Australia’s chaotic border rules explained

As multiple states and territories adjust their travel rules or rid them altogether, it’s hard to keep track of where you can and can’t travel in Australia.

With new coronavirus cases in Victoria and other states dwindling, a tourism task force comprising Tourism Australia, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Flight Centre and other industry leaders has outlined its timeline for restarting the country’s ailing tourism industry.

Under its plan, revealed by The Australian, hard state borders would come down by December 1.

So, from where you can go to whether you’ll have to quarantine, here’s a state-by-state guide to Australia’s border restrictions – and what you can expect to change next.

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Queensland Police officers at the QLD/NSW border crossing. Picture: Jerad WilliamsSource:News Corp Australia


You can travel to South Australia from any Australian state or territory unless you’re coming from Victoria.

Last week, travellers from NSW joined Queensland, the ACT, the NT, WA and Tasmania in being allowed to enter SA without needing to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

If you’re travelling to SA, however, you’re still required to complete an online approval form first.

And for those coming from Victoria, you can only enter SA if you’re an essential traveller or live within 40km of the state’s border.


Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s hard border stance – going so far as to say she’d rather lose the upcoming election than reopen and threaten her state’s progress against the virus – has been a hallmark of the pandemic.

Travellers from SA, WA, the NT or Tasmania can enter Queensland freely.

Residents in the ACT are also allowed into Queensland – after a short stint of being locked out – so long as they present a border declaration form stating they haven’t been in NSW or Victoria in the past 14 days.

Victorians – without an exemption – will be turned around at the airport if they fly into Queensland.

But when it comes to NSW, Queensland’s border closures get a bit more confusing.

As of Thursday, October 1, the state’s border bubble expanded to include Byron, Ballina, Lismore, Richmond Valley and Glen Innes.

Queenslanders are be able to visit these regions, and residents living in the more than 41 NSW postcodes will be able to apply for a border pass to travel into Queensland.

Queensland has announced it will open its border to all travellers and returned travellers from NSW from November 1 — if NSW achieves 28 consecutive days without unlinked cases of community transmission.

For the time being, for everyone else in NSW outside of the previously approved regions, a trip to Queensland means a 14-day stay in self-funded hotel quarantine.

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Annastacia Palaszczuk’s tough border stance has been a hallmark of the pandemic. Picture; NCA NewsWire/Dan PeledSource:News Corp Australia


Travellers from COVID-affected areas in NSW are urged to reconsider their travel to the ACT, but are still allowed into the Territory without needing to quarantine.

The Territory’s border is only closed to Victoria, with anyone (other than ACT residents) travelling in from Victoria denied entry unless they’re granted an exemption by ACT Health.

Entry to the ACT from Victoria is only possible through Canberra Airport.

If you’re an ACT resident, you must notify ACT Health of your intention to return and must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.


Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) website declares that “no permit or approval is required to enter Victoria from another state – however, you will need to adhere to the restrictions and directions that are in place to slow the spread of coronavirus in Victoria”.

That means, if you’re heading to metropolitan Melbourne, you need to follow the rules of the step two of the capital’s lockdown exit plan. If you’re heading for regional Victoria, you’ll need to abide by step three of its lockdown exit road map.

As for Victorians hoping to head elsewhere, your options are unfortunately pretty limited. In order to enter another state or territory, you need to meet one of three criteria: holding an exemption, being an essential worker or living along a state border.

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A sign is displayed regarding COVID-19 restrictions in the NSW, Victoria border town of Albury. Picture: David Gray/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images


The New South Wales border has been open to all states and territories since the beginning of the pandemic – except, since its second wave hit, Victoria.

Residents returning to NSW from Victoria are required to undergo two weeks of hotel quarantine.

As for people who live in one of the NSW/Victoria border towns, they’re not permitted to go further into NSW than the 50km border region.

“You’ll need to apply for a NSW resident’s permit to re-enter NSW (requiring a flight to Sydney Airport and quarantine,” the NSW Government says.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has hinted however, as regional Victoria continues to record low case numbers, residents in those communities could soon be allowed to travel freely in and out of NSW.


If you’re travelling to the Top End from or through a declared coronavirus hotspot, you’ll be sent into mandatory quarantine for 14 days at your own expense.

Entrants from Queensland, SA, Tasmania, WA or the ACT can, however, enter the state without needing to quarantine. Sydney’s hotspot status will be removed next Friday on October 9, subject to public health advice, having been banned from the NT since July.

Health Minister Natasha Fyles said there’s still no news for Victorians keen to visit the Territory.

“We need to see Victoria step through its transition out of lockdown before we would be looking at removing that hotspot declaration,” she told reporters.

All arrivals to the NT must fill in a Border Entry Form before entering the Territory.

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Western Australia’s hard border closure is showing no signs of lifting. Picture: Jackson Flindell/The West AustralianSource:The West Australian


You cannot enter Western Australia unless you have been granted an exemption on application.

Premier Mark McGowan’s stance on keeping his state closed has held tight since the beginning of Australia’s COVID-19 outbreak, and is yet to name a date for when he’ll consider opening up again.

While entrants from other states and West Australians coming home will be required to complete a 14-day stay in hotel quarantine, Victorians who don’t have written approval from the state emergency co-ordinator won’t be allowed in at all.

From October 5, however, any travellers coming into WA from Victoria will be allowed to quarantine for 14 days at home, rather than in a hotel, “as long as they have an appropriate premise to quarantine in safely”, Mr McGowan told reporters on Tuesday.

Mr McGowan said it’s a “significant but reasonable change” that “will help ease the demand of our hotel quarantine arrangements as our number of international arrivals of Australians returning home is expected to gradually increase over coming weeks”.


Unless you’re a seasonal or FIFO worker, Tasmania’s borders are closed to you – and you’ll have to pay for a mandatory 14-day stay in hotel quarantine before you can enter the state.

Anyone entering Tasmania – resident or not – must have prior approval to do so, via the G2G PASS system.

While December 1 was originally flagged as the date when borders could reopen, Premier Peter Gutwein hinted last week Australians from other jurisdictions could enter Tassie sooner than expected.

Travellers from WA, SA, Queensland, the NT, the ACT and possibly even NSW could be allowed into the state if approved by the State Controller in late October, Mr Gutwein said.

“We are not declaring that we will open early (but) I think there is a good chance we would be able to open towards the end of the month,” he told reporters.

“Obviously the circumstances of each of those jurisdictions will be what will inform our decision, as well as our health preparedness, our aged care preparedness as well.”

If you are from Tasmania and are travelling back from another state, you must self-quarantine for 14 days upon your return, and can do so at their own home if you provide the necessary documentation.

If you can’t provide the necessary evidence of your place of residence, you’ll be directed to stay in government-provided quarantine (that you must pay for).

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