Life During Bankruptcy – Overseas Travel
Below is what you need to know regarding overseas travel during bankruptcy. To put this blog together we liaised with Nicholls & Co (Trustees) for their policies and procedures regarding overseas travel.
During bankruptcy, you can travel overseas but are required to first obtain written approval from your trustee. This is more of an inconvenience than anything as you would have to be doing something seriously wrong for the Trustee to be prevented from approving your travel. The Courts have held that overseas travel is a human right.
Also, there are no restrictions on the purpose of your travel or the amount of time you will be out of the country. For example, you are not limited to having a holiday overseas for a maximum of 2 weeks each year. People who are bankrupt commonly travel overseas for holidays, to visit family, visit a family member who is seriously ill, attend a funeral or undertake an assignment for work. It is even possible to work permanently overseas.
If you do not have a passport or your passport needs to be renewed, you attend to this without the involvement of your trustee. Nicholls & Co have advised that it is their policy for you to retain your passport, and it would be abnormal for your passport to be taken from you. If retaining your passport is important to you, you should check whether the trustee you propose using will allow you to keep your passport.
Tip: Make an application for your overseas travel approval at least two weeks prior to your departure date. This will allow time for your trustee to process and provide written approval for your travel without unnecessary stress for you or the trustee.
Heads Up: To make an application for overseas travel you complete a travel approval request form which you obtain from the trustee. When you complete the form, you are required to provide travel dates, details on your flights, accommodation, and the purpose of your travel.
When travelling overseas, you should carry the trustee’s approval letter with you. If you are asked any questions by Australian Border Force staff, just show them the trustee’s letter and they wish you bon voyage!
Do not feel embarrassed about travelling overseas for your holidays while bankrupt. The debts captured by your bankruptcy were gone when you received your number and bankruptcy is about getting you past your problem debt and on with your life.
The trustee will endeavour to be flexible and make the approval process as user-friendly as possible. Below are some examples of how your travel approval can vary, depending on your circumstances:
- If you are travelling overseas for a holiday, just complete your application and email it to your trustee in a timely manner, giving them time to receive your application, process and provide your travel approval.
- If you have a sick family member living overseas and are concerned that you may have to fly out on short notice, it is common in these situations for the Trustee to preapprove your travel, giving approval for a block of time. For example, the approval may be from 1 June to 31 August, so you can jump on a plane without delay if the family member's health should take a turn for the worse.
- If you have an emergency, without warning – explain the situation to your trustee and they will do their best to get urgent approval through for you.
- If you are required to travel overseas for work, just complete your application and email it to your trustee in a timely manner, giving them time to receive your application, process and provide your travel approval.
- If your work involves you leaving the country regularly, talk to your trustee about getting a blanket approval for blocks of time, to avoid having to obtain approval for each trip.
- If you wish to work overseas your trustee will most likely approve your travel in yearly blocks.
Tip: Answer your trustee's communications in a timely manner. If you are hindering the trustee’s administration you may be required to bring your correspondence up to date, for your travel request to be approved.
You have the right to travel overseas during bankruptcy. The legal requirement for you to first obtain the trustee's written approval for your travel is more of an inconvenience as it is very rare for your request to be denied. Having said that, we should mention that it is an offense if you travel overseas without first obtaining the trustee's travel approval. It makes sense to get the trustees written approval for your travel for the following reasons:
- the law requires you to have the trustee’s written approval before travelling.
- it is very rare for the trustee to not be able to approve overseas travel.
- having the trustee’s written approval with you ensures you will be able to leave and enter the country without border force incidence.
- being lazy and attempting to travel without approval exposes you to prosecution by the government and for the period of your bankruptcy being extended. Remember, the government has a record of when we leave and re-enter the country, so why cause yourself unnecessary grief?
Bankruptcy is about solving problems, not creating them. Obtain your travel approval and carry on living and enjoying your life!
To get further insight into how bankruptcy works, we recommend our article Getting On With Daily Life which can be accessed here