Australia’s borders are currently closed, with international travel strictly controlled to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, and entry to and from Australia is only permitted for travellers who are exempt, or if they have been granted an individual exemption.
Understandably, travel restrictions are constantly changing in response to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19. This article outlines the changes to travel exemptions effective 11 August 2021 which will affect Aussies who ordinarily reside overseas.
A. Current Automatic Exemption (Prior to 11 August 2021)
Prior to 11 August 2021, Australians (citizens and permanent residents) were able to leave the country if they ordinarily reside in a country outside Australia. This means they were automatically exempt from Australia’s departure travel restrictions if they have spent more time overseas than in Australia in the last 12 to 24 months.
B. New Requirements
Effective 11 August 2021, Australians who live in a country outside Australia are no longer automatically exempt from Australia’s departure travel restrictions. This means they must apply for an exemption to leave Australia.
For Australians in these situations, to secure a travel exemption they must provide supporting evidence to demonstrate they usually live overseas. This may include evidence that they have an established and settled home overseas, evidence that they are employed or have ongoing business interests overseas, along with any foreign government issued documentation (such as a foreign driver licence or residency card).
Exemptions are valid for three months from the date of approval, and may be applied for in advance (i.e. from overseas prior to arriving in Australia) to ensure there would be no issues with departure.
C. Transitional Arrangements
Until 7 September 2021, Australians who arrive at the airport without an exemption may still leave Australia if their status as ‘ordinarily resident’ overseas can be confirmed by an Australian Border Force officer at departure. However, they will be advised they must obtain an exemption in advance for any future travels.
For those who have already received travel exemption approvals (before 11 August 2021) and have not yet travelled, they will be able to use that exemption for a single departure from Australia.
We are available and committed to assisting you with navigating the travel exemptions, and we encourage you to contact us to discuss your position and the options that are available.
Whilst many things remain uncertain, we are all in this together and we are still here to help you.