Can I travel overseas during bankruptcy?

During bankruptcy you must request permission from your trustee to leave Australia.

You do not need to seek approval for travel within Australia or to Australian islands and territories (e.g. Norfolk or Christmas island).

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How do I apply for permission to travel overseas?

You need to apply to your trustee.

  • Submitting an application doesn't guarantee approval.
  • Your trustee can place restrictions on your travel approval.
  • Your trustee may hold your passport during your bankruptcy.

For more information see: I want to apply to travel overseas

Case study: Alisha

During bankruptcy - travel

Alisha is a 39-year-old real estate agent and mother from Western Australia. Alisha works part-time and rents a house in Perth with her partner.

Alisha was the higher income earner in her household, but when she went on maternity leave, her family struggled to keep up with their living expenses. She began relying on credit cards.

Alisha’s debt spiralled, and even when she returned to work part-time, she was unable to maintain the repayments. Alisha applied for bankruptcy. Her trustee is the Official Trustee (AFSA).

In the second year of her bankruptcy, Alisha needed to travel to New Zealand to attend a conference for work. During bankruptcy, you must get permission from your trustee to travel overseas.

Alisha went onto the AFSA website, completed the travel form, and paid the fee. AFSA assessed Alisha’s application and sent her a letter confirming she had permission to travel. Alisha carried the letter with her when she travelled to New Zealand.

*These case studies do not constitute legal or financial advice. You should consider whether the options referred to in the case studies are appropriate for you, and seek advice if necessary, before taking any action.

What if I don't have a passport?

Bankruptcy does not prevent you from applying for a passport. For information about passport applications and eligibility contact the Australian Passport Office.

What if I need to travel for work purposes?

If you need to travel overseas for work, you still need to request permission.

If your trustee is the Official Trustee (AFSA):

  • An application fee is payable.
  • If you will be travelling on a regular basis, we may be able to provide ongoing approval so you needn't apply each time. We would ask you to provide evidence from your employer under these circumstances.

What if I need to travel urgently or for compassionate reasons?

You still need to request permission.

If your trustee is the Official Trustee (AFSA):

  • An application fee is payable.
  • If you need to leave Australia in a few days, we recommend you submit your application online and then call us to discuss your application.

What happens if I travel overseas without permission?

You are committing an offence under the Bankruptcy Act if you:

  • travel overseas without permission
  • travel beyond the destinations and dates your trustee has approved
  • don't comply with any conditions that your trustee imposes.

You could face the following penalties:

  • An extension of your bankruptcy for 5 years from your return date. The penalty can be up to 8 years in some circumstances.
  • A term of imprisonment.