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Trans-Tasman travel bubble: everything you need to know

On 18 April 2021, the corridor between Australia and New Zealand officially opened. The long-awaited two-way travel bubble came into effect after many attempts of putting it in place but rejected on multiple occasions due to COVID-19 outbreaks in both New Zealand and Australia.

Australians are now free to visit New Zealand without applying for permission from the government and undertake hotel quarantine at their destination or when they return home. Similarly for New Zealanders, travel is permitted to Australia on “green zone” flights and hotel quarantine is not necessary.

Australia and New Zealand closed their borders in March last year and introduced compulsory quarantine for all travellers. Both countries have largely contained the spread of the virus due to the tight travel restrictions, and now for the first time since the start of the pandemic, travellers can enjoy relatively unrestricted travel between Australia and New Zealand.

If you are planning to travel between both countries, we have listed some of the most frequent questions and everything you need to know about the travel bubble:

Who is eligible to travel?

To be eligible for the bubble, you must:

  • Have spent 14 days or more in either Australia or New Zealand before your departing flight
  • Not be awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test
  • Not have had a positive COVID-19 test in the previous 14 days before departure
  • Not have any cold or flu symptoms

Do I need to have a COVID-19 vaccine?

No, you don’t have to be vaccinated for COVID-19 to travel and come back to both countries.

Is the bubble open to everyone? Can I travel if I have a temporary visa?

Yes, everyone who is eligible to live in Australia and New Zealand can travel in the bubble. This means that the measure is not only for citizens and residents, it also allows visa holders to travel exclusively between New Zealand and Australia without the need to obtain a travel exemption or the need to be hotel quarantined upon return.

Can I fly to New Zealand and then on to another country?

The trans-Tasman travel bubble isn’t an opportunity to avoid Australia’s international travel restrictions. If you are planning to travel to New Zealand and then onwards to another country, you will no longer be travelling under the travel bubble.

As New Zealand does not prohibit people from travelling overseas without an exemption, the authorities do not have the power to prevent Australians from travelling to other countries.

However, if New Zealand is not your final destination (i.e. a stopover or transit), you will need to successfully apply for a travel exemption to allow you to leave Australia. You will need to be aware that returning to Australia or New Zealand is likely to be difficult due to the current restrictions and it’s not guaranteed that you would be given permission to re-enter either country.

If you still want to travel from New Zealand to another international destination and then return to Australia you will be required to:

  • Present a negative COVID-19 test result to the airline within 72 hours prior to departure for Australia
  • Enter 14 days mandatory hotel quarantine on arrival at your own expense
  • Be tested periodically while in mandatory quarantine
  • Obtain an exemption to leave Australia if you are a citizen or permanent resident or a travel waiver for entry to Australia for Australian non-citizens or permanent residents

What do I need before I can travel from Australia to New Zealand?

If you are travelling directly to New Zealand, you will need to fill in an online Travel Declaration before you get on the plane and meet the New Zealand Government’s health pre-conditions and all standard immigration, customs and biosecurity entry requirements apply.

Do I need a visa?

Australian and New Zealand citizens may travel between Australia and New Zealand without a visa or the New Zealand electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA).

All other travellers must hold a visa or the NZeTA. You can travel to New Zealand without first applying for a visa only if you are travelling on a passport from a visa waiver country, a cruise ship passenger or a permanent resident of Australia.

Who needs the NZeTA?

  • Citizens: no, and you do not need a visitor visa either.
  • Permanent residents: yes
  • Visa holders: yes and depending on your passport you will be required or not to hold a visa

You need an NZeTA if you’re travelling on a passport from a visa-waiver country:

You will likely need a visitor visa if the above do not apply to you.

What do I need before I can travel from New Zealand to Australia?

Before you travel to Australia, you should complete the Australia Travel Declaration at least 72 hours before your departure to Australia. This declaration collects your contact and flight details, quarantine requirements and your health status.

Do I need a visa?

New Zealand citizens do not need to apply for a visa before coming to Australia. If eligible, they will be granted a Special Category visa (subclass 444) (SCV) on arrival. You do not need to be a New Zealand citizen to travel to Australia from New Zealand quarantine-free if you meet the above criteria, but you will need a valid visa to enter Australia.

If you are required to apply for a visa to travel to New Zealand or Australia, book a consultation with us today to assist you with your visa options.


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