Australia – Japan Travel Bubble Announcement! Our updated comprehensive guide to international travel?

Mt. Yotei-zan, or simply Yotei. This is the view from the top of Niseko United. Japan is one of the destinations we may be heading to this upcoming ski season. Photo: Sea and Summit Media

Mountainwatch | Annabel herbison

These days, it’s not as easy as grabbing your ski or snowboard bag, buying a cheap plane ticket and flying into the unknown. Without looking for it, we all found ourselves in a different kind of unknown. Where can we go? When can we go? What are the rules? There is a lot of information and misinformation out there, and for those of us who have the urge to travel, it can be overwhelming navigating the noise.

We’ve done our research, and while we don’t have all the answers, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide with the facts to give you some insight into the state of international border reopens, vaccine rollouts, and bubbles ( the trip, not the Champagne genre) to help you make informed decisions when planning your next big adventure.

When can I travel abroad?

Australian citizens and permanent residents aged 12 and over who have received two doses of an approved or recognized vaccine can now leave Australia without needing a travel exemption. As long as travelers can show proof of their vaccine and a negative Covid-19 PCR test performed 72 hours before leaving the country, there are no restrictions on where they can travel.

However, all travelers will need to take into consideration the border parameters of their destination of choice, flight availability, and any rules established by the federal and state governments upon their return (see more below).

Qantas has announced the United States as one of the destinations to which it will resume flights in mid-December. That could mean powder days like this at Mammoth Mountain are the order of the day. Bernie Rocow gets deep. Photo: Pete Matin

Where can we go?

flights to Qantas between Sydney, Los Angeles and London resumed on November 1, with services to Singapore, Vancouver and Delhi scheduled to start later this month. From early to mid-December, flights will resume from Sydney to COVID-safe destinations pending entry policies from other countries – at this point, Qantas has announced flights to Tokyo, Johannesburg and Bangkok.

Flights between Melbourne, London, Delhi and Singapore will resume this month, with Los Angeles scheduled to resume in December.

Vaccinated Australians will not face the “red lane” restrictions seen abroad, which prohibit travel to certain countries. Instead, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Australian government have established a ‘green lane’
(non-quarantine travel bubbles) with countries like Singapore and recently announced that Japan and South Korea will be next.

We’ve summed up everything we know about which countries are already open or are most likely to have a travel bubble open in time for upcoming ski and mountain biking seasons, below.

Stroll through the streets of Nozawa Onsen.


On November 11, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that non-quarantine trips would soon be scheduled for the two Japan and Korea – after the successful establishment of the Singapore travel bubble. Morrison said travel bubble arrangements are expected to be finalized in the coming weeks.

“Singapore will open on November 21, and I think we’re going to move past that pretty quickly in Korea and Japan, and before the end of the year, I hope we open even more,” a- he told the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

This follows Japan’s recent reduction of the quarantine for foreign business travelers from 10 to three days – a positive step towards reopening the borders. The rollout of vaccination in the country is also advancing at a rapid pace, with 75 percent of the population having been fully vaccinated and the goal of completing vaccinations for all resident volunteers by the end of November (and discussions on the deployment of a third recall by the end of the year).

Powder days in Jackson Hole could be back on the travel itinerary. Photo: Jackson Hole

United States

The we the borders are open to Australian and New Zealand citizens wishing to visit the country. All air passengers arriving in the United States from a foreign country must be tested no later than three days before flight departure and must present the negative result or documentation showing that they have recovered from Covid-19 to the airline before boarding. From November, the vaccination of all foreign nationals will be compulsory to enter the country.

The pace of vaccination in the United States has been stable recently, with approximately 1.01 million doses per day. 59% of the population has now been doubly vaccinated, or more than two-thirds of American adults (figures vary state to state). If you are planning a ski vacation, note Vail Resorts Homeland Security Protocols for the 2021-22 season, requiring vaccinations for all employees and for indoor dining guests.

Coen Bennie-Faull, full throttle at Revelstoke. If you are fully immunized, the doors to Canada are open. Photo: Tony Harrington


Fully vaccinated foreign nationals can now visit Canada without quarantine. Before traveling, a Covid-19 test must be performed up to 72 hours before arrival (rapid tests are not accepted), and mandatory information and proof of vaccination must be provided. You may be randomly selected for mandatory testing upon arrival, so you should have a quarantine plan in case you are symptomatic or tested positive on your arrival test.

To make it easier to leave Canada, resorts like Banff are starting to open Covid-19 PCR test facilities for international visitors – allowing a
pre-departure PCR tests to be carried out with ease in the station.

New Zealand

As the official Trans-Tasman bubble enters New Zealand and Australia is currently on hiatus until November 19, Australia has reintroduced a one-way bubble from New Zealand to NSW and Victoria. A positive step towards the reintroduction of a two-way bubble, and which will see Kiwis allowed to enter Australia without a quarantine period.

National carrier Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran recently said he believes travel between Australia and New Zealand could resume in November. However, he noted that the unrestricted travel bubble that operated from April to July would not return – meaning pre-departure testing and proof of vaccination would likely be required. However, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said the government will endeavor to travel without quarantine for certain countries, such as New Zealand, when it is safe to do so.

Fancy an ATV tour in New Zealand this summer? The travel bubble may be back on the maps.

What are the quarantine conditions upon my return?

For overseas travelers returning to NSW, Victoria and ACT, quarantine is no longer necessary – the only requirement is that travelers provide proof of a negative Covid-19 test 72 hours before departure.

Other states are waiting for vaccination rates to approach the target of 80% double vaccination before the quarantine is lifted. Tasmania is expected to end the quarantine on December 15, while states like South Australia and Queensland are both waiting for a 90% vaxx rate before the quarantine is fully lifted.

The Northern Territory will end quarantine in “high vaccination areas” in the state from January 18, 2022, while Western Australia has yet to reveal its plan to reopen.

Will I need a vaccine passport?

To travel abroad you will need to show your International
Covid-19 vaccination certificate (ICVC) upon check-in from Australia. Australian citizens and permanent residents can apply for an ICVC on the
myGov website and it will be provided in PDF format for printing or electronic storage on any device.

If you wish to ski in deep powder in Japan, proof of vaccination will be required, as will be the case for entering most countries. Drew Jolowicz, deep in Ani’s magical trees. Photo: Dylan Robinson

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