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Air and maritime quarantine

In March 2020, Public Health Orders were made by the NSW Minister for Health and Medical Research to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the community. Heavy penalties apply if you don't comply with the order.

The Public Health Order directs that if you arrive in NSW by aircraft and have been in a country other than Australia within 14 days before arriving, you must be quarantined for 14 days. This is covered under the Public Health (COVID-19 Air Transportation Quarantine) Order (No 2) 2021.

Those who arrive in NSW on a boat from a port outside of NSW must be quarantined for 14 days as directed by NSW Police. This is covered under Public Health (COVID-19 Maritime Quarantine) Order (No 2) 2021.

What happens when I land at Sydney airport?

When you disembark from the plane, you will be taken through a health screening point staffed by NSW Health at the airport. Screening consists of health questions and a nurse will take your temperature.

If you do not have symptoms of COVID-19, you will then go through Immigration and Customs. Once you collect your bags, NSW Police will collect you and transfer you to a designated quarantine hotel to commence your quarantine.

If you are a transit passenger with a connecting flight out of Australia with a signed exemption, the police will allow you to leave the hotel to return to the airport to catch your connecting flight.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 on screening, an alternative process will apply. You will need to be assessed for COVID-19 or other health problems. Medical and nursing staff are available at the airport to assess any health issues and form a care plan with you.

I have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Do I still need to enter quarantine when I arrive in Australia?

Yes. NSW is following the guidance of the Australian Health Protection Principle Committee with regards to vaccinations and quarantine.

At this time, all people must quarantine if they have been overseas in the last 14 days, even if they have received the COVID-19 vaccination. We understand the COVID-19 vaccination can assist with prevention however, currently there is no change to the quarantine process or the NSW Health approach to managing the COVID-19 risk across the community based on receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

I have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Can I apply for a home quarantine trial?.

No. There are currently no quarantine trials for vaccinated Australians returning to Australia.

NSW is following the guidance of the Australian Health Protection Principle Committee with regards to vaccinations and quarantine. We understand the COVID-19 vaccination can assist with prevention however, currently there is no change to the quarantine process or the NSW Health approach to managing the COVID-19 risk across the community based on receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

International passengers arriving at Sydney airport will be transported to hotels where they must stay for a strict 14-day quarantine period.

I have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Can I apply for the 7-day quarantine trial?

No. There are currently no 7-day quarantine trials for vaccinated Australians returning to Australia.

NSW is following the guidance of the Australian Health Protection Principle Committee with regards to vaccinations and quarantine. At this time, all people must quarantine if they have been overseas in the last 14 days, even if they have received the COVID-19 vaccination. We understand the COVID-19 vaccination can assist with prevention however, currently there is no change to the quarantine process or the NSW Health approach to managing the COVID-19 risk across the community based on receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

When does the 14-day hotel quarantine period begin and end?

The Public Health Order requires you to complete the full 14 days x 24 hours of your quarantine. The day you arrive in NSW is considered day zero (0) and a full 14 days x 24 hours of quarantine is required prior to release.

I live in NSW. Can I self-isolate/ quarantine at home?

No. International passengers arriving at Sydney airport will be transported to hotels where they must stay for a strict 14-day quarantine period.

Quarantine fees will apply in most instances. Find out more information about Quarantine fees.

Do unaccompanied minors need to quarantine?

Yes. Due to the increasing number of international COVID-19 cases and the emergence of variants of concern, all unaccompanied minors must quarantine in the NSW Health Special Health Accommodation. A parent, guardian or other adult authorised by the parent/guardian are encouraged to accompany the minor into quarantine. Both the minor and parent/guardian will need to stay in quarantine for a minimum of 14 days.

For more information, refer to Fact sheet for parents and guardians of unaccompanied minors arriving from overseas or contact the NSW Health Quarantine Exemptions Unit at MOH-COVID19-Quarantine@health.nsw.gov.au or on 1300 288 222.

Do I have to go into quarantine if I have a disability?

Yes. If you have special requirements, please speak with one of the healthcare staff that are available at the quarantine hotel. If you are travelling with a carer, that person must accompany you into quarantine and remain there with you under the same conditions for the 14-day period.

Do I have to go into quarantine if I have a medical, psychological or other health issue that is likely to be impacted by being in a quarantine facility or medical facility?

Yes. If you have special requirements, please complete an application as indicated below so appropriate arrangements can be made for your quarantine period.

Do I have to go into quarantine if I have an intellectual, developmental or other disability and need special equipment and/or support for my health and wellbeing

Yes. If you have special requirements, please complete an application as indicated below so appropriate arrangements can be made for your quarantine period.

Exemptions for air and maritime quarantine

Most exemptions are only granted under exceptional circumstances for medical, health or compassionate grounds, or the person is transiting out of NSW to an international destination.

If you would like to apply for an exemption from hotel quarantine, it is strongly recommended that you complete the online application form at Exemptions for air and maritime quarantine to help streamline the process and provide a timely response to your application.

What documents should I provide with my application?

The information you need to provide depends on the reason you are applying for an exemption. Throughout your online application you will be advised of the documentation you must provide.

Providing the right information will make it easier for us to process your application. Providing the requested documentation does not guarantee an exemption will be granted.

How long before I fly to NSW do I need to apply for an exemption?

NSW Health is receiving many applications at present. You should apply at least a week ahead of your travel to allow the exemption to be processed in time. The exemption should be processed within 72 hours of your application.

If you have not heard about your exemption or received it within 48 hours of your flight, please contact NSW Health by email at MOH-COVID19-Quarantine@health.nsw.gov.au again so that it can be provided to you in time.

For further information please contact Service NSW on 1300 288 222.

How long does it take to decide about my application?

We are receiving high volumes of applications. You should receive a response to your application within 72 hours prior to your arrival into NSW.

If you have not received a response, this should not delay you from boarding your flight to NSW. On arrival to NSW there are staff in the hotels to assist you with medical, mental health and welfare support. When you arrive at the hotel you can request to be seen by a healthcare professional for any concerns while you are in hotel quarantine.

Can I have an exemption in order to not be counted in the passenger cap?

No. There are caps on the number of passengers coming into all Australian airports from overseas. Exemptions from hotel quarantine will not be provided to any individual to fly above the daily flight cap.

What if I am just transiting through NSW to an international location?

International transit passengers arriving into Australia can depart on another international flight if your transit time is less than 8 hours and you can stay airside (i.e. in the transit zone). This will be possible only if your bags have been checked through to your next destination. You do not need to apply for an exemption from hotel quarantine and are able to continue your journey to another country.

If you go through immigration, you will require an exemption from hotel quarantine. To apply for an exemption from hotel quarantine refer to Exemptions for air and maritime quarantine.

If your departure flight is between 8 to 72 hours after arrival flight, you will be taken to a quarantine hotel to wait until your departing flight. An exemption from hotel quarantine must be approved for you to leave the hotel to catch your onward flight.

Travelers in transit from an international flight, via NSW, for less than 48 hours will not be charged a fee for hotel quarantine. A pro-rata fee will be charged for stays greater than 48 hours and less than 14 days. Find out more information about Quarantine fees.

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (Symptoms include cough, sore/scratchy throat, shortness of breath or fever), let a member of the airline know immediately, or if you are in the airport tell a biosecurity officer or a health official.

I am transiting in Sydney to an international destination. I am confused about what the different exemptions mean.

The exemption that may be provided by NSW Health is an exemption from the mandatory 14 days in hotel quarantine which allows you to leave your hotel to catch your next flight out of Australia.

Apart from this, you should also consult the Australian Department of Home Affairs, to see if you are required to have a visa for your transit through Australia. Please refer to Department of Home Affairs - COVID-19 and the border: Transiting Australia.

Note that some may be exempt from this requirement.

Do not confuse a transit visa exemption with the exemption from hotel quarantine that may be provided by NSW Health.

What if I am transiting through NSW to another location in Australia?

If you arrive in NSW from overseas, you must go into quarantine for 14 days before continuing your journey to another state or territory. After this quarantine period you can transit domestically and travel home.

Across Australia, states and territories have their own quarantine rules in place. Some require approval to travel across borders from NSW, or even a second 14-day quarantine period when you arrive.

For the latest information visit Australian Interstate Quarantine.

I am transiting through Australia. If my flights are changed by the airline, is the exemption which I have already been granted still valid for the new dates and times?

No, your exemption will need to be updated with your new flight details.

You should advise NSW Health by email to MOH-COVID19-Quarantine@health.nsw.gov.au of your new flight details so that we can inform Australian Border Force (who control entry to Australia) and the NSW police (who manage the hotel quarantine process).

Please remember to ensure that your transit time in Sydney remains under 72 hours with your new flights.

What if I am travelling with other people or with children?

Everyone, including children, must apply or have someone apply for them. Make sure you include the details of other people or children you are travelling with, so we can process the applications together.

When I go into a quarantine hotel, can my partner/ family come and stay with me?

No. So we can protect our community and slow the spread of COVID-19, members of the general public cannot stay in the quarantine hotels with other family members or loved ones.

I have a medical condition that is usually under control. What support is there for me in quarantine?

All the quarantine hotels have medical and nursing support provided by Health Care Australia. If you need a prescription repeated this can be done, and the script can be filled from a local chemist and delivered to your room.

There is also psychological support. Any medical or psychological assessment is available upon request at the hotel. Many consultations are provided by telephone where possible due to the risk to the doctors and psychologists providing these services.

If you have a condition that becomes unstable, you will be assessed by a medical doctor and if required, transported from the hotel for any necessary tests or consultations. Similarly, if your condition requires it, you will be transported to hospital as you would otherwise be at any other time.

I have a family travelling with me. How will we manage in a hotel room?

There are varied accommodation facilities available. You may be accommodated in a hotel with adjoining rooms or possibly an apartment, depending on availability. This is not pre-arranged.

I live interstate and I want to isolate at home. Is this possible?

No. You are required to enter mandatory hotel quarantine at the first point of entry into Australia. This is not a reason for an exemption from hotel quarantine in NSW.

What if I need to travel interstate to visit my relative who is in palliative care, who is ill or has died and I want to attend the funeral?

Onward travel to another state is not permitted until a traveler completes quarantine in their port of arrival.

In extremely rare situations, onward travel may be allowed. For these requests, NSW Health must notify the Chief Health Officer in each state or territory of any individuals wishing to enter on these grounds. Approval and an exemption are required from the other state or territory before you can travel there. International travelers are not permitted to travel on domestic flights until after they have completed quarantine.

You will also need to apply for entry or exemption from quarantine arrangements through the relevant state or territory government website. We advise not to book your onward travel from Sydney unless you have been granted an exemption.

As some states and territories have border restrictions in place, applications for entry or exemption from quarantine arrangements can be submitted through the relevant government website. This applies even if you are a resident of that state or territory.

For the latest information visit Australian Interstate Quarantine.

It is important to know that other states and territories might also need you to go into hotel quarantine when you arrive there. You may even have to start 14 days quarantine again or meet particular requirements. These things are assessed on a case by case basis by each state or territory.

Can I leave hotel quarantine early to catch an onward domestic flight?

NSW Health does not provide exemptions to leave hotel quarantine a few hours early for the purposes of catching a flight out of NSW. The Public Health Order requires you to complete the full quarantine period of 14 days x 24 hours.

In some jurisdictions you may be required to repeat your hotel quarantine when you arrive if you have not completed the full 14 days x 24 hours in NSW.

Please ensure your on-travel arrangements at the completion of your hotel quarantine are after your scheduled departure time at the end of the quarantine period.

I am a pilot and sometimes return from overseas as a passenger. Am I exempt from hotel quarantine?

Under the NSW Public Health Orders, you are not exempt unless you are part of the declared flight crew on the particular flight, whom are required to enter self-isolation. If you arrive as a passenger, you are required to enter hotel quarantine. This is also applicable to cabin crew or other airline crew who are not part of the declared flight crew on any given flight arriving in NSW from overseas.

Current as at: Tuesday 20 July 2021
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW