Sydney Travel Requirements: What to Do Before Visiting Australia

Sydney Travel Requirements: What to Do Before Visiting Australia

Sydney Opera House or Bondi Beach first?

If you can’t wait to jump on the earliest flight to Sydney (New South Wales) now that the VTL lanes are in place and Australian borders are opening up again, then know that you are not alone! Don’t be hasty and read on for all the travel requirements you need to know before you book your holiday in Sydney and beyond!

New South Wales travel overview

Sydney travel requirements

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Vaccination status

While only 69.9% of Australia is fully vaccinated, New South Wales (NSW) is leagues ahead of the game with over 90% of its population above 16 years old fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Meanwhile, 73.9% of those below 16 years old are fully vaccinated. 

Travellers allowed entry without quarantine

As of 1 November 2021, fully vaccinated persons who are Australian citizens, permanent residents and immediate family members of Australian citizens or permanent residents will not need to quarantine when they arrive in New South Wales. A one-way quarantine-free travel from New Zealand to participating jurisdictions in Australia for fully vaccinated travellers resumed on November 1. Meanwhile, a quarantine-free VTL for fully vaccinated arrivals from Singapore also opened on  November 21.

For you to qualify as fully vaccinated in the eyes of the Australian government, your vaccination certificate must show a complete dosage of a vaccine approved or recognised by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). Mixed doses count towards being fully vaccinated as long as all vaccines are approved or recognised by the TGA.

Prospective visitors must ensure that they have taken their last dose of vaccine at least seven days before they are considered fully vaccinated. The current approved and recognised vaccines and dosages can be found here. 

Prospective visitors must ensure that they have taken their last dose of vaccine at least seven days before they are considered fully vaccinated. For more information refer to the Guidance on foreign vaccination certificates | Australian Passport Office.

Travellers with quarantine requirements

Travellers who do not meet Australia’s definition of fully vaccinated must heed any and all current border restrictions. This includes unvaccinated persons who are arriving in New South Wales from overseas. 

If you do not meet the vaccination criteria, you must undertake the standard 14-day quarantine as well as apply for an exemption to travel into Australia. Visitors should also note that international passenger caps apply for those not fully vaccinated. 

Pre-arrival requirements for travel to NSW

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Australia Travel Declaration (ATD)

Before you travel to Australia, you should complete the Australia Travel Declaration (ATD) at least 72 hours before your departure for Australia. The ATD collects your contact details in Australia, flight details, quarantine requirements, and your health status.

Travellers who should complete the ATD include:

You may also need a valid visa or exemption to enter Australia and the authority to enter Australian states or territories, depending on your country of origin and your vaccination status. 

Vaccination Certification

International visitors must show proof of their vaccination status in the form of a vaccination certificate from their local health authority when checking in for the flight. The certificate can be either digital or paper but must fulfil the following criteria:

  • Issued by a national or state/provincial-level authority or an accredited vaccination provider
  • Written in English or accompanied by a certified translation
  • Containing at a minimum:
    • Name as it appears in the traveller’s passport
    • Either date of birth or passport number
    • Vaccine brand name
    • Date of each dose or the date on which a full course of immunisation was completed

Those who have been vaccinated in Australia will need to present an Australian International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate (ICVC).

Pre-departure testing

A negative COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test result is mandatory for all passengers five years of age or older planning to travel to or transit through Australia. The test must be taken within 72 hours of your departure and provided to the airline upon check-in at the departure point.

The list of MOH-approved COVID-19 test providers in Singapore can be found here.

For more information about pre-arrival requirements, click here. 


Sydney travel requirements

Image credit: Soheb Zaidi

Upon your arrival to New South Wales, the process is incredibly straightforward for fully vaccinated persons. It is only slightly more complicated for those who must undergo a 14-day mandatory quarantine period.

Immigration for the fully vaccinated

International visitors or Australian nationals who meet the above requirements and pre-departure testing may leave the airport and enter the NSW community after they clear the standard border controls.

However, you must have a COVID-19 nose and throat PCR test within 24 hours of arriving. Following this test, you are still not allowed to enter high-risk settings, including aged care, disability care, healthcare, and correctional facilities until the results of your Day 7 PCR test results come back negative.

Immigration for those that must undergo quarantine.

After disembarking and undergoing the standard border controls, visitors who are not fully vaccinated or unvaccinated must immediately head to hotels in Sydney that have been approved by the New South Wales government. You will be charged a fixed fee for hotel quarantine and will be supported throughout your stay. 

During the stay

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PCR tests during your stay

After arriving in New South Wales, you must have a COVID-19 nose and throat PCR test on or after day 7. A test on day 12 is also strongly recommended if you are travelling with children who are not fully vaccinated.

Fortunately, you will not need to self-isolate as you wait for the results of your day 7 PCR test. Until you receive a negative result from your day 7 test, you must not go to any high-risk settings.

However, if you show symptoms associated with COVID-19 whilst taking your day 7 PCR test then you have to self-isolate. On that note, if you develop any symptoms of COVID-19 at any time while in NSW, you must immediately get tested for COVID-19 and isolate until you receive a negative result.

What’s allowed for fully vaccinated travellers

Sydney travel requirements

Image credit: Kate Trifo

We are happy to inform you that outside of high-risk settings before your day 7 PCR test, there are no restrictions for intercity travel within New South Wales. But, there are rules that you must abide by during your stay, including:

  1. You and anyone you travel with above the age of 12 must wear a face mask in all indoor areas. This includes common property of apartment building, at public transport areas and whilst on public transport, etc. Learn more about face mask rules here.
  2. When entering premises, you must check in with the Service.NSW app and provide your details to the occupier of the premises as requested. Learn more about COVID-19 safe check-in rules here. 
  3. Provide vaccination proof upon entering any premises or when requested by a police officer or authorised officer. Vaccination evidence can be:
    • An online immunisation history statement
    • COVID-19 digital certificate from the Australian Immunisation Register or via the Service.NSW app 
    • Email or other documents from the Department of Home Affairs confirming that you have completed an ATD and have been vaccinated against COVID-19 overseas
    • Medical exemption

For more information on NSW Health guidelines for recent fully vaccinated arrivals, click here.

What’s allowed for unvaccinated travellers

After serving their 14-day mandatory quarantine period, those who are not fully vaccinated can enjoy intercity travel but must abide by all the rules applied to fully vaccinated persons. However, establishments and occupants of any premises hold the right to deny you entry. 

Return travel

We should all do our part and keep updated with the travel requirements of the airlines as well as the local government of our prospective destinations. As such, make sure to read up on the entry requirements of your country of origin or wherever you are heading next before taking off!

Disclaimer: The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication. But, due to how the pandemic is ever-evolving, we urge our readers to do their own research.

Useful sources include your local ministry of foreign affairs or health, the official website of the airline you are using and the official website of the NSW government and Australia. 

If you’re looking for travel requirements for other destinations, we have you covered with places like Malaysia, UK, South Korea and Spain.

About Author


Elyssa is always on the lookout for something interesting to do (or eat). When she’s not out looking for trouble, she can be found at home trying out a new recipe, curled up with a mystery book, or watching a crime documentary.