Australian High Commission
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Covid-19: Changes to Travel Exemptions for Australians Ordinarily Resident Overseas

Changes to Travel Exemptions for Australians Ordinarily Resident Overseas: Frequently Asked Questions

 

What is the change in the exemption process for Australians who normally live overseas?

From 11 August 2021, if you're an Australian citizen or permanent resident who normally lives overseas, you’re no longer automatically exempt from Australia’s overseas travel restrictions. You can still leave Australia, but you’ll need to apply for an exemption and demonstrate your links to the country where you usually live. A transitional period applies until 7 September.

This change brings travel exemption requirements in line with those for other Australians, keeping the system fair for all.

The change will better assist vulnerable Australians overseas to return home.

If you’re currently in Australia and leaving the country after 11 August, you’ll also need to apply.

If you’ve already received an exemption to leave and have not yet travelled, you can depart using your existing exemption. You don’t need to apply for a new exemption unless you’ve already travelled using your previous approval or wish to depart again in the future.

 

Where can I find out more about the exemption process?

You can find more information on the exemption process here Leaving Australia | COVID-19 and the border (homeaffairs.gov.au)

 

How can I apply for an exemption?

Travel exemptions can be applied for through the travel exemptions portal

 

What do I need to submit for a travel exemption?

Australian citizens and permanent residents who are ordinarily resident in a country other than Australia will need to apply for an outwards travel exemption and provide supporting evidence of their claims.

 

Supporting evidence may include:

  • foreign government issued documentation
    • foreign drivers licence
    • foreign government issued identification card
  • evidence you have an established and settled home overseas
    • tenancy/residential agreement
    • utility bills, rate notices
  • evidence you are employed or have ongoing business interests overseas
    • letter from your employer/employment contract in a foreign country
    • business tenancy agreement

The website provides details of the evidence that should be provided when applying under the ordinarily resident overseas category Leaving Australia | COVID-19 and the border (homeaffairs.gov.au)

 

How long will an outcome take once I’ve submitted an exemption request?

Requests for exemptions should be made at least two weeks, but not more than two months, prior to any planned travel.

This category of outwards exemption does not have an expiry date, this will mean travellers do not have to request another exemption after they have arrived in Australia.

 

What is the transition period?

Transition arrangements apply until 7 September 2021.

Until 7 September 2021, travellers who arrive at the airport without an exemption, will be allowed to travel if their status as ordinarily resident overseas can be confirmed by an ABF officer at departure. These travellers will be advised that for future travel they will need to apply for an exemption in advance through the travel exemptions portal.

To reduce delays at departure though, we would encourage all travellers to apply for a travel exemption in advance through the travel exemptions portal.

 

Will the changes affect Australian citizen students in Australia?

Students who are Australian citizens or permanent residents at boarding school or undertaking education in Australia, whose families are usually resident outside Australia, will be subject to the same conditions as any other Australian citizen or permanent resident whose primary residence is outside Australia. The Department of Home Affairs website provides details of the evidence that should be provided when applying under the ordinarily resident overseas category Leaving Australia | COVID-19 and the border (homeaffairs.gov.au

Students wishing to travel outside Australia are encouraged to apply for a travel exemption through the travel exemptions portal. Requests for exemptions should be made at least two weeks, but not more than two months, prior to any planned travel.

 

Why has the Australian Government made this change?

On 1 August 2021 the Minister for Health and Aged Care amended the Biosecurity Determination 2020 so that Australian citizens and  permanent residents who are ordinarily resident in a country other than Australia are no longer automatically exempt from Australia travel restrictions and must apply for and be granted an outwards travel exemption in order to depart Australia. This amendment came into effect on 11 August 2021.

This change was made to ensure outwards travel is only undertaken where there are compelling circumstances and assists to maximise the availability of seats on flights and quarantine places for Australians who have been trying to return since early in the pandemic. The primary consideration for the grant of any exemption to Australia’s travel restrictions is the public health advice of the Australian Health Protection Principle Committee (AHPPC) balanced against the assessment of risk posed by overseas travellers to the welfare of the Australian community.

This brings travel exemption requirements in line with those for other Australians.

 

My circumstances are not covered here.  Who can I contact?

Our strong recommendation is that you apply early for the exemption, as your situation may be different to others. 

For general questions, you can contact us at the Australian High Commission at [email protected]