New COVID rules for Australians who live overseas and wish to travel home to Australia

Australian citizens who are returning to Australia but live permanent overseas will no longer be granted an automatic exemption from the ongoing international travel ban. Instead, they will now have to submit a “compelling reason” to return to their home abroad. Reasons like having a home and work abroad could be considered compelling, however there is no clear indication as to whether this will be the case.

At present Australian citizens living abroad do not need to get permission to return to Australia, whereas non-citizens are required to obtain a travel permission in tandem with a current visa. However, under the new rules, Australians will now have to seek permission to leave the country after entering Australia.

Currently, common reasons for outbound travel are for work or business requirements, urgent medical reasons, compassionate reasons or if the travel is in the national interest. Permissions can also be granted for a “compelling” reason, with no intention to return for three months or longer.

The federal government argued it had closed this loophole, saying Australians looking to leave the country to return to their homes overseas had had plenty of time to do so and this change hoped to reduce the number of people making short trips abroad.

The Australian Department of Home Affairs will require applications to be made prior to the travel. Applications will be decided on a case-by-case basis. Playfair Visa and Migration Services recommends that you seek the exemption prior to making any travel plans.

If you need assistance with how to obtain permission to enter Australia, please contact our office via our website contact us page or email

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