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Coronavirus / Covid-19: FAQ

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16.07.2020 - Article

Please be advised that the information provided below is primarily for German citizens, subject to change and no liability assumed. Travellers should keep themselves informed of any changes by regularly checking websites listed below and following advice provided by competent authorities in their host country.

I am planning a trip to Australia, what should I do?

Since Friday 20.03.2020, non-citizens/non-residents have not been permitted to enter Australia (see below).

Meanwhile, Germany has advised its citizens against non-essential travel abroad. The Federal Foreign Office has extended its worldwide travel warning for all countries (apart from EU, Schengen-associated countries and the UK) until 31 August 2020. Important information for travellers can be found on the following websites: www.diplo.de/corona (German) and https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/en/coronavirus/2317268 (English).

Australian travel ban for foreigners & transit in Australia

Since Friday, 20 May 2020, all foreigners have been banned from arriving in Australia. The ban does not apply to Australian citizens and permanent residents.

Transit in Australia

Please note that onward domestic travel is not permitted (even if this is to meet a departing international flight).

Transits of up to 8 hours

German nationals transiting through Australia to another country do not need to apply for an exemption to travel restrictions or a transit visa if they a) are booked on a connecting flight from the same airport, b) are not going to leave the airport and c) the transit duration does not exceed 8 hours (https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/transiting-australia#2).

New South Wales: Transiting foreign nationals will need to apply for a NSW quarantine exemption if they need to go through immigration (i.e. to collect baggage). See 'Transit through NSW' information below.

Transits from 8 to 72 hours

If the transit duration exceeds 8 hours, travellers need to apply for a transit visa (Visa 771: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/getting-a-visa/visa-listing/transit-771#About).

It is recommended to apply for this document even if you do not plan to leave the airport/transit area, as, in case of longer transit times, Australian authorities can ask travellers to spend these at a hotel rather than at the airport.

Travellers planning or having to leave the airport before boarding their connecting flight, generally also need to obtain approval from relevant state/territory health authorities prior to travel in order to leave quarantine before the mandatory 14 days and connect with their outward flights. Mandatory quarantine is arranged by the relevant state/territory authority at a state government designated facility (usually a nearby hotel). State/territory authorities will arrange transfers to/from the airport. Regulations vary between state:

  • Transit through New South Wales: at least 48 hours prior to their travel, passengers need to apply for an exemption to the NSW Department of Health to leave the mandatory quarantine to go to the airport: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/covid-19/Pages/quarantine-exemptions.aspx. Applicants will need to create an account, from which they can upload forms and receive updates. Applicants need to include: passport, arrival flight number, date and time into Sydney, departure flight number, date and time leaving Sydney. Further details here: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/covid-19/Pages/quarantine-faqs.aspx#changes.
  • Transit through Victoria: you must go into mandatory quarantine at a Melbourne hotel until the time of the departing flight. Information on passengers who are booked to transit through Melbourne to international locations is provided to the Department of Health and Human Services by Australian Border Force for processing. You do not need to apply to the department on an individual basis for an exemption in these circumstances. VIC quarantine exemption guidelines. More information here. Renewed lockdown measures in Victoria are currently causing disruptions to air traffic.
  • Transit through Queensland (Brisbane): International transiting passengers no longer require a Queensland Entry Pass. If a border declaration is required it will be processed at the airport.

Please note  that transit regulations are subject to change and no liability is assumed. Please contact your airline for further details and refer to https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/transiting-australia

Mandatory quarantine for all international arrivals to Australia

A mandatory 14-day quarantine period for all international arrivals to Australia is currently in force until further notice. Incoming travellers are being directed to designated facilities directly after appropriate immigration, customs and enhanced health checks where they have to remain for the duration of the 14-days.

It is important that you follow the self-quarantine measures prescribed by the Australian Government, see: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/coronavirus-covid-19-self-isolation-faqs

More information here: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-international-travellers  and https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-travellers#foreign-nationals-entering-australia.

Please note: Many states/territories have begun to charge international travellers for their hotel quarantine accommodation in July 2020.

Queensland: From 01 July, see here.

Western Australia: From 17 July, see here.

Northern Territory: From 17 July, see here.

New South Wales: From 18 July, for travellers who purchased their flights after 12 July 2020. More information here.

South Australia: From 18 July, see here.

International travel ban for Australian citizens and Permanent Residents

Australian citizens and permanent residents cannot travel overseas due to COVID-19 restrictions. These restrictions will remain in force until 17 September 2020.

Dual nationals, or foreign nationals with permanent residency status in Australia, need to secure an exemption from the ABF Commissioner before they can leave Australia, even if using the passport of their other nationality. The reason behind this is the fact that dual citizens and permanent residents have the right to return to and enter Australia again at a later date. Individuals can apply online for an exemption on the Department of Home Affairs website: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/help-support/departmental-forms/online-forms/covid19-enquiry-form.

Applications should include as much detailed information and supporting documentation as possible.  For example, individuals should include proof that they do not usually reside in Australia through evidence of working arrangements, school/university enrolments or property ownership.

The application should include other compelling and compassionate grounds as appropriate, including details on the reasons compelling the individual to travel – for example, care for elderly parents who live overseas, other family circumstances or medical issues. Any supporting documentation to verify family relationships and other claims will help to strengthen their case.

Where can I get more information from Australian authorities?

COVID-19 information is provided by the Australian Department of Health: https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/coronavirus-covid-19-resources and https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-travellers#foreign-nationals-entering-australia.

The Australian Government has set up an information Hotline: 1800 020 080; for non-English speakers: 131 450.

Contact details for Health Departments in the Australian states and territories are provided here: www.health.gov.au/state-territory-contacts.

Should I leave Australia?

The Australian Government asks international tourists to return to their home country as quickly as possible, particularly those without family support. Temporary visa holders who are unable to support themselves are also strongly encouraged to return home. Many countries have imposed travel restrictions or taken other steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 disrupting travel itineraries. The German Federal Foreign Office's repatriation program in Australia has ended; we advise to arrange your return trip to Germany by commercial means or request the support of your tour operator.

Please note: Some German travel insurance companies can cancel travel insurances in current circumstances as an official travel warning has been issued by the German government. Please contact your insurance to confirm that you are properly insured.

Can I still travel freely within Australia?

There is a possibility of further travel restrictions within Australia. Some local flight routes are no longer serviced. Please keep yourself up-to-date, especially through contact with your airline or travel agent. Currently travel restrictions apply in New South Wales, Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania, South Australia, the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia. Many states have introduced a compulsory 14-day self-quarantine for all interstate arrivals. Please refer to local government websites for travel restrictions.

Where can I extend my visa?

Please refer to the Australian Department of Home Affairs’ website for more information: https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/.

The type of visa a person can apply for to remain in Australia depends largely on the type of visa they currently hold.  For example, those on Visitor visas would be expected to apply for new Visitor visas.  Those with Student visas should apply for new Student visas six weeks before their current visas expire; if their study is ending, however, they can apply for a Visitor visa to remain lawfully in Australia until departure. 

Temporary visa holders who are working in critical sectors such as healthcare and agriculture, and those who are unable to leave Australia and are not eligible to apply for another visa to remain lawfully, may apply for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408) visa. They can only do so when their current visa has fewer than 28 days of validity left or their last substantive visas ceased less than 28 day before. No application fee is payable for this visa.  More information is on the Department of Home Affairs website.

For visa extensions please contact the Australian Department of Home Affairs https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/visa-about-to-expire/stay-longer.

Am I allowed to enter Germany?

Germany has introduced travel restrictions for entries from outside the Schengen area on March 17, 2020. All corresponding entries by plane or ship will be affected. Entries will be possible for German citizens.

The Federal Foreign Office's global travel warning was lifted on 15 June for the EU, Schengen-associated countries and the UK and replaced by travel advice for individual countries. For all other countries - including Australia - it has been extended until 31 August 2020.

Temporary EU travel restrictions do not apply to EU-citizens and citizens of Great Britain, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland (including their family members) who are returning to their place of habitual residence. They also do not apply to third-country nationals returning to their place of habitual residence who hold a residence permit/long-term national visa and their family members (if these come to Germany to live there permanently or need to visit for urgent family reasons/compassionate grounds). More information here: https://australien.diplo.de/au-en/service/02-Service.

Moreover, EU-citzens and citizens of Great Britain, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland and their family members will be allowed to transit through Germany to reach their home countries. The same will apply to foreigners holding a residence permit in one of these countries.

Since 02 July, travellers from Australia have been allowed to enter Germany again. More information on entry requirements here.

Please note: If you do not enter Europe at an airport in Germany, some airlines now request a permit for onward travel from your EU entry airport to your destination in Germany. Should you require such a permit for onward travel, please send an email to info@sydney.diplo.de; Please use the subject: “Transit Permit” and mention the entry airport (e.g. London) in your message. This service is free of charge.

Quarantine upon Arrival in Germany:

The Federation and the Länder have agreed on the main aspects of uniform quarantine regulations for people entering or returning to Germany. Further information, the model ordinance and links are available on the websites of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community. For information on the concrete implementation of the measures in the various Länder, please see the websites of the Land Ministries of Health.

Travelers should also expect more scrutiny during checks, as more comprehensive questions may be posed and health checks performed in doubtful cases. Measures may also be adjusted when necessary.

More detailed information on entry requirements and procedures are available here:

Ministry of Transport

In most federal states a compulsory 14-day quarantine period only applies to persons entering from countries listed as risk countries by the Robert Koch Institute (German only). Please check the respective German states's website to find out if a quarantine period still applies within the state.

Persons who are not German citizens are allowed to enter Germany to transit to their home country. The purpose of travel and the entry requirements for the destination and transit countries must be proven by carrying appropriate documentation (passport, registration certificate, residence permit, valid bus/train/flight tickets) that allows for swift follow-on travel. Persons with connecting flights at the same airport in Germany are, in general, not permitted to leave the airport transit area. More information here : https://www.bmi.bund.de/SharedDocs/faqs/EN/topics/civil-protection/coronavirus/travel-restrictions-border-control/travel-restriction-border-control-list.html

Please check the respective German state’s website to find out what quarantine regulations apply within the state. (Link German only)

Flight Connections

Many of the flight connections for travellers from Australia to Germany and Europe have by now been reinstated. This includes flights via established transit hubs such as the Gulf States as well as Singapore and Hong Kong. However, availability has been reduced and flight schedules are subject to frequent changes, which can cause changes in flight times and dates as well as cancellations.

It is, therefore, recommended to frequently check with your travel provider/airline that your flights are still going ahead as planned and which transit regulations at the different transit locations apply to your connection.

It is advised to book all your connections with one provider in order to avoid complications.

Where can I find more information?

We recommend that all German travellers register with the German Federal Foreign Office’s ‘Krisenvorsorgeliste’ (ELEFAND). Registration is voluntary. This will allow German Missions in Australia to contact and advise German citizens during a crisis or other exceptional circumstances: https://elefand.diplo.de (Please insert 'Sydney' when prompted for 'für den Aufenthaltsort zuständigen Auslandsvertretung’).

The German Missions in Australia website (www.australien.diplo.de) as well as the Federal Foreign Office’s ‘Reise- und Sicherheitshinweise’ (https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/de/ReiseUndSicherheit/reise-und-sicherheitshinweise) are updated regularly.

The Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community answers Coronavirus FAQ on their Website here: https://www.bmi.bund.de/SharedDocs/faqs/EN/topics/civil-protection/coronavirus/coronavirus-faqs.htm.

In addition, you can stay up to date with the ‘Sicher Reisen’-App: https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/de/ReiseUndSicherheit/app-sicher-reisen/350382.

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