Student arrival plans and latest travel advice

This page will be regularly updated with the latest information and advice regarding travel to Australia and the student visa process.

** UPDATE (30 November)**: The return of fully vaccinated eligible visa holders, including students, to Australia has been paused until 15 December 2021 to enable further information to be gathered on the new COVID-19 Omicron variant. More details.

Despite this temporary pause in reopening, students can still work to ensure they have all paperwork and documents ready for their return to Australia and we encourage you to use this time to do so. 

(29 November): Due to the Omicron variant in southern Africa, travel restrictions are in place for South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Malawi and Mozambique (please note, Seychelles is no longer on this list). More details

Please note in light of the changing situation, we are continually updating all relevant sections of this page and our website, so please keep checking back for updates as more information comes to hand.

 

Student arrival plans

The Northern Territory has announced all fully vaccinated arrivals into the Territory will be required to undergo rapid antigen testing from 20 December 2021. Fully vaccinated arrivals will no longer be required to quarantine from 20 December 2021 but an ongoing testing requirement will continue. For more information, visit https://coronavirus.nt.gov.au/travel/international-travel 

Western Australia has announced it will welcome fully vaccinated international students with no quarantine period once 90% of Western Australians are fully vaccinated. It is expected that this target will be reached in late January or early February 2022, in time for Semester 1. More on WA's arrival plan can be found on the Study Perth website.

Queensland will welcome back fully vaccinated international students from early 2022. Under Queensland's plan, once 90% of the state's eligible population (aged 16+) is fully vaccinated, there will be no quarantine requirement for international students arriving in Queensland from overseas. More information on Queensland’s student arrivals plan can be found on the Study Queensland website.

South Australia will welcome fully vaccinated international arrivals (including international students) with no quarantine period once 90% of South Australians (aged 12+) are fully vaccinated. It is expected that the 90% target will be reached in late December 2021. More information on the return of international students to Adelaide, including FAQs, can be found at https://studyadelaide.com/return

For information relating to students wishing to travel to Victoria, visit https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/international-student-arrivals-plan

For students looking to return to or enter Tasmania to resume or commence study, Tasmania's travel restrictions will relax from 15 December. Those arriving prior to 15 December (and arriving via a connecting flight from the Australian mainland) will need to undergo hotel quarantine for 14 days. From 15 December onwards, there will be no quarantine requirement for fully vaccinated arrivals who have a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours before flying into Tasmania. If a student is coming from a 'hot spot' where there are COVID-19 cases, they will be required to return a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours before their departure from mainland Australia. More information on Tasmania's plan can be found at https://www.coronavirus.tas.gov.au/transition-plan/travel-to-tasmania#Open-15-December-2021

The Australian Capital Territory has announced it will welcome back international tertiary education students, who are fully vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine recognised by Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration, for the start of the 2022 academic year. UPDATE: In response to the discovery of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron, all international travellers into the ACT will need to quarantine for 72 hours after arrival and obtain a COVID-19 test. International travellers arriving into NSW or Victoria who have been in South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Eswatini or Malawi for the past 14 days from 1 December 2021, must not travel to the ACT until quarantine requirements have been completed at their point of entry into Australia.  As of 15 December, provided students are fully vaccinated and meet the pre-flight 72 hour negative COVID-19 test requirement, they will be allowed in to the ACT without the need for a travel exemption. More information: https://www.covid19.act.gov.au/travel/entering-the-act

New South Wales has announced plans for the staggered return of international students through a pilot program of 250 students every two weeks beginning Monday 6 December, then on 24 December, 2021, starting with student visa holders currently enrolled with a NSW education provider. Pilot plan flights will continue in January depending on what happens with the Omicron variant. For more on the New South Wales plan, see 'Return' on the the Study NSW webpage, www.study.sydney/return. If you are enrolled with an education provider in New South Wales, please refer to your provider's website for further details. UPDATE: Please note: The NSW student arrivals plan remains unaffected by the temporary pause until 15 December, and the first flight of students to arrive under their pilot plan will still arrive on Monday, 6 December. This means that as of 6 December, provided the first batch of students are fully vaccinated, they will be required to: 1)self-isolate at on-campus student accommodation (at one of 5 locations in Sydney - regional students will need to isolate in these locations too) for at least 72 hours, 2)get a COVID-19 PCR (nose and throat) test before they leave their 72 hour isolation period and then 3) get an additional PCR test six days after arriving in NSW. (Independent students will be allowed to self isolate in some student or private accommodation.)

Further expansions to arrival programs across Australia are planned by other States and Territories and will be guided by expert health advice. We will keep you updated here.

Latest travel advice

In addition to following the advice below, we also encourage you to stay in contact with your education provider for information and updates.

Pre-departure testing

Students will need to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test taken within 3 days of their scheduled departure to Australia. They will need to show the evidence of this test result on the first flight (if there are one or more connecting flights) booked unless an exemption applies. More specific details on this can be found at 'COVID-19 vaccine information'.

Australia Travel Declaration

From 1 November 2021, all travellers to Australia MUST complete an Australia Travel Declaration (ATD) at least 72 hours before departure. The ATD contains a declaration regarding the traveller’s vaccination status that is considered to be critical health information. Travellers must be able to provide evidence that they made this declaration before boarding the aircraft. This is an enforceable requirement under the Biosecurity (Entry Requirements—Human Coronavirus with Pandemic Potential) Determination 2021. A person who fails to comply with the requirements under the determination may be liable to a civil penalty (fine) of 30 penalty units (currently $6,660 AUD). Further, travellers who do not make the declaration prior to boarding will be subject to delays when arriving in Australia.

If a passenger presents without having completed the ATD they should be encouraged to do so before uplift and advised that it is an enforceable requirement that they can produce evidence that they have completed the relevant declaration before boarding the aircraft. If a passenger is unable to complete the ATD the airline should request the passenger completes a manual (paper) declaration prior to boarding. Passengers should retain the completed manual declaration and provide to a relevant authority on arrival.

From mid-December the ATD will change to the Digital Passenger Declaration (DPD). More information on the DPD will be published on this page when more details come to hand.

Travel restrictions and exemptions

As of 1 December 2021, if you are unvaccinated, you will need to obtain a travel exemption to enter Australia. We are currently working on updating this section, however you may be eligible to apply for a travel exemption if you are already:

  • Completing the final two years of study of a medical, dental, nursing or allied health profession university degree, where there is evidence of a confirmed placement in an Australian hospital or medical practice which commences within the next two months.
  • Enrolled in an Australian education institution as a PhD student where your research is considered essential and your role is critical to the research.
  • Continuing as a higher degree research students, whose research is funded by an Australian Government grants program. The Department of Home Affairs will accept a current Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) with the Research Training Program funding listed in travel exemption applications, as well as letters from the Australian Research Council (ARC) or the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). Please see the updated Guidelines on Australia's 'inwards' travel restriction policy.
  • Research higher degree students without an Australian Government research grant are still able to apply for an exemption if they have a letter of support, as per the Guidelines at paragraph 1.4 of the Guidelines.
  • A Singaporean national departing for Australia from Singapore - please note this is continuing despite the temporary pause, until 15 December 2021, on Australia welcoming back international students. As a result of the temporary pause to 15 December, the travel arrangement with Japanese and Korean nationals has also been paused.
  • For more on travel exemptions, including applying online, visit the Travel restrictions and exemptions page on the Department of Home Affairs website.

Restrictions on travel to Australia will remain in place for unvaccinated students after 1 December. However they can still enrol with an Australian education provider, be granted a student visa offshore, and commence or continue their studies online if they are unable to obtain a travel exemption.

If you're unvaccinated but are granted a travel exemption and wish to get vaccinated in Australia, you will have free access to COVID-19 vaccines in Australia. More information on COVID-19 vaccines are available at 'COVID-19 Vaccine information'.

Latest advice on visas

Despite the current travel restrictions and gradual return of students to on-campus studies, the Australian Government is continuing to grant student visas and we advise the following:

  • If you are a new student, please first enrol at an education institution and then apply for a student visa, so that you are ready to travel to Australia when it is possible.
  • If you already hold a student visa and you are currently located in your home country, you may wish to consider continuing or commencing your studies online. Australian education providers offer a range of online learning and study load options – please refer to your education institution for further details.
  • The length of stay, for those students who have the Temporary Graduate visa, is being extended from two (2) to three (3) years for Masters by Coursework graduates, matching the provisions for Masters by Research graduates. Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector graduates will also receive a two (2) year Temporary Graduate visa.
  • Please remember that if you do already hold a student visa, online study done outside of Australia due to COVID-19 can count towards the Australian study requirement for a post-study work visa.
  • Current and former Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa holders who lost time in Australia due to COVID-19 international travel restrictions will be able to apply for a replacement Temporary Graduate visa from 1 July 2022. This includes people who were outside of Australia at any time between 1 February 2020 and 1 December 2021 while they held a Temporary Graduate visa.
  • If you have already commenced studying online and do not have a student visa, we encourage you to apply for a student visa now, so that when travel restrictions are eased you can travel to Australia to continue your studies here.
  • If you are already located in Australia, health and wellbeing support is available to all international students through education providers, government and community services.
  • It is important you are able to financially support yourself throughout your studies during your time in Australia. Please refer to this guide to calculate your living costs while living and studying in Australia.
  • Please also refer to our answers to your most frequently asked visa questions at the bottom of this page, below the Travel FAQs.

Frequently asked visa questions (FAQs)

The Australian Government’s Department of Home Affairs has provided answers and important links related to your most frequently asked student visa questions.

You can also find updates at https//covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/

Travel FAQs

For more information on proof of vaccinations, vaccines recognised by Australia and any other specific details related to vaccines, visit our 'COVID-19 vaccine information' page.

How does vaccination verification work for those transferring flights within Australia or using partner airlines?

Vaccination verification can occur anywhere along the domestic/international traveller journey, as long as verification has been undertaken prior to the passenger exiting or arriving in Australia on their journey.

In the case of families travelling together to ensure their high school child settles in, what if one or more members of the group don't meet Australia's requirements for being fully vaccinated?

The airline may still board unvaccinated passengers, though they will need to be carried in accordance with any passenger caps and subject to state and territory quarantine requirements. Please also note the special arrangements in place for unvaccinated and partially vaccinated 12-17 year olds.

From 1 November, unvaccinated or partially vaccinated Australian children aged 12-17 years old entering Australia through New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory will be exempt from passenger caps and eligible for reduced quarantine requirements. Where a child is travelling with parent/guardians who are all fully vaccinated, the entire family will be able to travel outside of passenger caps. If the child is travelling with unvaccinated adult family members, then the entire family group will be subject to managed quarantine and passenger caps.

Are fully vaccinated 'immediate family' members allowed to fly to Australia?

Yes, but only if they are fully vaccinated citizens of Singapore (as of 21 November 2021), and Japan and South Korea (as of 1 December 2021). Caps on the number of international arrivals will continue to apply for all international arrivals to other jurisdictions, regardless of vaccination status, until further advice is provided. This is a constantly evolving situation so please keep checking this page for updates as they become available.

Will a traveller need to demonstrate that they have arranged a relevant quarantine place or booking at check-in?

All arrivals to Australia will be subject to the Public Health Orders in effect in whichever jurisdiction they arrive, including any requirements for quarantine. There is no responsibility on airlines to verify at check-in that a passenger has made arrangements for a quarantine place (if one is required) on their arrival in Australia.

Is the Australia Travel Declaration (ATD) mandatory for inbound and outbound travel, and what happens if one cannot be produced?

Passengers (including international students) are told to complete the ATD for travel into Australia at least 72 hours before departure. Where evidence of a completed ATD cannot be produced at check-in, either because the passenger has chosen not to complete the ATD or because of any other cause, students will be encouraged to complete an ATD, or failing that, a manual declaration. Where a manual declaration is undertaken, the student will be asked to retain their declaration for handing to relevant authorities on arrival in Australia.

Will the Australia Travel Declaration (ATD) automatically verify a traveller's vaccination status?

No. Airlines will need to verify the traveller’s vaccination status, noting that automation of vaccination status for travellers will start being possible via the Digital Passenger Declaration (DPD) due to be implemented in December 2021.

Will airlines need to separately validate the health information of a traveller if they complete the ATD and upload a negative COVID-19 test along with supporting health information?

Yes. The airline will still be required to ensure the passenger is ‘fully vaccinated’ to Australian requirements, either by checking the vaccination history in a copy of their vaccination certificate or by scanning their ICVC QR code. Airlines will also need to sight evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 3 days of the time of scheduled departure.

What methods of vaccine verification are there?

The Australia Travel Declaration (ATD) is being used for passengers to provide health information until the Digital Passenger Declaration (DPD) goes live in mid-December 2021.

Is it mandatory for passengers to complete an Australia Travel Declaration (ATD) or manual travel declaration prior to boarding a flight to Australia?

No. Airlines should encourage passengers to complete an ATD or manual travel declaration prior to uplift though, as passengers without one will be referred for review on arrival in Australia, which will add to their arrival processing time.

When are travel exemptions declared for the status of a traveller?

Airlines are required to contact the Australian Border Operations Centre to confirm the status of a traveller who receives a 'do not board' message during the screening process before boarding their flight.

What quarantine requirements will exist for unvaccinated students arriving in Australia from 1 November 2021?

This is a matter for the student to consult with their education provider in the relevant State or Territory. All arrivals to Australia will be subject to the Public Health Orders in effect in whichever jurisdiction they arrive, including any requirements for quarantine. As of 23 November 2021, NSW, Victoria and the ACT do not require fully vaccinated students to quarantine. More information on jurisdictional quarantine requirements is at www.australia.gov.au/states.

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Step by step guide to student visas

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