Quick guide to Australian citizenship

This quick guide will give you a broad overview of the processes required to become an Australian citizen.

Strengthening the test for Australian citizenship

The Australian Government is strengthening the requirements to become an Australian citizen. The package of reforms will strengthen requirements for applicants to commit their allegiance to Australia and Australian values and to demonstrate their contribution to the Australian community.

The Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Requirements for Australian Citizenship and Other Measures) Bill 2017 (the Bill) was introduced into Parliament on 15 June 2017.

This is the next step in the process to implement the commitment made by the Australian Government on 20 April 2017.

The measures in the Bill are the Government’s response to the National Consultation on Citizenship – Your Right, Your Responsibility conducted by Senator the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells and the Hon Philip Ruddock MP in 2015.

This Bill implements the commitment made by the Australian Government to strengthen the requirements for Australian citizenship and the integrity and effectiveness of the citizenship programme, providing a clear legislative framework to underpin the Government's policy.

Changes will apply to citizenship applications lodged on or after 20 April 2017.

Applicants will receive communication on the implementation of the new measures and any additional information and documentation that may be required to support their application.

What does Australian citizenship mean?

Becoming an Australian citizen means you call Australia home with all the privileges and responsibilities of a person who was born here.

Australian citizenship is a privilege that offers enormous rewards. By becoming an Australian citizen, you are joining a unique national community.

Becoming an Australian citizen means that you are making an ongoing commitment to Australia and all that this country stands for. It is also the beginning of your formal membership of the Australian community. It is the step that will enable you to say 'I am Australian'.

Australia is a democracy. Citizenship gives you the opportunity to fully participate in building our democratic nation. It means that you are ready to fulfil your responsibilities as a formal member of the Australian community. Australians believe in the dignity and freedom of each person, the equality of men and women and the rule of law. Australian citizenship is about living out these values in your everyday life.

What are ways you can become an Australian citizen?

You become an Australian citizen by being born in Australia to Australian citizen or permanent resident parents, or when you apply and are accepted for citizenship.

When to apply for Australian citizenship

You can apply for citizenship if any of these circumstances apply to you.

If you migrated to Australia and meet the eligibility requirements you can apply for citizenship by conferral. Confer means to give. Citizenship by conferral means to be given citizenship.

People in this category can include:

  • spouses of Australian citizens
  • New Zealand and British citizens who have lived here for a long time
  • children of a former Australian citizens
  • Papuans born before independence in 1975
  • people who arrived under the Commonwealth Child Migration Scheme
  • refugees and humanitarian entrants.

Select an option that suits your situation at Application options to become an Australian citizen.

If you were born overseas to an Australian citizen parent you can apply for citizenship by descent.

If you were adopted by an Australian citizen under the full Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption or a bilateral arrangement between Australia and another country, you may be eligible to apply for citizenship by adoption. If you were adopted under other arrangements you may be eligible to apply for citizenship by conferral. More information is available about Adoption of children from outside of Australia.

If you lost or gave up your citizenship you can apply to resume your Australian citizenship.

Could I already be a citizen?

There are a number of circumstances where you could have automatically gained citizenship even though your parent or parents were not Australian citizens.

If you were born in Australia on or after:

  • 20 August 1986 to an Australian citizen or permanent resident parent, you became an Australian citizen at birth.
  • 20 August 1986 to parents who were not permanent residents or Australian citizens, you may have become an Australian citizen automatically on your 10th birthday.

If you were born in Australia between:

  • 22 November 1984 and 19 August 1986 you became an Australian citizen at birth unless one parent was entitled to diplomatic privileges or was a consular officer.
  • 26 January 1949 and 21 November 1984 you became an Australian citizen at birth unless your father was entitled to diplomatic privileges or was a consular officer.

Long term residents

If you arrived in Australia after 26 January 1944, you are probably not an Australian citizen even though you have been able to vote or may have served in the Australian armed services.

Proof or evidence of your Australian citizenship

If you need to get proof of your citizenship, you can apply for evidence of Australian citizenship.

What is the process for becoming an Australian citizen?

You usually apply to become an Australian citizen. The process may vary depending on the application requirements but, in general, you will need to:

  • determine which type of application for citizenship suits your personal circumstances
  • check that you are eligible to apply for your selected application type
  • gather your original documents that show your identity, good character and support your eligibility
  • complete and lodge your application with the necessary documents and correct fee
  • wait to find out if you have been approved and, for most applicants, attend a citizenship ceremony to formalise (legalise) the decision.

A decision on your application for citizenship will only be made after you have lodged a completed application form together with the required documents and fee.

Children

Children under 16 years of age are usually included on a responsible parent's application form but can apply on their own behalf in some circumstances.

Where can I apply for Australian citizenship?

If you are applying for citizenship by conferral you will usually be in Australia when you apply because of:

  • the residence requirement, and
  • the requirement to be in Australia when the decision on your application is made.

If you are applying for citizenship by descent, adoption or resumption, you can apply if you are in or outside Australia.

For information about your specific application type, including how to apply, see Application options to become an Australian citizen.

How long is the process to become an Australian citizen?

The processing time for a citizenship application varies. Indicative processing times for Australian citizenship by Conferral, Descent and Evidence are published on our website at Global visa and citizenship processing times.