One common question we hear from clients facing bankruptcy is “Can you travel while bankrupt?”
Many are worried about filing for bankruptcy and finding out that they are restricted from going to visit family or friends overseas – or even accompanying them on an overseas vacation.
There is a common misconception that people cannot travel while bankrupt. This is incorrect. Here we clear up some of the most commonly asked questions that people have about travelling before filing for bankruptcy…
Can you travel while bankrupt?
The short answer is YES. A bankrupt individual CAN travel internally within the country whilst bankrupt without requiring any consent from their bankruptcy trustee.
Can you travel overseas when you’re bankrupt?
Again, the answer is YES. However, there are generally more boxes to tick and you require your trustee’s consent before you can leave the country. Generally, the trustee will permit you to travel if you are complying with your bankruptcy obligations and are able to provide the requested information about your trip.
What information will your trustee request?
Before consenting to overseas travel, your trustee will require you to complete a travel request form and provide the following details:
- Reason for travel
- Departure and return dates
- Destinations and itinerary
- Who is paying for your travel
- Your contact details while overseas
Will the trustee consent to your travel request?
Yes, as long as your bankruptcy trustee is satisfied that you are complying with your duties as a bankrupt individual under the Bankruptcy Act; and that you have completed a travel request form with the required travel details.
Trustees may refuse travel requests if they are not satisfied that you are complying with your duties. For instance, if you don’t provide requested details about your income, assets or transactions entered into before bankruptcy.
Additionally, if your income contribution instalments are not up to date, or other amounts you are required to pay are outstanding, then the trustee may reasonably refuse your request to travel.
What if you travel overseas without permission?
If you travel overseas without permission, you are committing an offence under the Bankruptcy Act.
The penalties you could face are an extension of your bankruptcy for five years from your return date or you may be sentenced to a term of imprisonment.
If your trustee is concerned that you may leave the country, they can issue an alert to the Australian Federal Police, who will stop you at customs; and you may be arrested.
Can you keep your passport while bankrupt?
When you file for bankruptcy, it is a requirement that you surrender all passports you hold to your bankruptcy trustee. They are then held on file until such time that you request permission to travel or are discharged from bankruptcy.
Once permission has been granted for you to travel overseas, your trustee will return your passport to you.
Note that it is recommended to make travel requests prior to booking travel and at least four weeks prior to travelling. However, should you require your passport sooner, e.g. to obtain a visa or for renewal of your passport, it is suggested that you contact your trustee at least two months prior to the planned travel date.
Now you know that you can travel while bankrupt. But, for further information regarding travelling overseas whilst bankrupt, or bankruptcy in general, speak to your trustee or give us a call on 1300 4 222 887.