I was born in the UK, have lived in Australia since 1988, and I hold both passports. With 2 of my children living in Scotland and the potential need to go and see them urgently, can I leave Australia using my UK passport and therefore bypass the need to apply for permission from the Australian Government to leave the country? I understand permission is given only in rare circumstances at the moment. I would plan to re-enter Australia on my Australian passport

  • My son has lived in Australia for over 20 years is now an Australian Citizen ,pays UK taxes, still holds a UK passport May 23, 2021 at 10:21

3 Answers 3


The government's site says

If you are an Australian citizen or a permanent resident you cannot leave Australia due to COVID-19 restrictions unless you have an exemption. You can apply online but you must meet at least one of the following:

  • (...)
  • you are travelling on urgent and unavoidable personal business
  • you are travelling on compassionate or humanitarian grounds

Alternatively you are exempt from the restrictions if

You are exempt if you are:

  • (...)
  • ordinarily resident in a country other than Australia

Nothing in the site says that dual-citizens are exempt from the quarantine rules - instead they explicitly say that not just Australian citizens, but non-Australians who are settled have to adhere to the exit guidelines as well. For me this means that even if you (only) show them your UK passport they might still consider you as a settled citizen (they might ask for your visa or other proof on how you are living in Australia in which case you'll likely have to tell them you are Australian and are a resident), and therefore block your exit.

However since you are travelling because of unavoidable personal business and/or compassionate grounds you might get an exemption. If you also give them proof that you wish to remain in the UK long-term and not return to Australia you might also get an exemption, as one of the proofs they accept is

  • proof that you are moving to another country on a long term basis such as leases, job offers and evidence your goods are being transported

In any case:

we recommend you lodge a request for assessment at least two weeks prior to your intended departure.

You can apply for an exemption online here


Here is what the Australian Department of Home Affairs has to say:

Australian citizens should use their Australian passport to enter and leave Australia.

The Australian Border Force has more information on crossing the border.

If you have a passport from another country, you can use that after you leave Australia.

A passport is the best way to show that you are an Australian citizen. You might still be able to enter Australia if you are an Australian citizen without an Australian passport, but it will be more difficult. The airline might also stop you from boarding a plane to Australia.

Source: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/entering-and-leaving-australia/traveling-as-a-dual-citizen

So it appears that unlike other countries (USA, Canada, Israel etc), Australia does not formally require that you use your Australian passport to enter the country (but they nonetheless recommend it).

However, we are not living in normal times and the question is twofold. You mention current travel restrictions (Covid I suppose). The question is: Can I use a UK passport (to pass as non-Australian) and bypass travel restrictions normally applicable to Australian citizens ?

I am not familiar with the immigration process, probably they no longer put entry stamps in the passports of foreign visitors nowadays, but departures/arrivals are recorded in computer systems. If you were to show a UK passport at the exit gates, the customs officers would find no recent trace of your arrival, no matching record for your passport number, which could lead to awkward questions, ring alarm bells and force you to justify yourself.

Plus, aren't you required to have a visa as a UK citizen?

  • "Plus, aren't you required to have a visa as a UK citizen?" Not for just visiting and and short-term business trips. But it doesn't matter anyway. The fact that they are Australian trumps that in spades. Barring any legal disputes, they are free to leave in accordance with international agreements to which Australia is a signatory. Whether there is a record of their travels is not a requirement of any international law that I'm aware of. That's a problem for the (Australian) government to sort out with itself.
    – ouflak
    Aug 22, 2020 at 9:39
  • @ouflak British citizens (who aren't also Australian citizens) require an e-Visitor visa or ETA (visa subclass 651 and 601, respectively) for short-term visits for business or pleasure.
    – phoog
    Aug 24, 2020 at 20:38
  • This answer is incorrect, and I downvoted. SztupY's subsequent answer confirms that the actual answer to the OP's question is "No, you cannot use your UK passport to avoid having to ask for permission to leave Australia." May 23, 2021 at 14:52

TL;DR you must leave a country using the passport you entered it with.

Usually, the way this works is that you enter a country as a citizen of the country whose passport you enter as, and you need to follow the immigration rules as a person of that country.

I am assuming that you last entered Australia on your Australian passport, and therefore have all the advantages that a citizen of Australia have when entering the country. That is to say - you don't need a visa, and can stay for an unlimited time.

If you try to exit on your UK passport, that should set alarm bells off when you try it, because you didn't enter on that passport. The UK citizen with your name has not entered the country, but is now trying to leave.

If you entered with your UK passport, then you would be subject to the rules for a UK citizen entering Australia - you would need the necessary visa (or waiver), and you would be allowed to stay for a limited amount of time. BUT when you left Australia, you would need to leave on your UK passport - or else you would be subject to the laws regarding overstay (fines, deportation, possible blacklisting). Or at least a legal battle.

Also, if you actually succeed in leaving on your UK passport, you would then not have a record of the Australian citizen with your name ever leaving the country, and you would have a lot of explaining to do when you tried to enter again with your Australian passport.

If this is something you are actually considering doing, you should get legal advice from a lawyer with detailed immigration experience.

  • 3
    What you've said is general advice, but it's not universally true. I am a dual citizen in New Zealand, and have had no trouble presenting either my NZ or other passport when leaving New Zealand. I understand they are both linked to my identity in the NZ systems. Advice specific to Australia would be helpful for the OP. Aug 21, 2020 at 1:39
  • Agreed - hence why I suggested getting legal advice from someone who actually knows in that specific case. But what I said is the general rule.
    – Scott Earle
    Aug 21, 2020 at 1:40
  • 2
    "I am assuming that you last entered Australia on your Australian passport, and therefore have all the advantages that a citizen of Australia have..." I don't believe that the privileges of citizenship are based on a passport (much less the passport used upon entry), but based their status as a citizen. "If you entered with your UK passport, then you would be subject to the rules for a UK citizen entering Australia." Maybe upon first inspection, but once the fact that they are an Australian comes out, they cannot be denied entry and have all of the rights (and responsibilities) of a citizen.
    – ouflak
    Aug 21, 2020 at 11:23
  • 2
    "...or else you would be subject to the laws regarding overstay (fines, deportation, possible blacklisting)" Since Australia is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, they have agreed, by international accord (law), that they will never deport or refuse entry to any of their own citizens. Likewise they will respect the right of their own citizens to leave the country, with obvious regards to internal pending criminal or civil matters. These rights are considered inherent and not tied to any document. A passport only identifies the person, it does confer rights.
    – ouflak
    Aug 21, 2020 at 11:28
  • 2
    This answer is wrong on several counts, as described in previous comments. The main exception to first statement is that it doesn't generally apply to countries of which one is a citizen.
    – phoog
    Aug 21, 2020 at 14:34

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