Statistics from the Australian Border Force have indicated that the population is starting to take flight. Outbound travel exemption applications have increased by more than 50% between December 2020 and June 2021 with destinations like Europe, China and the Middle East, all becoming popular choices for Australians looking to escape their homeland.
How do Australia’s vaccination rates measure up?
Australia’s good fortune (and good management) at keeping COVID at bay and allowing most of us to live with relative freedom compared to the OECD has officially fallen off a cliff. Many of us are living under another lockdown and there’s been a tightening of COVID restrictions nationwide. The Australian vaccination ‘stroll out’ has us vaccinated less than any country in the OECD, with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the United Kingdom (UK) and Qatar each with over 50% of the population vaccinated, and the European Union close to 50% and at much higher rates in individual countries like France and Germany. While efforts are being made to improve vaccination rates, as of 24 July 2021, Australia has only 13% of our population fully vaccinated. For many, opportunities abroad are becoming an exciting option for exploration.
Note that while a lot of our clients are requesting Australian documents to be authenticated for use in China, there is no data available on Chinese vaccination rates.
The transition from ‘stranded abroad’ to ‘looking to leave’
During the first stage of the pandemic in 2020, we saw a general drop-off in outbound document attestation requests, and mostly found ourselves working on requests from Australians stuck abroad and unable to return home. There are still a lot of travellers stranded overseas who need documents legalised to extend visas and work permits (see our accompanying articles ‘How-to guide: Six steps to legalising your Australian documents when you’re working overseas‘ and ‘Has COVID-19 separated your family? Legalise your documents before you reunite‘).
However, in 2021, we’ve been receiving increasing requests at Authentifier for document legalisation from people moving from Australia to destinations overseas. And the people coming through are from all walks of life: students returning to their home countries, Aussie degrees in hand; professionals taking overseas postings; and separated families fed up waiting for Australian borders to open.
With only 43% of total travel exemption applications being approved, people are starting to look for help. There are now 1200 members and growing on a Travel Exemptions Australia Help Group on Facebook that launched only 6 weeks ago, with more people joining daily to find info on how to get an exemption application approved. Approvals are higher than the total average for the UK (68% approved), China (59% approved), and the USA (56% approved).
Key tips to getting your travel exemption application approved
According to members of the Travel Exemptions Australia Help Group, the key tips from successful applicants are:
- Apply for a minimum 3-month exemption. Data from the Department of Home Affairs show that travel exemptions for over 3 months are more likely to be granted. That’s why more people are looking to make an official move to the other side of the world to see out the pandemic in locations with higher vaccination rates and corresponding decreased requirements for stringent restrictions. Short term travel is still very limited, regardless of your reason to get away.
- Ensure you have a statutory declaration (stat dec for short) prepared and witnessed to accompany your application. It’s easy to get your supporting stat dec verified, with a range of occupations on the list of people who can witness your declaration.
- Make sure you have a compelling reason to travel and relevant supporting documentation to support your claim.
Are you thinking of moving overseas?
If your mind is turning to other shores, you’re clearly not alone. Travel exemption applications are going up, while lockdowns — particularly in Greater Sydney — are stretching out indefinitely. Many graduating students, workers and dual citizens are making the move to countries with high vaccination rates and a gradual opening up of post-pandemic life. Here’s a link to the Department of Home Affairs overseas travel information page, and also check out the Travel Exemptions Australia Help Group for support. Good luck with your application, and get in touch with us here at Authentifier if you need any assistance getting your documentation legalised.