwealth border policies are changing, each state in Australia has their own quarantine and entry requirements. Therefore, check with individual state authorities before attempting to enter.

Steps for Travelling to Australia

Step 1Only fully vaccinated Australian citizens and permanent residents. Immediate family members or parents may be eligible for reduced quarantine arrangements. However, this is dependent on each state or territory of arrival.
Step 2You must hold a valid International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate (Australia) or foreign vaccination certificate.
Step 3You must complete an Australia Travel Declaration at least 72 hours before your flight.
Step 4You must undertake a pre-departure PCR COVID-19 test before travelling to Australia. 
Step 5You must present your vaccination certificate and negative COVID-19 test result to airline staff when you check-in for your flight at the airport.

Key Takeaways

As of 1 November 2021, the Australian border will be reopening to more people, and more individuals will be able to enter the country without quarantine. The situation is rapidly evolving with new travel corridors announced in certain countries. However, not everyone can enter the country, and it is important to be aware of the changing rules. If you intend to travel soon, you should be up to date on the latest border controls and quarantine measures to ensure a smooth exit and entry to Australia. If you have any questions, LegalVision’s experienced immigration lawyers can help. Contact them on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can temporary visa holders enter Australia?

Generally, temporary visa holders will not be able to enter Australia from 1 November 2021 without an exemption.

Can parents of Australian citizens and permanent residents enter Australia?

As of 1 November 2021, fully vaccinated parents of Australian citizens will be allowed to enter Australia. However, they must hold a valid visa and apply for an exemption before entering.

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