Australia will finally end its two-year ban on overseas tourists visiting the country from later this month, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison announcing that the borders will reopen for quarantine-free arrivals to all states, except Western Australia, on 21st February 2022.
All travelers will have to be fully vaccinated, or be medically exempt from vaccination, to be eligible to visit the country. Note that those with a medical exemption will unfortunately still have to quarantine.
“It’s almost two years since we took the decision to close the borders to Australia. The national cabinet has decided today Australia will reopen our borders to all remaining visa holders on February 21 of this year.”Scott Morrison, Australian Prime Minister
Currently only Australian Citizens or New Zealand passport holders usually resident in Australia are eligible to enter the country, plus some specific groups including students and Singapore citizens.
“The condition is you must be double vaccinated to come to Australia. That’s the rule. Everyone is expected to abide by it. And it’s very important that people understand that requirement if they’re seeking to come to Australia. But if you’re double vaccinated, we look forward to welcoming you back to Australia.”Scott Morrison, Australian Prime Minister
Morrison’s comments were no doubt a nod to the recent controversy over Novak Djokovic’s brief ‘visit’!
An e-Visa will continue to be required for all non-residents to visit Australia, and a travel declaration must be completed prior to departure.
Singapore citizens are already eligible
In addition to Australia and New Zealand passport holders, a recent pilot programme has allowed fully vaccinated Singapore citizens to visit Australia quarantine-free since 21st November 2021, when travelling directly from Singapore, marking a two-way Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) arrangement.
Unfortunately other Singapore residents have not been eligible, though that will now change with all travellers able to make a trip to Australia from 21st February.
Similar pilot schemes are also currently in place for Japanese and South Korean citizens, when travelling from their respective home countries. Certain groups of students have also been able to travel to Australia.
“We have been progressively opening our borders since November of last year. Those programs have proceeded very successfully. Whether it was the programs we had in place with New Zealand or Singapore, and then with Japan and South Korea, opening up to international students and backpackers and economic migrants who are coming to Australia, that will now be extended to international visitors who will be able to return.”Scott Morrison, Australian Prime Minister
Here’s a summary of the COVID-19 testing you’ll face when travelling to Australia as a fully vaccinated international traveller, both pre-departure and on-arrival, the latter being imposed on a state-by-state basis.
COVID-19 Testing when travelling to Australia
All travellers entering Australia from overseas will have to take a pre-departure COVID-19 test, in addition to providing evidence of full vaccination, with the two options being:
- A PCR test within three days of departure; or
- An ART test within 24 hours of departure
Timing relates to the scheduled departure time of your flight to Australia (or your first flight to Australia if you are making a connecting journey like London – Singapore – Sydney).
Those aged 4 or below at the time of check-in are exempt from pre-departure testing when travelling internationally to Australia.
On-arrival COVID-19 testing varies based on which Australian state you are entering from overseas, as shown in the following table.
|State / City||On-arrival testing|
|Test Type||Test Deadline|
|New South Wales
|ART||Within 24 hours|
Brisbane, Cairns, Gold Coast
|ART||Within 24 hours|
|PCR||Within 24 hours|
|ART||Within 24 hours|
|ART||Within 12 hours|
* From 3rd March 2022
In all cases you must self-isolate at home or in suitable accommodation (e.g. hotel) until a negative test result is received, with the exception of South Australia, where you only need to isolate until your PCR test is taken.
What about the ACT and Tasmania?
There are currently no international flights to the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) or Tasmania, so you will have to fly to another city (probably Melbourne or Sydney), then follow the relevant state entry requirements for testing and isolation, then take a domestic flight to Tasmania, with no further testing required.
PCR tests in Singapore on average cost around S$130, though there are a good number of options in the S$96 – S$115 range. For those phobic of the nasal swab process, there are also saliva-based PCR tests available from S$115, valid for travel to Australia.
Pre-departure ART tests including a certificate for travel, meanwhile, cost around S$39 on average in Singapore, with multiple options in the S$21 – S$30 range.
What about unvaccinated children?
Children aged under 12 years and 3 months old are considered fully vaccinated for travel to Australia, even if they are not.
Fully vaccinated visitors will be able to travel directly on international flights to the following Australian states without serving quarantine, subject to state-specific testing requirements on arrival:
- New South Wales (Sydney)
- Northern Territory (Darwin)
- Queensland (Cairns, Brisbane, Gold Coast)
- South Australia (Adelaide)
- Victoria (Melbourne)
Those travelling to Western Australia will still be subject to 14 days of arrival quarantine, while the state mulls over how it intends to reconnect with the world at some unknown future date.
Here are the current requirements for international entry in Western Australia.
VTL process Australia – Singapore
Here’s the process for those flying on designated VTL flights from Australia to Singapore, which for most of our readers applies to the end of their trip.
- Must be fully vaccinated with a WHO-approved vaccine in Singapore, or any VTL country (e.g. Australia), or any EU member state, or any non-EU countries that have joined the EU DCC system
- Must have an accepted digital proof of vaccination
- Children aged 12 or below in the current calendar year are exempt from the vaccination requirements
- Must have stayed in Australia, Singapore or any VTL country for 14 days
- Apply for a VTP in advance*
- Purchase COVID-19 travel insurance (min. coverage of S$30,000)**
- Take a pre-departure COVID-19 PCR or RAT/ART test (up to 2 days before departure)
- Travel to Singapore on designated ‘VTL flights’
- Take an on-arrival COVID-19 PCR test
- Self-isolate until the result is available (typically 4-6 hours)
- Take Day 2 to Day 7 self-swab post-arrival ART tests, only if leaving your place of accommodation that day
* Not applicable for Singapore Citizens or permanent residents
** Not applicable for Singapore Citizens, permanent residents or pass holders
While Singapore residents can take any flight from Singapore to Australia to the relevant state, they will have to take designated VTL flights back to Singapore to enjoy a quarantine-free arrival on their return.
Here’s a breakdown of the latest schedules, through to the end of October 2022 (click to expand):
One good thing about travel between Singapore and Australia is that it’s one of the cheaper VTLs in terms of testing costs, since the country began accepting ART pre-departure tests in late January, instead of insisting on the more expensive PCR method.
Overall testing costs vary based on which state you’ll be visiting, given their slightly different arrival requirements, but here’s an example for a Singapore – Sydney – Singapore trip.
|SG pre-departure (ART)||From S$21|
|Sydney on-arrival (ART)||~S$7|
|Sydney pre-departure (ART)*||~S$60|
|SG arrival (PCR)||S$125|
|SG Day 2 (self ART)||~S$7|
|SG Day 3 (self ART)||~S$7|
|SG Day 4 (self ART)||~S$7|
|SG Day 5 (self ART)||~S$7|
|SG Day 6 (self ART)||~S$7|
|SG Day 7 (self ART)||~S$7|
Prices vary between providers and locations.
While the costs are still not insignificant, especially for a family, there are much more expensive VTL options like South Korea and Thailand.
From ‘Fortress Australia’ to being more open than Singapore, it’s been quite a journey for the country’s strict border measures, now being almost totally pulled d