How to apply for Australia Travel Exemptions
There’s a ban on overseas travel from Australia. If you’re an Australian citizen or permanent resident, you can’t leave Australia unless you get an exemption to travel or you’re travelling to a destination that’s exempt from the ban. Foreign citizens are able to depart Australia at any time. Based on current health advice, travel to high-risk COVID-19 countries presents a serious health risk to the Australian community.
How to apply for Travel Exemptions
Individuals seeking an ‘exceptional circumstances’ exemption to travel from Australia to these high-risk COVID-19 countries will only be approved for the following very limited circumstances:
- critical workers providing assistance to the country of destination’s COVID-19 response;
- people undertaking travel in Australia’s national interest; or
- people seeking urgent medical treatment for a critical illness that is unable to be treated in Australia.
Supporting evidence must be provided.
The ‘exceptional circumstances’ exemption criteria outlined in the Outward Travel Restrictions Operation Directive does not currently apply to people seeking to travel to any high-risk COVID-19 country listed above.
COVID-19 vaccinations now available for essential overseas travel
Australian citizens and permanent residents under 50 years of age who have an approved outwards travel exemption in an eligible category are now able to access COVID-19 vaccinations.
To be eligible, travel exemptions must be granted on or after 20 May 2021 for one of the following reasons:
- your travel is as part of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including the provision of aid;
- your travel is for your business or employer;
- you are travelling to receive urgent medical treatment that is not available in Australia;
- you are travelling on compassionate or compelling grounds;
- you are travelling for urgent or unavoidable personal business;
- your travel is in the national interest.
If you have a travel exemption granted for eligible reason before 20 May 2021, and have not left Australia, you can submit a new travel exemption request. Upload all relevant documents and state that you wish to be eligible for vaccination before travelling.
You will not be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination if your outward travel exemption is granted for ‘compelling reasons for at least 3 months’
For more information on how to make your vaccination appointment please visit covid-vaccine.healthdirect.gov.au.
How to Travel to New Zealand
Quarantine-free travel from Australia to New Zealand will commence at 21:59 AEST on 18 April 2021.
In order to trave to New Zealand on a quarantine-free flight, you must:
- have spent 14 days or more in either Australia or New Zealand immediately before your departing flight (this includes spending all 14 days in Australia or travelling from New Zealand to Australia and returning within 14 days)
- meet theNew Zealand Government’shealth pre-conditions. All other normal entry requirements, including immigration and biosecurity, apply.
Be aware that quarantine-free travel could be paused or suspended at any time, so stay up to date.
Australian citizens and permanent residents who have been only in Australia or New Zealand for the 14 days immediately before departure can travel to New Zealand without applying for an outwards travel exemption.
Note: This only applies when New Zealand is the destination of travel. If you are transiting through New Zealand to another destination, you must apply for an outward travel exemption.
More information can be found on theNew Zealand safe travel zonewebpage.
Australians and permanent residents
If you are an Australian citizen or a permanent resident you cannot leave Australia due to COVID-19 restrictions unless you have an exemption.
Application reasons include followings:
- your travel is as part of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including the provision of aid
- your travel is for your business/employer
- you are travelling to receive urgent medical treatment that is not available in Australia
- you are travelling outside Australia for a compelling reason for three months or longer
- you are travelling on compelling or compassionate grounds
- your travel is in the national interest.
You must provide evidence to support your claims. Requests may be finalised without further consideration if insufficient evidence is provided. Evidence may include:
- marriage certificate/s
- birth certificate/s
- death certificate/s
- proof of relationship (for example, shared tenancy agreement, joint bank account etc.)*
- proof that you are moving to another country on a long term basis such as leases, job offers and evidence your goods are being transported
- proof of your current valid visa, including in Australia and/or overseas
- letter from a doctor or hospital about any medical treatment/condition with statements on why travel is necessary
- letter from your employer, or other evidence that you are travelling for a business reason
- statement or evidence to show when you wish to return to Australia
- any other proof you may have to support your claims.
*For information about providing proof of your relationship refer to Evidence of relationship.
Travel for three months or longer
If you are seeking exemption from Australia’s outbound travel restrictions on the basis that you are leaving Australia for three months or longer, your proposed travel must be for a compelling reason and you must provide evidence to support your claims.
The Statutory Declaration must state you are making an application for travel exemption on the basis that you intend to be absent from Australia for more than three months.
Evidence may include:
- confirmed flight itinerary, with return date of at least three months after departure date
- confirmation of leave from employment for three months
- enrolment confirmation for study
- a doctor’s certificate to support your claim you are travelling in order to provide care for sick family members
- any other matter you wish to raise in support of your request for exemption.
Note: A person who makes a false statement in a statutory declaration is guilty of an offence – refer to section 11 of the Statutory Declarations Act 1959.
Requests may be finalised without further consideration if insufficient evidence is provided, or is not provided in a Statutory Declaration.
The Australian Border Force will monitor compliance with periods of declared travel.
All evidence supporting a travel exemption claim needs to be officially translated into English.
Australians who want to travel overseas should see Smartraveller to get advice on the risks before deciding to travel.
You should only travel if you have a compelling reason and it is essential that you travel now
If you apply for a travel exemption, you must read and acknowledge advice about travel risks, including delays returning to Australia. You must ensure that you have sufficient resources to support yourself overseas for a significant period of time in the likely event of flight cancellations and other disruptions to your travel plans.
Travel exemption requests that are submitted without appropriate documentary evidence to support your claim will not be approved.
If you are not granted an exemption, you should not continue with your travel plans. If granted an exemption, you must take evidence of that exemption decision to the airport.
Travel exemption for APEC business travel card holder
If you hold an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Travel Card (ABTC) you are not automatically exempt. You can apply for an exemption and provide evidence to support your claims. For more information on travelling using your ABTC see Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Travel Card (ABTC) for Australian citizens.
Travel exemption for Critical skills and sectors
If you have any questions about critical skills and sectors, and the travel exemption process or an existing critical skills travel exemption application.
It’s important to be thorough and specific when applying for an exemption. No Borders Law Group is experienced in assisting clients with their investment visas and preparing a quality and detailed statement of management activity. Contact us today and speak with one of our migration lawyers for a free initial assessment and advice on how to structure your statement.
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Australian Government Department of Home Affairs.