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Domestic travel restrictions in Australia  

Where can you go on holiday during COVID-19 travel restrictions?

Postcards from Australia
Last updated: 04 September 2020

Need to know

  • In all states but Victoria you can still travel locally within your state and have a holiday in regional areas. Victorians can’t enter other states and people from NSW and ACT face restriction in some states
  • Tasmania, WA and the Northern Territory have the strictest border closures – non-residents need exemptions to enter and will have to go into quarantine
  • South Australian and Queensland residents can freely enter each other’s states without having to go into quarantine

Australians are known as avid travellers but COVID-19 has put most of our travel plans on hold. It can be tricky to keep track of where you can actually go. 

And since you don't want to spend two weeks of your well-earned holiday in an expensive quarantine facility, you need to keep well informed and flexible about changing your travel arrangements as the situation evolves.

Domestic travel

The restrictions on travel within your state and elsewhere in Australia can change quickly. Check your state's current travel restrictions

Can you have a holiday in your state?

With the exception of Victoria, yes. In all other states, you can currently visit regional areas and stay in hotels or campgrounds within your own state.

There are some remote communities in Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory that restrict access for non-essential visitors.

Can you travel to other states in Australia?

Some states have declared certain areas as hotspots – but they may have differing definitions of what's a hotspot. For example, in mid-August:

  • ACT required only those NSW residents who have been to specific restaurants or places identified by NSW Health to undergo quarantine.
  • NT has declared the greater Sydney region and the NSW city of Newcastle to be hotspots.
  • Queensland said all of NSW is a hotspot and closed the borders to NSW.

How to book 

As we've all seen, things can change very quickly. So here are some tips for making a holiday booking:

  • Consider going to just one place at a time rather than travelling around.
  • Read the terms and conditions before you book.
  • Book flexible tickets for flights. Read more about coronavirus refunds from airlines.
  • Make sure your hotel booking can be cancelled or changed.
  • If you book through a travel agent or booking site, make sure they don't charge an extra cancellation fee. Read more about travel agent cancellations for coronavirus
  • Book at the last minute so you're up to date with the latest travel restrictions.
  • Pay by credit card, as this allows you chargeback in case something goes wrong.
  • Keep on top of the latest travel restrictions. 
  • Check entry and exit requirements. For example, do you need a border entry form?

International travel ban

Australian citizens and permanent residents are currently banned from all overseas travel, unless they're given an exemption.

You can get exemptions on compassionate and essential personal grounds, such as caring for a seriously sick relative or moving overseas permanently. See the Department of Home Affairs information about leaving Australia during COVID-19 restrictions. 

Exemptions are difficult to get. You'll need to submit extensive supporting documentation and it can take weeks (or even months) and several applications for your exemption to come through, if you're granted one at all.

You can apply for an exemption online.

Booking a flight to leave and especially return to Australia can be both difficult and expensive because the number of flights and passengers allowed to enter Australia are capped. On your return you will have to quarantine.

Travel bubbles

So far, only people in WA can enjoy a 'travel bubble'. Since July, people in WA have been able to travel to Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling Islands) without quarantine.

There have been talks about travel bubbles with countries that have brought coronavirus under relative control. There was early talk of a travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand starting as soon as September. But those plans have been pushed back because of recent outbreaks in both countries.

Other countries being considered for travel bubbles with Australia are:

Although these travel bubbles may still be some way off, it doesn't hurt to use our travel guides to start making plans.