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COVID19: Stay Informed

6 August 2020

Stay informed: COVID19

**Last updated 8.30pm EDT Wednesday 5 Augusut 2020 - Please monitor this page and our social media channels for updates (Facebook, Twitter)**


Information for Australians (per Smartraveller)

**Last updated 4.00pm EDT Friday 31 July 2020**

For urgent consular assistance contact:

  • +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas 
  • 1300 555 135 from within Australia

For non-urgent inquiries, email smartraveller@dfat.gov.au

International Flight Arrivals: Quarantine and payment arrangements in Australia

From 11:59pm AEDT 28 March, all travellers arriving in to Australia from overseas will go into monitored quarantine in hotels or other designated facilities for 14 days, before they can go home. Quarantine will be at your city of arrival into Australia. Refer to your local state government for the latest responses to the coronavirus pandemic. You can also check restrictions in all states and territories using the COVID-19 Restriction Checker.
Restrictions in place until: Further notice.

If you’re due to arrive back in Australia soon, you may have to contribute to the cost of quarantine. Individual states and territories have started to introduce their own quarantine arrangements and costs. Some have an exemption period, where if you purchased your ticket before a certain date you will not be charged for quarantine. Most states are offering payment plans, fee reductions and/or fee waivers for those experiencing financial hardship.

We know this is a stressful time for many Australians overseas who are trying to get home. Our embassies, high commissions and consulates will continue to provide you with assistance and information during this time. Check with your airline to see if your flight is affected, and check with your local state and territory for the latest quarantine costs and arrangements:

Flight caps (For period 13 July - 15 August 2020)

**Last updated 12.00pm EDT Thursday 23 July 2020**

In order to manage and maintain quarantine arrangements the Australian Government has agreed to implement further caps on international arrivals:

  • Sydney: no more than 350 passenger arrivals per day (with a cap of 30 passengers per flight)

  • Brisbane: no more than 500 arrivals per week (with a cap of 30 passengers per flight)

  • Perth: no more than 75 passenger arrivals per day, on average (with a cap of 50 passengers per flight)

  • Melbourne: no incoming passenger arrivals until further notice.

Passengers with upcoming flights to Australia are advised to contact their airline or travel agent in the first instance for information on any changes to their flight. These conditions will be regularly reviewed and updated.

Read more about the changes via SmartravellerRead the Prime Minister's Media Release dated 10 July 2020.

Available Flights from the US to Australia

**Last updated 4.00pm EDT Friday 31 July 2020**

If you are in the United States and want to return to Australia, consider one of the following flight options. (Note: There are other flight options available with more connections. If none of the above meet your needs we recommend a flight search to find the option that works best for you.)

SFO to SYD: Daily
Book via united.com

LAX to SYD: Wednesdays, Fridays, Sundays
Book via delta.com

Air New Zealand
LAX to SYD, BNE (via AKL): 3-4 times weekly*
*Due to Australian Government restrictions Air New Zealand has put a hold on further bookings to Australia until 28 August.
Book via airnewzealand.com

Qatar Airways
Various (BOS, ORD, DFW, LAX, JFK, IAD) to SYD, PER, BNE (via DOH)*
*Frequency depends on departure city
Book via qatarairways.com

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Australian State and Territory Border Closures

Some states and territories in Australia have closed their borders to non-essential travel due to COVID-19. Each state or territory has their own entry requirements. The most up-to-date information about entry conditions, forms and requirements is on the government website of the state and territory you are travelling to. You can also check restrictions in all states and territories using the COVID-19 Restriction Checker.

Australian Capital Territory

ACT Government

New South Wales

Department of Primary Industries

Northern Territory

Northern Territory Government


Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

South Australia

Government of South Australia

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development


Tasmania Government

Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment


Victoria Government

Western Australia

Western Australia Government

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COVID-19 - Ban on Departure from Australia

The Australian Government advises all Australians do not travel overseas at this time. This is the highest advice level (level 4 of 4). On 24 March the Prime Minister announced a ban on all overseas travel, with few exceptions. The ban will help prevent travellers returning to Australia with coronavirus.

Some exemptions will apply including for:

  • people ordinarily resident in a country other than Australia
  • ​​​airline and maritime crew and associated safety workers
  • New Zealand citizens holding a Special Category (Subclass 444) Visa are not permanent residents for the purposes of the Biosecurity Determination and are permitted to depart Australia. New Zealand citizens who are permanent visa holders may apply for a Commissioner’s discretion
  • ​people engaged in the day to day conduct of outbound and inbound freight
  • people whose travel is associated with essential work at offshore facilities and
  • people travelling on official government business, including members of the Australian Defence Force

For more details or to apply for an exemption visit: the Department of Home Affairs.
For more information go to Smartraveller's COVID-19 Travel Ban page.

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Australian Government Information

The Australian Government is providing important information and resources for all Australians. Various departments are responsible for specific elements of the whole-of-government repsonse to COIVD-19. The Government is supported by the National Cabinet comprising the prime minister and all state and territory premiers and chief ministers.

The Australian Government COVID portal: one-stop-shop on how the Government is responding to COVID-19​.
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Smartraveller: smartraveller travel alerts and consular contact details. ​​​​​​
Department of Home Affairs: border closures, immigration and cyber security.
Department of Health: resources to help you flatten the curve. ​​​​​​
Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade): information for Australian exporters. ​​​​​​
Treasury: economic overview of the response. ​​​​​​
Services Australia (Centrelink): financial support for individuals. ​​​​​​
Business Australia: assistance for Australian businesses.

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Information for Australian Pet Owners

**Last updated 7.40pm EDT Wednesday 5 August 2020**

The current COVID-19 pandemic does not change the existing risks posed by diseases of biosecurity concern to Australia or the need for cats and dogs to meet the import permit conditions in full. These import conditions protect Australia against exotic diseases. To ensure animal welfare and manage the significant biosecurity risks posed by international transport of animals, all animals destined for the quarantine facility at Mickleham must arrive directly into Melbourne Airport. Animals cannot be transhipped to Melbourne on a domestic flight from another Australian port.  

Please note Melbourne Airport and the Mickleham quarantine facility are currently not accepting animals arriving from international ports. Due to current operational demands, the quarantine facility at Mickleham is close to capacity and has a limited number of places available over the coming months. Pet importers and agents are advised to make flight arrangements and reservations at the quarantine facility promptly after their import permit is approved. For more information regarding the closure please see: https://www.agriculture.gov.au/import/industry-advice/2020/121-2020 and for general information regarding pet imports please see https://www.agriculture.gov.au/cats-dogs.

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Cruise Ship Information

**This section last updated 11:00am EDT Wednesday 22July 2020**

The Embassy is aware that there are still cruise ships off the coast of the US with crew remaining on board. Crew members cannot disembark at a US port until the cruise lines can satisfy the stringent requirements that have been imposed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). One requirement is that charter flights must be arranged to repatriate crew, as US authorities will not allow crew to travel on commercial aircraft or other forms of public transportation. 

On 16 April 2020, Ambassador Arthur Sinodinos wrote to Australian crew members. You can read the Ambassador’s letter here. Further updates have been emailed to crew who have registered with us (see below) as new information has become available.

Cruise lines are continuing to work on repatriation plans, however, the situation is complex and the repatriation of crew to their home countries involves the agreement of a number of governments, authorities and airlines. 

In light of CDC restrictions relating to travel on commercial aircraft within and from the US, the cruise lines are focusing primarily on the repatriation of crew by sealift to Europe or Asia, or via charter flights originating from outside the US, and subsequent connecting commercial flights to Australia. 

Carnival/HAL/Princess consolidated non-essential crew onto ships sailing to Europe or Asia, where they connected with commercial flights to Australia. The Regal Princess, Sky Princess, Emerald Princess, Nieuw Statendam and Carnival Breeze arrived at various ports in Europe. Several other ships have arrived in, or are currently en route to Manila.

Norwegian transferred some Australian crew onto the Norwegian Star and Norwegian Breakaway, which sailed to Southampton and Barcelona respectively. Those crew members have since been repatriated.

The Disney Magic arrived in the UK on 19 May. Australian crew on board were repatriated on flights from London. The Disney Dream and the Disney Wonder disembarked non-essential Australian crew in Barbados on 14 June for repatriation on a charter flight to London and connecting commercial flights from London to Australia.

Similarly, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL) transferred Australian crew from various RCCL and Celebrity ships onto the Freedom of the Seas for repatriation on charter flights from Barbados to London and connecting commercial flights from London to Australia. 

Cruise lines are also repatriating individual and small groups of crew where commercial and other pathways open up.

We are still engaged with Carnival/HAL/Princess, Norwegian, Disney, RCCL and others regarding the repatriation of remaining crew, and will update this page as we receive further information.

In the meantime, cruise ships will continue to make regular stops at US ports for resupply and will coordinate with the US Coast Guard and public health agencies to provide transportation for any crew members who need emergency medical care.

We are mindful about the potential impact delays and the uncertainty regarding arrangements may be having on crew health and well-being. We understand that the cruise lines have appropriately trained staff available for you to speak to about medical issues and to connect you with counselling and support services, if required. You can also find information and counselling support at www.beyondblue.org.au or by contacting the Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305 and asking to be transferred to a Lifeline (www.lifeline.org.au ) telephone crisis supporter.

If you are an Australian crew member in or near US waters or in the Caribbean: 

  • Please email Consular.Washington@dfat.gov.au if you haven’t already registered with the Australian Embassy or one of the Consulates. We will contact you to request further information. 
  • If you have volunteered to remain on board in order to keep ships operational, please email Consular.Washington@dfat.gov.au
  • If you have specific concerns or fall ill, please make contact with your ship’s medical facilities or HR areas, and contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305 (1300 555 135 for family members and friends in Australia) or email Centre.Conops@dfat.gov.au.

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Embassy and Consulate visitors

The Australian Embassy and Consulates-General are taking precautions to protect visitors and staff during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This includes cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces daily such as tables, light switches, countertops, door handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

Please note, in the public facing areas of our Embassy, only passport, consular and notarial services remain open.  Our gallery is temporarily closed, until further notice.

All members of the public who enter our Embassy and Consulates-General must wear a face covering during the time of their visit.

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Passport and consular clients

The Australian Embassy and Consulates-General remain open to provide essential passport and consular services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some offices are accepting appointments to receive passport applications in person. Appointment availability varies by location.  In addition, local health requirements prevent clients in some states from attending certain offices until a mandatory quarantine has been completed. Please visit our Where To Apply pagefor details on where you can make an appointment.  Staff may wear gloves during security screening and the exchange of documents with visitors. Visitors are being asked to use hand-sanitizer as appropriate.

Other offices are no longer able to see clients in person except in an emergency situation.  If the office that services your state is not taking appointments, it may be possible to apply for a temporary passport by mail if you have confirmed international travel in the next 2 months.  Please see Applying For A Temporary Passport for more information.

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Information for travellers to Australia

**Last updated 1.00pm EDT Monday 27 July 2020**

From Friday 20 March 9pm AEDT (6.00am EDT) Australia will NOT allow the entry of people who are not citizens, permanent residents or their families. Immediate family members who are not permanent residents must apply for an exemption if they wish to travel to Australia during this period. Detailed information about the exemptions is available on the Home Affairs website.

web form is available for family members to apply for an exemption. Proof of the family relationship should be provided as part of this request. Non-family members may also use the form to apply for an exemption if they have a compelling or compassionate reason for travel.

What does this mean? If you’re an Australian citizen or permanent resident, you and your immediate family will be able to return to Australia. You’ll still be required to quarantine for 14 days. If you’re a foreign national visiting Australia, you’ll still be allowed to depart Australia.

For additional Australian visa information in relation to COVID-19 please refer to our Visas and Migration page.

Travel exemption requirements for individuals in critical sectors or with critical skills **new section**

The Commissioner of the Australian Border Force may grant an individual exemption if you are a non-citizen:

  • travelling at the invitation of the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority for the purpose of assisting in the COVID-19 response
  • providing critical or specialist medical services, including air ambulance, medical evacuations and delivering critical medical supplies
  • with critical skills required to maintain the supply of essential goods and services (such as in medical technology, critical infrastructure, telecommunications, engineering and mining, supply chain logistics, agricultural technology, food production, and the maritime industry)
  • delivering services in sectors critical to Australia’s economic recovery (such as financial technology, large scale manufacturing, film and television production and emerging technology), where no Australian worker is available
  • whose entry would otherwise be in Australia's national interest, supported by the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority.

An individual can submit a request for a travel exemption under this category or a business can submit a request on their behalf. The applications of multiple travellers within the same group/business can be linked, so that the requests are considered together.

Please request an exemption using the form below and provide appropriate evidence to support the claims. All documents need to be officially translated into English.

An exemption should generally be applied for at least 4 weeks, but not more than 3 months, before planned travel. Urgent business travel will be considered inside this timeframe.

More information is on the Department of Home Affairs Critical Skills and Sectors page.

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US Visas

**Last updated 9:45am EDT Tuesday, 23 June 2020**

All enquiries about US visas and your status in country should be directed to the relevant US authorities. If you are in Australia, please contact the US Embassy in Canberra, or one of the US Consulates in SydneyPerth or Melbourne. If you are already in the United States, please contact the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on +1 800 375 5283, or the Department of State’s Visa Services on +1 202 485 7600.

The Presidential Proclamation announced on 22 June 2020 does not affect E3 visas. This proclamation effects the issuance of new visa’s in certain categories, including; H-1B, H-2B, J, and L. For more information on the Proclamation please see: https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-suspending-entry-aliens-present-risk-u-s-labor-market-following-coronavirus-outbreak/

For Australians in the US looking to apply online, extend or change their non-immigrant status (including E3 visa holders) please visit this link: https://www.uscis.gov/i539online

If you can’t contact USCIS and are delayed beyond your departure date (e.g. due to airline cancellations or you are unable to apply to USCIS to extend your stay because USCIS offices are closed) you should keep documentation in order to present to US authorities in future should the need arise, and seek the advice of a migration lawyer.

If you are in possession of a current E3 visa that is due to expire you may apply for a 240 day extension. More information is available here https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/uscis-response-covid-19 - under tab "Extension of Stay/Change of Status".

We would also encourage you to consult your employer or sponsor and speak with an immigration attorney to see what options may be available to you.

US Department of State: suspension of routine visa services: In response to significant worldwide challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of State is temporarily suspending routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates. Embassies and consulates have canceled all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments as of March 20, 2020. As resources allow, embassies and consulates will continue to provide emergency and mission critical visa services. More information: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/suspension-of-routine-visa-services.html


**This section last updated 5.15pm EDT Friday 17 April 2020**

ESTA travelers affected by COVID-19 restrictions may now apply for an extended term of admission. Please see this announcement for further information. If you are travelling in the United States under the Visa Waiver Program and are concerned about your status in country, contact the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on +1 800 375 5283. You can also speak with an immigration attorney to see what options may be available to you


**This section last updated 5.15pm EDT Wednesday 8 July 2020**

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announced modifications on 6 July to temporary exemptions for nonimmigrant students taking online classes due to the pandemic for the Fall 2020 semester. For more information see SEVP modifies temporary exemptions for nonimmigrant students taking online courses during fall 2020 semester on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website.

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US Operating Status and Self Isolation Requirements per State

**Last updated 12.00pm EDT Tuesday 7 July 2020**

Operating status updates for each state, including schools, restaurants, emergency services and transport are available on the state's local website. We recommend you closely monitor and register for alerts from these local authorities in your state. For your convenience we have compiled a list of all state local information on our Local Conditions: COVID-19 page.

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