How to navigate the new international travel rules

Travel is now measured in dollars, days, and the number of PCR tests you need to do.

Anyone entering Australia from overseas must have a negative COVID-19 test result no more than three days prior to departure. Once you are in the country, both NSW and Victoria require two additional tests within a week of arrival.

For those who are permanently based elsewhere, the return trip out of Australia will also likely require a pre-departure test. And often one more on landing.

The loss of Mark was not the test, however. It was not possible to realize that her return flight to Singapore, booked by her employer, had been designated as a “vaccinated travel route” flight.

The Singaporean government requires that non-Singaporean citizens traveling on VTL flights apply for a VT Pass (VTP). Mark hadn’t done that. He could – and did – request the VTP from Sydney Airport, once he realized it was a requirement, but the system requires entry to be reserved a week in advance. .

“I had permission to return – but not on a VTL flight, and there was just no flexibility,” he says. “The airline staff told me that I was not the first – in fact, there was another person on my flight who was in the same situation.”

Mark says the realization that he wasn’t going to be able to leave that day was horrible.

“I spent hours online going through the various state government websites to see if I could catch a flight the next day or so, only to find that it wasn’t going to work and that I should submit. re-request to depart on the next non-VTL flight out of Sydney that I could be on, ”said Mark AFR weekend Thursday after successfully checking in on a flight to Singapore – four days later than his scheduled return.

“I think what people need to remember is that everything is still pretty smooth. And if there is a change in status, the bureaucracy will not change your papers – you will be caught off guard. “

For the first time in nearly two years, many expats can finally take a long-awaited trip to what many still call home. The irony is that after years of trying to get back to Australia, now they have to be careful that they can leave.

In many countries, the rules are different for permanent citizens and those residing on long-stay visas. Airlines need to make sure everything is in order before they can wave travelers through the boarding gate.

Thailand test

David Davies divided his time between Thailand and Australia for years until the pandemic prevented him from leaving Thailand. It is now booked to fly to Sydney on Monday and will return to Thailand on December 21. He says the biggest problem was getting the Thai Pass needed for the return trip – although sorting everything out to get into Australia also took some time. .

On the vaccination front, he obtained a certificate from the Thai government that documented, in English, the details of his two AstraZeneca vaccinations. He sent it to his general practitioner in Sydney, who uploaded the information to the Australian vaccination registry.

This is the only way to get the government’s COVID-19 international certificate, which appears to be necessary for Australians when they leave the country – even for those who normally live abroad.

Of course, you can wait until you return to Australia to do this, but doing it remotely means you can land with proof of vaccination already stored in the recording apps.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners says there are plans to consider a simpler way but, for now, Australians abroad are dusting off their health cards and asking GPs for help .

Davies reports that he is having some difficulty with the Australia travel declaration which must be obtained between seven and three days before arrival.

“I spent a few hours on the Home Affairs website and answered all questions clearly and completely, but three times after clicking ‘submit’ I was either logged out or the request was rejected for no apparent reason, ”he said.

“In the end, the request was accepted. There was something wrong with the system – maybe it was overloaded. It was quite frustrating. “

Obtaining the COVID-19 insurance needed to return to Thailand was a challenge. The Thai government requires a minimum coverage of US $ 50,000 ($ 69,700). Major insurers were asking for up to 45,000 Thai baht ($ 1,870) for this type of policy, but after shopping around Davies found one for 14,000 baht.

There was also one night’s accommodation to book in an approved quarantine hotel on arrival in Bangkok, and some uncertainty over which vaccination certificate the Thai government will accept – another reason to get the Australian certificate, says -he.

As of this writing, Davies was still waiting to learn that his Thai Pass had been approved. He hopes the process will get easier over time. “I will be returning to Sydney quite often now – I’m sure going through this process will make future trips easier. “

But Neuman Vong has good news for the thousands of Australians who plan to return home for Christmas. “It wasn’t as bad as we thought it was. My advice is don’t stress, just dive in and do it.

If you are planning a trip, this might be a good time to buy a printer. Governments and airlines suggest that it is useful (although not mandatory) to have hard and electronic copies of test results, vaccination certificates, and travel declarations.

On the bright side, the result is well worth it, says Vong who, along with his partner Lindsay, had spent months unsuccessfully trying to get to Australia before the overall home quarantine requirement was lifted on November 1. . Now they are happily settled in Vong’s apartment in Melbourne, with his family nearby.

Glad to have arrived in Melbourne for Christmas: Neuman Vong and his partner Lindsay say all the hassle is worth it. Wayne taylor

The couple flew from Singapore to the United States for a week before flying to Sydney and then to Melbourne. In addition to the PCR departure tests and the declaration of travel to Australia, they also had to obtain a permit from the Victorian government to travel to Melbourne.

Along the way there were airline staff who knew less than travelers (in Los Angeles they seemed to think Australia still had a cap on international arrivals) and friendly but strict form checkers. These included those waiting on the tarmac at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport to see the border permit.

The couple were surprised when they realized there was a 24-hour line when they went for their day 5 PCR test, but on the positive side, all sites accepted proof of vaccination issued by Singapore.

“It’s super nice here. said Vong. “I can see us living in Melbourne. The people were very welcoming too, even the immigration. My partner is American and when they saw his passport they laughed and said “Wow, we haven’t seen one in a while”.

* Name has been changed

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