The world is reopening, and travellers are the winners. Restrictions are easing, mask-wearing requirements are dropping, quarantine requirements are practically non-existent and even unvaccinated travellers are finding it easier to get around in the big wide world. While a handful of countries such as Samoa and Tonga are still closed to visitors, they're becoming the exception.
For the traveller it's a fast-changing picture. New Zealand has about to ditch its requirement for incoming travellers to show a negative PCR test, for example. For anyone wanting to know the latest requirements at their destination a good starting point is Kayak's website, "International Travel Restrictions by Country" but check the official visitors' website for your destination. Countries with tough entry requirements are becoming less common, but and here are a few that are still making it tough to enter.
Although China is theoretically open to Australian travellers, the hurdles make it unlikely that any will enter apart from those with a pressing need. All incoming passengers must take two PCR tests at two different certified institutions within 48 hours before departure. The second test should be taken on the day of departure. Passengers who are not able to take a non-stop flight from their home city to China should take their tests in the city from which their non-stop flight to China departs, that is from either Melbourne or Sydney. Visitors are tested upon arrival in China and anyone returning a positive test will be required to quarantine at a government-run facility or at their home, in the case of Chinese nationals.
Hong Kong is open to Australians but only fully vaccinated travellers who can prove their vaccine status may enter. They must also show evidence of a pre-flight negative PCR or rapid antigen test (RAT), undergo a PCR test and RAT upon arrival and await the result before leaving the airport and book a seven or 14-night designated quarantine hotel stay.
Visiting Japan as a tourist requires patience and a long session with your smartphone, or a very understanding travel agent to steer you through the process. Foreign tourists may enter Japan for a short-term visit only if they are on a tour organised by a travel agency. Fully vaccinated travellers must present a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours pre-flight, install the the MySOS health and location monitoring app and the COCOA COVID-19 contact tracing app. They should also register on the Visit Japan website. Pre-registration on Fast Track for airport quarantine procedures is strongly recommended.
Since it re-opened its tourist eVisa application process in mid-May, Myanmar now welcomes fully vaccinated visitors provided they show a negative result from a PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to departure. Travellers are also required to have an Inbound Travel Accident Insurance Policy with COVID-19 coverage purchased from Myanma Insurance [mminsurance.gov.mm]. They must also complete a Health Declaration Form and have a RAT test on arrival.
A view over Lisbon in Portugal. Photo: iStock
Australian travellers must present a negative RT-PCR Test taken within 72 hours pre-flight or a negative RAT taken 24 hours before. Some vaccination certificates issued by non-EU countries allow you to avoid the test, but not Australia's.
Fully vaccinated Australian travellers are required to show evidence of a negative PCR test taken within 48 hours pre-flight. All incoming travellers must download the Ehteraz visitor registration app and have it activated on their smartphone when they arrive, which requires either Wi-Fi access, a local or international SIM card. They must also sign an Undertaking and Acknowledgment Form Related to COVID-19 Health Measures. It is not known whether these restrictions will be eased before Qatar hosts the 2022 FIFA World Cup, scheduled to begin on 21 November.
Travellers must have a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 48 hours pre-flight. They must also take a PCR test within three days of entry with an optional RAT on day six or seven. Anyone entering South Korea at Incheon International Airport is recommended to register their information on the Q-code website [cov19ent.kdca.go.kr/cpassportal/biz/beffatstmnt/main.do?lang=en] to speed up their processing on arrival.
The island nation has eased its tough border controls but foreigners are effectively banned. Only foreign relatives of Taiwanese nationals and those with an Alien Resident Certificate may apply to enter Taiwan. All arrivals must present a PCR test result taken within two days before their scheduled flight to Taiwan. There's another PCR test on arrival at the airport followed by three days of home quarantine and four days of self-regulated epidemic prevention. Masks are required outside the home and social distancing is enforced.