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.
Temporary visa holders
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.
Commercial flights are available in several major airports across Australia. These airlines are currently operating flights departing Australia:
Airlines flying include: Air New Zealand | China Southern Airlines | Emirates | Malaysia Airlines | Qatar Airways | United | Asiana Airlines | Singapore Airlines | Cathay Pacific Airways | Xiamen Airlines | SriLankan Airlines
You may also wish to find out if there are any private or government repatriation flights to your home country.
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 essential for the conduct of critical industries and business (including export and import industries)
- you are travelling to receive urgent medical treatment that is not available in Australia
- you are travelling on urgent and unavoidable personal business
- you are travelling on compassionate or humanitarian 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.
You should apply for an exemption at least two weeks, but not more than three months before your planned travel. Please make only one request per person. Duplicate requests will delay assessment. The majority of travel exemption requests to depart Australia are finalised within 48 hours, but some complex requests may take longer.
Who don’t need a travel exemption are:
- ordinarily resident in a country other than Australia
- an airline, maritime crew or associated safety worker
- a New Zealand citizen holding a Special Category (subclass 444) visa
- engaged in the day-to-day conduct of outbound freight
- associated with essential work at Australian offshore facilities
- travelling on official government business, including members of the Australian Defence Force
You are considered ordinarily resident in a country other than Australia if international movement records show that you’ve spent more time outside Australia than inside for the last 12 to 24 months.
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.
Coming to Australia
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. You may be required to pay for the costs of your quarantine.
Who can enter without a permit?
Australian citizens, permanent residents, immediate family members of an Australian citizen or permanent resident or New Zealand citizens usually resident in Australia, can travel to Australia. Immediate family members who hold a temporary visa will need to provide evidence of their relationship.
Spouses and de facto partners are permitted to travel to Australia but prospective marriage visa holders (and other temporary visa holders) are not permitted to travel unless given a travel exemption by the Australian Government.
Who can apply for an exemption?
Travellers who hold a temporary visa and who ARE NOT Australian citizens, permanent residents, immediate family members but who have a compassionate or compelling reason to travel to Australia may be permitted to travel.
To travel you will need to apply for an exemption from the Australian Border Force Commissioner.
The Commissioner of the Australian Border Force may grant you 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
- a non-citizen with critical skills or working in a critical sector in Australia
- a non-citizen sponsored by your employer to work in Australia in an occupation on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL)
- a non-citizen whose entry would otherwise be in the national interest, supported by the Australian Government or a state or territory government authority
- 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 student completing year 11 and 12, with support from the relevant Australian State or Territory government health authority and education department
- travelling 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 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 three 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.
VisAustralia still open and working at full throttle
VisAustralia, like the Department of Home Affairs, is continuing to work at full throttle.
We are keen to push the applications of our overseas based clients forward and ensure visas are granted in the shortest possible time. This on-going work will allow you to move to Australia as soon as the travel ban is lifted.
We are also keen to assist people facing visa issues in Australia because of the travel ban. If your visa is expiring, or you have other questions about the impact of the ban on your visa process, please do not hesitate to contact VisAustralia.
We want to reiterate that the travel ban is a temporary measure not related to the process of applying for a visa under the Migration Act 1958. The Australian migration program has a long and stable history and visa processing system will continue. People will continue to be able to migrate to Australia and study in Australia. The closure of the border represents a short-term policy response to what we all hope is a short term health issue.