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Travel restrictions and exemptions

Australia’s borders are currently closed and international travel from Australia remains strictly controlled to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. International travel from Australia is only available if you are exempt or you have been granted an individual exemption.

Travel restrictions are subject to change in response to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19. You can stay informed with the latest updates by checking this page regularly. If you are transiting through Australia further information can be found on the Transiting Australia webpage.

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. You can apply online but you must meet at least one of the following:

  • 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 are ordinarily resident in a country other than Australia.

You must provide evidence to support your claims. Requests may be finalised without further consideration if insufficient evidence is provided. Evidence may include:

  • passport/s
  • 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 vaccinated Australians

On 1 October 2021 the Prime Minister announced fully vaccinated Australian citizens and permanent residents will soon be eligible for international travel without seeking a travel exemption. Please refer to information on Travel for vaccinated Australians.

Ordinarily resident outside Australia

On 1 August 2021 the Minister for Health and Aged Care amended the Biosecurity Determination 2020. From 11 August 2021 Australian citizens and permanent residents ordinarily resident in a country outside Australia will not be automatically exempt from Australia’s outward travel restrictions. From this date, you must apply for a travel exemption through the Travel Exemption Portal.

Supporting evidence must be provided and may include:

  • foreign government issued documentation, for example
    • foreign drivers licence
    • foreign government issued residency card
  • evidence you have an established and settled home overseas, for example
    • 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

If you have planned travel and have not been assessed as meeting the ordinarily resident requirements, please apply through the travel exemption portal under the ‘ordinarily resident’ category.

If you have received a travel exemption approval before 11 August 2021 and have not yet travelled, you may use this exemption for a single departure from Australia. You do not need to apply for another exemption, unless you have already travelled using your previous approval, or wish to depart again in the future.

If you are outside Australia and want to travel to Australia then return to your country of residence, you can apply for an outwards exemption before you arrive in Australia.

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.

Evidence to support your application

Evidence must be provided in the form of a Commonwealth Statutory Declaration.

The Commonwealth 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.

Requests may be finalised without further consideration if insufficient evidence is provided, or is not provided in a Commonwealth Statutory Declaration. All evidence supporting a travel exemption claim needs to be officially translated into English. Travel exemption requests that are submitted without appropriate documentary evidence to support your claim will not be approved.

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.

The Australian Border Force will monitor compliance with periods of declared travel.

Automatic exemptions

You are exempt from travel restrictions, and can leave Australia without applying for an exemption if you are:

  • an airline, maritime crew or associated safety worker
  • a New Zealand citizen holding a Special Category (subclass 444) visa, even if they are usually resident in Australia
  • engaged in the day-to-day conduct of inbound and outbound freight
  • travelling in association with essential work at an offshore facility in Australian waters
  • travelling on official government business (including members of the Australian Defence Force and any Australian Government official travelling on a diplomatic or official passport)
  • travelling directly to New Zealand and you have been in Australia or New Zealand for 14 days or more immediately before your travel date*

*Please refer to the information under Travel to New Zealand.

Non-citizens

Due to the current COVID-19 situation in Australia, including state and territory border restrictions, business closures and social distancing requirements, international visitors are encouraged to return home when possible to do so.

Temporary visa holders should be aware that if they wish to return to Australia while COVID-19 restrictions are in place, they will generally need a travel exemption. For more information about the Commissioner’s Exemption, see Coming to Australia.

Temporary visa holders returning home

Temporary visa holders impacted by COVID-19 can make arrangements to return to their home country, if border restrictions in that country allow.

Temporary visa holders do not need an exemption to depart Australia. They can leave at any time, as long as border restrictions in their home country allow them to return.

Remember the COVID-19 situation continues to change.

Check each week:

  • border restrictions
  • availability of flights.

Commercial flights are available from several major airports across Australia.

You may also wish to find out if there are any private or government repatriation flights to your home country.

If you would like further assistance to return home, you can contact your embassy or consulate in Australia.

Temporary visa holders leaving Australia for a short trip overseas

Temporary visa holders in Australia can depart Australia at any time, however, they will generally not be permitted to return to Australia.

Temporary visa holders seeking to leave and then return to Australia, may apply for an inwards exemption before they leave, however applications will generally only be approved if:

  • the applicant meets the requirements for an individual exemption from Australia’s Inward Travel Restrictions, and
  • they have a strong compassionate or compelling reason to leave Australia supported by relevant documentary evidence, for example:
    • attending the funeral of a close family member overseas, visiting a close family member who is seriously or critically ill, or seeking necessary medical treatment not available in Australia, or
    • travel is essential for business purposes.

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. It is the Australian Government’s strong preference that Australians are vaccinated prior to travelling overseas.

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 reasons 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’.

Temporary visa holders under 50 years of age who are currently in Australia and have an approved inwards travel exemption for return travel to Australia are eligible to access COVID-19 vaccinations.

To be eligible, your inward travel exemption must be granted on or after 8 June 2021. If you have an inwards travel exemption to return to Australia granted before 8 June 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.

For more information on how to make a vaccination appointment visit the Vaccine Eligibility Checker.

Travel to New Zealand

Quarantine-free travel from Australia to New Zealand is currently suspended. More information is available on New Zealand's COVID-19 website.

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.

Information for temporary visa holders can be found on the New Zealand safe travel zone webpage.

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 the New Zealand safe travel zone webpage.

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 please complete an online enquiry form.

APEC business travel card

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.

Things to consider before applying

You should only travel if you have a compelling reason and it is essential that you travel now. Regular disruptions to travel plans (including flight cancellations and quarantine requirements in other countries and on return to Australia) and limits to consular assistance should be expected, due to the risks to public health.

Australians who want to travel overseas should see Smartraveller to get advice on the risks before deciding to travel.

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.

You should apply for an exemption at least two weeks, but not more than two months before your planned travel. Please make only one request per person. Duplicate requests will delay assessment. 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.

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 depart Australia. If you are granted a travel exemption, you will need to take evidence of that exemption decision to the airport.

Apply for travel exemptions