Given some domestic border restrictions, very limited flights and other health requirements, schools are required to read and follow the advice as per below.
Students travelling to their home countries during current coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions
As per normal circumstances, students can choose to return to their home countries, however, coronavirus (COVID-19) presents additional requirements and travel restrictions. Accordingly, schools are asked to work closely with all students and their parents / legal guardians as they make their travel plans.
Students may find travelling during this time different to earlier periods of pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) travel. School staff are requested to take additional time to discuss this with students and to prepare them for the experience. In order to do this, please confirm whether students have any pre-existing health (physical and mental) issues that may impact their ability to safely return home. If such conditions do exist, the host school must develop a relevant safety plan, in conjunction with the wellbeing team / medical practitioners and Department regional offices (if relevant) for the student during their travel. The student must have a copy of the safety plan with them during their travel home. In some cases, and when students have a history of suffering from a certain condition (for example, hay fever or asthma) they should visit their GP and request a letter which outlines the treatment they have been receiving for the condition. They should always carry this letter with them throughout their travel.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing
All students should have a coronavirus (COVID-19) test as close as possible to the date of departure (allowing for time to receive test results) to ensure they are safe to travel. Check with your local doctor / GP or coronavirus (COVID-19) testing centre on the turnaround times for test results. For more information, see: Seeking medical assistance, suspected and confirmed cases
Airport and other health requirements
Many airports in Australia (domestic and international) are rigorously screening passengers, conducting health and temperature checks, ensuring masks are worn and checking permits (where required). These procedures and requirements may change at short notice and are outside of the Department's control. Students must not travel if they are unwell. ISCs should advise students of this and regularly check on their health in the lead up to departure.
If students fail airport health checks, they will likely be prevented from embarking on their onward journey and be required to return home or potentially enter a quarantine facility. If this occurs, they must call their ISC immediately. See below for further information.
For more information on individual airport health requirements, see:
Home country re-entry requirements
Most countries have re-entry requirements in place. All students and ISCs must check these details with the relevant Embassy and / or Consulate well in advance before booking tickets. Some of these re-entry requirements may include the need to undertake quarantine and / or other requirements. Students returning to China, should be made aware of the need for a negative coronavirus (COVID-19) test result two days prior to departing, effective from 8 November 2020. Please note, these requirements can change at short notice. This is outside the Department's control. To access information about the main Embassies and Consulates for our students, see:
For a list of all overseas embassies and consulates in Australia, see: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Students should not attempt to embark on their homeward bound journey if they have not completed all their home country re-entry requirements. They should be strongly advised to re-book their flights as they risk being turned away by airline staff.
Returning to Australia
Schools may wish to discuss with their students that returning to Australia to resume learning may not be possible given current coronavirus (COVID-19) related travel restrictions. For more information on current travel restrictions, see: Travel restrictions and exemptions
Students failing an airport health check
If a student fails an airport health check, reassure them that you will try to manage the situation. Try to obtain as much information as possible from the student and ask if you can speak directly to the official who is with the student. If the situation cannot be resolved and the student is detained please advise your school leadership and lodge an IRIS report if it constitutes a critical incident
Additional travel documents or travel items
In addition to normal travel documents, students must always have their school student emergency / safety card with them throughout the journey. Students should always be contactable via telephone (call and/or other platforms such as WeChat) , particularly on the day of departure. Schools should explain what to do and who to call in the event of an emergency.
The Department's International Education Division can also provide a letter for students to carry with them which outlines some of the student's details (i.e. Name, ID Number, Nationality, Age and School) and reason for travel.
For students transiting through Sydney (or other airports), ISCs should remain in regular contact throughout the day to ensure the student is managing with the additional health and security measures in place at the airport. Some students may find this confronting and may require additional support through regular phone calls. The frequency of contact should be based on the needs of the student.
Students should also ensure they have appropriate supplies of medication with them. Schools should advise students to also take an adequate supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for their entire journey home (including spares). This includes masks, gloves and hand sanitiser. Students should wear masks as required, including during any overnight periods, and maintain social distancing requirements.
Travelling via Sydney or other domestic airports
Where possible, students should be strongly encouraged to take direct international flights home from Melbourne.
All students holding a Confirmation of Appropriate Accommodation and Welfare (CAAW) must have their proposed travel plans approved well before travel is booked. This is particularly important from a welfare perspective for students travelling home via another Australian state or country. The Department may advise the Australian Department of Home Affairs (DHA) of any students travelling without approved care and welfare arrangements. As the failure to maintain approved CAAW arrangements is a breach of their student visa, this could jeopardise the student's visa and their ability to return to Australia in the future.
At different times, due to COVID-19 outbreaks, there may be border closures between states. If travelling home via Sydney, students may need to apply for a permit and/or exemption to travel through Sydney. For more information, see:
If transiting through Sydney (or other jurisdiction) cannot be avoided, then it is recommended that the student's transit should be for a short period of time. Students and parents must not book flights with long transit periods or overnight stays. If this is the only flight option, please contact the Department so that appropriate accommodation and welfare arrangements can be arranged for the student.
Cancelled international flights (departing from Sydney or other domestic airports)
Prior to departure, the student and parent should be advised to continually check airline websites for any change to departure times or dates prior to leaving Melbourne. Students should not embark on their homeward journey without checking all flights. Please advise the student and their parent / legal guardian verbally and in writing to limit opportunities for confusion.
If the student's travel plans are delayed for any reason, they should call their ISC as soon as they learn of any delay. ISCs should try to obtain as much information as possible from the student and ask if they can speak directly to the official who is with the student to better understand the situation. If the situation cannot be resolved and the student is detained please advise your school leadership and lodge an IRIS report if it constitutes a critical incident
Travelling to Sydney or other domestic airports
Students are not to travel by road or rail (i.e. car / taxi / ride share / bus / train) interstate. Driving for long periods may expose students (particularly unaccompanied minors) to high risks. Please contact your Department School Support Officer as soon as possible if you have a student wishing to travel via road or rail to Sydney in order to board a flight to their home country.