Australian citizenship came into existence on January 26, 1949. It is based primarily on the principle of jus soli (right of the soil), which means citizenship is conferred on anyone who is born in Australia.
Australia has permitted dual citizenship without restriction since April 4, 2002.
Australia Citizenship by Birth
Between January 26, 1949 and August 19, 1986, anyone born in Australia was born with Australian citizenship (jus soli principle), with the exception of those born to diplomats.
Since August 20, 1986, those born in Australia acquired Australian citizenship by birth if at least one parent was an Australian citizen or permanent resident. Everyone else born in Australia and living in Australia automatically acquires citizenship on their 10th birthday.
Australia Citizenship by Naturalization
Those who are permanent residents in Australia who have lived in the country for 4 years can apply for citizenship by naturalization. The following requirements apply:
- you have been in Australia for 12 months as a permanent resident;
- you have had absences from Australia of no more than 12 months, including no more than 3 months in the 12 months before applying;
- you have not been unlawfully in Australia at any time in the 4 years preceding application;
- you understand the responsibilities and privileges of Australian citizenship (except for applicants aged 60 or over);
- you are able to speak and understand basic English (except for applicants aged 60 or over);
- you understand the nature of the application;
- you intend to reside in Australia or to maintain a close and continuing association with Australia.
Since October 1, 2007, Australia requires most applicants applying for naturalization to take an Australian citizenship test on Australia’s history, values, and traditional and national symbols.
If you would like to apply for Australian citizenship by naturalization, you can do so here.
Australia Citizenship by Descent
Those born outside of Australia to at least one parent who was an Australian citizen have been able to acquire Australian citizenship in the following instances:
- British subjects born outside Australia before January 26, 1949 with an Australian father became Australian citizens automatically upon entering Australia with a permanent visa (up to April 30, 1987);
- A person born outside Australia on or after January 26, 1949 may be registered as an Australian citizen by descent provided:
- they had an Australian citizen parent at the time of birth; and
- if the Australian parent is also an Australian citizen by descent, that parent had lived legally in Australia for a total of 2 years.
- A person born outside Australia or New Guinea before January 26, 1949 may be registered as an Australian citizen provided:
- that person has a parent born or naturalised in Australia or New Guinea; and
- the parent became an Australian citizen on 26 January 1949.
Those applying for Australian citizenship by descent must be of good character.
Australian citizenship by descent is never obtained at birth. Nobody born outside of Australia to an Australian parent automatically acquires citizenship. Citizenship by descent is only granted upon application if the requirements are met.
The process of applying for Australian citizenship is:
- determine eligibility
- gather original documents
- copy and certify documents
- complete and submit your application
For citizenship by descent, the following documents are required:
- your birth certificate
- evidence of any name change
- evidence of current residential address
- Identity Declaration
- National Police Checking Service Application/Consent Form
- original penal clearance certificates from overseas countries
- document showing that parent was an Australian citizen at the time of your birth (e.g. birth certificate, citizenship certificate, passport)
- evidence of other citizenships by your Australian parent
- if your Australian parent was also a citizen by descent, evidence that he/she lived in Australia for 2 years (e.g. school records, employment records, documents issued by the Australian government)
- if you are under age 16, your Australian parent’s identity documents
- if applicable, any orders relating to the custody, guardianship, or parental responsibility
If you would like to apply for Australian citizenship by descent, you can find the application and apply here.
Australia Citizenship by Adoption
Australian citizenship by adoption is automatic in these circumstances:
- the adoption takes place in Australia on or after November 22, 1984; and
- the child is a permanent resident; and
- at least one adoptive parent is an Australian citizen.
In all other circumstances, an application for Australian citizenship must be made for the child.
On May 8, 2005 the Minister for Citizenship announced a policy change to require all child applicants for grant of Australian citizenship by virtue of adoption to hold an adoption visa, or other permanent visa. However, it does not appear that there is any requirement for the child to be physically resident in Australia.
The Australian Citizenship Act 2007 additionally allows for simplified registration of a person as an Australian citizen where that person was adopted overseas in accordance with the Hague Adoption Convention.
To apply for Australian citizenship for adoptions overseas, do so here.