Great news for those planning trips to Sydney, with confirmation that from today (21st June 2022) the COVID-19 testing requirements laid down by the state government will no longer require international arriving travellers to take a self-swab antigen test within 24 hours of touching down in New South Wales.
While the Commonwealth Government requirement for pre-departure testing when travelling to Australia was abolished back in April 2022, some individual states have retained their own ‘on-arrival’ testing rules. This has included New South Wales.
This latest relaxation means that no isolation will be required when you arrive in New South Wales from overseas, so you can get on with your trip immediately. It also makes Singapore – Sydney trips completely test-free and quarantine-free for fully vaccinated travellers, in both directions.
This development leaves Queensland and South Australia as the only Australian states with direct international flights imposing mandatory on-arrival testing for overseas travellers.
The news comes as New Zealand removes pre-departure testing, a policy also becoming effective from today, though the country has maintained two mandatory post-arrival swabs for now.
NSW on-arrival testing has been scrapped
If you arrived in New South Wales from overseas on or before 20th June 2022, you were required to:
- Go straight to your home or accommodation
- Take a RAT (ART) test using an approved kit within 24 hours
- Isolate until a negative result had been obtained
- Register with Service NSW if your test result was positive (no reporting for negative results)
From 21st June 2022, it will no longer be a requirement to take a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT / ART) on arrival in New South Wales, removing all these requirements.
Instead the state now recommends health monitoring, with testing recommended only for those exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.
Pre-departure testing was axed in April
The removal of on-arrival testing in New South Wales this week comes two months after a wider national removal of the Commonwealth Government requirement for a pre-departure test for fully vaccinated travellers heading to Australia from overseas.
This test has not been required since 18th April 2022, which coincided with Australia ending its two-year biosecurity emergency period.
Although NSW decided to work together with neighbouring Victoria to streamline international travel requirements for arriving overseas passengers back in December 2021, political harmony is short-lived in Australia, and the two state Premiers since diverged on this policy.
Victoria ditched mandatory post-arrival testing in April 2022, just five days after pre-departure testing was removed by the Australian Government, but New South Wales has maintained the requirement for two further months, until now that is.
Sydney arrival process
Here’s how the process now looks for travellers to fly internationally into Sydney from Singapore, or from other countries with direct flights.
- Meet Commonwealth Government requirements (eVisa) to enter Australia
- Be fully vaccinated under the Commonwealth Government requirements, unless exempt
- Complete the Digital Passenger Declaration within seven days of departure
Children are considered fully vaccinated travellers for entry into Australia, regardless of their actual vaccination status if:
- They are aged 11 years old or under, or
- They are aged 12 to 17 years and are travelling with at least one adult (aged 18+) who is fully vaccinated
See the latest full list of requirements for international travellers arriving in New South Wales here.
On-arrival testing in other states
Despite a relaxation in New South Wales, two other Australian states still enforce on-arrival testing at the time of writing.
You can therefore continue to expect to have to comply with the following requirements on arrival, depending on your entry point in Australia.
|State / City||On-arrival testing|
|Test Type||Test Deadline|
|New South Wales
Brisbane, Cairns, Gold Coast
|ART||Within 24 hours|
As you can see only Queensland and South Australia still mandate on-arrival testing for international travellers, so if you’re touching down in Adelaide, Cairns, Brisbane or Gold Coast you’ll still be subject to this requirement
Thankfully in both states this can be a self-administered antigen test (RAT / ART) you can perform quickly and easily, using rapid antigen kits approved for use in Australia.
In Queensland you must self-isolate at home or in suitable accommodation (e.g. hotel room) until a negative test result is received, while South Australia only mentions the need to isolate until your test is taken.
Hopefully this latest move by New South Wales and the recent removal of pre-departure testing will encourage these two states to follow suit and also 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 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. having arrived in Sydney, where it is no longer required), you are encouraged to take an ART test within 24 hours, though this is not mandatory.
While neighbouring Victoria was quick to ditch its on-arrival COVID-19 test requirement for international travellers in tandem with the removal of the national pre-departure testing mandate, New South Wales has remained more cautious.
For the last two months a self-swab ART test has still been required within 24 hours, including isolation until a negative result was obtained, though there was no reporting necessary for negative results under this ‘honour’ system and the inconvenience was minimal.
Thankfully on-arrival testing for international travellers touching down in New South Wales has now been ditched, for an almost pre-COVID travel experience where you’re free to get on with your trip as soon as you step out of the airport.
(Cover Photo: Destination NSW)