COVID-19 and Backpackers in Australia

Assisting backpackers to make an informed decision

16th July 2020 update*

To say this is a weird time falls short, but it’s hard to know how else to describe what we’re all feeling.

The world is going through a rollercoaster ride that it’s never been on before, one in which countries across the globe are sharing the ups and downs simultaneously. We can’t see where the ride ends, things are uncertain and this makes everything more difficult. The following information is to provide a roadmap to help clarify the decisions you need to make as a working holiday visa holder.

Border/Travel Restrictions

Applications required for most states before entering see:

🟡 WA - ⚠️ Hard Border closed, EXEMPT travellers only
(2 week quarantine required upon entry)

🟠 NT - ⚠️ Limited Border, open to all EXCEPT VIC & SYDNEY
(No quarantine required after 17th July*)

🔴 SA - ⚠️ Limited Border, open to all EXCEPT VIC

🟢 QLD - ⚠️ Limited Border, open to all EXCEPT VIC

🟣 NSW - ⚠️ Limited border, open to all EXCEPT VIC

🔵 VIC - ❌ RESTRICTED Lockdown imposed for ~6 weeks

🔷 TAS - ⚠️ Limited border, open to all EXCEPT VIC

Previous Updates



  • Ensure your visa remains valid and you apply for a new visa before your current visa expires

Critical Sectors & Restrictions

  • Critical sectors include health, aged and disability care, agriculture, food processing, and childcare
  • Anyone working within these industries will be exempt from 6-month employment restriction
  • HOWEVER, this work WILL NOT count towards your 'specified days' for a typical 2nd or 3rd-year visa but will make you eligible for a 408 visa

408 visa

  • If you HAVE NOT completed your 88/179 days for a second or third year WHM visa but are working in one of the above industries you can apply for a Temporary Activity (subclass 408) Australian Government Endorsed Event (AGEE) stream visa

WHM visa soon to expire?



Restrictions lifted

  • You'll be able to work with an employer for greater than 6 months

Guidelines to follow


Requirements for travelling to work

  • Your drivers license
  • Have a written letter from your employer as to why you need to travel across the region/state
  • If you're unsure, please contact your local police (NON-EMERGENCY phone line)
  • An electronic platform is being built to facilitate this but currently not available


⚠️ FAQ:

⚠️ For more info on the 408 visa:

⚠️ Information on applying for a new visa

⚠️ Access to superannuation for financial support

⚠️ Isolation form to fill out (and take screenshot of)

To learn more about COVID-19 and what you can do to help, check out

Australian state by state response to COVID-19

Updated 24th March 2020

Key points to consider

  • If you’re not covered by travel insurance — consider returning home
  • If you have a previous health condition that puts you in the high-risk category for respiratory failure — consider returning home
  • If you’re not financially secure for at least 3-6 months —consider returning home
  • If you can’t sleep at night being away from your family and friends — consider returning home

Consider returning home unless

  • You're financially secure for up to 6 months regardless of work
  • You have accommodation available for an extended period of time with access to all the basic utilities you require

What you can do if you’re going to stay

Links used in this guide:

Should you leave or should you stay?

This is time-sensitive, make a decision ASAP, act quickly, perform good hygiene and social distancing practices, isolate and be well.

Are you covered by travel insurance?

Check your policy ASAP! If your travel insurance was purchased after the 23rd January 2020 you’re unlikely to be covered as COVID-19 became a ‘known event’ after Wuhan’s border was closed down. Meaning you will NOT be covered against anything relating to the coronavirus. Check your cover ASAP.

Have you contacted your nation's embassy in Australia and spoken to an ambassador about what the advice is at this time?

Be sure to contact your embassy for your countries most up-to-date advice. You can find their contact details through the DFAT website:

Have you spoken to your family? Would being at home make this pandemic easier to deal with?

If you haven’t already, check-in with your family and involve them in the decision. The reality is we don’t know how long a lockdown could last, we aren’t certain on the true severity of what’s happening and likely won’t until retrospectively. If a family member fell ill, would you manage being away from them? If you fell ill, can you cope without a relative with you (let alone travel insurance)? If these questions make you feel uncomfortable, they should because if the worst-case scenario does unfold it's better to have seen it coming and made the appropriate decisions for you, your friends and your family.

Can you survive financially for a minimum of 3-6 months without work?

Many jobs have already been lost. This is going to continue. As Australians are displaced they will be given priority for work opportunities as would be expected for residents in any other country. It is possible some visa holders may be able to receive welfare help of the order of $550 per fortnight, however at this time it is best to assume you are unlikely to receive financial support from the Australian government. There are nearly 1.5 million visa holders in Australia and the vast majority will take priority over working holiday visa holders. It would also be expected that your home nations would assist their own citizens with financial support if required. Rightly or wrongly this is a reality, resources are scarce so you must factor this in when deciding on what to do.

Do you need to renew your visa?

Make sure your visa hasn’t expired and you're lawfully allowed to be here. You can perform a VEVO check to view your visa’s details and expiry. The government has made it easy to apply for a bridging visa to extend your stay during this complicated time. Make sure you don’t allow your visa to lapse otherwise you can be detained, deported and charged the cost of removal. You must apply for a bridging visa before your visa expires.

What about completing 88 days?

We’re in a transition phase where businesses are working out how to manage the COVID-19 crisis. There will be resistance to the hiring of labour for 1–2 months. Once confidence returns there will be a huge demand for workers.

Make sure you’ve registered with explorewithtree to be ready for this. Until then you can join our facebook group to receive ~600 farm contacts and other tools to assist you with finding farm work.

You may also like to register for volunteer work to help rebuild the Australian outback since the devastating bushfires. As of March 24th however, they are no longer accepting new volunteers. Like their facebook page to follow their updates for when this might change.

Have questions that still haven’t been answered? Ask us in the facebook group