Over the past month, we have seen an increase in queries about the rules relating to leaving Australia by people who are ordinarily resident overseas.

Previously, if you were ordinarily resident’ of another country (other than Australia) you were not required to obtain travel exemption to leave Australia.

However, on 1 August 2021, the Minister for Health and Aged Care amended the Biosecurity Determination 2020. This meant that, from 11 August 2021, Australian citizens and permanent residents who are ordinarily resident in a country other than Australia, will not be automatically exempt from Australia’s outward travel restrictions. I.e., Those people who wish to return home to another country, are required to apply for a travel exemption through the Travel Exemption Portal, on the Department of Immigration’s website, via the ‘ordinary resident’ category.

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 (noting that travel exemptions only last for 3 months). 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.

If you are outside Australia and want to travel to Australia then return to your country of residence, you can apply for an outbound exemption before you arrive in Australia.

Applicants must provide supporting evidence that they ordinarily live in another country, which may include (but is not limited to):

  • foreign government issued documentation, for example;
  • foreign drivers licence;
  • foreign government issued residency card;
  • evidence you have an established and settled home overseas, for example;
  • tenancy/residential agreement; and
  • utility bills, rate notices.

Applicants should also provide evidence of overseas employment or ongoing business interests overseas, if applicable, including but not limited to a letter from your employer/employment contract in the other country or a business lease or other documents.

Please contact us if you require more information or assistance.


Katie Wren, Senior Lawyer
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Zainab Alsweedy, Solicitor
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The contents of this article are for reference purposes only. The contents do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your personal circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action based on this publication or otherwise.