​Advice for international passengers transiting through Sydney International Airport.

Last updated: 23 August 2021

Transit time – less than 8 hours

If you arrive into Sydney International Airport on an international flight (excluding New Zealand quarantine-free flights), you can depart on another international flight if:

  • your transit time is less than 8 hours and on the same day
  • you can stay airside (i.e. in the transit zone)
  • your bags have been checked through to your next destination.

On arrival in Sydney International Airport, you will be escorted to a transit holding area where you will wait until an hour before your next flight when you will be escorted to your departure gate. You will not be able to leave the transit holding area during this time except to go to the bathroom. Food and water will be available.

If you intend to transit to another flight on the same day, but have separate tickets for each flight (that is, your bag is not automatically checked into the next flight) you will need to apply for a NSW Health Transit Exemption. This is because you will need to complete the arrivals process, including collecting your bag and checking in for your next flight. NSW Health will provide specific advice in the exemption on how you should proceed through the airport.

Transit time – greater than 8 hours

If your departing flight is more than 8 hours after your arrival flight (or less than 8 hours, but not on the same day), you must apply for a NSW Health Transit Exemption.

You will be transferred to hotel quarantine to stay until your departing flight. Hotel quarantine is pre-arranged and organised when arriving into Sydney International Airport. You do not need to make any bookings in advance, and transportation to the hotel will be provided. If your stay in hotel quarantine is less than 48 hours you will not be charged a fee. 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.

Applying for a NSW Health Transit Exemption

Do not confuse the NSW Health transit exemption with a transit visa exemption from the Australian Government.

Before transiting through NSW, you must consult with 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.

You can apply for a NSW Health Transit Exemption online. When applying for an exemption, you will need to provide your:

  • passport number
  • arrival flight number, date and time into Sydney
  • departure flight number, date and time leaving Sydney.

You should apply at least a week ahead of your travel to allow the exemption to be processed in time. Exemptions are generally processed within 72 hours.

If you have any questions relating to your application, please contact NSW Health by email at MOH-COVID19-Quarantine@health.nsw.gov.au.

What to do if your flight changes

If your flights are changed by the airline and your exemption has already been issued to you, it will need to be revised to reflect the new dates and times.

You should advise NSW Health by email to MOH-COVID19-Quarantine@health.nsw.gov.au of your new flight details so that we can advise Australian Border Force (who control entry to Australia) and NSW Police (who manage the hotel quarantine process). Your exemption will be updated to reflect the change in flights and/or travel dates. If you need to transit through NSW again, you will need to apply again for another exemption.

Health screening and COVID-19 symptoms

On arrival at Sydney International Airport, you will be required to undertake health screening which includes having your temperature taken and answering questions about COVID-19 symptoms. If your transit time is longer than 8 hours, you will be required to undertake an additional health screening process before proceeding to departure gate for boarding.

If at any time while you are in Sydney International Airport or hotel quarantine you develop symptoms associated with COVID-19 (such as cough, sore throat, runny nose, body aches and pains, loss of smell/taste or shortness of breath), you will need to have a COVID-19 nose and throat swab. Depending on your symptoms and results, you may not be able to continue to your next flight.

Travel from hotel quarantine back to Sydney International Airport

If you are transferred to hotel quarantine, transport will be arranged for you to return to Sydney Airport for your next flight.

While travelling to and from the airport and at the airport, you must wear a mask at all times and, where possible, stay at least 1.5m away from other people. 

In addition, while travelling in the vehicle, you must:

  • sit in the back seat, diagonal from the driver
  • where possible, have the windows down to allow fresh air to circulate
  • use hand sanitiser
  • minimise touching surfaces
  • handle your own belongings and luggage where possible

Please ensure the driver drops you at 'Departures K' and proceed directly to Check-in Counter K.

Following check-in, you will be escorted to a transit holding area and supervised until 1 hour before your flight when you will be escorted to your departure gate.

Departures K and Check-in Counter K

Departure gate K and map of check-in counters

Current as at: Monday 23 August 2021
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW