Twelve Apostles scenic coastal view at Castle Rock in pacific ocean in Victoria, Australia

If you’re an anti-vaxxer, visiting Australia just got a lot more expensive.

More than just about any other country, Australia has played its travel reboot plans close to the chest, outright refusing to give a potential date for when international visitors can dust off their passport and venture to the country’s fabulous beaches or diverse cities.

Even citizens hoping to return home currently face caps in the number of arrivals allowed in, and those fortunate enough to return immediately face a multi-thousand dollar bill for their 14 days of enforced hotel quarantine.

Unfortunately that same question of precisely when Australia will reopen for visitors remains, but we now know how they’ll approach arrivals when borders do reopen.

a large building with a bridge in the background

Australia’s Plans For Tourist Travel Reboot

Slowly, but surely, little nuggets of information have leaked out about Australia’s future plans to welcome back travelers, sometimes even accidentally, via airlines. Even then, it’s still guesswork.

When Qantas reinstated international flight routes to cities like London and Los Angeles, which had previously been cancelled through autumn of 2021, and moved them back onto the schedule for summer, rumors were rampant that Australia was moving up its timetable to welcome back international guests. That still may be true.

But now, ministers are playing more coy than ever on exact details of a “date”, but opening up more on what any potential international arrivals might face. For a start, they’ll need to be vaccinated, or will face 14 days of quarantine upon arrival, at their own expense. And an expense it will be, costing at least $2800.

The details on ‘quarantine or vaccine’ emerged at a press conference in Queensland with Australian Government Minister, Stuart Robert. let slip that it’s “highly likely” that all visitors will be required to provide proof of vaccination, or submit to 14 days of enforced hotel quarantine when travel reboots, according to Executive Traveller.

The hold up: validation of vaccination proof.

a person holding a phone

If Australia plans to welcome vaccinated travelers in without quarantine, it’s a positive sign that optimistic timetables like a mid to late summer, or early autumn reopening might still be on the cards for 2021.

With 14 days of enforced quarantine for all other arrivals, a policy in line with Thailand and other countries which have proven successful in avoiding further waves, there’s no reason such plans couldn’t start today. Actually, just one: validation concerns are cited as a key reason Australia hasn’t already reopened.

Countries including the Seychelles, Iceland and a handful of others have granted entry exceptions for anyone with proof of vaccination, a negative test result and at least two weeks since the second shot. The issue focuses on standardized or reliable proof of vaccination, which hasn’t been steady.

Australia hopes to have the majority of its domestic vaccination program complete by October, according to recent statements. The country plans to use an official register of all vaccinations to subsequently issue digital certificates via a digital health passport app which remains to be chosen.

a screen shot of a phone

Travel Industry Faces Reopening Challenges

Airlines and countries are quickly moving to digital health passport apps to help vet and verify documents from travelers. The solutions rely on newer technologies like Blockchain to create ‘tamper proof’ ways for only trusted labs and governments to upload results, and share them simply.

Understandably, countries have been most concerned with rapid rollout of covid-19 vaccination supplies, and not pieces of paper along with them. Regrettably that means many people have been vaccinated, but have no such formal proof, or only a simple piece of paper stating so.

Before opening the floodgates, and potentially risking all the progress that’s been made in beating back the pandemic, many countries including Australia want some sort of standardized, or widely acceptable certification, just like with covid-19 testing itself, which is now a standard feature of international travel.

Until that day, it’s wait and see for a return to Australia, but now one with a keen focus on getting vaccinated first.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. I was just discussing this very issue with friends. I’m an Aussie living in the UK and am gagging to get home to visit my family. I work within the NHS and am fortunate that i’ve already received my first jab of the vaccine, I will have the second twelve weeks after.

    I’ve been reading with quiet excitement and anticipation the plans of various countries to open up to vaccinated travellers but was not so encouraged by what the UK Minister for Vaccines had to say in an interview yesterday. He stated that the UK govt has no plans to issue vaccine passports as it would be ‘discriminatory’.

    So….how would anyone in the UK prove they have had the vaccine to a foreign government? The only thing you receive when you receive the jab is a paper card with the date and batch number of the vaccine and you fill your own name in on it. I doubt that would stand up as evidence.

    There are even issues with protocol. The UK is contravening the actual vaccine manufacturers recommendation by allowing 12 weeks between jabs (the manufacturers recommend a maximum of 8) so it’s possible some countries wouldn’t consider anyone having a vaccination in the UK as officially vaccinated. I read Singapore has already stated this.

  2. I failed to understand how discrimination can be a valid reason for a vaccine passport. Anti-vaxxers chose to reject the vaccine. So why do the rest of us who are vaccinated are now deprived of an important proof needed for our travels?

  3. Dear Gilbert,

    I appreciate your optimism and enthusiasm to see the return of an open world.

    Unfortunately, I doubt your vision will become true anytime soon.

    First of all, there is no proof the vaccine prevents the transmission of the virus to someone else. Secondly, unnerved governments will not reopen their borders unless a vast majority of their citizens are vaccinated, which will takes years for most of the countries.

    Thus, I am afraid to travel as we used to know will be not re-enacted this year nor the next one.

    1. Christian, Thanks for commenting. Most vaccines have proven effective in limiting spread: see Israel. So your assertion is not entirely correct. Second, most people, enough to move the needle, will be vaccinated by end of Q3. I see reason to be optimistic.

      1. May you be right, Gilbert. Nevertheless, we’ve been only two-three months in the vaccination campaign and have got only short-term real-life results for now. I am a skeptic optimist. Wait and see.

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