Students travelling to their home countries during current coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions
Students can choose to return to their home countries, however, coronavirus (COVID-19) creates additional requirements and travel restrictions.
All students and their parents / legal guardians must work with their school staff before 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 taking additional time to discuss this with students and to prepare them for the experience. In order to do this, students will be asked whether they 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, for the student during their travel. The student must have a copy of the 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 the 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.
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.
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 International Student Coordinator immediately.
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 school staff 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
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.
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), school staff will 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 hourly 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. Students should 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 take direct international flights home from Melbourne.
All students holding a Confirmation of Appropriate Accommodation and Welfare (CAAW) must have their travel plans approved by their school well before travel. If students can only travel via Sydney, those holding a CAAW must also have their travel plans to Sydney approved before leaving. 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.
If transiting through Sydney cannot be avoided, then it is recommended that the student's transit should be for a short period of time. Parents are strongly discouraged from booking flights with long transit periods or overnight stays.
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:
Cancelled international flights (departing from Sydney or other domestic airports)
Prior to departure, the student and parent should 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.
If student's travel plans are delayed for any reason, they should call their International Student Coordinator as soon as they learn of any delay.
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.