Financial Assistance for Australian Expats – The Australian Federal Government has announced a financial assistance package for Australian expats who are stuck overseas and are either experiencing financial difficulties with living costs due to commercial flights not operating from their country or cannot afford to purchase a flight home to Australia.
There are two categories of interest free loans available to Australian expats:
- Loan to cover living costs – this type of loan is a one-off that is designed to cover emergency living costs whilst you are waiting for commercial flights to resume.
- Loan to assist with the purchase of a flight back to Australia – this type of loan is a one-off that is designed to help cover the expense of purchasing a return ticket to Australia.
For an Australian expat to be eligible for these loans you need to satisfy the following criteria:
- are an Australian citizen
- Australian permanent residents are not eligible to receive funding unless they are travelling with an immediate family member who is an Australian citizen, and that Australian family member includes the permanent resident in their own application for financial assistance.
- If the only Australian citizen in the family travelling with the permanent resident is a child, other links to Australia will need to be considered before approval of a loan (e.g. Australian residential property).
- are at least 18 years of age
- have made all reasonable efforts to seek financial assistance through other means. You’ll need to provide evidence of this.
In addition, you need to meet one or more of the following criteria. You:
- are overseas temporarily and want to return to Australia urgently for medical or other reasons
- are in financial distress as a result of the travel disruptions caused by COVID-19
- require financial assistance to shelter in place until you can secure a seat, or purchase a ticket to return to Australia
- are in a location with restricted or no available commercial airlines operating.
Loan of Last Resort
As part of the loan application you must declare that you have exhausted all other options first and that you can’t obtain financial support from any other sources.
Some of these may include:
- Friends and family
- Insurance company
- Local social security services
- Overseas pension
- Bank or credit card company
Expat Financial Assistance Loan Process
For those Australian expats seeking financial assistance to apply for either the Living Costs or Flight Purchase loan you will need to follow these steps:
Step 1 – Complete a online application form which can be found here
Step 2 – You’ll need to provide documentation that substantiates your claim to receiving financial assistance. Examples of this may include:
- evidence of income/savings (e.g a copy of your most recent bank statement/s)
- a letter from your most recent employer confirming you have no access to leave or your employment has been terminated
- evidence of previously purchased tickets or bookings, or communication with airlines showing you’ve tried to return to Australia
- evidence of accommodation costs in the current location
- evidence that insurance won’t be covering costs
- evidence of any Australian pension you receive
- information about any medical condition you may have
- any other information that would support your application
Step 3 – Once you have submitted your application you will receive an email response within 72 hours.
Step 4 – Should your application be approved then you will be sent two forms – an Undertaking to Repay (Deed) and if you were approved for a living cost loan, a form to confirm your Australian bank details. If your loan is not approved then you will be notified by email.
Step 5 – Once the government has received the completed forms then they expect to be able to make the payments within 72 hours
Expat Living Cost Assistance Loan
If you are applying for a loan to assist you with covering emergency living costs then Australian expats may apply for the following amounts:
- Up to AUD$2,000 for an individual
- Up to AUD$3,000 for a family of two
- Up to AUD$4,000 for a family of three
- Up to AUD$5,000 for a family of four
- Special consideration will be provided for families larger than 4 persons
As long as one of the parents is an Australian citizen, the whole family will be considered for your application.
Australian Expat Flight Repatriation Loan
If you are applying for assistance to cover the cost of purchasing a flight to return to Australia a one-off loan will be available to eligible Australian citizens.
The loan will cover the cost of the economy class component of a return flight to Australia and the Australian Government will cover the remaining cost of the ticket.
Once you have applied for the loan, and have been approved, Australian expats will have to sign a “undertaking to repay” in the form of a deed agreeing to repay the economy class component of the trip.
The Australian Governments travel provider, QBT, will then attempt to book a flight on your behalf.
The economy class component amount for different jurisdictions is outlined below:
- Africa $2,500
- Middle East $1,500
- North America $1,500
- Europe (including UK) $1,500
- South and Central Asia $1,000
- South East Asia $750
- North Asia $1,000
- Pacific $750
- Central and South America $2,000
More Information On the Financial Assistance for Australian Expats
To find out more information you can go to the Smart Traveller website where they cover a lot of FAQ’s about the assistance package.