Return of International Students

Frequently Asked Questions

Returning to Australia

Am I allowed to travel to Australia?

Fully vaccinated eligible visa holders can now travel to Australia without needing to apply for a travel exemption. This includes international students who hold Student (Subclass 500) and Temporary Graduate (Subclass 485) visas.

To enter Australia, returning international students will need to:

  • hold a valid student visa and Confirmation of Enrolment
  • have more than 6 months validity on your passport
  • have received a full dose of a COVID-19 vaccine approved or recognised by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)
  • present evidence that you have received a TGA-approved vaccine
  • All passengers arriving by air into Australia should ​​complete the Digital Passenger Declaration

Full details of eligibility and travel requirements can be found here.

Please ensure you are monitoring the Australian Government website for the latest updates on travel and visa restrictions before you arrange your travel.

Please refer to relevant State Government advice for the latest requirements on COVID tests and isolation rules once you arrive.

You can return to study in Australia if you are fully vaccinated with a Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved or recognised vaccine.

Are there any student discounts for flights to Australia?

Some airlines are offering student discounts and travel programs on one-way flights to Sydney. Students interested in taking up these offers can book directly with the airlines via the links below:

What will my experience at UNSW be like in 2022?

Our expectation is that from Term 1 we will see a return to the vibrant UNSW campus experience with both local and international students reconnecting and making new friends.   

While we are excited to connect in person very soon, we also remain conscious that it will take some time for all international students to arrive. For anyone who can’t be in Sydney at the beginning of Term 1, we will make provisions for online learning to be available throughout the term, and for as long as possible thereafter.

We are working to ensure your virtual learning experience is as enriching, interactive and connected as possible and that you will be able to integrate smoothly to face to face learning as soon as you arrive.    

Throughout 2022, our International Student Concierge service will be open providing airport pickup services and all the help and guidance you will need upon arrival in Australia.

Can I swap my online class for a face-to-face class when I arrive in Australia?

Students can change their enrolment in the first two weeks of term, but you would only be able to change to a face-to-face class if there is availability in that class.

After Week 2, you may request to switch to a face-to-face class, but this would be subject to Faculty approval and there is no guarantee this will be approved. You will not be able to request to switch classes after Census date (Sunday 13 March 2022).

You can continue to study online and enrol in F2F classes for T2. Whilst studying online in Australia you will still be able to access the library and a range of on campus services and facilities, join Arc and attend their events and activities, and transition to life in Australia before resuming F2F classes.

We will also have our International Student Concierge service running throughout the year to help you settle in when you arrive. If you have any queries about your academic progression please contact The Nucleus: Student Hub.

Do I need a travel exemption?

Fully vaccinated eligible visa holders can now travel to Australia without a travel exemption. This includes international students who hold Student (Subclass 500) and Temporary Graduate (Subclass 485) visas.

If you do not meet the criteria for returning international students, then you will need to apply for a travel exemption.

What is a Digital Passenger Declaration?

All international arrivals must complete a Digital Passenger Declaration at least 72 hours (3 days) prior to your departure. If this is not done it may impact on your ability to travel to Australia.

The Digital Passenger Declaration replaces the Australian Travel Declaration.


Do I need to check my passport before I travel?

As is the case with all international travel, students should ensure their passport is ready to be accepted by airlines and immigration authorities throughout their journey. Students should ensure their passports are not damaged, altered or contain novelty stamps.

Passports should only have stamps from official authorities, e.g. immigration authorities. Students should ensure:

  • There are no tears or cuts in the pages, especially the photo page.
  • Everything on the photo page is legible and clear.
  • There are no marks across your photo or in the Machine Readable Zone (MRZ) on the photo page.
  • No pages have been removed.
  • There is no alteration or tampering.

For more information on passport care, please visit the Australian Government website. 

Do I have to be vaccinated?

Yes, all International Students wishing to return to Australia without a travel exemption will need to:

  1. Have received a full dose of a COVID-19 vaccine approved or recognised by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)
  2. Provide evidence that they have received a TGA-approved vaccine.

How do I prove I am vaccinated?

International vaccination certificates will need to meet the following criteria:

  • Issued by a national or state/provincial-level authority or an accredited vaccination provider 
  • Written in English or accompanied by a certified translation 
  • Containing at a minimum: 
    • name as it appears in the traveller's passport 
    • either date of birth or passport number 
    • the vaccine brand name, and 
    • the date of each dose or the date on which a full course of immunisation was completed. 

Paper and digital vaccination certificates are equally acceptable. Students should ensure that they carry copies of their vaccination certificates with them when travelling to Australia.

Please note that UNSW will no longer be checking vaccination certificates. The responsibility will sit with students to ensure that they meet the Australia’s entry requirements. Information on vaccination certificates is available on the Australian Passport Office website.

What if I do not have an approved vaccine?

If you do not meet the vaccination criteria for returning international students, then you will need to either:

  • obtain an approved vaccine
  • apply to the Australian Government for a travel exemption.

Do I need to take a COVID test prior to arrival?

All travellers must take a pre-departure Covid-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test within 72 hours before their scheduled flight departure and obtain a negative result. This requirement only applies up until and including 17 April 2022, after this date pre-departure Covid-19 tests are not required.

Tests administered before this time will not be accepted by the Australian Government.

The test must be taken at a recognised or accredited clinic, laboratory, or medical facility. Your airline or local health authority can provide you with a list of recognised clinics, hospitals, or testing centres where you can get tested.

If the flight is delayed, you will still be considered to have met the pre-departure testing requirements. You will not need a new test.

Evidence of the test result must be provided to your airline when you check in.

Please refer to the Australian Department of Health website for information on what must be shown in your COVID-19 PCR laboratory test result record, the preferred format for your test result record, what to do in the event of a positive or inconclusive test and what to do if you are a primary close contact of someone who has tested positive to COVID-19.

Ensure that you carry a printed copy of your test results as you may be asked to produce it at immigration for verification. This also applies to customers with digital health credentials. Please ensure you pack these in your carry-on luggage.

Do I have to quarantine when I arrive in Australia?

The NSW Government has announced that international students who are fully vaccinated with a Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved or recognised vaccine are no longer required to quarantine on arrival in Australia.

Students must however take a Rapid Antigen Test within 24 hours of arrival in NSW. Students should remain in isolation until they take the test and return a negative result.

If you are travelling on to locations outside of NSW, you must follow that State’s rules regarding COVID-19 and testing.

Travellers who are not fully vaccinated arriving in NSW from overseas must continue to go into 14-day mandatory quarantine.

What are my accommodation options in Australia?

Students are encouraged to only organise short-term or on-campus accommodation prior to their arrival in Australia. Long term private rental accommodation should be arranged once you arrive in Australia so that you can ensure its suitability.

More information on both on-campus and off-campus accommodation options and resources can be found here.

UNSW Villages has advised that they still have some vacancies for 2022 on-campus accommodation - for details visit here.

Does UNSW offer a free airport transfer?

Yes, UNSW's free airport pickup service is available to all commencing and returning international students. Students will be transported in shuttles where possible, and in other cases by sedan. Pickup is available at both International and Domestic terminals and you can be dropped off at a range of locations.

For Term 1 this service finishes on 18 March 2022.

For more information on the service and to book click here.

Do I need to take a COVID test when I arrive in Australia?

Yes, all International Arrivals are required to take a Rapid Antigen Test within 24 hours of arrival in NSW. Students should remain in isolation until they take the test and return a negative result.

Students are required to take another Rapid Antigen Test on or after day 6 after arriving in NSW.

If you are travelling on to locations outside of NSW, you must follow that State’s rules regarding COVID-19 and testing.

Where can I find a Rapid Antigen Test in Australia?

Rapid Antigen Tests are currently difficult to find in Australia, you can check up to date availability here.

Students can bring Rapid Antigen Tests from overseas, but they must be TGA approved.

Do I need to download the Service NSW App?

Yes, the Service NSW app gives you access to the COVID-safe check-in and will allow you to store your international vaccination certificate and record if you have returned a positive COVID Rapid Antigen Test.

Information on how to download the Service NSW App is available here.

If you are in the ACT, then you need to use the Check-In CBR app which is available here.

Do I need to get a COVID-19 booster vaccination?

COVID-19 booster doses are not mandatory; however they are recommended to maintain immunity against COVID-19.

You are eligible for a COVID-19 booster dose if you:

  • are 18 years and older, and
  • had the second dose of your primary dose course of COVID-19 vaccination at least 4 months ago.

Will I have to pay for a COVID-19 booster vaccination?

The COVID-19 vaccination is free for all Australian residents, including international students currently in Australia. 

If you receive your vaccination at the UNSW Health Service and you have health insurance with Medibank there will be no charge. 

If you don't have OSHC with Medibank you can still get a free vaccination but you will need to go to your nearest GP respiratory clinic for your vaccine. You can find out where this is here. Alternatively, please contact your health insurance provider for more information.

What do I do if I get COVID-19 in Australia?

If you return a positive COVID-19 PCR or RAT result you should follow the State rules regarding isolation and testing. For NSW this is detailed here.

If you have a positive PCR test NSW Health will automatically be advised.

If you have a positive Rapid Antigen Test you must notify NSW Health via the Service NSW app. Go to COVID-19 Resources > Register a positive test result.

If you return a positive PCR or RAT result you should also advise the University as soon as possible via the COVID notification form here. This will allow the University to assist you with next steps and also to manage any contacts that may have occurred on campus or in accommodation.

Will my medical expenses be covered if I get COVID-19?

Yes, you will be asked for the details of your Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) if you attend a doctor, medical centre or hospital. More information on OSHC is available here.

UNSW’s preferred OSHC provider is Medibank.

Who can I talk to if I am struggling with my health and wellbeing?

The global pandemic has had an undeniable impact on the wellbeing of our student community. 

UNSW is offering a range of support services to assist you as you continue to study online and begin to return to campus where possible:

Monday to Friday 9am - 5pm:

If you need after hours support: 

  • UNSW Psychology and Wellness (9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday): 02 9385 5418.

  • Out of hours? Call UNSW After Hours Mental Health Support Line (5pm-9am and 24 hours on weekends): 02 9385 5418.

  • Text a counsellor after hours (5pm-9am and 24 hours on weekends) on 0485 826 595.

  • 24/7 Medibank counselling available from your home country on +61 (2) 8905-0307.

  • Lifeline - phone 13 11 14 for crisis support and suicide prevention.

If you are looking for mental health online resources: 

  • headspace - information for young people about coping with stress related to COVID-19

  • UNSW Mindhub has some great mental health and wellbeing tips an tricks 

  • Arc has some great events and activities to help you connect with other students.

What will teaching and learning at UNSW be like in Term 1 2022?

Please visit our COVID-19 Information for Students page to find out more.

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