In International Travel, Options for Australians

Since the beginning of COVID-19, the world has gone through its fair share of ups, and most definitely downs, especially when it comes to lockdowns and travel bans. We all thought the world would soon go back to some type of “normal”, especially since the COVID vaccine was finally starting to pop up across the globe. Unfortunately, the Delta Variant caused another delay in our return to “normal”.

Every country worldwide has reacted and taken steps to protect its citizens in different ways – some more extreme than others. Australia has taken an extreme approach, as many will argue, by closing its borders to non-Australians and limiting the number of Australian nationals being able to return home! If that was not shocking enough, they are now disallowing their own nationals from leaving Australia without permission from the Australian government. This has caused an uproar within the Australian community and some confusion as to “why” from the rest of the world.

If you are Australian and can’t get back to the United States or can’t get out of Australia, then the following information may be helpful to you when trying to apply for an exemption.

On August 11, 2021, Australia announced that Australian nationals will no longer receive automatic exemptions to leave the country, even if they regularly reside in a different country, such as the United States. Instead, travelers will be required to apply for an exemption online to determine if they qualify under one of the following three categories before their expected date of travel.

    1. Foreign government issued ID (such as a foreign driver’s license or foreign issued residency card),
    2. Evidence of ties to foreign country (includes lease agreement, utility bills, etc.), AND
    3. Evidence of employment abroad (letter from employer or work agreement abroad).
    1. Statement in the form of a “Commonwealth Statutory Declaration” (you can find more information HERE) that includes:
      1. Evidence of confirmed flight itinerary,
      2. Confirmation of leave from work,
      3. Confirmation of enrollment for study,
      4. A doctor’s note to evidence travel is needed to care for sick family members, OR
      5. Any other reason you feel is a valid request for exemption with sufficient evidence to support your claim.
  1. AUTOMATIC EXEMPTIONS – Applies ONLY if you are:
    1. New Zealand citizen with a Special Category (subclass 444) visa,
    2. Engaged in daily inbound and outbound freight,
    3. Traveling for official government business,
    4. Traveling directly to New Zealand and have been in Australia or New Zealand for 14 days or more before travel,
    5. Traveling for essential work at an offshore facility in Australian waters, OR
    6. Airline, maritime crew, or associated safety worker.

If you think you may qualify for one of the categories above, go online HERE to request a travel exemption. Keep in mind you may apply for a travel exemption online BEFORE you depart the United States. By applying prior to returning to Australia you may have a decision on your request before your date of travel allowing you to plan accordingly.

Our office will continue to follow the situation in Australia closely and provide any relevant updates on our website. For a complete list of required evidence and for more information on the exemption request and categories, please visit the Australian Government Page HERE.

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