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Australia reopens borders to all overseas travellers on 21 February

Australia will fully reopen its borders to vaccinated tourists from around the world for quarantine-free visits from 21st February (well, except to Western Australia!).

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.

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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.

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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

Testing

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

Pre-departure

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.

  Full details of Australia PDT requirements

On-arrival

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
Sydney
ART Within 24 hours
Northern Territory
Darwin
  None
Queensland
Brisbane, Cairns, Gold Coast
ART Within 24 hours
South Australia
Adelaide
PCR Within 24 hours
Victoria
Melbourne
ART Within 24 hours
Western Australia
Perth*
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.

Those travelling to Melbourne will only need to isolate until receiving a negative self-administered ART test result. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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.

Don’t worry if your younger kids aren’t fully vaccinated, those under 12 years and 3 months of age are eligible to enter Australia with fully vaccinated parents regardless. (Photo: Singapore Airlines)

Which states?

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)
Travellers heading to Perth in Western Australia will still be subject to quarantine. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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.

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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.

VTL Process
Australia Singapore

  • 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

VTL flights

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.

Low-cost options on VTL flights from Australia to Singapore include Scoot flights from Gold Coast, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. (Photo: Boeing)

Here’s a breakdown of the latest schedules, through to the end of October 2022 (click to expand):

27th March 2022 - 31st March 2022

  Days
M T W T F S S
 bgcolor= SQ278
A350 Regional
ADL
09:10
SIN

15:10

Important

From 1st April 2022, there will be no more designated VTL flights to Singapore.
All fully vaccinated travellers can enter quarantine-free on any flight operated by any airline on any route.

27th March 2022 - 31st March 2022

  Days
M T W T F S S
 bgcolor= SQ256
A350 Regional
BNE
09:20
SIN

15:30
QF51
A330
       
BNE
10:20
SIN

16:35
 bgcolor= SQ236
A350 Regional
BNE
14:45
SIN

20:45
 bgcolor= SQ246
A350 Long Haul
BNE
23:50
SIN

05:45*

* Next day

Important

From 1st April 2022, there will be no more designated VTL flights to Singapore.
All fully vaccinated travellers can enter quarantine-free on any flight operated by any airline on any route.

27th March 2022 - 31st March 2022

  Days
M T W T F S S
3K162
A320
DRW
05:35
SIN

08:40
 bgcolor= SQ252
737-800
DRW
15:45
SIN

19:00

Important

From 1st April 2022, there will be no more designated VTL flights to Singapore.
All fully vaccinated travellers can enter quarantine-free on any flight operated by any airline on any route.

27th March 2022 - 31st March 2022

  Days
M T W T F S S
TR7
787-8
OOL
08:50
SIN

15:20

Important

From 1st April 2022, there will be no more designated VTL flights to Singapore.
All fully vaccinated travellers can enter quarantine-free on any flight operated by any airline on any route.

27th March 2022 - 31st March 2022

  Days
M T W T F S S
 bgcolor= SQ238
A350 Regional
MEL
09:35
SIN

15:25
JQ7
787-8
 
MEL
12:00
SIN

17:50
QF35
A330
     
MEL
12:05
SIN

18:15
TR19
787-9
MEL
12:20
SIN

18:30
TR19
787-9
MEL
12:30
SIN

18:40
TR19
787-9
MEL
13:05
SIN

19:15
 bgcolor= SQ228
777-300ER
MEL
15:40
SIN

21:30
TR25
787-9
MEL
21:45
SIN

03:55*
 bgcolor= SQ218
A350 Regional
MEL
23:35
SIN

05:30*

* Next day

Important

From 1st April 2022, there will be no more designated VTL flights to Singapore.
All fully vaccinated travellers can enter quarantine-free on any flight operated by any airline on any route.

27th March 2022 - 31st March 2022

  Days
M T W T F S S
3K132
A320
     
PER
00:05
SIN

05:20
 bgcolor= SQ216
787-10
PER
01:10
SIN

06:35
 bgcolor= SQ224
787-10
PER
06:25
SIN

11:45
QF71
A330
PER
11:50
SIN

17:20
 bgcolor= SQ214
A350 Regional
PER
17:10
SIN

22:35
 bgcolor= TR9
787-9
   
PER
18:00
SIN

23:30
 bgcolor= TR17
787-9
         
PER
21:35
SIN

03:15*

* Next day

1st June 2022 - 29th October 2022

  Days
M T W T F S S
3K132
A320
     
PER
00:05
SIN

05:20
 bgcolor= SQ216
787-10
PER
01:10
SIN

06:35
 bgcolor= SQ224
787-10
PER
06:25
SIN

11:45
QF71
A330
PER
11:50
SIN

17:20
 bgcolor= SQ214
A350 Regional
PER
17:10
SIN

22:35
 bgcolor= TR9
787-9
PER
18:00
SIN

23:30
 bgcolor= TR17
787-9
       
PER
21:35
SIN

03:15*

* Next day

Important

From 1st April 2022, there will be no more designated VTL flights to Singapore.
All fully vaccinated travellers can enter quarantine-free on any flight operated by any airline on any route.

27th March 2022 - 31st March 2022

  Days
M T W T F S S
 bgcolor= SQ212
777-300ER
SYD
07:55
SIN

14:15
QF81
A330
SYD
10:10
SIN

16:50
 bgcolor= SQ232
A350 Regional
SYD
11:00
SIN

17:30
TR3
787-9
     
SYD
13:25
SIN

18:40
TR3
787-9
         
SYD
13:45
SIN

19:05
BA16^
787-9
SYD
14:50
SIN

21:05
 bgcolor= SQ222
A380
SYD
15:00
SIN

21:20
 bgcolor= SQ242
A350 Regional
SYD
18:05
SIN

00:20*
TR13
787-9
     
SYD
21:45
SIN

03:10*

^ From 29th March
* Next day

Important

From 1st April 2022, there will be no more designated VTL flights to Singapore.
All fully vaccinated travellers can enter quarantine-free on any flight operated by any airline on any route.

Testing costs

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.

🇦🇺 VTL
Singapore Sydney
COVID-19 Testing 

Test Cost
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
Total ~S$255

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.



 


 

Summary

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