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Australian Border Travel Restrictions & Exemptions

Australia’s borders are closed. Only Australian citizens, residents and immediate family members can travel to Australia.

Feeling trapped with the inability to travel freely internationally?

Whilst we must consider our countries’ health before all else, it is difficult when loved ones around the world are being separated due to the inability to travel freely to and from Australia.

Even once you have a travel exemption to enter Australia, you must remember that there are limited numbers of people permitted to enter the country each day and with limited flights it is becoming increasingly more difficult to find a flight without being ‘bumped off’ at the last minute.

Who can enter Australia?

Only Australian citizens, permanent residents, New Zealand citizens who are normally resident in Australia and immediate family members of Australian citizens and permanent residents can enter Australia.  An immediate family member is defined as a spouse, dependent or legal guardian.

You can enter Australia without obtaining an individual exemption if you are:

Prospective Marriage (subclass 300) visa holders cannot travel to Australia at the moment.

What is happening when I arrive in Australia?

When you arrive in Australia, you must enter mandatory hotel quarantine for 14 days at your port of arrival.

For state and territory border control information, please refer to:

Can I choose where I do my quarantine?

All hotel quarantine for returned travellers is pre-arranged. According to the information on the Australian Department of Border Protection’s website, it is not possible to advise in advance which hotel you will be staying in. This is determined on the day of your arrival.

For more information​ and to apply for an exemption, refer to Exemptions for air and maritime quarantine in Australia

I am an Australian citizen/ permanent resident, Can I leave the country?

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:

If you are Dual Citizen, you’ll still need to apply for an exemption to travel overseas if your usual place of residence is Australia.

When will the Travel Restrictions be lifted?

It is not known at this stage and it is unlikely to occur until the COVID-19 Pandemic has dramatically reduced on a global level.  It is thought that there will be a step-by-step approach to the re-opening of international borders.  Initially, there was talk that it would commence with an Australia/New Zealand travel bubble, to begin with, and then extend to our Pacific Island neighbours.

Types of Travel Exemptions to enter Australia

The Commissioner of the Australian Border Force may grant you an exemption if you are seeking to travel for compassionate and compelling reasons and are working in a sector of critical need.


Compassionate and compelling reasons include, but are not limited to, need to travel due to the death or critical illness of a close family member.


The Commissioner of the Australian Border Force may grant an individual exemption if you are a non-citizen:

An individual can submit a request for a travel exemption under this category or business can submit a request on their behalf. The applications of multiple travellers within the same group/business can be linked so that the requests are considered together.

Where to apply for an exemption to enter or leave Australia?

You can apply for your exemption on

When should I apply for the travel exemption?

According to the Australian Border Security Department’s website, all requests should be submitted at least 4 weeks, but not more than 3 months, prior to travel. If you are travelling due to death or critical illness of a close family member, you can apply inside this timeframe and they will prioritise your application.

Documents required for Travel Exemptions

The Australian Border Security Department advises everyone who wants to apply for a travel exemption should include the following documents:

Approved Entry and exit statistics

According to the latest available figures, the Department said it has approved 10,440 temporary visa holders to enter Australia and have granted 10,004 permission to depart Australia for permanent residents and Australian citizens.

Of those entering Australia, 64% held transit visas, while the greatest proportion of the balance was granted permission to enter on compassionate grounds at 16.5%. Of those granted permission to exit Australia, 54% of these exemptions were granted on compassionate grounds.

What Next?

If you feel that you meet the criteria to seek an exemption to enter Australia and are still not quite sure how to proceed, we at Migration Downunder will be happy to assist you through the process.

Like all our services, we will charge a consultancy fee to provide any advice or assistance.



Published Fri 14 August 2020. Tags: ,


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