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COVID-19 – International Travel Restrictions

7 minutes read time Categories: Regulatory & Migration

International Travel to Australia - update for Doctors during COVID-19

Travel Updates-WavelengthMedicalRecruitment

Thank you to all dedicated doctors for your continued commitment to supporting Australia’s communities with quality healthcare services during this challenging time.

The current advice relating to travelling to and from Australia is complex and ever-changing, and our in-house Regulatory and Migration team are working with the Australian Immigration department to provide you with the most up-to-date information. The below advice is accurate at the date of publication.

Temporary Residents – Inbound Travel to Australia

The prime minister has announced that as of 20 March 2020, only Australian citizens/permanent residents and New Zealand citizens usually residing in Australia can travel to Australia.

Some exemptions are in place. These include:

  • Immediate family members of an Australian citizen or permanent resident (being spouses, dependent children and legal guardians);

  • Travellers who have a compelling or compassionate reason to travel to Australia urgently;

  • Foreign nationals travelling at the invitation of the Australian Commonwealth Government for the purpose of assisting in the COVID-19 response or whose entry would be in the national interest;

  • Critical medical services, including air ambulance and delivery of supplies, that regularly arrive into Australia from international ports;

  • Persons with critical skills (for example, medical specialists, engineers, marine pilots and crews) by exception;

  • Diplomats accredited to Australia and currently resident in Australia and their immediate family;

  • ​Case-by-case exceptions may also be granted for humanitarian or compassionate reasons.

Exemptions must be made using this online form. Exemptions are assessed on a case-by-case basis and must be granted prior to undertaking travel to Australia.

The request for an exemption through Commissioner’s Discretion must be accompanied by:

  • Passenger details: name, DOB, visa type and number, passport number, Australian residential address, Australian telephone number)

  • Case information: why this case should be considered for Commissioner discretion/exemption

  • Supporting statement: the request should be accompanied by a statement and evidence of how the individual meets one of the grounds for an exemption or excise of the Commissioner’s discretion listed above

  • Evidence that you meet one of the exemptions above before travelling.


Travellers from China, Iran, the Republic of Korea or Italy

If you have been in China, Iran, the Republic of Korea or Italy in the last 14 days, you will not be considered for an exemption or allowed to travel to Australia.

Self-Isolation Requirement

Effective from Saturday 28 March 2020, all travellers arriving in Australia are required to undertake their mandatory 14-day quarantine at designated facilities (for example, a hotel), in their port of arrival. Travellers will be transported directly to designated facilities after appropriate immigration, customs and enhanced health checks.

This requirement applies to anyone, including Australian citizens/permanent residents and temporary residents exempt from the travel ban.


Australian Citizens and Permanent Residents – Outbound Travel from Australia

As of 25/03/2020, it is a criminal offence for Australian citizens and permanent residents to travel offshore unless an exemption is sought prior to travel. This does not apply to temporary residents e.g. 482 visa holders.

Exemptions may be sought in the following circumstances:

  • a person ordinarily resident in a country other than Australia;

  • a person who is member of the crew of an aircraft or vessel (other than an outgoing aircraft vessel) or if a worker associated with the safety or maintenance of the aircraft or vessel;

  • a person engaged in the day to day conduct of inbound and outbound freight;

  • a person whose travel is associated with essential work at an offshore facility;

  • a person who is travelling on official government business (including a member of the Australian Defence Force);

  • An Australian citizen, permanent resident, an operator of an outgoing passenger aircraft or vessel to whom exceptional circumstances and a compelling reason for needing to leave Australian territory apply.


Interstate Travel within Australia

Some states have declared they will close their borders although exemptions generally apply for essential services and workers.

In some states, a 14-days self-isolation requirement also applies for interstate travellers. These apply to Australian citizens, temporary and permanent residents alike. Please seek confirmation on applicable travel restrictions, exemption processes and self-isolation requirements before travelling interstate. We recommend carrying your AHPRA card as you travel.

We are posting updates about Interstate travel within Australia here.



I’m a 482 visa holder currently outside Australia. I was scheduled to start work as a doctor soon. Can I travel to Australia for the purpose of work?

You would need to apply for an exemption and provide evidence that your employer requires you to start work, if applicable, for the purpose of assisting in the COVID-19 response. You must not travel to Australia until the exemption is approved. If you are granted an exemption, you will be required to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival in Australia.

I have applied for medical registration and I’m required to attend an AHPRA ID check by a certain date. Can I make a return trip in order to attend the AHPRA office in person?

Exemptions would not cover return trips for the purpose of completing ID checks. If you do not yet hold a visa, it is also worth noting that eVisitor visas currently cannot be applied for.

Currently, the requirement to attend the AHPRA office in person stands, however we are hoping AHPRA will facilitate video-ID checks under the current circumstances. We suggest liaising with your registration officer to find an individual solution, including seeking an extension of time if required.

My spouse is an Australian citizen, can I travel with him to Australia despite being a temporary resident myself?

You will need to seek an exemption and provide evidence of your relationship before you can travel. You will also need to have a valid visa to allow you entry into Australia. If you are granted an exemption, you will be required to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival in Australia.

How long will the travel restrictions go for?

The duration of the inbound travel ban for temporary residents is yet to be determined, however, we have been advised that it is expected to last a minimum of 3 months.

The outbound travel ban for Australians is in place for an initial period of 4 weeks. A further revision of this arrangement can occur towards the end of the period to assess whether it continues to be necessary.

Travel restrictions are subject to change. For more up to date information, please refer to the Australian Department of Home Affairs website.

Our in-house Regulatory and Migration team is also here to help. You can reach out for advice about your specific circumstances on our contact us page.

Blog Authors

Alex Graham

Alex is a Registered Migration Agent and is responsible for managing all of the visa requirements for Overseas Trained GPs to work in Australia.

After transitioning from her role as Regulatory Consultant to our Migration Agent, Alex’s seven years of experience in the regulatory and migration arena provides crucial support to the GP team.

View Alex's articles