After months and months of border closures, finally some of our favourite diving destinations are opening their international borders – hooray! But… before you go crazy and book onto the next available liveaboard, there are a few additional requirements to entering and leaving each country, and they all differ. Different testing regimes, different test types and different vaccines – what is accepted where?
First things first – is your passport still valid?
Serious question – it may be a while since you’ve looked at it. Make sure it still has six months’ validity when you travel. Many people have let their passports expire during lockdown, so it may take a lot longer to get yours renewed! Scroll down for more information on dive destinations opening soon and what you need to know about getting there – and getting home.
Some international travel inspiration with Scuba Goat!
I recently chatted to Matt Waters on his wonderful Scuba Goat podcast, about ALL of the dive destinations that now have plans to open international borders, plus a few more that we anticipate.
We got a bit carried away, so there are two episodes, and there are chapter markers for each destination so you can jump straight to the destination you’re interested in, and get the lowdown on each one.
Here are a few examples of countries opening borders now.
Fiji says BULA! to the world on the 1st of December 2021. There are still some entry restrictions however. First, you need to be fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to entry
- Travel insurance in mandatory.
- You need to download the CareFiji App to your smartphone.
- You need to present a negative PCR Covid test on arrival.
- You need to choose accommodation and other travel arrangements with a Care Fiji Commitment (CFC) accredited operator.
- Two days after you arrive, you’ll need to take a Rapid Antigen Covid test (all CFC accredited hotels can organise this – for a fee), before you embark on any day trips outside the resort or jump on a liveaboard.
Then you need to make sure you’re familiar with your home country’s requirements for returning home. Australians will need to take a PCR Covid test 48 hours prior to leaving Fiji, and Fiji currently has very few PCR testing facilities, so it’s recommended the test is booked well in advance. There are costs involved with each of these tests, in Fiji, the Rapid Antigen tests cost around FJ $30, while the PCR tests cost FJ 350, so you’ll need to factor this into your holiday budget. More information here.
Palau is open! BUT… there are a few requirements for entry, and documentation that needs to be presented to your chosen airline at check-in.
Travellers must submit proof of complete COVID-19 vaccination with final dose administered at least 14 days prior to arrival and must also provide proof of either: a. A negative result of a COVID-19 PCR test, and such test must be taken within three days prior to departure from the point of origin; or b. Documentation of recovery from COVID-19 which includes proof of a recent positive viral test and a letter from a healthcare provider or a public health official stating that you have recovered and are cleared to travel.
All Travellers will be tested on the fifth day following their arrival and are required to follow the Mitigation Orders issued upon arrival. This makes liveaboard trips a little tricky, so it might be worth looking at a land-based dive trip.
After trialling its so-called ‘Sandbox Program’ Thailand now allows fully vaccinated visitors from 46 approved countries (including Australia and New Zealand) to enter by air with no quarantine requirements. Visitors will need to show that they are COVID-free at their time of travel with a PCR test undertaken before they leave their home country, and do a test in Thailand, after which they will be free to move around the country in the same way that any Thai citizen can. More information on requirements and procedures to enter Thailand can be found here.
Currently, Australia requires travellers to undertake a PCR Covid test 2 days prior to returning home, which is easier to organise in some countries than others. Some countries classified in the ‘Green Zone’ are exempt, including Vanuatu, The Solomons, Samoa, Tonga and Niue.
Check out our Covid Info Page, which we are updating continually, for more information.
Other useful links:
- Smartraveller list of travel alerts for each destination (important for your travel insurance coverage)
- Coronavirus FAQs – for travellers returning to Australia (including a list of Green Zone countries)
- PCR Tests – what you need to know about testing before you go.
- What you need to know before you go – to the UK, USA, Singapore and how to get a vaccine passport.
- Full list of countries Aussies can travel to now.