Changes to COVID-19 testing requirements for travellers from China (including Hong Kong and Macau)

From 5 January 2023, if you are travelling to Australia from China, you will be required to take a COVID-19 test within 48-hours before your scheduled flight.

04 Jan 2023

Note: This article was published in January 2023. For the latest update regarding COVID-19 predeparture requirements for China, click here.

On 1 January 2023, the Australian Government announced a temporary pre-departure COVID-19 testing requirement for people travelling to Australia from the People’s Republic of China, including the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau.

This testing requirement currently applies to citizens of all countries, including Australian citizens, who plan to travel from these locations to Australia.

If you are planning to travel to Australia from China (including Hong Kong and Macau), you will now be required to take a COVID-19 test within 48-hours of your scheduled flight.

This is a temporary requirement based on expert health advice, designed to support your health and safety. Australian education and training providers are still very much looking forward to welcoming you to their campuses, to begin or continue your studies in 2023.

What type of COVID-19 test is accepted?

  • A negative Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) is accepted if it is administered or supervised by a medical practitioner.
  • A negative Nucleic Acid Amplification Technology (NAA) test is also accepted. This includes a saliva specimen-based COVID-19 NAA test.

What type of evidence do I need to provide and when?

You may be asked to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test prior to boarding your flight. You may also be asked to provide evidence of your negative test on arrival in Australia.

A result from your testing provider can be used as evidence of a negative test if an NAA test is used. 

If a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) is used, a certificate from the medical practitioner administering or supervising the test will be required. This certificate should include the following information: 

  • Date and time of the test 
  • Name of the individual tested 
  • Type of test conducted 
  • Brand and make of the test 
  • Confirmation that the specimen for the test was collected, and the test was carried out by – or under the supervision of – a medical practitioner
  • Result of the test
  • Signature of the medical practitioner providing the certificate. 

Important notes:  

  • There is no requirement to produce evidence in English.
  • There is no requirement to show proof of vaccination. 

What if my flight is delayed, rescheduled or cancelled?

If you have had your COVID-19 test but your flight has been delayed outside the 48-hour testing window, you do not need to get tested again.

However, if your flight has been re-scheduled or cancelled, you will need to provide new evidence of a negative COVID-19 test. 

What about for passengers transiting through China, including Hong Kong and Macau?

Travellers transiting through China, including Hong Kong and Macau, on flights that originated in another country, do not need to undertake pre-departure testing.

However, the testing requirement does apply to those who travel to China, including Hong Kong or Macau from another country and spend several days there prior to travelling to Australia.

Are there any exemptions to the testing requirements?

There are some exemptions to the testing requirements. Exemptions apply to:

  • Airline crew
  • Children under 12 years old on the day they are scheduled to depart
  • People with evidence from a medical practitioner of a COVID-19 infection in the last 30 days, including confirmation that they are no longer infectious or symptomatic, and the day of the first positive test result (which must be at least 7 days before the date of the medical certificate)
  • People with evidence from a medical practitioner in the last 30 days that they have a medical condition that prevents them from undertaking a COVID-19 test
  • Emergency medical evacuation flights and those accompanying people on these flights.