Fully vaccinated Australian citizens and permanent residents will no longer require an exemption for outbound travel from Australia from November 1.
"Fully vaccinated Australians will not require an exemption to Australia from the first of November. This is the first stage of our international reopening," Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt said at a press briefing on Wednesday morning.
Prior to the announcement, fully vaccinated people living in Australia needed to apply for a travel exemption through the Department of Home Affairs.
Australian citizens and permanent residents who want to travel outbound from Australia will need to provide proof that they are fully vaccinated with a government-approved or recognised vaccine, with the second dose occurring at least seven days prior to travel. They also must provide a negative COVID-19 test no more than 72 hours before boarding a flight.
People who are not fully vaccinated will continue to require a travel exemption to travel overseas, and will be subject to the passenger caps and quarantine arrangements that are managed by states and territories when returning to Australia. In New South Wales, only 210 unvaccinated people arriving from overseas will be allowed to enter the state.
For inbound travel, Hunt added that the next stage of Australia's international reopening would focus on opening inbound travel for international students and critical workers. It will also involve more travel arrangements with Singapore for tourism and other purposes.
Hunt and Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said in a joint statement that the federal government expected to allow fully vaccinated skilled workers and international students to come into Australia before the end of the year.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier this month already announced that inbound travel into Australia would reopen from November 1, but it would prioritise returning Australian citizens, residents, and their families.
While NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet previously stated that international tourists would be allowed to travel into New South Wales from the November 1 date, he backtracked from that statement last week, saying he was on the same page as the prime minister in prioritising travel for Australian citizens.
"We do want to open up as quickly as possible and have as many around the world come and see the best that New South Wales has to offer [but] as the Prime Minister has said, we have returning Australians come home first. That's obviously a clear first priority," Perrottet said.
The Australian government's QR-code based international digital vaccination certificate, which is required for outbound travel, launched last week.
The vaccination certificate, called the Visible Digital Seal (VDS), can be downloaded through the Medicare Express Plus app. It can also be printed and will be compatible with COVID-19 travel apps, such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Travel Pass.
It is available to Australians and Australian visa holders who have a valid passport and their COVID-19 vaccination recorded on the Australian Immunisation Register.