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Travel restrictions and exemptions

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 and 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.

Pre-departure COVID-19 test

A negative COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test result is required for travelling to or transiting through Australia. Unless you are travelling on a quarantine-free flight from New Zealand, evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken 72 hours or less before your scheduled departure must be provided to your airline.

Masks must be worn on all international flights, including in airports. There are some exemptions to pre-departure testing requirements. More information can be found at the Department of Health website.

Quarantine

Unless arriving to Australia on a quarantine-free flight from New Zealand, travellers to Australia (including Australian citizens) must quarantine for 14 days at a designated facility 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.

You cannot come to Australia unless you are in an exempt category or you have been granted an individual exemption to the current travel restrictions.

Temporary visa holders in Australia can depart Australia at any time, however, they will generally not be permitted to return to Australia. Additional information can be found at Temporary visa holders leaving Australia for a short trip overseas.

The majority of travel exemption requests to come to Australia are finalised within 7 days, but some complex requests may take longer.

If you are not in an exempt category you can request an individual exemption to Australia's travel restrictions.

Exempt categories

You are automatically exempt from the travel restrictions and can enter Australia (without obtaining an individual exemption) if you are:

* If you hold a temporary visa or do not yet hold a valid visa for Australia, you must provide proof of your relationship (such as your marriage certificate, evidence of your de-facto relationship such as shared finances or property, your birth certificate or birth certificate for your children) to the Department before you travel to Australia. Do not travel until we advise that you can. You can find out more about how to provide this information at Immediate family of Australian citizens or permanent residents or New Zealand citizens usually resident in Australia.

You need to carry evidence that you meet one of the above categories when travelling. Additional evidence may be requested.

Individual exemptions

The Commissioner of the Australian Border Force and decision makers may grant you an individual exemption if you are:

  • a foreign national 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
  • a foreign national whose entry into Australia would be in the national interest, supported by the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority
  • providing critical or specialist medical services, including air ambulance, medical evacuations and delivering critical medical supplies
  • a foreign national with critical skills or working in a critical sector in Australia
  • a foreign national sponsored by your employer to work in Australia in an occupation on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL)
  • military personnel, including those who form part of the Status of Forces Agreement, Commonwealth Armed Forces, Asia Pacific Forces and Status of Armed Forces Agreement
  • a person who resides on a vessel that seeks safe port at the closest appointed port for reprovisioning or safety reasons for a limited duration, supported by the relevant State or Territory government where safe haven is sought 
  • a student completing year 11 and 12, with endorsement from the federal Department of Education, Skills and Employment (DESE) and; support from the relevant Australian State or Territory government health authority and education department. Further information regarding this process can be found at the Department of Education, Skills and Employment website.
  • a student in your final two years of study of a medical, dental, nursing or allied health profession university degree, where you have evidence of a confirmed placement in an Australian hospital or medical practice which begins within the next two months.
  • travelling for compassionate and compelling reasons.

You must hold a visa and an exemption to Australia’s travel restrictions before you travel. You can request an exemption online and must provide appropriate evidence to support your claims. Requests may be finalised without further consideration if insufficient evidence is provided. All documents need to be officially translated into English.

You need to apply for an exemption at least two weeks, but not more than two months, before your planned travel.

Your request must include:

  • traveller details: name, date of birth, visa type and number, passport number
  • proposed residential address and phone number in Australia
  • your reasons for coming: why you should be granted an exemption
  • a supporting statement: setting out how you meet one of the grounds for an exemption
  • accompanying evidence.

If you are not granted an exemption, you should not continue with your travel plans, as you will not be permitted to board a flight to Australia. If you are granted a travel exemption, you need to take evidence of that exemption decision to the airport.

Compassionate and compelling reasons to travel

The Commissioner of the Australian Border Force may grant you an exemption if you are seeking to travel for compassionate and compelling reasons. Compassionate and compelling reasons include, but are not limited to, needing to travel due to the death or critical illness of a close family member.

You must hold a visa and have an exemption to Australia’s travel restrictions before you travel. You can request an exemption online and must provide appropriate evidence to support your claims. Requests may be finalised without further consideration if insufficient evidence is provided. All documents need to be officially translated into English.

Where possible, you should apply for an exemption at least two weeks, but not more than two months, before your planned travel. If you are travelling due to the death or critical illness of a close family member, you can apply inside this timeframe and we will prioritise your application.

If you are not granted an exemption, you should not continue with your travel plans, as you will not be permitted to board a flight to Australia. If you are granted a travel exemption, you need to take evidence of that exemption decision to the airport.

Apply online for an exemption

If you are not in an exempt category you can request an individual exemption to Australia's travel restrictions using the Travel Exemption portal.

You need to apply for an exemption at least two weeks, but not more than two months, before your planned travel.

To complete a travel exemption request you should hold a visa, or have applied for a visa, and provide information and documents to support your request. Requests may be finalised without further consideration if insufficient evidence is provided. This may include the following:

  • proof of identity
  • evidence that you hold a valid visa
  • travel itinerary
  • marriage, birth, death certificate/s
  • proof of relationship or residence (such as a shared tenancy agreement, joint bank account etc.)
  • letter from a doctor or hospital, indicating why travel is necessary
  • letter from an employer indicating why travel is necessary
  • supporting letter from a business or government agency, advising why your skills are critical
  • statutory declaration to support your claims.

Obtaining a travel exemption does not guarantee you will be able to get a flight to Australia at this time.

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 for travel exemptions

Commissioner's Guidelines and Operational Directives

For more information on how we assess travel exemptions, see our guidelines: