Australia Removes Outbound Travel Ban

Australia Removes Outbound Travel Ban
Sydney, Australia. Photo by Matt Graham.

The Australian government will no longer require vaccinated Australians to request a travel restriction exemption to leave the country from 1 November 2021.

Since 25 March 2020, the Australian government had banned Australian citizens and permanent residents from leaving Australia without an exemption on specific grounds. Exemption categories included travel for compassionate reasons, urgent medical care and business travel. Later in 2020, the government also added exemptions for Australians leaving for at least 3 months for a compelling reason. But, effectively, most Australians were not allowed to leave and there were many reports of applications being arbitrarily rejected.

Australia was one of the only countries in the world to ban its own citizens from leaving throughout the pandemic, joining only a small handful of other countries including Malaysia and North Korea – although the latter already banned its citizens from leaving before the pandemic.

New rules from 1 November 2021

From 1 November, vaccinated Australians in all states & territories will be permitted to leave the country, for any reason, without an exemption.

Australian citizens, permanent residents, their immediate family members and certain visa holders with an exemption to travel to Australia will also be allowed to return to the country. The definition of immediate family members has also now been expanded to include parents. But they will still be subject to any arrival caps and quarantine requirements set by individual states & territories.

New South Wales will remove arrival caps and quarantine requirements for anyone entering the state from overseas from 1 November, provided they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with a TGA-recognised vaccine and return negative COVID-19 test results before flying and after arrival in Sydney.

Anyone who is not vaccinated (other than children under 12 or those with a legitimate medical exemption) will still need to undergo 14 days of hotel quarantine in Sydney. The NSW government will make 210 hotel quarantine places available per week for people who are not fully vaccinated with a TGA-recognised vaccine.

It is not yet clear when other states will remove inbound arrival caps and quarantine requirements, but Victoria and the ACT are likely to be next.

Leaving Australia for a working holiday

If you’re thinking of leaving Australia for an overseas working holiday, the removal of Australia’s outbound travel ban represents one less hurdle!

Some countries are still not allowing overseas arrivals and/or have suspended their working holiday visa programs. But most other countries are once again allowing visitors from overseas and are processing working holiday visa applications.

There are still some other complications, such as a lack of available travel insurance while the Australian government continues to classify all other countries (except New Zealand) as “Level 4 – Do Not Travel”. Hopefully, this will change once the Australian government updates its international travel advice and travel insurers resume offering policies that meet the visa requirements of other countries.

(Update – companies including Cover-More and Fast Cover are now providing travel insurance to Australians which include some coverage for COVID-19.)

Before travelling overseas, also be sure to check any entry requirements for your destination, as well as any international transit requirements if you’ll be changing planes in a third country. Sherpa has a handy, free tool with information about travel & entry requirements for other countries.

Coming to Australia for a working holiday

Unfortunately, the Australian federal government still hasn’t reopened the country’s border to people other than Australian citizens, permanent residents, their immediate family members and others with a specific exemption.

Australia is also not currently processing new working holiday visa applications (although there are some options for working holiday makers who were already in Australia prior to COVID-19).

Skilled migrants and international students are likely to be the first groups welcomed back to Australia when the government does reopen the border. Australia will likely welcome back other types of international visitors, including tourists and backpackers, from sometime in 2022.

Matt Graham

Matt is the founder of Working Holidays for Aussies. Passionate about travel and always looking for great deals, he believes that gap years & working holidays are the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture and gain invaluable life experience. Originally from Australia, Matt has travelled to over 80 countries and has lived in New Zealand, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands.

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