When you become an Australian citizen you will be entitled to the same privileges and responsibilities as a person who was born here. There are generally 7 steps you will need to go through to apply for citizenship:
Step 1: Make sure you are eligible to apply for Australian Citizenship
Generally, you will be eligible to apply if you:
- have been granted permanent residency AND
- meet the residency requirement (see step 2) AND
- already reside or show that you are likely to reside in Australia OR
- maintain a close and continuing association with Australia AND
- are of good character AND
- are over 18 years old.
Please note that if your partner/spouse is an Australian citizen you will not automatically be granted citizenship – you will need to apply for permanent residency first.
For New Zealand citizens – if you were physically present in Australia on the 26th Feb 2001 or for an accumulative period of 12 months in the 2 years before this date then you may eligible to apply for citizenship. If you entered after that date, you will need to apply for permanent residency to be eligible to apply for Australian citizenship.
If you were born outside of Australia, have a parent who was an Australian citizen at the time of your birth, then you may eligible for citizenship by descent.
Step 2: Meeting the residency requirement
This is based on the time you have been living in Australia and the time you have spent outside of Australia. Generally you will need to show that:
- have been living in Australia on a valid Australian visa (temporary and permanent visas can be counted) for four years immediately before applying which must include the last 12 months as a permanent resident, AND
- not have been absent from Australia for more than one year in total, in the 4 year period, including no more than 90 days in the year before applying.
Please click here for access to a residency calculator that can help you determine if you meet this requirement or not.
Step 3: Get documentation ready
Generally you will need to provide documents that show the following:
- proof of your identity – i.e. passports, birth certificate, current address;
- good character documents;
- you will need to complete a National Police Checking Service application and consent form if you are over 16 years old, AND
- original police certificates from any overseas countries you have visited for more than 12 months or more and any countries you have spent more than 90 days in
- evidence of your permanent residency (if relevant);
- if you are a NZ migrant you will also need to show documents that show evidence of your residence.
Step 4: Completing and lodging an application form
- If you are in Australia when you are applying you will be able to fill in the online form and submit your documents electronically.
- If you are outside of Australia you will need to submit a paper-based application and send it to the relevant citizenship office.
- If you are applying for citizenship by descent you will need to submit a paper-based application regardless of whether you are onshore or offshore.
You will need to pay the application fee at this stage. For citizenship fees please click here.
Step 5: Citizenship appointment or test
Once you have lodged an application and it has been received, you will be invited to attend a citizenship appointment. You will receive a letter with the specific appointment details shortly after your application is received. An appointment can last up to two hours so please allow enough time.
When preparing for this stage of your application you will need to read a document called Australian Citizenship – Our Common Bond.
If you are taking a citizenship test please be aware that the information contained in Part 1, 2 and 3 of this document are testable so we highly recommend you read this before your test or interview.
Step 6: Receive notification of the decision on your application
The processing times for citizenship applications vary. Generally speaking the Department aims to process applications within 60 days of lodgement. For citizenship by descent processing times are approximately 14 days after lodgement.
Step 7: Attend a citizenship ceremony
Once your application has been approved you will be able to attend a citizenship ceremony. It generally takes around 3 – 6 weeks to be invited to your ceremony. For more information about this please see here.
If you would like any more information about citizenship applications or advice as to your eligibility, please contact a member of our migration team.