Arriving in Australia: what you need to know about COVID-19

This handy article will help guide you to the latest information from government health websites, so you can stay COVID safe in Australia.

Written by Editor Medibank
Essential travels during Covid-19 pandemic. Young Asian woman with protective face mask checking in online with her smartphone in airport terminal, with suitcase by her side

Coming back to Australia soon, or just recently arrived? We understand you may be feeling a little anxious, things are different and that’s okay. The way we are managing COVID-19 could look very different compared to your home country. Everyone in Australia has done a great job at coming together and getting vaccinated, and we now have a booster program being rolled out (more on that later).

However, some restrictions still apply, and vary between states and territories. Make sure you keep up to date with your state or territory’s public health website, as this is where they will publish up to date COVID-19 public health information for your area.

It’s also important to remember that COVID-19 cases are still being reported in Australia and the situation continues to be monitored by the government closely. This is why it is essential you keep up with recommended public health measures (including social distancing, getting tested if you have symptoms) and follow the latest public health advice.

What are the current restrictions?

The COVID-19 pandemic in Australia is continuing to evolve, so it is important to remember that the restrictions may also continue to change. Australia has conditions for people who are coming from overseas, including providing documentation about vaccination status. Also, local jurisdictions may have quarantine requirements for people arriving in Australia. Keep up to date with this information here.

If you’re planning on travelling to other places in Australia when you arrive, we highly recommend you find the latest health advice and restrictions for each state and territory you travel to. States and territories can make changes to the eligibility of people going in or out of their jurisdiction and may have quarantine requirements, which you can read about here.

Social distancing rules may apply depending on where you are in Australia. Some states or territories may recommend wearing masks in some settings, such as shops, public transport and other indoor venues.

You may need to show proof of vaccination to enter a state or territory. Proof of vaccination may also be required to enter some venues, such as gyms, restaurants, retail stores or sporting events. In some instances, you may also need to complete testing requirements. Some jurisdictions in Australia may require that you are fully vaccinated in order to work in certain industries, such as hospitality, retail and aged care.

You may also need to “check in” to venues using your smartphone. Each state and territory has a different check-in app: to find the relevant app, open the app store on your phone and search for your destination: e.g., “Service NSW”. Non-Medicare card holders will first need to make sure they have their vaccine recorded on the Australian Immunisation Register. This will then be linked to a COVID-19 digital certificate and you will also need to sign up for an Individual Health Identifier (IHI) number. You should then be able to add this certificate to a state or territory check in app. To get help setting up your COVID-19 digital certificate and IHI, please contact Services Australia.

What should I do if I have COVID-19 symptoms?

If you experience any symptoms of COVID-19, such as a sore throat, fever, cough, headaches and feeling lethargic, you should get tested as soon as possible. You can also use the COVID-19 Symptom Checker.

To get tested, you can visit a state-run COVID-19 testing clinic or use a rapid antigen test. Click here to find a testing clinic in your area. The state-run COVID-19 testing clinics are free. Just make sure you bring identification (e.g., student card or drivers licence) and provide your contact details.

If you took a PCR test at a testing clinic, you will be sent the results via SMS and this will also contain instructions about what to do during isolation and for extra help and support.

Rapid antigen kits can also be purchased from supermarkets, pharmacies, and other retail outlets, such as service stations. It might be helpful to collect a rapid antigen test from one of these outlets when you first arrive in Australia (or as soon as possible) so that if you do become sick, you do not need to catch public transport or potentially expose other people, in order to pick up a test. You may be able to access free rapid antigen tests (if you require a COVID-19 test) from a state-run testing site, which is available to everyone.

If you are positive on a Rapid Antigen Test, you need to follow the Public Health advice of your jurisdiction, such as uploading the test result online and staying isolated at home for usually 7-10 days. To find your local public health website and for more information about COVID-19 testing, please click here.

For more information about managing your health if you have COVID-19, please click here.

What if I am a close contact?

You may be asked to isolate and get tested as a close contact of someone who has had COVID-19. Please check jurisdiction guidelines.

Please follow the rules for isolation, such as staying home for your isolation period and only leaving if you need medical care or if it is an emergency.

The duration of your isolation depends on your jurisdiction, so please check their public health website.

If you work in some industries (e.g., health or aged care) you may be exempt from isolating if you are asymptomatic and complete a testing regime. For more information, please check the public health website of your jurisdiction.

Can I get my booster shot in Australia?

Booster shots are free for anyone in Australia, however you may need to meet certain criteria as per government guidelines. Please check here to see if you are eligible for a booster shot. Booster shots are available either at a pharmacy or a COVID-19 vaccine clinic.

How can I find more information or get help?

Visit the Australian Government’s official COVID-19 website for national news about COVID-19 and for links to each state and territory’s COVID-19 homepage. For information in your language, please click here.

Australia has a dedicated National Coronavirus Helpline, operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. From within Australia, phone 1800 020 080. Translation services are available and has features including locating a vaccine clinic.

You can also phone the 24/7 Student Health and Support Line for health advice from a registered nurse, counselling services, emergency legal advice, travel document assistance, interpreter service and more. The service is available 24/7 on 1800 887 283 if you hold Medibank OSHC or 1800 006 745 if you hold ahm OSHC. Policy holders can speak to a general practitioner (i.e., a doctor) via the Online Doctor+ feature of the Medibank or ahm OSHC App, available 24/7.

COVID-19 information aside, welcome back to Australia and we hope you enjoy studying here. We’ve also got information if you want to travel in Australia, look after your health and wellbeing and a guide on where to find health support in Australia.

+A minimum out-of-pocket expense of $10 applies. Waiting times may vary depending on doctor availability. Online Doctor is offered on a trial basis and may be discontinued at any time. For privacy reasons, Partners and Dependants on a policy may not access Online Doctor through the OSHC app.

24/7 Student Health and Support Line

Need support? Medibank Overseas Student Health Cover members can call 1800 887 283 anytime for health advice from a registered nurse, counselling services, emergency legal advice, travel document assistance, interpreter service and more.

ahm Overseas Student Health Cover members can call 1800 006 745.

Written by Editor Medibank

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