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COVID19: Stay Informed

15 November 2021
Stay Informed COVID-19

Stay informed: COVID19

**Last updated 12.00pm EDT Monday 15 November, 2021**

Our Embassy and Consulates are doing all that we can to provide essential support to Australians in the United States. Please monitor this page, our Facebook and Twitter channels, and the Smartraveller website and social media channels, for updates.

For urgent consular assistance contact:

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

For non-urgent enquiries, complete the Smartraveller contact form here.

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INFORMATION FOR AUSTRALIANS RETURNING TO AUSTRALIA

Returning to Australia

The Australian Government has implemented plans to safely reopen Australia’s international borders and assist Australians, permanent residents and their immediate family members to return from overseas.

Further easing of restrictions and reopening of borders will be done in a staged and careful manner as vaccination rates in Australia hit target thresholds. Additional information will be provided here and via our social media channels as it becomes available.

Read more about Australia’s re-entry measures.

Travel to NSW and VIC - From 1 November 2021

From 1 November 2021, the New South Wales and Victorian Governments will allow entry to Australian citizens, permanent residents and immediate family (including the parents of citizens and permanent residents) returning from overseas without the need to quarantine, providing they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with a vaccine approved or recognised by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) (see below).

All children aged under 12 count as fully vaccinated for travel purposes. If your child is aged 12 or over and has not been vaccinated, you may be required to quarantine upon arrival.

You will need to evidence your vaccination status at check-in when travelling to Australia (see below).

Arrival caps and managed quarantine (see below) will remain in place for unvaccinated travellers and travellers vaccinated with a vaccine(s) that is not approved or recognised by the TGA. Other States and Territories are expected to make announcements in the future.

Travel to other Australian States and Territories

As Australia transitions its response to COVID-19, it is anticipated that other states and territories will introduce similar or alternative arrangements for vaccinated and unvaccinated overseas arrivals.

Information on current international passenger arrival caps and continuing quarantine arrangements in other Australian States and Territories can be found below.

Additional information will be provided here and via our social media channels as it becomes available.

Evidencing your overseas vaccination for international travel

Australian citizens, permanent residents and immediate family aged 12 years and over who were vaccinated overseas and who wish to return under these new arrangements will need to present foreign vaccination certificates, backed by a legally binding attestation of their vaccination status in the Australian Travel Declaration (see below). In all cases, foreign vaccination certificates will need to:

  • be issued by a national (e.g. CDC) or state/provincial-level authority or an accredited vaccination provider;
  • be in English or be accompanied by a certified translation;
  • include at a minimum the traveller’s name, as it appears in their passport, date of birth or passport number, the vaccine brand name, and the date of each dose or the date on which a full course of immunisation was completed.  Note:  If your vaccination certificate is in a different name to your passport, you must provide evidence of the change (e.g. marriage or name change certificate) or evidence you are the person named (e.g. driving licence or US Permanent Residence Card). 

Paper and digital vaccination certificates will be equally acceptable.

Some airlines may have additional processes to verify vaccination status. Please contact your airline for further information.

For a traveller to qualify as fully vaccinated, the certificate must show a vaccine approved or recognised by Australia’s TGA. Current approved and recognised vaccines and dosages are:

  • Two doses at least 14 days apart of:
    • AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria)
    • AstraZeneca (COVISHIELD)
    • Pfizer/Biontech (Comirnaty)
    • Moderna (Spikevax)
    • Sinovac (Coronavac)
    • BBIBP-CorV (Sinopharm) (for 18 to 60 year olds)
    • Covaxin (Bharat Biotech)
  • Or one dose of:
    • Janssen-Cilag COVID Vaccine.

Mixed doses count towards being fully vaccinated, as long as all vaccines are approved or recognised by the TGA.

A traveller will not be considered fully vaccinated unless at least 7 days have passed since the last dose of vaccine in a course of immunisation.

The TGA is continuing to evaluate other COVID-19 vaccines that may be recognised for the purposes of travel to Australia in future. Further information is available on the TGA website.

Evidencing your Australian vaccination for international travel

Australian citizens, permanent residents and immediate family who were vaccinated in Australia and/or who have already had their vaccination status recorded in the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) can download their International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate (ICVC) from the MyGov website.

Travellers eligible for the ICVC can use it immediately if they are already overseas.

From 1 November 2021, the International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate can also be used by eligible travellers leaving and re-entering Australia.

Pre-Departure testing and in-flight requirements

This information is provided as a guide and for information purposes only. Contact your airline to confirm your itinerary and travel plans and regarding requirements specific to your flight. Local authorities may have additional requirements in place for departures.

All passengers aged five and older travelling to Australia on flights departing the United States are required to return a negative COVID-19 PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test prior to departure. PCR tests are required even if you have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

PCR tests must be performed within 72 hours of departure from the United States.

In addition, passengers and crew on all international flights must wear a face mask during their flight and while in airports.

Masks are not required for children under 12 years of age and those with an official medical certificate stating why they cannot wear a mask.

Further information and FAQs regarding these requirements can be found on Smartraveller and the Department of Health website.

PCR testing is readily available in the United States, however the time it takes to receive results can vary depending upon your location and current testing demand. Some testing services are provided free of charge at health care centres and select pharmacies, others require insurance and/or payment at the time of service.

Further information on community-based testing sites is available on the US Department of Health and Human Services website. Contact your health care provider or your state or local public health department for more information.

Testing is also available through private providers such as Passport Health and Curative.

Search engines such as https://testfortravel.com may help with identifying possible testing locations, but we recommend calling ahead to confirm that your chosen location provides PCR testing that meets Australia’s requirements, availability and whether appointments are required, turnaround times and costs.

At-home tests and tests involving self-administered sample collection are NOT acceptable and DO NOT meet Australia’s pre-departure testing requirements. The respiratory sample collection must be supervised and conducted by appropriately trained healthcare personnel at an authorised and/or accredited testing facility. This ensures that the specimen is of the highest possible quality and that test results are as accurate as possible.

None of the providers listed above are affiliated with the Embassy or Australian Consulates in the United States.

Returning Australian children

Under 12 years
All children aged under 12 count as fully vaccinated for travel purposes. If your child is aged 12 or over and has not been vaccinated, you may be required to quarantine upon arrival in Australia.

Ages 12-17 years
New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory have agreed to apply an exemption for those Australians aged 12–17 to arrive from overseas who do not meet the criteria for fully vaccinated.

The affected adolescents will be required to undertake a test within 24 hours of arrival into Australia and quarantine at home for 7 days. A second test will be required on day 5 prior to completion of quarantine. They may attend school after completing 7 days home quarantine. Additionally, 12–17 year olds not fully vaccinated will not be allowed to visit other high risk settings such as disability facilities, aged-care residential facilities and hospitals until 14 days after arrival. This exemption will support safe reopening of international borders whilst ensuring Australian families with children, in countries with different vaccine eligibility settings or without a recognised or approved vaccine, can return to Australia and remain with their families on immediate return. Read the statement from Australia's Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly, about Australian children returning from overseas.

Travelling with non-Australian family

Since 20 March 2020 Australia has NOT allowed the entry of people who are not citizens, permanent residents or their families. Immediate family members of Australians and permanent residents who are not themselves Australian citizens or permanent residents must apply for an exemption to travel to Australia.

Detailed information about the exemptions is available on the Home Affairs website.

The following are considered to be immediate family members:

  • spouses;
  • de facto partners;
  • dependent children; and
  • legal guardians.

From 1 November 2021, the definition of ‘immediate family member’ will also include the parents of adult Australian citizens and permanent residents (to include biological parents, legal - including adoptive - parents, step-parents and parents-in-law). This is for the purpose of assessing exemptions to Australia’s travel restrictions only.

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.

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 subject to state and territory requirements, including managed quarantine (where applicable). 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

Australian Travel Declaration

All travellers to Australia - including Australian citizens and permanent residents - should complete an Australia Travel Declaration online at least 72 hours prior to departure. 

Airlines may request proof of completion at the time of check-in.

When completing the Declaration, you will be asked to provide your contact details in Australia, flight information, health status and requirements during quarantine (see below). This information helps the Australian Government determine your quarantine arrangements and enables health authorities to contact you if someone you travelled with tests positive for COVID-19. 

For more information, visit https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/australia-travel-declaration.

Available flights from the United States to Australia

Regular commercial flights are operating, but short-term availability remains limited. You may need to book well in advance to secure a seat(s) and be flexible with your dates, connections, airlines and destination in Australia. We recommend a flight search to find the option that works best for you.

We expect flight availability to further improve in the coming weeks, as more major carriers look to resume services.

Once you have secured flights, we encourage you to stay in regular contact with your airline or travel agent to confirm your travel plans, reservations, requirements, and that flights will be operating as advertised. 

There are currently no plans for government-facilitated flights from the United States at this stage, as regular commercial options are still available.

If you need emergency consular assistance, contact our 24/7 Consular Emergency Centre + 61 2 6261 3305. For non-urgent enquiries, email smartraveller@dfat.gov.au.

International Flight Arrivals: Passenger caps and quarantine arrangements

Passenger Caps

Temporary caps on the numbers of passengers arriving into Australian airports from overseas are in place to ease pressure on state and territory quarantine facilities (see below).

These caps could affect your flight into Australia, as airlines operating scheduled commercial flights are required to ensure they stay within their allocation. If you’re scheduled to fly home to Australia in the coming weeks, confirm your itinerary and travel plans with your airline or travel agent.

A number of categories of passengers will now be exempt from the caps arriving in Sydney and Melbourne, covering fully vaccinated Australian citizens, permanent residents or immediate family members, children 12-17 years old and certain passengers who have approved evidence of medical contraindication. The following caps on international arrivals currently apply.

Jurisdiction

Current Weekly Cap

Arrangements

Australian Capital Territory

0

Not accepting passenger arrivals.

New South Wales

210

No more than 210 passenger arrivals per week from 1 November 2021 coinciding with the introduction of additional categories of passenger exemptions from the caps.

Northern Territory

0 Not accepting passenger arrivals, however Darwin is accommodating the additional return of Australians on Government facilitated commercial services.

South Australia

265

No more than 265 passenger arrivals a week from 31 October 2021 increasing to 320 passenger arrivals per week from 12 November 2021.

Queensland

650 No more than 650 passenger arrivals per week from 31 October 2021, which is expected to increase to no more than 1,300 passenger arrivals per week from 21 November 2021.

Tasmania

0 Not accepting passenger arrivals.
Victoria 250 No more than 250 passenger arrivals per week from 1 November 2021 coinciding with the introduction of additional categories of passenger exemptions from the caps.

Western Australia

265 No more than 265 passenger arrivals per week from 31 October 2021, which is expected to increase to 530 passenger arrivals per week from 21 November 2021.

Quarantine Requirements

From 1 November 2021, Australian citizens, permanent residents and immediate family members who have been fully vaccinated with a vaccine approved or recognised by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) or are under the age of 12, may be eligible for reduced quarantine arrangements on arrival.

Quarantine requirements are managed and enforced by state and territory governments with Australian Government support. Travellers to Australia need to comply with the quarantine requirements in the state or territory of their arrival, and any other state or territories that they plan to travel to. Restrictions may change at short notice. 

Travellers returning to Australia may only enter and travel between NSW, Victoria and the ACT without quarantining.

If you wish to travel on to another state or territory please check the specific local information as you may not be allowed to enter, or may be subject to a quarantine period.  See the latest quarantine costs and arrangements for each State or Territory government here.

It is the travellers responsibility to ensure that they meet entry and quarantine arrangements for each state or territory that they intend to travel to. Travellers may be responsible for costs of quarantine if they arrive in a state or territory without meeting entry requirements.

Domestic travel within Australia

The most up-to-date information about entry conditions, forms and requirements for travel to, from and between Australian states and territories can be found on the websites of the respective state and territory governments (see below).

You can also check restrictions in all states and territories using the COVID-19 Restriction Checker.

  • New South Wales: 

COVID-19 advice

COVID-19: Border crossing information

  • Queensland:

Queensland border restrictions

Apply for an entry pass

Queensland border restrictions fact sheet

  • Western Australia: 

Coronavirus COVID-19 state of emergency declarations

  • Victoria: 

coronavirus.vic.gov.au

  • Northern Territory: 

coronavirus.nt.gov.au

  • South Australia: 

COVID-19

COVID-19 and primary industries

  • Australian Capital Territory: 

COVID-19 advice

  • Tasmania: 

coronavirus.tas.gov.au

Returning to Australia with pets

The COVID-19 pandemic has not changed the risks posed by diseases of biosecurity concern to Australia or the need for cats and dogs to meet the import permit conditions in full. This includes the requirement for cats and dogs destine for the Post Entry Quarantine Facility (PEQ) at Mickleham to arrive directly into Melbourne International Airport wherever possible.

These import conditions protect Australia against exotic diseases. 

The quarantine facility at Mickleham is fully operational and is continuing to take booking requests. Pet importers and agents are advised to make flight arrangements and reservations at the quarantine facility promptly after their import permit is approved.

This information is subject to change.

Read the latest guidance on pet imports here: www.agriculture.gov.au/cats-dogs.

Read the latest Industry Advice Notice (dated 8 January 2021) on PEQ Reservation Waiting Periods here: https://www.agriculture.gov.au/import/industry-advice/2021/01-2021.


INFORMATION FOR AUSTRALIANS IN THE UNITED STATES

US visas

All enquiries about US visas and your status in the US 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 US, 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.

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.

For Australians in the US looking to apply online, extend or change their non-immigrant (visa) 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".

ESTAS

ESTA travellers affected by COVID-19 restrictions may 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.

Suspension of mail services into Australia

USPS International Mail Service Suspensions

The United States Postal Service™️ is temporarily suspending international mail acceptance for certain destinations due to impacts related to the COVID-19 pandemic and other unrelated service disruptions. Services to Australia are among those affected. 

For further information and updates, visit: https://about.usps.com/newsroom/service-alerts/international/.


INFORMATION FOR NON-AUSTRALIANS TRAVELLING TO AUSTRALIA DURING COVID-19

Travel exemptions

Australia’s travel restrictions and exemptions

Australia’s borders are currently closed and entry to Australia remains strictly controlled to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Travel to Australia is only available if you are automatically exempt or you have been granted an individual exemption based on a prescribed criteria. Please refer to the following link on the Department of Home Affairs website for more details about Australia’s travel restrictions and the exemption process: https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/travel-restrictions

You need to apply for an exemption at least two weeks, but not more than two months, before your planned travel.

Note: The visa decision and the travel exemption decision are two separate decisions and you will be notified in writing separately for each. In general, an assessment on your visa application will not commence until you have been granted an individual exemption or you are in an exempt category of persons. 

Travel Exemption Portal

Apply online for a travel exemption online: https://travel-exemptions.homeaffairs.gov.au/tep

Parents of adult Australian citizens and permanent residents

From 1 November 2021, the definition of ‘immediate family member’ will include the parents of adult Australian citizens and permanent residents. This is for the purpose of assessing exemptions to Australia’s travel restrictions only.

The definition of parents of Australian citizens and permanent residents includes:

  • biological parents
  • legal (including adoptive) parents
  • step-parents
  • parents in-law.

Before you can travel, you will need to have your relationship with your adult Australian child confirmed by submitting a travel exemption request. You must submit your request through the Travel Exemption Portal. Select the category ‘I am an immediate family member’ and then ‘parent of adult Australian citizen or permanent resident’.

You will need to provide evidence of:

  • your adult child’s Australian citizenship or permanent residency; and
  • your parental relationship to the Australian citizen or permanent resident.

Refer to ‘Examples of evidence that you can provide’ for more information, here.

Visa Options

Details of all visas available can be found on the Department of Home Affairs Website: Applying for a Visa

Common visas used for travel from the United States to Australia:

Travelling to Australia to visit family or friends for ‘business visitor activities

You cannot apply for an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) online, or through an airline or travel agent at this time.

The Department of Home Affairs is trialling a mobile app (AustralianETA) for certain passport holders to apply for an ETA while the travel restrictions are in place.

You can use AustralianETA to apply for an ETA if:

  • you meet all ETA eligibility requirements, and
  • you hold a passport from Brunei, Canada, Hong Kong (SAR of China), Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea or the United States of America. 
    • Note: There is a non-refundable service fee of AUD20 to apply for an ETA using AustralianETA. An ETA does not allow you to work in Australia, or stay longer than three months.
    • You can download AustralianETA for free from the App Store (Apple) or Google Play store (Android). Travellers not included in the AustralianETA trial can apply online through ImmiAccount for another visa that may suit their needs. (Please ensure you familiarise yourself with all of the visa eligibility requirements that need to be met before you lodge an application.)
  • European passport holders might be eligible for an eVisitor (subclass 651) visa. There is no Visa Application Charge (VAC) or service fee for an eVisitor visa application.
  • Other passport holders might be eligible for a Visitor (subclass 600) visa in the relevant stream.

Sponsored Parent visa (Temporary) (subclass 870)

This temporary visa lets a parent of an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen, visit Australia for up to 3 or 5 years. For further details and how to apply see https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/getting-a-visa/visa-listing/sponsored-parent-temporary-870. Note: This particular type of visa has a longer processing time and applies a different legislative definition of immediate family member under the Migration Regulations 1994. Migration Regulations 1994 (legislation.gov.au)

An individual with a pending sponsored parent visa is not precluded from applying for one of the temporary visas listed above.

Australia Travel Declaration

All travellers to Australia - including Australian citizens and permanent residents - should complete an Australia Travel Declaration online at least 72 hours prior to departure. 

Airlines may request proof of completion at the time of check-in.

When completing the Declaration, you will be asked to provide your contact details in Australia, flight information, health status and requirements during quarantine (see below). This information helps the Australian Government determine your quarantine arrangements and enables health authorities to contact you if someone you travelled with tests positive for COVID-19. 

For more information, visit https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/australia-travel-declaration.


INFORMATION FOR EMBASSY VISITORS, INCLUDING CONSULAR AND PASSPORT CLIENTS

Embassy and Consulate visitors

The Embassy and Consulates are taking special precautions to protect visitors and staff. This includes daily cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces, such as tables, countertops, light switches, door handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

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

Please note that our gallery is temporarily closed until further notice.

Consular, passport and notarial services (see below) are currently by appointment only.

Consular and Passport clients

The Embassy and Consulates remain open for consular, passport and notarial services. All in-person services are by appointment only. 

Appointment availability varies by location. 

Please visit our Where To Apply page for details on where you can make an appointment and find details of requirements to attend in-person passport interviews. 

You can find answers to frequently asked questions and further guidance here:  Applying for a passport during COVID-19.