Overseas Travel

This is probably one of the most misunderstood aspects of what it means to be bankrupt.

A lot of people seem to think that you can’t travel overseas at all during the bankruptcy period, but this is simply not true.

Permission from your bankruptcy trustee

The rule is that you must obtain permission from your bankruptcy trustee in order to leave the country.

Others rumours that have circulated revolve around the notion that permission will only ever be granted if you’re travelling overseas for work-related purposes. This is also a myth.

Permission does not have to be granted solely on the basis of work-related travel. There are many reasons that a bankrupt person may want or need to travel overseas, just as there are many reasons behind why a non-bankrupt person may want or need to travel overseas.

Requesting permission from your bankruptcy trustee is easy enough to do and generally requires you to complete a form and submit details of your proposed itinerary for the trustee to review.

“It was easy to apply and the form provided was clear and concise. There were no challenges.

Michelle, NS

What your bankruptcy trustee considers before approving your overseas travel application

Your bankruptcy trustee will need to gather some information from you, including details such as:

  • Where you got the money to travel. If you saved the money for the trip while bankrupt, or if someone else paid for it, you should be fine
  • Where you’re going, when you’re leaving, and when you’ll return, and
  • Your reason for travelling (a condition of your employment, for compassionate reasons, or for a holiday).

“You (Aravanis) gave me the approval at first request after proving that my travel intentions are legitimate”

Crisanta, NSW

How hard is it to get an overseas travel application approved?

Well, a lot of it really depends on you and your conduct during the bankruptcy period.

When you request consent to travel overseas, your bankruptcy trustee has to review your bankruptcy matter and determine whether or not you’re meeting your obligations under the Bankruptcy Act.

Here are some of the things that your bankruptcy trustee will take into consideration when deciding whether or not to grant you consent to leave the country:

  • Have you provided all of the information requested by your Trustee?
  • Are there any outstanding matters that require your presence in Australia for their resolution?
  • Have you been assessed as liable to make contributions from your income and, if so, are these contributions payments up to date?
  • Is there any reason to suspect that you will fail to return to Australia?

“I had no problems with it (travelling overseas) in the end as I made sure I was doing everything asked of me by the trustee.

Robert, NSW

 What happens if your request to travel overseas is declined?

The first step would be to find out why. Your trustee must inform you of the decline in writing and provide you with the reason (or reasons) for the decline.

In most cases, you’re able to work directly with your trustee in order to reverse this decision but in situations where this is not possible, there are avenues available where you can complain or seek a review of the trustee’s decision if you believe it to be unfair. These include:

  1. Contacting the regulatory division of the Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA) via client services on
    1300 364 785
  2. Applying to the court under section 178 of the Bankruptcy Act for a review of the decision to withhold consent (should you decide on this option, it would be appropriate for you to also seek your own legal advice).

You may have also heard that you’re unable to have a passport or must surrender it to your bankruptcy trustee. While it’s true that your trustee can ask you to surrender your passport, this is completely discretionary and rarely occurs for the majority of people.

“We requested consent on 2 occasions and the process was very simple and we were granted consent on all occasions with no issues.”

Susan, VIC

This (and more) is explained in our video on bankruptcy and travel

Back to top