Australia international borders opening: DFAT removes global 'do not travel' warning

The federal government's global "do not travel" warning, which applied to every country in the world except New Zealand, has been removed ahead of the relaxation of international border restrictions on Monday.

The removal of the highest threat level has significant implications for Australians planning to travel overseas, as most standard travel insurance policies will not cover destinations with a "do not travel" government warning.

Most travel insurers declared the COVID-19 pandemic a "known event" in February 2020, meaning it was excluded from coverage. However, the ongoing nature of the pandemic has forced many insurers to start including COVID-19 cover in their policies. 

From November 1, vaccinated Australians will be able to leave the country without obtaining permission from Border Force. However, only New South Wales and Victoria will allow Australians to return without entering quarantine from that date.

Warnings would revert to being country-specific for 177 counties around the world. However, no country would receive the lowest level of warning ("exercise normal safety precautions") due to the ongoing health risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead, the safest countries will still be listed at level 2 - "exercise a high degree of caution". The level 2 warning has applied to many popular destinations even before the pandemic, including Indonesia and France.

"We know it has been a difficult 18 months for Australians overseas trying to return, and for Australians with family and friends overseas," Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne said in a statement.

"The changes announced today are a vital next step in re-uniting Australian families and safely re-opening Australia to the world."

Travellers will still need to abide by the rules required by specific countries and airlines. These can include requiring travellers to show proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test, or both, before they are allowed to board flights.

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For example, Australians heading to Singapore under the recently announced travel corridor will only be able to fly on designated vaccinated-only flights as well as taking a PCR test upon arrival. They will need to isolate until a negative result is returned (children are exempt provided they are travelling with a fully vaccinated adult). They must also have travel insurance that covers them for a minimum of $30,000 in COVID-19 related medical expenses.

The Department of Foreign Affairs' Smart Traveller website's four warning levels are:

Level 1: Exercise normal safety precautions

Level 2: Exercise a high degree of caution

Level 3: Reconsider your need to travel

Level 4: Do not travel

The warning levels are determined by various factors including crime, terrorism, health, medical care, natural disasters and DFAT's ability to provide consular assistance to Australians in a destination.

Smart Traveller website warns that, while most travel insurance policies will cover travel to destinations at level 1 or 2, cover can vary at level 3. Travellers should check policies carefully.

Warning levels for popular destinations

New Zealand - Exercise a high degree of caution

Indonesia - Exercise a high degree of caution

United States - Exercise a high degree of caution

United Kingdom - Exercise a high degree of caution

China - Exercise a high degree of caution

Thailand - Reconsider your need to travel

Japan - Exercise a high degree of caution

India - Exercise a high degree of caution

Singapore - Exercise a high degree of caution

Fiji - Exercise a high degree of caution

See also: From Monday, you can travel overseas again - but you probably shouldn't

See also: What happens if you catch COVID on holiday

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