Australia travel guide
Australia is a land of savage beauty, big adventure and even bigger horizons. There are good reasons why the country finds itself touted as one of the ultimate travel getaways; it has personality in spades, landscapes to die for and more than its fair share of sunshine. And if beaches, rainforest and outback aren’t your thing, then its major cities are outstanding destinations in their own right.
In many ways the country breeds extremes. The fiery atmosphere of an Aussie Rules match in Melbourne and the champagne glitz of Sydney Harbour belong to another planet entirely when compared to the quiet expanse of the Red Centre or the surf-bashed coastlines of the west.
Likewise, 40,000 years of Aboriginal culture sometimes seem an unnatural bedfellow for the famed “no worries mate” BBQ-lifestyle of modern times. When taken as a whole, however, the sum of Australia’s contrasts make it a destination that is as fascinating as it is diverse.
Knowing where to go is arguably the toughest part. There are well-travelled paths, with Sydney and the east coast being a perennially popular choice. When you’re faced with a country of this magnitude, however, potential itineraries are numberless. The Great Barrier Reef? Uluru? The Great Ocean Road? Kakadu? Hobart? The Kimberley? When the tourist board controversially coined the slogan “So where the bloody hell are you?” it raised a fair point.
There are iconic Aussie clichés by the barrel-load (from cork hats to barbecues, koalas to crocodiles, and cricketers to bush tucker) but the real beauty of the place lies in the stuff you’re not expecting; the dusty open road that unfurls to reveal verdant hills; the cold beer at an outback pub that turns into an evening-long session; the stroll to the beach that throws up a street market, open-air concert and implausibly beautiful sunset.
A trip Down Under has long been synonymous with escape, exploration and adventure – an image that's unlikely to change anytime soon.
7,692,024 sq km (2,969,907 sq miles).
24,127,200 (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016).
3.1 per sq km.
HM Queen Elizabeth II since 1952, represented locally by Governor-General David Hurley since 2019.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison since 2018.
Coronavirus travel health
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Australia on the TravelHealthPro website.
See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Entry and borders
See Entry requirements to find information about entry and departure from Australia
Returning to the UK
When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK.
You are responsible for organising your own COVID-19 test, in line with UK government testing requirements. You should contact local authorities for information on testing facilities.
To check whether you need an exemption to leave Australia, see Leaving Australia
Be prepared for your plans to change
No travel is risk-free during COVID. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.
Plan ahead and make sure you:
- can access money
- understand what your insurance will cover
- can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned
Travel in Australia
There are currently relatively few flights between States and Territories. If you need to travel, book in advance.
Travel between and within some States and Territories within Australia may be restricted. Restrictions can change at short notice and could disrupt travel plans. You should check individual States and Territory websites for the latest information, including on whether you need to apply for an exemption to cross borders or are needed to self-isolate on arrival.
Travelling to your international airport
Regardless of border restrictions, you may travel by air from one to another Australian State or Territory to another to transit to an international flight as long as you hold a confirmed booking for that flight. Where state borders are closed, you may need to apply for an exemption to cross borders. You will be need to stay within the airport for the duration of your transit, or if transiting overnight, you may be taken to mandatory quarantine for the duration of your transit or may need to self-isolate in a hotel. In Western Australia, your transit time must be no more than 24 hours. Given the fast changing situation, you should check State and Territory websites for the latest information.
Commercial flights remain available between the UK and Australia. Schedules are more limited than usual due to coronavirus restrictions, and are subject to change at short notice. You should check individual airline websites and contact your airline or tour operator directly for the latest information on all routes, including restrictions around transits and health measures put in place by airlines and at airports.
Some airlines, including Etihad, have mandatory pre-departure PCR COVID-19 testing requirements, even for transit passengers. You should contact your individual airline for further information. You can find information on where you can get tested on Australia’s Health Direct webpages.
All passengers and air crew must wear masks on flights and in airports.
Public spaces and services
Social distancing restrictions and other local measures are still in place across Australia with a number of variations. These are liable to change at short notice. You should monitor State and Territory websites for the latest information where you are and comply with these measures and other advice from local authorities. You can also check restrictions on the Australian Department of Health’s COVID-19 Restriction Checker.
Measures may include:
- restrictions on numbers of people at most non-work gatherings, in shops, cafes, restaurants and other places of public gathering, and on visitors to private residences
- keeping at least 1.5 meters from others in public spaces
- restrictions on entering aged care homes
- limits on local travel and advice to avoid public transport at peak hours
- face masks on public transport and in crowded areas where it is difficult to maintain a 1.5 metres physical distance from others.
Healthcare in Australia
For contact details for doctors visit our list of healthcare providers.
Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health.
View Health for further details on healthcare in Australia.
See also the guidance on healthcare if you’re waiting to return to the UK.
Information on Australia’s response to COVID-19, including guidance on self-isolation, is available from the Australian government Department of Health website and the Australian government coronavirus website.
If you’re in Australia and are concerned that you may have coronavirus symptoms, you should isolate yourself and call the Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080. If you have serious symptoms such as shortness of breath you should call 000 for urgent medical help.
Check the latest information from the State and Territory authorities:
- Australian Capital Territory
- New South Wales
- Northern Territory
- South Australia
- Western Australia
While you are in Australia, you can access essential and urgent medical care through the UK-Australia Reciprocal Healthcare Agreement. Guidance of what is covered can be found on the NHS website.
Essential and urgent hospital treatment is free. There is a charge to visit GPs and receive prescriptions. Some of these costs can be recovered through Medicare – Australia’s universal health insurance scheme. To enrol with Medicare visit the Services Australia website.
You should also check your travel insurance, which may cover the full sum of your treatment or prescriptions.
If you’re concerned about seeking medical treatment in person, many clinics offer distance or online services to avoid face-to-face contact. A directory of clinics/GP’s that offer this service can be found on the Online Doctors Directory. This is not an official government directory as there is no Federal level directory for Australia.
COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Australia
Wherever possible British nationals should aim to be vaccinated in the country where they live. We will update this page when the Government of Australia announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.
The Australian national vaccination programme started in February 2021 and is using the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines. The Government of Australia has stated that everyone living in Australia, including British Nationals, are eligible for vaccination. Information on how to access Australia’s national vaccination programme is available on the Government of Australia Department of Health website.
Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad.
If you’re a British national living in Australia, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from local authorities.
For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.
If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.
The level of crime is no higher than in the UK. Be careful with personal possessions and travel documents in cities and popular tourist destinations.
Avoid carrying everything in one bag. Do not leave bags unattended in vehicles, internet cafes, pubs or clubs. Theft from safety deposit boxes is common in the cheaper hotels and hostels.
Be particularly vigilant at night in the busy tourist areas of Sydney like Kings Cross, down town George Street, Hyde Park and Centennial Park.
If you’re travelling in more remote areas, ask your hotel or hostel for advice on local safety information.
There have been some serious sexual assaults against British nationals in Australia. Alcohol and drugs can lead to you being less alert, less in control and less aware of your environment. If you are going to drink, know your limit. Drinks served in bars overseas are often stronger than those in the UK.
Beware of online lettings scams in which prospective tenants are asked to transfer a deposit to an overseas bank account in return for keys to a rental property in Australia. British travellers have fallen victim to these scams.
You can reduce the risk of losing your passport by getting a proof of age card. This is an accepted form of ID for many services like opening bank accounts or entering licensed premises. By getting a card soon after you arrive you will limit the need to carry your passport with you.
If your passport is lost or stolen you may be able to get an Emergency Travel Document (ETD). An ETD can only be used for urgent travel, not for general identity purposes. See Emergency Travel Documents
Australia is a huge country. If you’re bush walking or exploring national parks it can take hours to get help in the event of an emergency. The terrain and intense heat can have a severe impact on your capabilities. Take plenty of water and a means of rigging up shelter from the sun. Further advice on bush safety for each State or Territory can be found on the New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia, Northern Territory, South Australia, Tasmania government websites.
Australia is home to a number of dangerous animal species. Crocodiles, jellyfish and sharks, venomous insects, spiders and snakes are found in many parts of the country. See the Wet Tropics Management Authority website.
The Tourism Australia website has extensive information on travelling around the continent.
Rip currents are the main surf hazard for all beach users. They can occur at any beach, and can sweep even the strongest swimmer out to sea.
Take the following simple precautions:
- F - Find the red and yellow flags and swim between them
- L - Look out for any safety signs.
- A - Ask a lifesaver or lifeguard for advice before entering the water.
- G - Get a friend to swim with you.
- S - Stick your hand up, try to stay calm, and call for help if you get into trouble.
Further guidance on beach safety is available on the SLS website.
Rivers and pools can be subject to sudden flash flooding as a result of heavy rain elsewhere in the area. There have been cases of British nationals being injured by diving into water which was too shallow. Make sure that there is sufficient depth of water before diving, and always follow warning signs if present.
There have been several snorkelling accidents involving British nationals and other foreign tourists, some of them fatal.
You need by law to complete a medical declaration for resort diving or snorkelling – these, and more detailed advice, can be found on the Workplace Health & Safety Queensland website.
For your own health and safety, you must be truthful about any medical conditions you have.
You can drive in Australia using your UK driving licence as long as you remain a temporary overseas visitor; your UK licence is valid; you haven’t been disqualified from driving anywhere; and your licence is not suspended or cancelled, or your visiting driving privileges withdrawn.
If you intend to stay in Australia and you hold a permanent visa, you can drive using your UK licence for a maximum of 3 months. To continue driving, you must get a local licence within this 3 month period.
You must carry your driving licence and passport when driving. Make sure you have sufficient insurance, including if you borrow a car from a friend or relative. Hire car insurance often doesn’t cover driving on unsealed roads; check your policy before you set off.
In 2019 there were 1,195 road deaths in the Australia (source: Department for Transport). This equates to 4.7 road deaths per 100,000 of population and compares to the UK average of 2.6 road deaths per 100,000 of population in 2019.
Driving laws and regulations differ in each state/territory. Driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is illegal. The penalties can be severe. You must wear a seat belt at all times.
If you’re hiring a car immediately on arrival be extra careful - you will be jet lagged and tired from your flight. Take regular rest breaks when driving long distances; there are many rest stops provided.
Prepare thoroughly if driving in remote outback areas, which can present unexpected hazards. Ensure you have a roadworthy vehicle fitted with GPS and two spare tyres. Take good maps and extra food, water and fuel. Plan your route carefully and seek local advice before you set out. Leave your route details and expected time of return with the local tourist authorities, police, your hotel/hostel, or friends and relatives and let them know when you’ve arrived safely.
Check road conditions before beginning your journey; stay with your vehicle if it breaks down; and avoid travelling in extreme heat conditions. Sudden storms and strong winds can make driving difficult. Take particular care when driving on unsealed roads, 4WD tracks and desert/beach roads. Northern Territory Police have in the past warned tourists to stay off unsealed tracks in remote areas of Central Australia following reports of stranded motorists.
Following a number of serious accidents, all vehicles on Fraser Island must observe a maximum speed of 80km/h on beaches and 30km/h in towns. 4WD vehicles must carry no more than 8 occupants (including the driver) and all luggage must be carried inside the vehicle. Avoid driving at night and be aware of beach hazards like ditches created by the surf. Fraser Island is unique but remote, and emergency services can take many hours to reach an accident. Carry a well-stocked first-aid kit and personal medication as there is no pharmacy on the island.
The mobile phone network generally works well in cities and large towns but coverage elsewhere can be very limited or non-existent. If you’re travelling to remote areas, check with your phone provider about coverage. You can use your UK mobile phone in Australia if global roaming has been activated, but making and receiving calls can be expensive. Many visitors prefer to buy an Australian SIM card on arrival. Australian SIM cards are available at some Australian airports, and at convenience stores and supermarkets.
Keep up to date with local and international developments and avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings of people.
Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in Australia.
Attacks could be indiscriminate including in places visited by foreigners. You should be vigilant, keep up to date with local media reports and follow the advice of local authorities.
On 17 December 2020, police shot a suspect linked to a double murder in Brisbane, Queensland, which is being treated as a terrorist incident.
On 9 November 2018, a person was killed and several were injured in a terrorist incident in Bourke Street, Melbourne.
On 5 June 2017, a person was shot dead and another taken hostage in Melbourne.
On 26 November 2015, the Australian government changed its national terrorism threat advisory system. Australia’s current national terrorism threat level is ‘probable’. There have been a number of attacks and disruptions linked to Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL) - inspired terrorism.
There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.
The Australian authorities will take action against anyone who imports or is found to be trafficking illegal drugs. Prosecution can lead to a lengthy jail sentence and deportation.
The legality of using e-cigarettes in Australia differs between States. Liquid nicotine is classed as a poison and banned from sale nationwide, however some States allow importation for personal use and the use of e-cigarettes without nicotine. You should seek local advice on what restrictions are in place at your destination.
Australian federal law changed on 7 December 2017 to recognise same-sex marriages. Australia has an established tradition of tolerance towards homosexuality, but there are still isolated incidents of homophobic crimes. Take care when visiting rural communities. The Visit Gay Australia website is a useful travel planning resource and you can find more detail on LGBT issues on the Australian Human Rights Commission website. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.
Australia has strict quarantine rules to keep out pests and diseases that could affect plant, animal and human health. All luggage is x-rayed on arrival. Any items of concern are further inspected, treated and if necessary confiscated and destroyed. Breaches of quarantine regulations can result in large fines.
You will be given an incoming passenger card on the plane, on which you must declare any food or goods of plant or animal origin, and sporting equipment (including camping gear). A full list can be found on the Department of Agriculture website.
You will also be asked to declare whether you have ‘visited a rural area, or been in contact with, or near, farm animals outside Australia in the past 30 days’.
Different tax rules and rates apply to residents and non-residents. Working holidaymakers are usually regarded as non-resident for tax purposes; this means they do not qualify for any tax-free personal allowance on their earnings. Further advice on residency for tax purposes and income tax rates is available from the Australian Taxation Office website.
This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in Australia set and enforce entry rules. For further information contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to. You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.
Entry and departure rules in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)
Entry to Australia
Entry to Australia is currently closed to most arrivals.
Travellers who have been in New Zealand for 14 days or more can travel by air to Australia and will not require an exemption. More information is available on the Department of Home Affairs website.
To enter Australia you must hold a valid visa. See Visas during COVID-19 below for more information.
Australian citizens and returning permanent residents and their immediate family members are permitted to enter Australia without an exemption.
- Travellers who meet exemption criteria or have a compassionate or compelling reason to enter Australia can apply to the Australian authorities for an exemption,
- For information on the exemption categories, application form and documentation needed, see the Department of Home Affairs website,
- The Department of Home Affairs is experiencing high levels of demand for exemptions and there is no guarantee of either the timing of a decision or the outcome. You should make your application at least four weeks but not more than three months in advance of travel and provide full supporting documentation.
A negative COVID-19 test result is required for travelling to or transiting through Australia. Unless you are travelling on a quarantine-free flight from New Zealand, evidence of a negative COVID-19 test taken 72 hours or less before your scheduled departure must be provided to your airline.
Border rules including eligibility criteria can change quickly. Travellers should prepare for disruptions to their plans.
Please check the Australian Governments COVID-19 website for the latest information including changes to quarantine-free travel.
All international travellers entering Australia need to undertake a mandatory 14-day quarantine at a designated facility (for example a hotel) at their port of arrival. You may be required to pay for the costs of your quarantine. This is arranged by individual State and Territory governments.
Travellers who have been in New Zealand for 14 days or more can travel by air to Australia without having to undertake mandatory quarantine. More information is available on the Australian Governments COVID-19 website .
Testing/Screening on arrival
All travellers arriving in Australia may need to undergo enhanced health screening on arrival before going into quarantine. This can include temperature testing. You may also be asked to undergo screening or testing in quarantine.
The Australian authorities provide an ‘Information for international travellers fact sheet’ to all travellers on arrival in Australia. This provides information on current requirements
For advice and measures at individual airports, see their websites.
The Department of Home Affairs website sets out information on transiting Australia, including on transit visas. There are currently restrictions on transits due to coronavirus.
You’re able to transit through Australia if transiting for 72 hours or less and you have evidence of onward international travel. If you intend to spend longer than 72 hours in Australia waiting for your connecting flight, you’re not considered to be transiting, and will need to request an exemption from the Australian Border Force Commissioner.
Due to COVID-19 related border restrictions, you can usually only travel to Australia to transit to another country if your connecting flight leaves from the same airport.
State quarantine requirements remain in place, and airport operating hours vary. This may limit how long you can stay in the airport, and whether you need to apply for exemption from Australia’s 14-day quarantine arrangements issued by the relevant State health authority. You should check with your airline, as well as on State and Territory websites for the latest details and how to apply.
All airports should allow passengers to remain in the airport if your transit is less than 8 hours and on the same day. You must remain airside and you will not be able to pass customs (even to collect your baggage). You will need to maintain social distancing, cough etiquette and hand hygiene. At your first point of departure, you will need to have checked your baggage through to your final destination.
If you have to leave the airport you will be taken on arrival in Australia to a designated quarantine facility by Australian authorities. You will need to remain there until proceeding to the airport for your departing flight. You may need to pay for quarantine - you should check State and Territory websites for details on quarantine.
British nationals are able to transit through Australia for a maximum of 8 hours without a visa. If your transit time is longer than 8 hours you will need a valid visa. See the Department of Home Affairs website for details including how to apply.
If you plan to travel or transit on from Australia, check the latest entry restrictions for your destination and keep in touch with your airline, cruise line or tour operator before you travel.
Visas during COVID-19
Latest COVID-19 guidance on visa conditions and details how to apply for a visa is available on the Department of Home Affairs website. The guidance is clear that any visa application will be assessed considering the COVID-19 enhanced border measures and the applicant’s individual circumstances. Applications for new visas should be made before a current visa expires, and if a current visa holder has a “no further stay” condition, a request to waive this condition must be made.
If you’re unable to leave Australia and your visa is nearing expiry or has expired already, you should contact the Australian Department of Home Affairs as soon as possible. Australia does not issue visa extensions so you will need to apply for a new one to remain lawful in Australia, and provide relevant supporting documentation. The type of visa you can apply for to remain in Australia usually depends on the type of visa you currently hold. For example, those on Visitor visas would be expected to apply for new Visitor visas.
You can find more detail for temporary visa holders, including visitors, students and working holiday makers on the Department of Home Affairs webpage.
You should check the Department of Home Affairs website for information on leaving Australia, including whether you need an exemption.
The Australian authorities continue to advise international visitors to leave Australia where possible due to the COVID-19 situation.
Temporary visa holders do not need an exemption to leave the country, but will need an exemption if they want to re-enter – see the Department of Home Affairs ‘Coming to Australia’ web pages for more information.
Dual Australian/British nationals and permanent residents in Australia are not generally permitted to leave Australia unless they qualify for an exemption. If you meet an exemption category or have a have a compelling or compassionate reason to travel overseas, you need to apply for an exemption in advance from the Commissioner of the Australian Border Force. You should do this as early as possible - at least 48 hours before your intended departure time.
Details on categories for exemptions, the exemption application form, and the evidence you must provide to support your exemption application, can be found on the Department of Home Affairs website.
If you’re a British/Australian dual national or permanent resident who is ordinarily resident in a country outside Australia and have spent more time in the last 12 to 24 months outside Australia than within it, you do not need an exemption to leave Australia. You should be ready to show evidence that you normally reside outside Australia if requested by authorities on departure at the airport.
If you have not spent more time outside Australia than within it for the last 12 to 24 months, but still consider yourself to be ordinarily resident in another country, you can submit a request for a travel exemption.
Regular entry requirements
Subject to current restrictions, British citizens can usually get the following types of electronic visitor visa:
- eVisitor visa direct from the Department of Immigration & Border Protection. There is no visa application charge or service fee for this
- Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) via your travel agent or airline. There is no visa application charge, but a service fee of A$20 applies
If you hold an ePassport you can use SmartGate to pass through passport control when arriving in Australia. See the Australian Border Force website for more information.
Working holiday visa
If you’re on a working holiday visa you should be aware of your rights as employees in Australia and how to report any concerns about unfair or unlawful treatment.
Thousands of British working holiday makers travel to Australia each year with the vast majority enjoying their stay without issue. Working conditions, accommodation and medical facilities are generally of a good standard.
In October 2016 the Fair Work Ombudsman published a report following an inquiry into the wages and conditions of people working under the working holiday visa program, which highlighted exploitative workplace cultures where unreasonable and unlawful requirements were being imposed in some isolated and remote workplaces. If you have concerns about your workplace conditions or treatment you can contact the Fair Work Ombudsman on 13 13 94. You can also report concerns to them anonymously.
If you feel you’re being treated unfairly or unlawfully by an employer, you can email the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) at the British High Commission in Canberra at: Australia.WHVreferrals@fcdo.gov.uk. The NCA is working with a number of Australian authorities to help identify and address any illegal employer behaviour affecting British nationals.
For entry into Australia, your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. No additional period of validity beyond this is needed.
If you’re transiting another country on your way to or from Australia, make sure you check the entry requirements for that country. Many countries will only permit entry if you have at least 6 months validity remaining on your passport.
UK Emergency Travel Documents
UK Emergency Travel Documents are valid for entry into, transit through, and exit from Australia.
If you’re a British national living in Australia with Australian citizenship, or you’re a dual national, you should leave and enter Australia on your Australian passport, otherwise you may face difficulties and delays. For more information, see the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade’s website. Please see the Coronavirus page for more information on current restrictions on dual nationals leaving Australia.
Yellow fever certificate requirements
Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Australia on the TravelHealthPro website
See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in Australia
At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.
General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.
While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).
Make sure you arrange comprehensive medical insurance before you travel to Australia. If you’re not covered under the reciprocal healthcare arrangements which exist between Australia and the UK, costs of treatment can be high.
The standard of healthcare in Australia is very good. Under the reciprocal healthcare arrangements, British citizens resident in the UK and travelling on a British passport are entitled to limited subsidised health services from Medicare for medically necessary treatment while visiting Australia. This does not cover pre-existing conditions, or treatment that does not need prompt attention. These provisions do not apply to non-visitors, for example those who are studying in Australia. Other exclusions under the reciprocal agreement include pharmaceuticals when not a hospital in-patient, use of ambulance services and medical evacuations, which are very expensive.
If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 000 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.
For more information, visit the Medicare website. If you visit one of their offices while in Australia, take your passport and your NHS card (if you have it).
Be aware of the risk of bushfires, especially at the height of the Australian summer (November to February). Bushfires can start and change direction with little or no notice. If you’re travelling in a high risk bushfire area, follow local authorities’ advice.
Australia regularly battles devastating bushfires across a number of regions during the summer season. The 2019-2020 summer fires resulted in the loss of lives and property with many residents advised to evacuate their homes.
If you’re in or near an affected area, stay safe and follow the advice of local authorities:
- Australian Capital Territory Fire and Rescue
- New South Wales Rural Fire Service and ‘Fires Near Me’ app
- Northern Territory Fire and Rescue Service
- Queensland Fire & Emergency Services
- South Australian Country Fire Service
- Tasmania Fire Service
- Victorian Country Fire Authority
- Western Australia Department of Fire and Emergency Services.
In the event of emergency, always dial Triple Zero (000).
A Fire Danger Rating system operates across Australia indicating the possible consequences of a fire, if one were to start. The highest rating of ‘Catastrophic’ has been issued in several locations.
Smoke generated by bush fires can result in poor air quality, which could provoke respiratory conditions. Smoke can often accumulate many kilometres from the fire, including in urban areas and major cities. Most State and Territory governments provide detailed information on the monitoring of air quality and useful advice if you’re unable to avoid being in a smoke affected area:
- Australian Capital Territory
- New South Wales
- Northern Territory
- South Australia
- Western Australia
Heavy rain and tropical cyclones can cause flooding, including flash floods in some areas. The Bureau of Meteorology issues weather warnings including Flood Warning Services.
Follow local media and in an emergency dial triple zero (000).
Tropical cyclones occur in some parts of Australia, mainly Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia. The Cyclone season normally runs from November to April.
Monitor local and international weather updates from the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology website for updates. See our Tropical cyclones page for advice about what to do if you’re caught up in a storm.
Dust storms occur regularly in Australia, usually only in outback areas.
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).
Foreign travel checklist
Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.
The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.
When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.
Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.
Refunds and cancellations
If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.
For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Registering your travel details with us
We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.
Previous versions of FCDO travel advice
If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team a request.
If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.