Australian Citizens Living Abroad: What are the grounds for outbound travel exemptions?

Until recently, Australian citizens ordinarily resident in other countries have been able to return to Australia and then leave without requiring additional permission.

This all changed last week with the federal government quietly removing that exemption, triggered by Greg Hunt, the Minister for Health and Aged Care amending the Biosecurity Determination 2020 on 1 August 2020. This move could be designed to deter Australians from coming home in the first place, thereby reducing demand on quarantine places. It follows lobbying from state premiers who wish to reduce additional stresses placed on their current quarantine arrangements.

This means Australians living abroad and returning to Australia (even to see family on compassionate grounds) will not automatically be able to leave again unless they meet the grounds for an exemption. Thus requiring them to evidence they have an “established and settled” home overseas, via documents outlined below.

Evidencing Grounds For Exemption – Ordinarily resident outside Australia

When completing this request, the applicant must provide supporting evidence as per the DOHA website which may include:

1. Foreign government issued documentation

For example

  • foreign drivers licence
  • foreign government issued residency card

2. Evidence you have an established and settled home overseas

For example

  • tenancy/residential agreement
  • utility bills, rate notices

3. Evidence you are employed or have ongoing business interests overseas

For example

  • letter from your employer/employment contract in a foreign country
  • business tenancy agreement

When does this come into effect?

This will come into effect from Wednesday 11 August 2021 and will mean this cohort now must apply for a travel exemption through the Travel Exemption Portal.

If you have received a travel exemption approval before 11 August 2021 and have not yet travelled, you may use this exemption for a single departure from Australia. You do not need to apply for another exemption, unless you have already travelled using your previous approval, or wish to depart again in the future.

There will also be a transitional period until 7 September 2021, where travellers who arrive at the airport without an exemption, will be allowed to travel if their status as ordinarily resident overseas can be confirmed by an Australian Border Force officer prior to departure. However for future travel,  these travellers will be advised that they will need to apply for an exemption in advance through the travel exemptions portal.

When can I apply for a travel exemption?

If you are outside Australia and want to travel to Australia then return to your country of residence, you can apply for an outwards exemption before you arrive in Australia. Exemptions are valid for 3 months from the date of approval.

If you have planned travel and have not been assessed as meeting the ordinarily resident requirements, please apply through the travel exemption portal under the ‘ordinarily resident’ category.

Source: The Conversation & DOHA

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