Australians living overseas could be trapped in Australia after the government tightened its border rules without notice.
The restriction on citizen from leaving Australia has not previously applied to Australians who usually live in other countries.
Now they will need to apply for an exemption for outbound travel – in line with rules for other Australians.
Australia’s tough border rules have attracted criticism. Critics argue that this change will further punish families and deter citizens from returning.
The government said the measure aimed to reduce the risk of Covid cases entering the country, as it grapples with its worst outbreaks in a year.
Australia already has a weekly limit on incoming travellers and bans foreigners from entry unless they have an exemption. Its policies are among the strictest globally.