Australian travel ban exemptions: easy for some, hard for too many

Around 25% of all travel applications are denied, and where approvals are given, many supporting documents are typically needed.

By Chris Chamberlin, July 3 2020
Australian travel ban exemptions: easy for some, hard for too many

The ongoing closure of Australia’s borders means that most Australian residents require government permission to travel overseas – and for many applicants, getting that authorisation hasn’t proven an easy task.

While some requests have been processed promptly, other applicants say they've received no response at all from the Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Border Force, even after the international flights they’d booked had long departed.

Over 1,000 people have shared their ‘travel ban’ experience with Executive Traveller since the restrictions took effect in March 2020 – a hefty number, given less than 3,000 exemptions had been granted by the government as of mid-May.

Here are just some of the stories and experiences Executive Traveller readers have shared, including their tips for lodging a successful application.

You may not need an exemption to travel overseas

When applying for permission to depart Australia, the Department of Home Affairs’ website outlines that people who “ordinarily reside” in a country outside Australia do not need a pre-approved exemption.

However, the definition of ‘ordinary residency’ can be open to interpretation or confusion – particularly for those who spend large chunks of time in multiple countries.

As Executive Traveller reader Alan Rawlinson shares from his recent travels: “At the airport, an immigration officer explained to me that the definition of ‘not resident’ was anyone who, in the last 12 months prior to departure date, had spent more days outside Australia than in.”

“So, if you've spent the majority of that time in Australia, then an exemption is needed.”

As an overseas resident, Rawlinson didn’t need to apply for an exemption before planning to travel: but when he did venture to the airport for an international flight, Border Force officers verified his ‘ordinary residency’ by checking Australia’s passenger movement records.

“An officer spent a long time on the phone checking my status… I made it by nine days.”

Had Rawlinson attempted to travel just two weeks later – meaning he'd have spent more time in Australia than abroad – he may have needed an exemption, as Border Force may then have considered him an ‘ordinary resident’ of Australia.

But, by travelling when he did, Rawlinson was permitted to depart Australia without a pre-approved exemption.

Need an exemption? It might arrive quickly

Of those who’ve applied for permission to travel overseas, some report very quick turnaround times in having their application assessed and their authorisation to travel confirmed.

“I was granted approval within an hour. I have never seen a government work this quickly!” shares Kate Dimitrevic, who applied under compassionate grounds as an Australian citizen, but with UK residency arrangements that may not have automatically qualified for the exemption waiver above.

Mike Jury adds, “I applied for an exemption under personal grounds, and had an email the next morning confirming my travel is authorised from Brisbane to the UK, (valid) any time I choose, provided the departure port stays the same.”

Jury suspects his request was processed quickly as he “wasn't long-winded… I kept it to the point, succinct, and about me.”

Executive Traveller is also aware of an exemption request lodged by a member of the Australian media, who sought to travel overseas to generate timely news coverage relevant to the coronavirus crisis and the closing of international borders.

That request was submitted on a Friday afternoon, and within 48 hours, Border Force had contacted the referee listed in the application to confirm its nature, and then gave authorisation to travel.

Approval is never guaranteed

Under the figures most recently released by the government, approximately one quarter of applications for overseas travel are declined – and of the approvals given, less than 7% have been for business travellers.

That’s something Ed Woodley learned the hard way. As an Australian permanent resident, Woodley’s request for travel to the UK was denied, even though he holds UK citizenship and is not an Australian citizen.

“I'm currently sat in Sydney Airport having missed my flight, waiting to be picked up as my application has been rejected and I'm not allowed to leave Australia,” Woodley shared with Executive Traveller.

“I have a business in the UK, and I (normally) travel back a couple of times a year. The business is in trouble, but apparently that isn't enough to let me leave to the country I am a citizen of and pay taxes in. Absolutely ridiculous situation!”

Because Woodley is an Australian permanent resident, the ‘travel ban’ applies despite his citizenship status – meaning an exemption must be granted before he, or those like him, can travel overseas.

Seemingly, some applications get no attention by Border Force

Many Executive Traveller readers report lodging requests to travel well before their flight’s planned departure date, only to receive 'radio silence' from the Australian Government and with no way to follow-up on their request.

“I applied for and exemption to fly the following week, Michael Wieczorek said, “but did not hear back before my intended travel date.”

“I have no indication how long I'll have to wait: I might end up waiting a month and getting rejected!”

Derek Li echoes those sentiments: “I have sent seven requests so far and had to keep pushing back my departure date, yet still no response. They just don't seem to care!”

Georgina Morey adds, “I received no response nine hours before my flight was due to leave. I immediately put in another form for that same flight with more supporting documents, and still had no response.”

To try and get the ball moving, “I put in a third form for a travel date two weeks away… but even two days after that planned departure date, I’d still heard nothing.”

When a travel exemption request is lodged online, a unique reference number is provided to the applicant – but those hoping to follow-up on their application by phone are routinely advised that this is not possible, and to wait for an email response.

Australian Border Force responds

Executive Traveller contacted the Australian Border Force to ask why some applications appear to be slipping through the cracks.

An ABF spokesperson advised that while “the Department and the ABF seek to process exemption requests as quickly as possible ... the Department does not comment on individual cases.”

"Each case is unique and considered individually based on the information and supporting evidence provided in the application," the spokesperson added.

"Due to high volumes, travel exemption requests are prioritised based on the intended date of travel and any compelling or compassionate circumstances for travel and where all the supporting evidence is provided."

Many Executive Traveller readers confirm that where an exemption has been granted, they were typically notified shortly before departure, often within 72 hours of their flight's departure time.

Some readers also confirm that applications without enough supporting evidence are often rejected quickly – with the ABF advising that more evidence is required before the request is submitted again – while those that are on-track for approval may not receive any response until just before departure, as above.

The Australian Border Force declined to provide updated figures on travel exemption approvals and rejections when requested by Executive Traveller.

Tips for lodging a successful application

Although some applicants have found success with succinct travel requests, others routinely report being asked for additional documentation to support their situation.

The documents requested vary between applications, depending on the reason given for travel and the nature of the exemption.

Here are a few examples shared by Executive Traveller readers, which may help speed-up the approval process for other applicants.

Additional documents for compassionate travel requests

Hoping to travel to the United States to spend time with a fiancée requiring medical care, Ayelet Bren’s first application for travel wasn’t granted: instead, Bren was asked to supply additional information to support the claim, and to then re-submit the request as a new application.

In this instance, “they were looking for proof of relationship, plus a letter from a medical professional, hospital records, and evidence that no other family in the country can provide the same level of support.”

Bren had originally planned to visit the US in March 2020, but the Australian Government’s travel ban saw an exemption become necessary.

Additional documents for workers in critical industries

When Anne Monteau’s husband received a job offer in France and the pair planned to travel overseas to begin that journey, an exemption was sought under the ‘worker in a critical industry’ category, as the job offer related to agriculture and food processing.

“We submitted the following documents: passports, proof of marriage/relationship, an employer letter explaining why my husband was critical, proof of permanent residency, flight tickets, proof of end of lease here, and my resignation letter.”

After these documents were assessed, the application to travel was authorised by Border Force.

Additional documents for others moving overseas

Planning to move to the United States where members of their family already resided, Kashish Mahajan’s first exemption request was denied, but after submitting the same request with a broader range of supporting documents, permission to travel was granted.

“In my first attempt, I submitted documents proving relationships with my family in the US, plus my birth certificate, US driving licences (mine and my parents’) proving residence at the same address, US green card, and Australian passport.”

“The second time, I attached termination of my house lease agreement and job resignation (from Australia), job acceptance (in the US), car sale, airplane ticket, and the documents I submitted the first time.”

When seeking a similar exemption, Mahajan recommends submitting as many documents as you can to demonstrate that you don’t intend to return to Australia any time soon.

Keep an eye on your inbox, in case your exemption is revoked

One Executive Traveller reader claims that after applying for – and being granted – a travel exemption to move overseas, the Australian Border Force overturned its previous decision without warning.

As Aliya Imam shares, “we applied for exemption and they first granted us the permit,” but just as the Imam family were about to book flights, “they said that it was an error: we weren’t granted the permit.”

The family re-applied for permission and added documents to support their application, but were again denied an exemption – three times.

Based on this experience, it’s wise to keep an eye on your email inbox, just in case the status of your own exemption changes for any reason. Emails relating to travel exemptions are usually sent by [email protected], so add this to your whitelist.

What happens at the airport if you are cleared to fly?

Whether you have your exemption in-hand or don’t require one – such as by being ‘ordinarily resident’ in another country – the airport experience on departure from Australia will be different to what you’re used to.

Just to get into the terminal building, you’ll need to produce your passport and a confirmed travel itinerary at the door, so have these handy.

Then, there’s a new Border Force checkpoint to get past, located before the airline check-in desks where your permission to fly will be verified, as Stuart Duncan shares.

“If you don't have your exemption in-hand, they will make a phone call to check their database. The database is simply a list of names, passport numbers, and departure ports for those who are approved to travel. If you are not on it (and are an Australian resident), it is game over,” says Duncan.

Even if you’ve applied for an exemption and haven’t received a response in time for your flight, “they have no way of checking on your application,” Duncan adds, sharing that in such circumstances, you may be allowed to wait at the airport, in case it comes through in time.

“I did this: sat and waited on the off chance it would turn up. It did not, so I was able to get my flight changed at the airport service desk before heading home.”

Travelling with that exemption in-hand

Duncan was later granted permission to travel, returning to the airport on the day of his revised flight with a printed copy of the ‘exemption granted’ email, ready to present to Border Force officers.

After handing it over, the officer “will fill out a form for you, get it signed by a manager, then you can go to check in.”

“At check-in, they check this form against your travel details, then make a phone call to Immigration for formal approval. This took about 20 minutes,” after which, check-in could be completed and the usual airport formalities of security screening and passport control could be cleared ahead of departure.

As such, if you are travelling overseas from Australia, arrive at the airport with plenty of time to spare before your flight: ideally, when check-in opens three hours before departure.

Also read: Who is exempt from Australia's international travel ban?

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

adi
adi

28 May 2020

Total posts 28

Citizens should be allowed to leave Australia without requiring a permission.

People should not need to prove why the need to leave with multiple personal documents. They do not need more case officers either. This whole process is inhuman and lacks of any compassion.

Australians should be allowed overseas as they choose provided they sign agreement to pay for the mandatory quarantine on return when quarantine is still required, and acknowledge that Australian government cannot be expected to save them if they get into some problems overseas due to Covid.

18 May 2020

Total posts 10

I agree!

20 Jan 2017

Total posts 42

100% agree with this statement and was going to post something similar. I'm not having a crack at the government but we should be allowed to leave the country 'at our own risk' and stump up the cash upon return for hotel quarantine.

I guess its a case that the government see a need to protect their citizens and are not wanting to take the blame should a citizen fall ill or become deceased who was allowed to leave the country. In addition you would get some backlash from tax payers having to foot the bill to repatriate a citizen if the unfortunate situation happened and they passed away given there is probably next to no coverage from insurance companies these days.

17 Jun 2020

Total posts 159

Agreed on this. If a country is open for Australian residents we should not be prevented from leaving. Exit Visas are something that belong in North Korea or the USSR.

Should be allowed to leave so long as pay our own quarantine expenses if applicable. The current island prison approach is destroying the economy and needs to stop.

05 Jun 2020

Total posts 32

"Island prison approach"... so true. It's devastating in so many ways.

Totally agree.

04 Jul 2020

Total posts 2

I agree are we living in a dictatorship now

04 Jul 2020

Total posts 2

I totally agreed

17 Apr 2020

Total posts 1

Totally agree, I'd be happy to sign a form restricting my right to reenter Australia for the next however long, or pay for quarantine upon return, or sign a form saying I understand I'm leaving at my own risk! I'm separated from my partner and my new business and just want to get back to UK!

12 Feb 2013

Total posts 42

Are there any other countries around the world (NZ?) that have such bans (not travel advice/recommendations) on their citzens/residents from leaving? Surely this 14 day quarantine on return is already enough to put people off from leaving unless they fit into those exempt categories.

NZ

13 Aug 2016

Total posts 59

New Zealand has no restrictions for leaving the country for its Citizens. It's business as normal for departing the country (if you can find an flight that is useful to you).

If you return you currently have todo the 14 day isolation in an hotel (currently free, talk about this being soon charged for people that left the country after March by choice)

Last time an country had this much control of people leaving East Germany was an country.

adi
adi

28 May 2020

Total posts 28

I've read that Kazahstan, Uzbekistan, Sudan have banned residents and citizens from leaving the country.

New Zealand has a "do not travel" advice only.

AU could also downgrade the overseas travel ban to a 'do not travel'.

05 Jun 2020

Total posts 32

Oh my goodness, what a happy day that would be. Let me out!

17 Apr 2020

Total posts 7

The only other country I know is Malaysia and they plan to end it on 31st August unlike here where it sounds indefinite.

23 May 2012

Total posts 45

This whole 'permission to leave exercise' reminds me of the former (Communist) easter European countries where people needed to seek an 'exit visa' (that was difficult to get) to be able to leave the country.

I agree with earlier sentiments made that it should be up to passengers to leave the country at any time on the condition that quarantine expenses upon their return are at their own expense, or that they provide a relevant negative Covid-19 test result upon arrival (as many European countries do).

Australia is becoming very much a nazi nation. I'm getting very scared of Australia. My family live in China.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 237

Not so sure China is a much better option as they've been very draconian in their response to this crisis, though the good news is mask laws are being relaxed in places, including at many schools. So it does look like things are gradually going back to normal in China. However, I'm concerned about the mandatory contact tracing app that may stick around even after the crisis is declared as over.

07 May 2020

Total posts 71

The rise of the Nazi state. Yes of course we should absolutely blame the government.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

12 Apr 2017

Total posts 86

We all agree that this is unacceptable and we would take personal responsibility as well as financially. How can we change it? I have written to my MP but the response was pathetic!

05 Jun 2020

Total posts 32

I agree Richard.

I have created a petition on Change.org in an attempt to bring attention to the issue. Please sign, and share if you can.

https://www.change.org/p/citizens-should-be-allowed-to-leave-australia-without-requiring-permission

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

12 Apr 2017

Total posts 86

Will do!

PLC
PLC

05 Jul 2020

Total posts 2

Signed.

Done

04 Jul 2020

Total posts 2

I have written to MP too, will wair and see what/if the reply is

08 May 2020

Total posts 55

Travel to Thailand from selected Countries. It will be available from August /September this year. either a 10 day quarantine at the nominated Hotel or take a test at the airport for A$ 185.00 pp the test takes some 6 hours ( worth the wait at the airport). initially they will allow 200 people in per day and ramp up as it goes. Just need the Australian Gov. to agree to open such a travel Bubble

05 May 2016

Total posts 592

Applied to travel and did not hear back by the date applied to travel. No way to get an update on the process of the application, whether they need more information etc.

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

19 Jan 2018

Total posts 21

I totally agree with the sentiments already written by others here, although I admittedly think it's a bit of a stretch to liken Australia's current situation to that of Nazi Germany! That said, it categorically should be the right of every Australian to leave the country should they wish to (without government approval) knowing that they do so at their own risk and at their own expense (whilst abroad and upon their return). As Europe begins to open up, and with Australians recently put on their "welcome" list, why should I need a travel exemption to go there? As long as I abide by and adhere to whatever the Covid-19 rules are in the country/city I'm visiting, what's the problem? This draconian "no-one can leave without permission" policy is utterly ludicrous and let's face it, potentially a human rights issue!

03 Feb 2018

Total posts 70

@TLH1964

"This draconian "no-one can leave without permission" policy is utterly ludicrous and let's face it, potentially a human rights issue!"

According to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, it's not a human rights issue, prima facie, during a pandemic. If it were, HRW and Amnesty International would be up in arms. As far as I'm aware, they're not.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Jan 2018

Total posts 10

Anybody else had the same experience regarding the 'majority of time spent overseas' as the determining factor for clearing the immigration?

06 Jul 2020

Total posts 1

I came to Africa on Holidays in March, due to fly back to Sydney in May, flight cancelled and rebooked to June, flight cancelled again. I am now stuck can't go back. They have used up all my long service leave now I am on leave without pay. My landlord refused to lower the rent. I am just hoping I could get a flight to Sydney

09 May 2017

Total posts 32

Last Saturday I flew from Melbourne to London. We entered the terminal without any checks, people saying goodbye could also enter the terminal. There were no Border Force staff present. We went to the check-in (Emirates) counter and were asked if we had an exemption, we said no as we usually reside overseas (which we do and was the reason we were leaving - so we didn't go over the 183 days in Australia). The check-in staff member said he had to make a call to get an exemption code as they couldn't issue a boarding pass without that code. He took our Passports and residency documentation and gave the Border Force staff member all the details they requested. It took about 5 minutes and they issued codes. We have been non-resident for 5 years and that did come up as a question - have we been a non-resident for more than 5 years (not sure why). I said to him I had expected to go through a Border Force desk first and he said usually they are present but they were 'running late'. We then went through checkout as usual - no carryon bags except handbags or laptops bags. Everyone waited the public side of security and close to 'go to the gate' they opened the entrance to airside. There was nothing open airside except one bar/coffee shop. On the public side Grill'd and McDonals was open. This was about 7pm Saturday evening. Gloves and masks were required to board the plane, masks were asked to be on the whole flight including whilst sleeping. Boarding from Dubai to London only Masks were required. Alll staff were in full ppe. Any questions welcome

03 Jul 2020

Total posts 1

Thanks for the info. Are you usually a resident of the UK? I have an exemption but my final destination in Europe isn't my place of residence. My place of residence is the transit. Just wondering if they will question that even though Australians are able to enter the EU. Thanks!

09 May 2017

Total posts 32

Hi there, yes we usually live in the UK, I would imagine that all they are worried about is whether you are usually an overseas resident - it would be quite common to fly through a hub to get to your usual residence. However I'm not Border Force. Their main concern was not our destination - they didn't want to know anything about where we live only whether we lived overseas normally.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Jun 2012

Total posts 57

Any ideas on how long this overseas travel ban will last? I'm an Australian living in Scotland and a family member is hoping to over later in the year, SYD-EDI.

adi
adi

28 May 2020

Total posts 28

"Emails relating to travel exemptions are usually sent by DoNotReplyGlobal @ homeaffairs .gov .au"

What a joke! You do not have even a reference number and no one to call to follow up. You do not know who has access to your personal documents, where they are stored and for how long. And you think they are secure?

May 19 2020 My Health Record system hit by hack attempt

May 14 2020 Service NSW hit by email compromise attack

6 April 2020 Federal court data breach sees names of protection visa applicants made public

28 April 2020 Optus hit with $40 million class action after alleged data breach of 50,000 customers details

And the list goes on and on … (Data Breaches In Australia)

13 Aug 2015

Total posts 43

The Australian Government is playing in very dangerous territory here. Being Australian and living overseas, it's been interesting to watch this play out, and scary to see how Governments are overstepping their bounds and taking away basic human rights.

There are basic facts here where Australia is acting against UN Conventions.

Australia is a member of the United Nations.
Let's look at the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Article 13: (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

We're in very scary territory here. What next? Even I understand that under situations of emergency, the current rules may have been appropriate (March, maybe even April), however those days are long over, and examples here of UK Citizens not being able to return to the UK are terrifying and illegal. Australia has no right to impose such restrictions, and I'm surprised there already hasn't been either an uprising or legal challenge... but I'm sure there will be one soon.

07 May 2020

Total posts 71

The rise of a Nazi state. When you have no plan you create a common enemy for the masses to focus their attention away from your ineptitude. The enemy is the person who may want to leave the herd or come back to herd. Better to stay in the herd and follow it over the cliff.

03 Feb 2018

Total posts 70

@vantage03

I'm not sure how familiar you are with international human rights law. While you may have a point that Australia's actions are morally dubious, they're not illegal. It's not really a 'dangerous game', hence none of HRW or Amnesty, to my knowledge, have kicked up a fuss about the travel ban.

"Australia is a member of the United Nations.
Let's look at the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

Article 13: (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country."

Let's look at the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). It's the more detailed and legal framework for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The UDHR sets out the principles but doesn't go into detail. The ICCPR is more nuanced, more powerful (in legal terms) and more relevant. The ICCPR is the international standard for human rights.

With respect, international human rights law allows nation-states to restrict rights to leave the country with sufficient justification. Australia CAN stop its citizens from leaving during a pandemic, as per a provision in the ICCPR.

Art 12(2): "Everyone shall be free to lave any country, including his own".

However, this is qualified by Art 12(3): "The above-mentioned rights shall not be subject to any restrictions, except those which are provided by law, are necessary to protect national security, public order (ordre public), public health or morals or the rights and freedoms of others, and are consistent with the other rights recognized in the present Covenant".

So there you have it, a pandemic (even a health crisis of lesser seriousness) constitutes a 'public health... emergency' and, thereby, activates that provision which allows the state to suspend the right to travel - Art 12(2).

Therefore, this policy, in and of it self, doesn't constitute a human rights violation.

"and examples here of UK Citizens not being able to return to the UK are terrifying and illegal"

I agree with everything in that excerpt EXCEPT the last word. It's not illegal (either according to Australian law or international human rights law). If you scrutinise the wording of Art 12(2) and (3), it doesn't draw the distinction between citizens and non-citizens in any meaningful sense.

However, I agree that stopping Australian permanent residents from going to their home country is outrageous and almost impossible to justify.

Of course, as far as civil rights go, preventing Aussies from leaving is NOTHING compared to the flagrant and frightening prosecution that may or may not be happening right now, behind, closed courtrooms in Canberra. In Australia, we definitely need a Bill of Rights which enshrines the principles of the UDHR/ICCPR constitutionally.

05 Jun 2020

Total posts 32

@sq or qf - all good points. Clearly a topic you're clearly quite familiar with.

The government won't do something outright illegal, one would hope, but it feels like they might obfuscate the situation enough to have the same effect.

Out of all the research I've done around this (probably hundreds of hours these last few months) the only thing I can be completely sure of is this... I no longer have any trust in the government.

13 Aug 2015

Total posts 43

@sq or qf

Valid points, I'm not a lawyer, and the use of the term “illegal” was probably extreme. However, it's VERY scary behaviour, unnecessary, and nothing will convince me that the Australian Gov is acting in the spirit of the UN Human Rights charters.

If Australia was still in a state of emergency, you'd be in lockdown. Restaurants closed and gatherings still banned. This isn't the case, so I don't think they can say the pandemic is extreme enough to withdraw the right to return to one's country of citizenship.

Nazi Australia exercising it's fourth reich powers. People should absolutely not be prevented from leaving at their own risk.

Nr1
Nr1

03 Jul 2020

Total posts 4

HI any help would be appreciated. My son is an F1 visa holder in usa for past 12 months. Attends college where he is recruited to play football. His studies are not online starting 1 Aug. We assume he is an ordinarily resident. Has bills and accommodation in usa along with employme we have i20,visa,letter from school transcripts with address. Would you recommend applying for exemption. We have purchased 1 way ticket on July 15. I am very stressed as what to do. He is flying from bne to Syd and customs in Sydney would Sydney be his port of departure?

If he's ordinarily resident in the USA (as in has spend more than 50% of the year outside of Australia) then he doesn't need an exemption.

Nr1
Nr1

03 Jul 2020

Total posts 4

He has spent 220 days in past 12 months in usa just don't want him to get to Sydney then sent back

My wife is pregnant and is Thai. It is our first child. Due in September. I received the wonderful news that Thailand will allow me entry. After organising health insurance, quarantine in Thailand and a Covid test, the last piece of the puzzle is an exemption from the Australian Government.

One of the most major events of my life now rests in the hands of someone who receives my application approving it. The waiting without knowing is starting to peak anxiety.

I don't know how much more I can take.

04 Jul 2020

Total posts 1

I fully agree with the comments I have just read on here. I am shocked at the lack of communication on this matter from the government, and the lack of communication to people who are trying to do the right thing and file for an exemption on their process. It's all made so much worse by the fact that tax resources are being used to allow international students in, where tax paying residents, citizens with family overseas, dual citizenship, businesses overseas, etc., are left in the dark and emotional distress not knowing when they can leave the country. It's a double standard and has made me lose all trust in this government. I support the measures taken to keep people safe from covid-19, but do feel more could be done to avoid such a drastic measure such as putting in place a complete travel ban. Other countries have started opening their borders to tourists even at this stage, and have special measures in place at the borders to mitigate any risk. I am starting to feel the Australian government is taking advantage of the fact that the people in this situation are not a majority, and are lacking compassion to those people affected by this.

There is a lack of compassion here. It's the nature of the Australian government.

30 Jun 2020

Total posts 12

It also scares me that you can apply with a valid reason and proof of leaving and not returning, yet they do not even reply or give you any kind of answer (even after travel date). Its one thing to take away the right to leave and then its another to not even reply to those following the instructions carefully and gathering documents only to never hear back. This is just disgusting and definitely against human rights.

21 Dec 2012

Total posts 31

this nonsense is completely backwards, the travel restriction should be on whether a country will accept you _in_, not whether you can leave. We already have established processes for travellers requiring entry visas, this just added more ways for the system to fall over.

03 Feb 2018

Total posts 70

@quick_dry

"this nonsense is completely backwards, the travel restriction should be on whether a country will accept you _in_, not whether you can leave. We already have established processes for travellers requiring entry visas, this just added more ways for the system to fall over."

Other way round, in international law.

The ICCPR allows for the restriction of the right to leave one's own country. But it doesn't allow for the restriction of the right to enter one's own country.

I would imagine that has, in part, informed the Federal Government's policy.

04 Jul 2020

Total posts 1

Does anyone have any knowledge/experience on returning with or without an exemption to the UK if the person is on a tier 5 (working holiday) visa?

I came back to Australia at the end of march and would like to go back there. I have a job, place to live, bills paid etc. to prove i was there and had been there since April 2019. Ive tried the due process of getting an exemption anyway but the response has been very poor to say the least. But considering i've only been back in australia for 3 months, in the last 12 months ive been a resident there for longer than i've been back so it sounds like i dont need an exemption after all right?

Any help/guidance will be much appreciated! Thanks

04 Jul 2020

Total posts 2

I was so disappointed when I was not allowed to leave Australia to Malaysia today. The officers just held me back for around 45 minutes as they continue to check my past travel dates. It's so ridiculous to begin with to go through the process of applying for exemptions letter of approval. Being an Australian PR & Malaysian citizen, I felt it was not necessary for Australian government to introduce the Australian travel ban exemptions. We are leaving the country where 14 days quarantine at home is applied in Malaysia & when return to Australia another further 14 days quarantine. So why is it so complicated? How long will this travel ban continues?

PLC
PLC

05 Jul 2020

Total posts 2

Hi Chris, thanks for writing about the unacceptable travel restrictions the australian government has imposed on their citizens, those who hold dual citizenship, and permanent residents as well.

It may not be much, but at least it keeps people informed and the debate alive.

You say that roughly 25% of applications to leave the country have been rejected so far. I keep reading about people who don't even get an answer from the department. Are those accounted for in that 25% as far as you know?

Thanks

Pier

06 Jul 2020

Total posts 1

Can anyone translate this piece of info below which just appeared on the home Affairs website. If I have been in Australia for the past 10 months and the 14 months prior to that in Austria do I qualify? It's bureaucratise when I am seeking clear and plain English. "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."

06 Jul 2020

Total posts 4

Hi! Trying to figure out what to do in my situation. I am a US citizen in Australia on a Temporary Partnership Visa. We have a 2 year old child together who is a dual citizen. My mother has experienced a physical injury that has made her "permanently" disabled and needs help with day to day tasks. So I am needing to go back to the US to assist my mother. I do not need an exemption to leave, but my 2 year old does. I applied two weeks ago for a July 9th departure and have heard absolutely nothing. Besides the fact that I'm her mother, her father (my partner) is originally from Slovakia, so we have literally no other family in Australia who could care for my 2 year old while I would be away. And my partner works long hours and 6 days a week, so wouldn't be able to care for her properly either. Has anyone had a similar issue?? My feeling is that it would obviously be granted because a child should be with her mother but I'm feeling very worried. Any thoughts, advice would be appreciated! Thx!

07 May 2020

Total posts 71

katcasta....If you do not need to apply for an exit visa then you should go ahead and book your ticket and your daughters ticket. You are legally her guardian and the ABF would have great difficulty in denying both of you exit when you arrive at the airport. They would have no legal grounds to separate a minor from its legal guardian. The ABF are completely disorganised in managing this draconian government regulation and I am sure that they would not want to invite any more bad publicity to add to their already incompetent reputation. You have as you mention already applied and if ABF cannot respond in a timely manner, I doubt they would want to face an expensive damages case which you could take against them for negligence, if you indeed had to sue them.

06 Jul 2020

Total posts 4

Thank you for your advice. It's starting to go that way. I figure if I show up with her birth certificate and a letter from her father approving us going, they would have no way to keep her from coming with me.

07 May 2020

Total posts 71

bmorrow21...I am sure you can sue for damages if you applied for an exit visa and there was no response in a reasonable time. Every person and organisation has a Duty of Care and a failure in providing that Duty of Care is tantamount to negligence. If you suffer damages as a result of negligence you have the right to sue for damages.

If you call DFAT all they will tell you is that your reference number means nothing. Then why even have it?

Asked several ABF employees at Sydney airport today for some assistance out of desperation to expectantly no avail.

If one more person tells me to 'use the website' I swear I am going to loose it.

3 days left and if I don't hear anything, I will miss the birth of my child. My wife needs me. I need my wife.

Inhumane and zero compassion.

15 Jul 2020

Total posts 5

This is so sad I hope you make it

05 May 2016

Total posts 592

Looking to appeal a travel ban exemption rejection to depart Melbourne (not one of the affected areas) but with a possible state lockdown imminent and the need to travel ASAP it's not looking good. I need to be where I need to be later this month and out of any quarantine (if there is quarantine imposed).

If the suspected four week lockdown is imposed it would be hard to see any passenger flights operating during that time.

08 May 2020

Total posts 55

Yes with the restriction in place in Victoria now and the increased scare of 2nd outbreak throughout Australia it is almost certain 2020 will become a Non International Travel country with possible exception to NZ. I understand that this is a real hard one to take. It was easier to stop smoking from one day to the next, than stop travel from one day to the next for the last few months. usually i have some 60-80 flights per year and it continued until February and since then just one domestic on in June. It is a very testing time and the not knowing when it will somewhat open up is the hard yard to take.

19 May 2020

Total posts 3

Can anyone shed some light...?

I've applied for a 2nd exemption to travel outside of Aus due to 1st application not having enough “supporting documents”. I've asked to travel on the 14th of this month and that's only 3 days away. I've heard 2 types of stories... one of them is that you sometimes won't hear anything back before your departure date OR u may hear back just before your departure date possibly 72-48 hrs before. My 1st application I had an almost immediate response with a reply within 5 days. I'm so so worried that I won't hear back or get the exemption. I've called and of course they won't give u any information, as they don't know anything. My exemption is to travel under compassionate and humanitarian grounds. It's to travel to my husband and to have surgery. It's not life threatening surgery but it needs to be done within the next few months. Does anyone have any advice? Is there anything at all that I can do?

Thanks in advance

11 Jul 2020

Total posts 1

My wife and 3 kids are stuck in NZ having waited 3 weeks for an exemption 2 weeks have been supposedly priority due to her living arrangement. We applied on the 18th June for a 25th June travel date... I haven't seen them since March and I'm feeling pretty angry with how long it's taking. When she calls all they tell her is someone is working on it. The same answer for 3 weeks. Pretty disappointing.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Jul 2020

Total posts 2

My fiancé is in the Netherlands, as well as a family member with lung cancer and one with dementia. I have applied for an exemption to travel in September. I am an Australian citizen, with a dual Dutch passport . It will be interesting to see if I get an exemption, but the anxiety about this whole process is something no one needs ! I understand paying for our own quarantine, I want the government to give us that choice .

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Jul 2020

Total posts 2

A choice to leave the country

15 Jul 2020

Total posts 5

Not sure if it will be effective but there is an online petition here:

https://www.change.org/p/department-of-home-affairs-reunite-loved-ones-in-a-covid-safe-way

29 May 2020

Total posts 4

I'd have signed that if not for the first suck-up line "We are deeply grateful for the border closures which are keeping us safe, but..."

15 Jul 2020

Total posts 5

Ikr but I don't see any other petitions so I signed it. I just want the government to be aware how many people are being affected by this closure.

15 Jul 2020

Total posts 1

Hi,

*Help - does anyone know?*

Has anyone been given an exemption to travel out of Australia and booked their flight to a different destination other than what they had written on their exemption form. E.g. I 'Ordinarily Reside' in the US (New York) as an Aussie Citizen, however If my circumstances change I am looking at wanting to fly directly into Europe. Or is it a wise move to just fly direct into my original destination in the US and from there, fly into Europe?...

FJM
FJM

20 Jul 2020

Total posts 1

Can any shed light on my situation?

My partner works half of the year in the UK in television and I go fly back and forth for the time he is over working. He has just left to re-start the project and doing long-distance is hard enough at the best of times without this travel ban.

Has anyone been in a similar plight and kickstarted/had success with their application for exemption? Any tips on documents that would be needed to prove a relationship (photos, stat decs from friends etc?) I am hoping that compassion would be shown in order to see each other at some point in the coming months and with every expectation to pay the mandatory hotel quarantine sta on return to Australia.

29 Jul 2020

Total posts 2

Hi FJM

Would be great to know about this one also, as i have a similar situation.

Let me know if your hear anything

12 Feb 2013

Total posts 42

Updated advice has been published on 29 July on the home affairs website.

If you have not spent more time outside Australia than inside for the last 12 to 24 months, but still consider yourself to be ordinarily resident in another country, you can submit a request for a travel exemption.

Your request will need to include evidence, for example:

documents showing you have an established and settled home in another country

the location of your immediate family members

an employment contract for work outside of Australia

school enrolment for dependent children

evidence of ongoing business/property interests

evidence that you are a dual national or hold a valid visa for another country

evidence which shows that your absence from another country is temporary and you intend to return there.

12 Feb 2013

Total posts 42

There is also an online portal at https://travel-exemptions.homeaffairs.gov.au/tep where you can sign up for an account and track submitted requests

05 Jun 2020

Total posts 32

There is another petition

Search change.org for “Citizens should be allowed to leave Australia without requiring permission.”

15 Jul 2020

Total posts 5

Signed that too but they should merge everyone wants the same outcome regardless of the text

01 Aug 2020

Total posts 3

Hello! This is for those who got the exemption:

I have gotten mine on the basis of ordinarily resident, when I arrive at the airport do I just print out that email they sent? and will they ask for further evidence or will the exemption be enough to get on the plane ?

Thank you all❣️

01 Aug 2020

Total posts 2

Hi Mikeynator, I just went through now and I didn't have to provide any more information.

Here is my story - It's worth nothing that i have a strong case where my immediate family is in Japan (wife and kids); i traveled monthly for the past 3 years to see them (as i've been based out of Aus) and I am a Japanese PR which a house in Tokyo.

I applied on 18th July and it got approved on 28th July.. however i was never notified by email. I just happened to log in on Thursday and saw the result as "Closed - Exempt". I then called them yesterday and they confirmed it's approved and kicked off a process to resend the mail but still nothing. So i took a chance and booked a flight for tonight out of Sydney (note, getting to Sydney from Melbourne also had hurdles.. can share if anyone is interested). I came to the international airport early and went to the Border Force counter (Counter A) and they confirmed it was all good. When i checked in the ANA check in clerk calls a special number where they "unlock" your passport or something. When i went through immigration, the lady asked to see the printout but them her supervisor told her it's not needed... so i'm now through airside and waiting for my flight.

01 Aug 2020

Total posts 3

Hey ! thank you for your reply! im Glad you can be with your family!!

this is great to hear, can you clarify with you what you mean by "Closed - Exempt", like where did it say that and where did you log in?

I have got my exemption in my email... so and was just wondering if there is some sort of portal i'm missing out on :) haha

01 Aug 2020

Total posts 3

Maybe you mean the online portal for applying and tracking the progress, I applied in June before the website had that section, I got my exemption in my email.

01 Aug 2020

Total posts 2

Yes, I was referring to the online portal - which honestly is pretty basic and doesn't allow you to do much once you have submitted an application. It showed that the result was "Closed - Exempt" as i mentioned, which means approved to travel. Given the email never came (and I still don't have), I took a screenshot with me.. but in the end I didn't really need it.

In Japan now.. was a long trip which ended with a Corona Virus check at Haneda airport and they don't let you leave until confirmed negative (plus I now need to self isolate for 14 days).

04 Aug 2020

Total posts 1

They rejected my travel request.

So I had my wife's visa Grant letter and they've authorised her to travel to Australia. She has never traveled by her self, never been on a plane and she dose not speak English. I requested to travel to our home country to bring my wife here in Australia but my travel exemption was refused. What am I supposed to do, after waiting 22 months for my wife's visa now I have to wait for this to get back to normal.

Ila
Ila

17 Jul 2020

Total posts 1

Hi All,

The way the government is handling this issue is nonsense. Australia is the only liberal democracy that has imposed such strict limitation of free movement of its citizens infringing a basic human right affecting the larger population who has family and loved ones overseas.

12 Feb 2013

Total posts 42

Applied through the online portal today in the morning and got approval in the afternoon (email notification). For departure in 3 months time under the category of urgent and unavoidable business and also as an ordinarily resident in another country but not spending more than 12-24 months outside of Australia (i.e. spent more time in Australia than the other country).

Attached PDF copy/documents (to prove overseas established and settled home) such as latest bank account statement, rates notice, electricity and water bill, passport, driver licence, vehicle registration certificate and evidence of ongoing business/property interests.

08 May 2020

Total posts 55

just rebooking my flight to Phuket with SIA for end of April 2021 which was originally booked for this week. looking at upgrading from Premium Economy to Bus. light is only a few hundred Dollars extra so it is no question why Not.

I am sure as when things open up Fares will increase considerably so I am taking the Punt now.

AQ
AQ

14 Aug 2020

Total posts 1

Hey all, 

I have been reading the comments and it has given me hope in travelling overseas, I want to move overseas to live with my fiance but can't seem to figure out how to get started.  I wanted to know what sort of documents I should attach to prove my relationship? 

18 Aug 2020

Total posts 1

Hi everyone, I received an authorization to travel outside Australia and my intended day of flight was July 28th. However I got difilcuties with cancelled flights. Does anyone of you know for how long this authorization is valid? Because I would try to travel immediately after some of the current restrictions will ease. Thank you for your answer!

The original travel ban post on this website and comment section have been extremely helpful for so many people - just thought I'd repost here in case anyone had missed it: https://www.executivetraveller.com/news/australian-international-coronavirus-travel-ban-exemptions

https://www.executivetraveller.com/news/australian-international-coronavirus-travel-ban-exemptions

NL
NL

27 Aug 2020

Total posts 1

Hi All,  

Sorry to hear about some devistating cases. 

I need your advise please.

My husband is PR in both Australia and Bosnia, he is not a citizen of AUS and holds a Bosnian passport. We both travel to Bosnia every year to see the in laws and to enjoy our country, the most time we have spent there was 3 months last year. My husband has been here in Melbourne for 5 years first on partnered visa and now permanent resident. We have 2 kids born in Melbourne. We desperately want to move back to Bosnia permanently and that was in the future plans but since Covid-19 we want to move asap. (Permanently.) We consider ourselves as ordinarily residents of another country other than Australia but will the border force recognise us as one. We want to chance it and book flights, go to the airport without an exemption application on our own risk as they say for everything. We both hold Bosnian ID cards and have been married in Bosnia. We were both born in Bosnia and have all the rights according to Bosnia embassy. 

Does anyone have experience in this situation or can advise what action to take to be able to have the best chance to leave permanently. 

We're all in Melbourne together and want to move together permanently. 

Thank you in advance any advise would help. 

10 Aug 2020

Total posts 17

We are being held against our will.. the government has the hide to bang on about other countries and basic human rights... give me a break.. and what a hide to be thinking of bringing international students here to our prison.. will they be able to leave after they pay for and served there sentence here in uni.? 

29 May 2020

Total posts 4

For some of us who've been separated from our loved ones for beyond 6 months already, the hope of getting them here on a student visa as soon as they're reinstated is all we've got at the moment.

10 Aug 2020

Total posts 17

Good luck with that auslander. Yes there's thousands of us who have loved ones overseas and dearly miss including myself..but it seems unless you are a movie or sports star you have little chance of basic freedom.. the only student visas the will give is to high paying uni students or friends and family of government officials will probably be right.. common people have no right..

Or an ex-PM. I see Tony Abbot was allowed to leave prison island to go to the UK, yet actual citizens of the UK can’t go there.

23 Jun 2020

Total posts 2

Hi, 

We appreciate everyone’s struggles to get an exemption to leave Australia. Tough times. We eventually received an exemption and now would appreciate any info people may have on what to expect when returning to Australia. We are due to return at the end of October  

Does anyone have any info on which hotels are currently being used, how to check the allocated room is covid safe, other recommendations etc? 

Any info would be really appreciated. Big thanks. 

09 Mar 2015

Total posts 32

Hi Claire, there are some good Facebook Groups for Australians in hotel quarantine which could be very helpful for you, try https://www.facebook.com/groups/2473645179568689/ and https://www.facebook.com/groups/Australiansinquarantinefacilities/

16 Oct 2020

Total posts 3

Hello

So do you need a exemption to travel to Australia or just to get out? Every thing I read contradicts it self so a straight yes or no would be good if anyone can help also if you do how do you get supporting documents when they have dementia?

Thanks if anyone can help

29 May 2020

Total posts 4

Yes you need a travel exemption whether you are going in or out of Australia.

16 Oct 2020

Total posts 3

 Auslander

So can you help me as to get a exemption we will need documents but how can we get the information when your family member has dementia maybe you could help me get a exempt 

16 Oct 2020

Total posts 3

@auslander also i would like you to read an email I received before I apply if you could

29 May 2020

Total posts 4

Sorry what do you mean, Sandra - you are outside Australia and want an exemption to get here? Your family member in Australia is the one who has dementia? There is a facebook group called "Partners Apart" which is about Australian travel exemptions for partners, but could be of some help for family reunions as in your case. There is an exemption application template made by migration agent Miki Lim, that might help you in putting your application together.

I'm no expert but if your Australian relative has dementia then probably you'd be looking for supporting documentation from their carer or care facility?


Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Australian travel ban exemptions: easy for some, hard for too many