Hamad International Airport, Qatar
Australians can transit via Doha’s Hamad International Airport with minimal restrictions. Photo: Matt Graham.

With Australia’s international border reopened for vaccinated Aussies, many people are now booking overseas trips. But international travel is a little more complicated nowadays, particularly as most other countries now have additional entry and transit requirements due to COVID-19.

Before travelling overseas, you don’t just have to check the entry requirements for your destination. If you’re transiting via another country en-route to your final destination, you’ll need to make sure that country is allowing international transits. You’ll also need to ensure you meet any COVID-19 requirements for international transits. For example, you may need a COVID-19 test or even travel insurance to be allowed to transit via certain airports.

Keep in mind that a country’s COVID-19 entry requirements may be very different to its rules for international transits. And the rules that are in place today could change, so you’ll need to keep checking regularly prior to your departure date.

Where you transit could also impact your ability to enter your final destination. Some countries have different entry requirements based on where you have been in the past 10-14 days. Any countries you’ve transited may also be counted as part of your travel history.

If you stop over in another country (i.e. you’re staying for more than 24 hours and/or leave the airport), this would require you to enter the country. In this case, you would be subject to that country’s entry requirements rather than just the international transit requirements. Some countries may even require arriving passengers to quarantine.

If you’re required to get a COVID-19 test to enter your destination anyway, then transiting via a country that also requires a COVID-19 test for transits should not be an added imposition. You’d just have to ensure that the time you get your COVID-19 test is within the cut-off time for both your transit country and final destination.

But if you’re travelling somewhere like the UK that does not require a pre-departure test when travelling from Australia, then transiting via a country like Singapore where a pre-flight test is required will result in added cost and time. So it’s really important to check this before booking – and choose your airline & routing accordingly!

Where to find international COVID-19 transit & entry rules

You can generally find up-to-date information about international COVID-19 travel restrictions on official government websites for each country. But if you don’t have time to search on lots of different government websites, there are some other resources that could be handy.

Timatic typically has the most up-to-date information. This is the system often used by airline check-in staff when ensuring you’re eligible to fly to your destination. If you have an Expert Flyer account, you can use the Travel Information Search feature to find Visa, Health & Passport information for any itinerary. For example, these were the rules for transits via Thailand as of 9 November 2021:

Expert Flyer transit rules for Thailand
Expert Flyer lets you search for current visa, entry & transit rules for other countries.

(Don’t forget that AFF GOLD supporters can get a 15% discount off Expert Flyer subscriptions.)

You can also use the IATA website to check Timatic visa, transit & entry requirement information, although they only make the demo version of this tool available for free to the public.

IATA Timatic widget contains COVID-19 international transit and entry information
You can check entry requirements for other countries on the IATA website.

The IATA TravelCentre also maintains a COVID-19 travel regulations map, which is powered by Timatic.

Many airline websites provide access to up-to-date entry & transit requirements, including the Singapore Airlines website. (This isn’t surprising because it’s in the airlines’ best interest for their customers to be well-informed about where they are allowed to fly!)

Another handy free tool is the Sherpa website. As well as a colour-coded map showing entry restrictions applying to travel from any country, you can check international COVID-19 transit & entry rules and filter the results by passport and vaccination status. This tool is great because it’s easy to use, the information is easy to understand and it provides links to official websites where the information was sourced from.

The Sherpa website is easy to use and contains useful information about COVID-19 transit and entry rules
The Sherpa website is easy to use and contains useful information about COVID-19 transit & entry rules.

International COVID-19 transit requirements for key aviation hubs

Before booking international travel, check the current COVID-19 transit & entry requirements applicable to your itinerary.

These are subject to change but to give you an idea of the current rules, here’s a summary of the requirements for international transits via major international hub airports. This was last updated on 9 November 2021:

Abu Dhabi (UAE)

International transits are allowed with the following conditions:

  • COVID-19 PCR test required prior to travel
  • Maximum transit time of 12 hours, or 24 hours with an airside transit hotel booking

Note that the transit requirements for Abu Dhabi are more restrictive than for Dubai, which is also in the United Arab Emirates.

For more information: https://www.etihad.com/en-ae/travel-updates/abu-dhabi-travel-information

Auckland (New Zealand)

International transits are allowed with the following conditions:

  • Maximum transit time of 24 hours
  • There are restrictions on transiting via New Zealand to China

For more information: https://covid19.govt.nz/travel/international-travel-and-transit/transit-through-new-zealand/

Bangkok (Thailand)

International transits are allowed with the following conditions:

  • Must show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of the first flight’s departure
  • Must have COVID-19 travel insurance with at least USD50,000 coverage for medical expenses in Thailand (previously USD100,000)
  • The onward flight from Thailand must depart within 24 hours of arriving and be on the same ticket

Bandar Seri Begawan (Brunei)

International transits are not currently allowed.

Denpasar (Indonesia)

International transits are not currently allowed.

Doha (Qatar)

International transits are allowed with the following conditions:

  • Maximum transit time of 24 hours

Dubai (UAE)

International transits are allowed with the following conditions:

  • Maximum transit time of 24 hours

Note that the transit requirements for Dubai are less restrictive than for Abu Dhabi, which is also in the United Arab Emirates.

For more information: https://u.ae/en/information-and-services/justice-safety-and-the-law/handling-the-covid-19-outbreak/travelling-amid-covid-19/travelling-to-the-uae

Frankfurt (Germany)

International transits are allowed.

For more information: https://www.bmi.bund.de/SharedDocs/faqs/EN/topics/civil-protection/coronavirus/coronavirus-faqs.html

Most other EU Schengen Area countries are also allowing international transits, although some countries such as Portugal require a negative test result.

Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam)

International transits are not currently allowed.

Hong Kong (Hong Kong SAR)

International transits are allowed with the following conditions:

  • You must have a connecting flight via Hong Kong on the same ticket, with boarding passes already issued and baggage checked through to the final destination

For more information: https://www.coronavirus.gov.hk/eng/inbound-travel.html

Istanbul (Turkey)

International transits are allowed, although you cannot transit between Istanbul Airport (IST) and Sabiha Gökçen Airport (SAW) without entering Turkey.

Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)

International transits are allowed with the following conditions:

  • Must arrive and depart from the same terminal

Los Angeles (USA)

The United States does not have international transit facilities. You would need to enter the USA in order to connect to an onward flight, and would therefore be subject to the usual entry rules.

When arriving in the USA from Australia, you would need to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours before your flight’s departure (antigen, NAAT, RT-LAMP, RT-PCR or TMA tests are all accepted). Note that an ESTA (U.S. visa waiver) is also required.

For more information: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/from-other-countries.html

London Heathrow (UK)

International transits are allowed with the following conditions:

  • A negative antigen, LAMP, nucleic acid or PCR COVID-19 test is required to be taken within 3 days before the departure of the last direct flight into the UK (excluding children), but only if you are not fully vaccinated or have been in a red list country in the previous 10 days

For more information: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-air-travel-guidance-for-passengers#transiting-through-england

Manila (Philippines)

International transits are allowed only from “Green List” countries (including Australia) with the following conditions:

  • Can only transit between Terminals 1 and 2, or within terminal 3
  • The connecting flight must be on the same calendar day or within 12 hours

For more information: https://www.philippineairlines.com/en/ph/Home/TravelInformation/BeforeYouFly/AtTheAirport/ConnectingFlights

Nadi (Fiji)

International transits are allowed if you’re travelling from an eligible Travel Partner country. These include Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Singapore & Qatar. The following conditions apply:

  • Must have a valid onward international ticket
  • Must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19
  • Negative COVID-19 PCR test required within 3 days prior to your flight’s departure
  • Maximum transit time of 10 hours (if your transit is longer than this, you’ll need to wait for your connecting flight in a managed quarantine hotel)

For more information: https://www.mcttt.gov.fj/home/traveltofiji/international-travel/

Shanghai (China)

International transits via China are not currently allowed.

Singapore Changi (Singapore)

International transits are allowed on routes approved by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, with the following conditions (from 11 November 2021):

  • COVID-19 test required (PCR or Rapid Antigen Tests accepted), taken within 2 days before departure from the first embarkation point (excluding children under 3)
  • Beware of any extra requirements for VTL flights if using a designated VTL flight into Singapore

For more information: https://safetravel.ica.gov.sg/transit/overview

Taipei (Taiwan)

International transits are not currently allowed.

Tokyo Haneda (Japan)

International transits are allowed with the following conditions:

  • The onward flight must be within 72 hours

Please note that you cannot transfer between Haneda & Narita airports as this would require you to enter Japan. Transits via Osaka, Tokyo Narita and other Japanese airports are also allowed, but your onward flight must be on the same day unless transiting Japan via Tokyo Haneda or Osaka (which allow transit times of up to 72 hours).

For more information: https://www.mofa.go.jp/ca/fna/page4e_001053.html

Vancouver (Canada)

Canada does not have international transit facilities. You would need to enter Canada in order to connect to an onward flight, and would therefore be subject to the usual entry rules.

To arrive in Canada from Australia, you would need to upload proof of full COVID-19 vaccination prior to travel and get a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours before your flight’s departure (with some exceptions). Note that an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) may also be required to enter Canada.

For more information: https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]

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Greg

What is a VTL flight (listed under Singapore)?

Peter Miller

New Thailand Travel Pass teething, or, possibly, gouging problems?..
https://www.thaiembassy.com/weekly-updates/common-problems-thailand-pass-application