Australian citizens and permanent residents who normally live overseas will no longer be exempt from the Australian government’s outbound travel ban from 11 August 2021.
As Travel Daily has reported, federal Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt has made an amendment to the legislative instrument that was implemented in March 2020 to Australians from leaving the country without an exemption. This instrument is called the “Biosecurity (Human Biosecurity Emergency) (Human Coronavirus with Pandemic Potential) (Overseas Travel Ban Emergency Requirements) Determination 2020”.
Until now, Australians who had spent more time outside than within Australia in the past 12-24 months, and/or could provide evidence that they normally reside overseas, were automatically exempt from the outbound travel ban. But under the amendment, being “ordinarily resident in a country other than Australia” will no longer qualify for an automatic exemption to leave Australia.
From 11 August, this means Australian citizens and permanent residents who normally live overseas will be banned from leaving Australia without applying for a travel restriction exemption under one of the other existing criteria. These criteria are:
- Part of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including the provision of aid
- Essential for your business/employer
- Receiving urgent medical treatment that is not available in Australia
- Compassionate or humanitarian grounds
- Travel is in the national interest
- You are travelling outside Australia for a compelling reason for 3 months or longer
Australians can still apply for an exemption on the basis of leaving the country for at least 3 months for a compelling reason. Australians who normally live overseas and are planning to return home for at least 3 months should still be eligible to leave the country on those grounds.
But the exemption for overseas residents will no longer be automatic. This means that overseas residents who happen to be Australian citizens or permanent residents will now need to apply for an exemption on the Department of Home Affairs website between 2 weeks and 2 months prior to travel, and provide evidence that they meet the criteria. If the exemption request is under the category of “travelling outside Australia for a compelling reason for 3 months or longer”, a Commonwealth Statutory Declaration is also required.
The change is intended to make it harder for Australians who normally live overseas to regularly travel to Australia during the pandemic for short visits. Under the current rules, Australian citizens and permanent residents do not require an exemption to enter Australia (albeit with 14 days of self-funded hotel quarantine on arrival). Australians who normally live overseas could then freely leave the country any time after arriving back.
The change is also intended to help prioritise the return of Australians who have already been stranded overseas for a long time.
The determination from the Minister for Health and Aged Care, dated 1 August 2021, notes:
This instrument amends the Biosecurity (Human Biosecurity Emergency) (Human Coronavirus with Pandemic Potential) (Overseas Travel Ban Emergency Requirements) Determination 2020 to remove the automatic exemption for a person who ordinarily resides in another country and replace it with a discretionary exemption. It also makes a consequential amendment to the Biosecurity (Entry Requirements—Human Coronavirus with Pandemic Potential) Determination 2020.
Automatic exemptions to leave Australia will still be available for:
- crew/staff members of aircraft or vessels
- people engaged in the day-to-day conduct of international freight
- people whose travel is associated with essential work at an offshore facility
- people travelling on official government business (including defence personnel)
- people travelling to New Zealand who have only been in Australia and/or New Zealand in the previous 14 days, and either intend to only travel to New Zealand before returning to Australia, or do not intend to return to Australia
The Australian government’s outbound travel ban does not apply to people who are not Australian citizens or permanent residents, who therefore do not require an exemption to leave Australia.
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