How To Get A Travel Exemption To Leave Lockdown Australia

  • Donovan Nagel
    Written byDonovan Nagel
  • Read time4 mins
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How To Get A Travel Exemption To Leave Lockdown Australia

Hi all. 😊

Around this exact time last year, I wrote and made a video about learning a language despite uncertainty.

This was just a few months after the world started going mad with lockdowns.

So many travel plans - including our own at the time - were ruined as flights everywhere came to a halt, and my own country (Australia) began preventing its own citizens from leaving.

The thought that I raised in my video back in July 2020 was that we may be witnessing the end of global travel as we know it.

I pondered if we were an extremely lucky generation who had the short-lived privilege of jumping on a plane at a moment’s notice and going almost anywhere we wanted, and that window of opportunity was slammed shut for future generations.

I hate to say it, but I feel like I may have been completely right in my assessment.

Australia’s insane international travel shutdown and travel exemption challenges

This is the longest I’ve lived in one place since I was 18 (I recently turned 37).

I’ve spent my entire adult life moving around the globe, learning new languages and loving life as a free human being.

I (patriot that I am) never would have imagined that my own country, Australia, would impose one of the harshest outbound travel shutdowns in the world - right up there with the DPRK.

Australian citizens and PR’s cannot leave Australia.

We cannot have visitors, even if they are close family.

On top that, Australian citizens and PR’s living abroad are finding it almost impossible to come back to Australia (if they get the exemption, they need tens of thousands of dollars for flights and have to pray that those flights don’t get cancelled last minute).

They’ve recently capped flights to severely limit incoming passengers each week.

Some airlines have even given up on Australia as it’s no longer financially worthwhile for them to bother.

I’m inclined to believe there’s something bigger going on here than just looking after people’s health.

Our country, which until 2020 was the envy of the world for quality of life, is now a prison colony again that people are desperately trying to leave.

Add to that the recurring, last-minute lockdowns over single digit cases of sniffles imposed by incompetent premiers, and the fact that the exploding property market is unattainable for most people now, and you now have a society that has drained every last bit of morale out of its population.

I don’t even understand how our economy is still standing.

I’ve actually gone through what can only be described as a grieving process for the way my travel/immersion lifestyle was forcibly terminated, and the realization that it may, in fact, be over.

How to obtain an Australian international travel exemption

We’re currently weighing up our options as a family.

Right now, in order to get exemption to leave Australia, you need either:

  1. Extremely compassionate grounds (e.g. an immediate family member with something like terminal cancer and very little time left), or
  2. Ability to prove that you’re leaving the country for longer than 3 months with a visa for your destination country, place to live, ability to earn a living and savings.

The second option (according to the enormous Australian Travel & Exemption Support group) seems to be the one most people are having success with.

For this, you need a Statutory Declaration, witnessed by a JP, outlining in detail (but straight to the point) your situation.

The Stat Dec needs to say emphatically that you will not request the Australian government to bail you out or fund you if you get stuck overseas.

From what I’ve heard, your success will depend on the mood of the person reading your application (many people have submitted the same application repeatedly and rejected each time, and only had success after a different Border Force employee read it).

A good friend of mine just got exemption to leave Australia permanently and move to Greece as a digital nomad (after 3 failed attempts).

I’m now looking at that same option. 😊

What has me particularly concerned is that the 💉 may end up being required to go anywhere or board a plane before long, and that’s a bridge too far for me.

Adjusted language learning goals for the remainder of 2021

Because we’re seriously looking into a move to Greece (the Greek islands to be specific), I’ve turned my attention back to Greek for the remainder of the year.

Lately, I’ve been stuck into the Apostolic Fathers (reading Clement right now) and the Septuagint (LXX).

This has been keeping me sane during so much uncertainty and chaos.

I’ve also been on a bit of a spiritual journey potentially leaving Protestantism for Eastern Orthodoxy (yes, you read that right! - a long story that I’ve shared elsewhere). Still enquiring at this stage.

It’s my goal now to improve my Modern Greek conversational fluency out of practical necessity.

If we manage to get exemption and successfully migrate then I want to be able to live comfortably in the local language from day one (I want to be able to visit Athos and converse with the monks there).

I’ve have had very little opportunity to engage with other communities and practice foreign languages where we currenty live, and this has been a major setback for me.

I miss it more than anything right now.

Thankfully there is a sizeable Greek Orthodox community in South East Queensland though who I’ll start reaching out to when our government lets us off the leash again ⛓️.

So we’ll likely apply for travel exemption in the coming weeks and head to Greece via the US (but a lot will depend on the 💉 libelli in Europe).

Quick personal update - the Nagel family is growing again!

This past year was certainly rough for us.

We lost two pregnancies/children (I could put it down to stress but who knows).

To say it was emotionally difficult would be an understatement, especially with my wife being unable to see her family in America.

But we’re grateful to God that we’re expecting our next child (gender unknown) in 3 weeks time.

So we’re super excited about that!

This brings our tribe up to five. 😊

Where do you think this is all headed?

Does optimism for global (unrestricted) travel still exist?

I’d love to hear from people in different parts of the world on what your experience has been like and whether or not some (unrestricted) travel opportunities have opened up already. I’m sure it’s better than the disaster Australia is now going through.

I do envy my continental European friends who have land borders to visit other places (not surrounded by a moat like we are!).

Have you managed to keep motivation levels high during the past year and half?

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Donovan Nagel
Donovan Nagel - B. Th, MA AppLing
I'm an Applied Linguistics graduate, teacher and translator with a passion for language learning (especially Arabic).
Currently learning: Greek


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Euro Matt

Euro Matt

European expat in Japan here.

Australian citizens and PR’s cannot leave Australia.
We i.e. all non citizens, PR or not, were barred from returning to the country between April and September 2020, and while the following still applies, at least we’re able to go back home in case of a family emergency
We cannot have visitors, even if they are close family.

llockdowns over single digit cases of sniffles
I hope you phrasing it this way was just a bad attempt at joking...
FWIW people don’t die from a common cold. I unfortunately happen to have knowned personally two fatal victims of COVID, which made me really allergic to any kind of suggestions similar to the one above...

Last but not least, I too am a pessimist as far as long term perspectives are concerned, in fact I’ve been thinking of emigrating to either AU or NZ but the I’m not exactly Mark Zuckerberg and the property prices really turn me off, even though they are said to be one of the best places to be in in case of a potential collapse of civilization as per this article

On the other hand, because of the climate getting hotter, implying water, food and migration problems in the upcoming decades, personally I’d steer clear of continental Europe and Southern Europe especially, but YMMV I guess - good luck in the country of Socrates

Donovan Nagel

Donovan Nagel

Yeah I'm not sure I agree that AU and NZ are the best places to be anymore if/when civilization collapses.

We're quite isolated, and when conflict with China erupts in the near future, we're in serious trouble positioned where we are.

KNB 186

KNB 186

Once 80% of the eligible population gets fully vaccinated you might be allowed to leave Australia without requesting an exemtion.

Donovan Nagel

Donovan Nagel

80% will never happen. I'd be surprised if they reach 60%.

"The limits of my language mean the limits of my world."
- Ludwig Wittgenstein
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