Critical skills and sectors

Australia has strict border measures in place to protect the health of the Australian community. Very limited flights are currently available to and from Australia. If you are granted a travel exemption, you may not be able to travel at this time. Travel restrictions are subject to change. Please check back regularly. See: National Cabinet media statement.

All travellers arriving in Australia, including Australian citizens, are subject to mandatory quarantine for 14 days at a designated facility, such as a hotel, in their port of arrival.​ See Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for travellers. You may be required to pay for the costs of your quarantine. To find out more about quarantine requirements, contact the relevant state or territory government health department.

Travel exemption requirements for individuals in critical sectors or with critical skills

The Commissioner of the Australian Border Force may grant an individual exemption if you are a non-citizen:

  • travelling at the invitation of the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority for the purpose of assisting in the COVID-19 response
  • providing critical or specialist medical services, including air ambulance, medical evacuations and delivering critical medical supplies
  • with critical skills required to maintain the supply of essential goods and services (such as in medical technology, critical infrastructure, telecommunications, engineering and mining, supply chain logistics, aged care, agriculture, primary industry, food production, and the maritime industry)
  • delivering services in sectors critical to Australia’s economic recovery (such as financial technology, large scale manufacturing, film, media and television production and emerging technology), where no Australian worker is available
  • providing critical skills in religious or theology fields
  • sponsored by your employer to work in Australia in an occupation on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL)
  • whose entry would otherwise be in Australia's national interest, supported by the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority.

An individual can submit a request for a travel exemption under this category or a business can submit a request on their behalf. The applications of multiple travellers within the same group/business can be linked, so that the requests are considered together.

Please request an exemption using the form below and provide appropriate evidence to support the claims. Requests may be finalised without further consideration if insufficient evidence is provided. All documents need to be officially translated into English.

An exemption should generally be applied for at least two weeks, but not more than three months, before planned travel. Urgent business travel will be considered inside this timeframe.

The request must include:

  • traveller details: name, DOB, visa type and number, passport number, proposed residential address and phone number in Australia
  • reasons for travel: why your request should be considered for Commissioner discretion/exemption
  • supporting statement: setting out how you meet one of the critical skills/critical sector grounds for exemption
  • accompanying evidence: the request should be accompanied by supporting evidence, such as a letter from a business involved in the provision of critical goods and services, Australian Government or state and territory government authority advising why your travel is critical at this time

Individuals must hold a valid visa and an exemption from the Commissioner before they travel.

Do I need to hold a visa before requesting a travel exemption?

An individual making a request under this category does not need to hold a visa at the time of applying for an exemption from Australia’s travel restrictions. If the travel exemption is approved you need to have a valid visa to travel. All requirements must be met in order to be granted a visa. Information on the visa types and requirements can be found on the Department’s website.

Travelling with an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Travel Card (ABTC)

ABTC holders and applicants are not automatically exempt from Australia’s travel restrictions. If you need to enter Australia for business related to a critical sector, you can request an exemption and provide evidence to support your claims.

An ABTC does not allow you to work in Australia. If you intend to work in Australia, you must have a valid visa with work rights.

For more information on travelling to Australia using your ABTC see Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Travel Card (ABTC) for Foreign Applicants.

Apply online for an exemption

Please make only one request per person. Duplicate requests will delay assessment. If you are not granted an exemption, you should not continue with travel plans, as you will not be permitted to board a flight to Australia. If you are granted a travel exemption, you will need to take evidence of that exemption decision to the airport.

Apply online

Further questions

If you have further questions about critical skills and sectors, and the travel exemption process or an existing critical skills travel exemption application please complete an online enquiry form.