Travelling outside Australia during COVID-19 for dual citizens

Ordinary resident outside Australia

Latest Update: The Department of Home Affairs has announced a transitional period until 7 September 2021 regarding automatic exemptions for Australians departing Australia to return to their country of ordinary residence.

Until 7 September 2021, travellers who arrive at the airport without an exemption, will be allowed to travel if their status as ordinarily resident overseas can be confirmed by an ABF officer at departure. These travellers will be advised that for future travel they will need to apply for an exemption in advance through the travel exemptions portal.


Previous Update: On 1 August 2021 the Minister for Health and Aged Care amended the Biosecurity Determination 2020. From 11 August 2021 Australian citizens and permanent residents ordinarily resident in a country outside Australia will not be automatically exempt from Australia’s outward travel restrictions. From this date, they must apply for a travel exemption through the Travel Exemption Portal.

Supporting evidence must be provided and may include:

  • 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
    • utility bills, rate notices
  • evidence you are employed or have ongoing business interests overseas
    • letter from your employer/employment contract in a foreign country
    • business tenancy agreement

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


COVID-19 has restricted overseas travel. However, in some circumstances dual nationals may be able to travel overseas.

Related: New travel exemption added for Australians leaving Australia

Who is a dual citizen?

A dual citizen is a person who is a citizen of 2 or more countries.

You become a dual citizen if you:

  • are an Australian citizen, are granted citizenship of another country and don’t lose your Australia citizenship, or
  • remain a citizen of another country and become an Australian citizen

Australia allows a person to have dual citizenship. Some countries do not.

Related: Dual Citizenship in Australia

Leaving and returning to Australia

Australians should use their Australian passport when exiting or entering Australia. This includes dual nationals.

If you’re a dual national and have a passport from another country, you may choose to travel on your other passport once outside Australia.

Entering and leaving your country of other nationality

Dual nationals may choose to enter and exit the country of their other nationality on that country’s passport.

If you enter the country of your other nationality on that country’s passport, local authorities may not recognise you as Australian. This can happen even if that country recognises dual nationality. This can limit the Australian government’s ability to provide you with consular assistance.

Some countries have restrictions on their departing nationals. This can include putting an exit permit (or exit visa) in their passport.

Travel during COVID-19

As you know Australian citizens cannot leave Australia right now due to COVID-19. However, there may be some exemptions.

Applicants can apply for an exemption online if they meet at least one of the following:

You would need to provide documents to support your claim. Depending on the circumstances, the documents you must provide differ. Some examples include death certificate/s, a letter from a doctor or a letter from an employer showing that your travel is necessary.

You can submit your request application online. The request must be submitted at least two weeks, but not more than three months prior to travel. However, if you need to travel urgently (e.g. death of a close family member), your application will be prioritised.

You are exempt from having to provide evidence of having applied for and been granted an exemption if you are:

  • ordinarily resident in a country other than Australia (please see above for the latest changes from 1 August 2021)
  • an airline, maritime crew or associated safety worker
  • a New Zealand citizen holding a Special Category (subclass 444) visa
  • engaged in the day-to-day conduct of outbound freight
  • associated with essential work at Australian offshore facilities
  • travelling on official government business, including members of the Australian Defence Force
  • You are considered ordinarily resident in a country other than Australia if international movement records show that you’ve spent more time outside Australia than inside for the last 12 to 24 months (basically look back a maximum of 2 years, you need to have spent more time outside Australia than in). You do not need to carry a paper record of your movements with you. If required, Australian Border Force officers at airports can check your movement records in Departmental systems. Here at VisaEnvoy we have obtained the ‘ordinarily resident exemption on the highlighted basis even though the person has spent more time in Australia than overseas. It appears that the exemption is automatic if you have spent more than 50% but you can still argue this (please see above for the latest changes from 1 August 2021).

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