COVID-19 – What to do when you can’t get home
It’s stressful and frightening if you can’t get out of the country you’re in due to border closures.
We suggest you continue to check with local authorities about available flights, however you may have to wait it out in that country until the border closures are lifted or departure arrangements are made.
Here’s our advice for what to do if you can’t leave the country you’re in:
- Stay safe. If you're already in a safe place, don't go out or travel unless local authorities advise that it’s safe to do so. Follow local guidance for getting food and any necessary medications, whether it’s via occasional trips to grocery stores or ordering online. Ask those around you if in doubt about your options.
- Make sure you have enough money available. Make sure you have enough to pay for your accommodation and food for the next few weeks. We don’t know how long the current situation will continue. Cash may be preferred in some locations, so if you are in a place like that and you can secure a supply of cash, you should do so (while keeping in mind security considerations). If you're receiving an Australian Government payment, you may be eligible to request a portability extension so that you continue to receive your payment. Contact Services Australia to discuss your situation.
- Monitor your health. Keep an eye out for COVID-19 symptoms, while being aware that many are similar to a common cold or flu. You can call the Australian Coronavirus hotline from overseas on 1800 020 080 (note – the number can’t be called directly from overseas, but it works if you have Skype or similar) if you’d like to discuss your symptoms with an Australian health expert. But you’ll also need to call your country’s local health advice line for advice on access to medical services locally. Understand that local emergency services may be stretched during a crisis: don't expect priority locally because you're an Australian. Take care of your mental health as much as you can too.
- Contact your loved ones. Tell family and friends where and how you are regularly. Provide them with contact details if you haven’t already, and provide those around you with contact details for your family or friends back home.
- Follow instructions from local authorities. They're the authority in your location. If you don’t comply with their direction, you may face penalties.
- Check your visa. If your visa is due to expire before the border closure is lifted, contact local authorities to arrange an extension. If you don’t know who to contact and how to extend your visa, check the Smartraveller advice for the country you’re in, which also has details on our nearest embassy or consulate.
- Stay up to date. Follow authoritative news sources for information and advice, including the Smartraveller website, or Facebook and Twitter pages if you prefer. Subscribe to updates for your destination's travel advisory. Any important advice from the Australian Government regarding the health and safety of Australians overseas, including at this time about travel arrangements, will be sent to Australians who have subscribed to that country on Smartraveller.
- Get back in touch: if your situation is now, or becomes life-threatening, or you have very serious concerns for your welfare (e.g. cannot find any accommodation whatsoever, or any food, or essential medications), please contact the Consular Emergency Centre from overseas on +61 2 6261 3305. You can also contact your nearest embassy by email.
- COVID-19 and consular services overseas
- Medical assistance overseas
- Taking care of your mental health overseas