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South Australia replacing PCR tests with self-ART swabs for international arrivals

Good news for those heading to Adelaide, with self-swab ART tests on arrival approved instead of a PCR test at a clinic or hospital, for those touching down from 18th April.

As many of our readers will know, international travel to Adelaide in South Australia has been one of the more arduous ways to enter the country recently, with the state holding out as the only one still requiring fully vaccinated arriving travellers to undergo a PCR test after they land.


There is also a requirement to isolate at your place of accommodation or hotel room until the test is taken, which meant a testing centre was likely your first port of call after arriving, though luckily there is no requirement to isolate once you have completed the swab and are awaiting the results, which take a while for a PCR.

While the test is free, locations are limited, with many of our readers heading straight from the airport to the Royal Adelaide Hospital to tick off the requirement before continuing with their trip.

Adelaide. (Photo: Norman Hackenberg)

Self-administered ART tests accepted from 18th April

From 18th April 2022, fully vaccinated travellers arriving in South Australia from overseas will be allowed to complete a self-swab antigen rapid test (ART or “RAT” as they are called in Australia), instead of a PCR test.

Isolation is required until the test has been taken and a negative result is obtained, a similar process imposed in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, however there is no required timescale specified by the South Australian Government.

“On arrival to SA, you must undertake a COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) on arrival and quarantine until [you] have taken the test.”

Government of South Australia

You must record the result of your antigen test here, even if it is negative.

If the result is positive, you must immediately have a PCR test conducted, by travelling directly to a test site while wearing a mask and informing the person conducting the test the reason you are taking it.

The relatively vague requirement for an antigen test (RAT / ART) does not state that the kit you use must be approved in Australia (like it must be in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria), nor that it will be provided to you on arrival (like it was previously in Western Australia), so we can only assume that you can bring any kit you like from home, and simply use that.

The SA Government says “for your own safety you should only use a self-test kit that has been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)”, but that is just a recommendation.

This new arrival protocol applies to those who:

  • have completed a primary course of an ATAGI approved or recognised vaccine at least seven days ago; or
  • are under 12 years of age; or
  • are between 12 and 17 years of age and are travelling with a vaccinated parent or guardian; or
  • have a medical exemption certificate (from vaccination).

A booster dose is not currently required for those travelling quarantine-free to South Australia.


Unvaccinated returning Australians must still complete 14 days of quarantine in South Australia, and take PCR tests.

The full legal requirements, which come into effect at 0.01am on 18th April 2022, are available here.

Other changes

From 18th April, an international arrival will be defined as a person who arrives in South Australia having been in a location outside of Australia within 48 hours before their arrival in the state. This was previously seven days.

For example, it means if you fly from Singapore to Perth, spend three days there, then continue to Adelaide and arrive on or after 18th April, you are not considered to be an international arrival (like you are currently), and therefore no testing is required.

South Australia has also removed its mask mandate and QR code check-in requirement effective from 15th April 2022.

Mask-wearing has been dropped in most settings throughout South Australia. (Photo: Shutterstock)

You’ll still need to wear a mask in high-risk settings like hospitals, and when travelling on public transport, in taxis, on aircraft and at the airport.

Pre-departure testing is being scrapped

South Australia’s relaxation of on-arrival testing requirements next week coincides with a wider national removal of the Commonwealth Government requirement for a pre-departure test, for fully vaccinated travellers heading to Australia from overseas.

International arrivals into Australia will no longer require a pre-departure COVID-19 test from 18th April 2022. (Photo: Shutterstock)

This test will no longer be required from 18th April 2022, as Australia ends its biosecurity emergency period, which has been in effect for the last two years.

On-arrival testing in other states

Just yesterday we were reporting on a complete removal of on-arrival testing and isolation requirements in Western Australia (Perth), but South Australia remains one of four other states that still enforce some form of on-arrival testing, at the time of writing.


You can still expect to have to comply with the following requirements on arrival, depending on your entry point in Australia, from 18th April 2022.

State / City On-arrival testing
Test Type Test Deadline
New South Wales
ART Within 24 hours
Northern Territory
Brisbane, Cairns, Gold Coast
ART Within 24 hours
South Australia
ART Not specified
ART Within 24 hours
Western Australia

In the case of ART tests in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria, these are self-swabs using rapid antigen kits approved for use in Australia.

In all cases you must self-isolate at home or in suitable accommodation (e.g. hotel room) until a negative test result is received.

Hopefully the recent removal of on-arrival testing in Western Australia, the upcoming removal of pre-departure testing nationally, and this latest relaxation by South Australia will encourage other states like Victoria to follow suit and drop on-arrival testing in the weeks ahead.

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 Canberra or Tasmania, with no further testing required.

If you did not undergo an on-arrival test in a different state before travelling to the ACT (e.g. in Perth), you must take an ART test on arrival there, within 24 hours.

Singapore – Adelaide testing costs

With Singapore having adopted its simplified Vaccinated Travel Framework (VTF) process for fully vaccinated arriving travellers and Australia lifting its pre-departure test requirement, there will only be two COVID-19 tests involved on a round-trip to South Australia from 18th April.

Here are the estimated testing costs per fully vaccinated traveller for a Singapore – Adelaide – Singapore trip example, based on the new testing requirements, once pre-departure testing has also been dropped.

🇦🇺 VTL
Singapore Adelaide
COVID-19 Testing 
From 18th April 2022

Test Cost
Adelaide on-arrival (ART) ~S$5
Adelaide pre-departure (ART) ~S$17*
Total ~S$22*

* Based on a S$12 Tele-ART test with a provider based in Singapore, plus S$5 for your own approved test kit

Singapore is also set to drop its pre-departure test requirement for inbound travellers (i.e. those returning from Adelaide in this case) in the coming weeks, which would mean only a single on-arrival ART test for a trip like this.

Let’s hope for some good news on that front soon, since it would bring South Australia trips almost completely back to the pre-COVID process.

In the meantime, travellers now have the option of taking a self-swab Video ART in Australia with a provider based in Singapore to satisfy the pre-departure test requirement within two days of heading back to Changi, starting from just S$9 (though most still charge from around S$12), plus the cost of an approved test kit.

More changes to come?

Following Western Australia’s scrapping of mandatory on-arrival tests and this relaxation from PCR to ART testing in South Australia, we wouldn’t be surprised to see similar announcements in the coming days from other states, to coincide with Australia’s removal of pre-departure testing for international arrivals from 18th April 2022.

That would hopefully include no more testing when arriving in popular cities like Sydney and Melbourne, but we’ll have to wait and see what those state governments decide is appropriate next week.




From 18th April there will be no requirement to head out to a hospital or clinic in South Australia to get a PCR test as a fully vaccinated arriving international traveller, with a simple self-administered ART test all that’s required to end isolation and get on with your trip.

This brings the state in line with some of its neighbours like Victoria and marks the end of PCR testing for these travellers nationally, but still falls short of the “zero arrival testing” policies now applicable in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Hopefully there will be further relaxations in the pipeline for those planning Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane trips soon. Stay tuned!

(Cover Photo: Airborne Media)


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