International travel to and from NSW

Last updated: 17 January 2022


New rules and restrictions apply to entering NSW from outside Australia and transiting through NSW from an international country. 

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International arrivals from 12:01am on 31 December 2021

From 12:01am on 31 December, fully vaccinated international passengers arriving in NSW must get a COVID-19 rapid antigen test:

  • within 24 hours of arriving in NSW (and can stop self-isolating once they receive a negative result from this test)
  • on or after day 6 after arriving in NSW.

People who are not fully vaccinated arriving in NSW from overseas must continue to go into 14-day mandatory quarantine. 

Fully vaccinated people arriving from overseas

All travellers must comply with Australian Government entry requirements, including evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR (nose and throat swab) test taken within 72 hours of scheduled departure.

Upon arrival into NSW, vaccinated people should:

Go straight to your home or accommodation

Take a COVID-19 rapid antigen test

Self-isolate until you get a negative test result

Take another rapid antigen test on or after day 6

Don’t visit high risk places for at least 7 days and your test results are negative

Self-isolate

You must self-isolate at your home or accommodation until you receive a negative result from your rapid antigen test taken after your arrival in NSW.

Get tested

You must take a rapid antigen test as soon as practicable after your arrival in NSW.

A rapid antigen test is a self-test you can do at home. 

What is self-isolation?

Self-isolation means staying at your home or accommodation and remaining separated from others, even if you are fully vaccinated and feeling well.

If you are staying with friends or family (who have not returned from overseas), they are not required to self-isolate with you but must remain in a separate room to you at all times.

Self-isolation means you cannot go to any public places including shops, work, school or public transport.

You must not have any visitors, unless they are providing healthcare, emergency maintenance or emergency services.

You are only allowed to leave your home or accommodation during your isolation period:

  • to get a COVID-19 test 
  • for urgent medical care
  • in an emergency, including to avoid injury or escape the risk of harm from domestic violence.

If you need to leave self-isolation for one of these reasons, travel directly by private vehicle, rideshare or walk.

Wear a mask and return to self-isolation as soon as possible. If you need groceries or other essentials, ask a family member or friend to drop off what you need without coming into contact with you.

For more information on self-isolation, see NSW Health COVID-19 self-isolation guideline and support

What should the people I live with do?

If you live with a person you cannot remain separate from – for example, a child or someone who needs care – and

  • they are fully vaccinated: they do not need to self-isolate with you, but they must not attend high-risk settings like health care, aged care, disability care and correctional facilities during your isolation period.  If they work in one of these settings, their employer may do a risk assessment to allow them to return to work. 
  • they are not fully vaccinated: they must self-isolate with you for your isolation period.

What happens after I complete self-isolation?

You can only leave self-isolation once you receive a negative result from your rapid antigen test taken upon arrival in NSW. You must continue to comply with the NSW Health requirements for returned international passengers.

You must take another rapid antigen test on or after day 6. You must not go to aged care, health care, disability care and correctional facilities for at least 7 days after arrival and your test results are negative.

How to travel from the airport to your home or accommodation 

You must travel directly from the airport to self-isolate at your home or accommodation.

It is recommended that you travel in a private vehicle, taxi or ride-share.

When travelling, make sure you:

  • wear a face mask at all times
  • sit as far away from the driver or other passengers as possible
  • maximise the flow of fresh air, such as by opening windows 
  • sanitise your hands regularly 
  • do not make physical contact with the driver or other passengers
  • avoid unnecessarily touching surfaces
  • avoid speaking as much as possible 
  • handle your own belongings and luggage
  • check-in with the NSW Government QR code.

Contact from Service NSW

Service NSW staff may contact you within the first week of your arrival. They will explain what you need to do and answer any questions you might have.

They will send you a text message and email within 24 hours of your arrival

Note: If you have been contacted by NSW Health, you'll need to follow the advice they provided to you.

Where to find more information

If you can’t access a private vehicle, or you are staying in temporary accommodation that ends before you complete your self-isolation period, please call Service NSW on 13 77 88  for advice and assistance.

Flight crew arriving in NSW

If you are a vaccinated flight crew member and you have been overseas in the previous 14 days, you must:

  • get a COVID-19 rapid antigen test within 24 hours of arrival in NSW 
  • self-isolate until you get a negative test result

If you are an unvaccinated flight crew member and you have been overseas in the previous 14 days, you must:

  • self-isolate for 14 days, or
  • self-isolate until you depart Australia by aircraft.

For more information on international flight crew arriving in NSW read the NSW Health guidelines.

People who are not fully vaccinated arriving in NSW from overseas

If you are not fully vaccinated and are arriving in NSW from an overseas location, you will need to go into 14-day mandatory quarantine.

To check if you are fully vaccinated, please visit the ATAGI or Australian Government website as other countries may have different definitions of what it is to be fully vaccinated.

People who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons

People who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons (have a medical contraindication) must carry a medical contraindication certificate that indicates they are unable to be vaccinated.

A COVID-19 medical contraindication is a valid medical reason for a person to not receive a COVID-19 vaccine, for example if a person has a history of anaphylaxis to a component of a vaccine.  COVID-19 medical contraindication forms are only issued in rare circumstances.

The medical contraindication certificate must meet certain criteria, including:

  • the person’s name (this must match their travel identification documents)
  • the date of the medical consultation and details of their medical practitioner
  • details that clearly acknowledge that they have a medical condition which means they cannot receive a COVID-19 vaccination (vaccination is contraindicated).

For further information, please refer to the Australian Government website.

People who have previously been diagnosed with COVID-19

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) advises that people with SARS-CoV-2 infection can be vaccinated as soon as they have recovered from their acute illness.

Evidence of previous COVID-19 infection (such as a previous positive result) is not considered a valid medical contraindication certificate. International passengers who are concerned about being vaccinated after recovery from COVID-19 should discuss their options with their doctor before travelling.

If you have had COVID-19 prior to travel and are fully vaccinated, you may continue to test positive for COVID-19 for some time.  It is recommended that you carry evidence of your previous infection, in addition to evidence of your vaccination status. This may include a medical certificate from your doctor 

For further information on what should be included on a medical contraindication certificate, please visit the Australian Government website.

Travel to and from New Zealand

From 28 November 2021, fully vaccinated passengers from New Zealand are required to follow the rules for fully vaccinated people arriving in NSW from overseas. 

Travel from New Zealand is not limited to Australian citizens and permanent residents. To be eligible, passengers must:

Passengers looking to transit Sydney from New Zealand to another state or territory must first check the entry requirements of that state or territory.

Travel from Australia to New Zealand remains subject to New Zealand Government quarantine and other requirements. Requirements for travel to New Zealand can be located on the New Zealand Government website

Leaving Australia to go to another country

From 1 November 2021, Australian citizens and permanent residents who are fully vaccinated with a TGA recognised COVID-19 vaccine are allowed to leave Australia. No exemption is required.

Australian citizens and permanent residents who do not meet the eligibility requirements must continue to follow the current border processes when leaving Australia or coming to Australia. 

Some countries and airlines require a pre-departure PCR (nose and throat swab) test result at check-in before you will be allowed to board your flight. Travellers should check the entry requirements of the country they are travelling to, and their airline's requirements. Rapid antigen tests and self-administered COVID-19 tests taken at home without supervision are not accepted.

COVID-19 testing for international travel clearance purposes (departures) is conducted at private pathology clinics only and charges apply for this service. If you return a negative result, you will be issued with a testing clearance certificate which you will need to board your flight or vessel. You may be required to book in advance for this service.

Contact your nearest private pathology clinic for more information on bookings and testing costs for international travel (departures).

Visit the Department of Home Affairs Leaving Australia page for further information.

International passengers transiting through NSW

Fully vaccinated international passengers are permitted to transit via NSW to another state or territory. 

When transiting via NSW: 

  • you can travel in a private vehicle, including taxi or rideshare
  • you can obtain fuel or necessary supplies, take a rest stop, or deal with an emergency
  • you cannot travel by bus
  • you can travel by rail or air if this is the most practicable direct route
  • you must travel directly to suitable accommodation and self-isolate until you transit out of NSW, if you have a layover between flights.

You should check the rules and requirements of the jurisdiction you are travelling to and ensure you are permitted to enter. 

In Australia, states and territories have their own rules and restrictions in place. Some require approval to travel across the border from NSW, a period of self-isolation in NSW before entering the state, or sometimes a second self-isolation period when you arrive.

International passengers who are not fully vaccinated must enter hotel quarantine for 14 days before continuing their journey to another state or territory

For the latest information visit Australian interstate quarantine

Going to an international destination

International transit passengers who are fully vaccinated can depart on another international flight. They must comply with NSW Health guidelines for recent fully vaccinated arrivals if applicable, including testing and self-isolation requirements if the transit is longer than 24 hours.

International transit passengers who are not fully vaccinated and arriving in Australia can depart on another international flight if your transit time is less than 8-hours and you can stay airside (i.e. in the transit zone). This will be possible only if your bags have been checked through to your next destination. You do not need to apply for an exemption and are able to continue your journey to another country.

If you go through immigration and you are not fully vaccinated, you will require an exemption.

If your departure flight is between 8 to 72 hours after arrival flight, you will be taken to a quarantine hotel to wait until your departing flight. An exemption must be approved.

To apply for an exemption refer to exemptions for air and maritime quarantine.

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (symptoms include fever, cough, sore/scratchy throat, shortness of breath or loss of taste or loss of smell), let a member of the airline know immediately, or if you are in the airport tell a biosecurity officer or a health official.

Arriving in NSW by sea

Passengers who arrive by sea must be authorised to disembark by the Commissioner of Police or delegate and must go to a quarantine facility, hospital or other medical facility as directed by the Commissioner to undertake a quarantine period

If leaving Australia by air, you will be directed to go to an airport (to get a flight out of Australia). You must follow the directions of the Commissioner while travelling to the airport.

Definition of 'fully vaccinated'

To check if you meet the Australian definition of a fully vaccinated international passengers, please visit the Australian Government website. Other countries may have different definitions of what it is to be fully vaccinated.

From 6am on 15 December 2021 a fully vaccinated arrival entering NSW from overseas includes:

  • a person with a medical contraindication to COVID-19 vaccination
  • a child who is not fully vaccinated, unless only accompanied by an adult who is not fully vaccinated. 

Vaccination evidence

Please refer to the Australian Government website to check whether you are fully vaccinated. 

Children under the age of 12 who are not vaccinated but are accompanied by a fully vaccinated person over the age of 18 are considered to be fully vaccinated for quarantine purposes.

If you have a medical condition (contraindication) that means you cannot be vaccinated, you do not have to go into mandatory quarantine.

You may be asked to provide evidence of vaccination to a police officer or border force official.

Vaccination evidence includes:

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