Australian Citizenship by Conferral

Australian Citizenship Overview

Australian citizenship may be conferred upon permanent residents of Australia who have resided in Australia for the required period of time, and meet all other criteria. Those who have been conferred citizenship have the same rights and privileges as any other Australian citizen, including the right to vote, to work for the Australian Public Service or Defence Force, and to obtain and use an Australian passport. Citizens by conferral are also subject to the same responsibilities as other Australian citizens, including the responsibility to serve on a jury and to defend Australia should the need arise.

The minimum requirements for citizenship by conferral are set out below. These requirements apply to most applications; however please note that depending upon your particular circumstances, you may be subject to other criteria.

Australian Citizenship Eligibility Requirements


For applicants who are permanent residents of Australia, and have lawfully resided in Australia for at least four years.

EACH applicant for citizenship by conferral must:

  • be a permanent resident of Australia (and have been a permanent resident for at least the last 12 months)

NOTE: If you are not a permanent resident of Australia but you are a NZ citizen, you may be eligible if you were in Australia on 26 February 2001 as the holder of a Special Category Visa (SCV) OR if you spent a total of at least 12 months in Australia on a SCV during the 24 months immediately prior to 26 February 2001.

Meet the general residence requirement

  • At the time you apply you must have been:
    • living in Australia on a valid visa for the past 4 years
    • a permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen for the past 12 months
    • away from Australia for no more than 12 months in total in the past 4 years, including no more than 90 days in total in the past 12 months
    • For children 16 or 17 years old, if meeting this requirement would cause significant hardship or disadvantage, you will need to provide proof.
    • Children under 16 do not need to meet the general residence requirement but must be permanent residents.
  • Your residency starts on the date:
    • You were granted the permanent visa when you were in Australia, or
    • you first entered Australia on a permanent visa

Use the Department’s Residence Calculator to see if you meet these requirements.

  • General Exemptions: You do not need to meet the residence requirement if you:
    • are under 16 years
    • were born to a former Australian citizen who lost their citizenship before 4 April 2002
    • were born in Papua before 16 September 1975 and one of your parents was born in Australia and was an Australian citizen when you were born

You will need to provide documents that support your claim when you apply.

Character Requirement

  • You must be of ‘good character‘ if you are 18 years or over.
  • Good character is the ‘enduring moral qualities of a person’.
  • The Department will consider whether you are likely to:
    • uphold and obey the laws of Australia
    • meet the other commitments made through the citizenship pledge
  • They may consider:
    • any recorded criminal convictions
    • obligations you may have to a court in Australia or overseas
    • your association with people of concern
    • incidents of reported domestic violence
    • whether you have been honest in your dealings with the Australian community, including providing false or misleading information in relation to a visa or citizenship application

Knowledge of Australia & Language Requirement

  • If you score 75% or more on the citizenship test, then you meet the knowledge & language requirements
  • Some applicants do not have to sit the test but must have an interview to show they:
    • understand what it means to become an Australian citizen
    • have an adequate knowledge of the responsibilities and privileges of Australian citizenship

Close & Continuing Link to Australia

You must intend to live in Australia or maintain a close and continuing association with Australia while overseas.

Citizenship is a privilege that requires a long-term commitment to Australia.

We may consider if you have:

  • a child who is an Australian citizen
  • a partner who is an Australian citizen and your time together
  • extended family in Australia
  • spent time in Australia
  • a bank account in Australia
  • a job in Australia
  • paid income tax in Australia
  • property in Australia


Stage 1 – Lodgement of Application

The first step is to lodge your citizenship application, along with any supporting documents required to demonstrate that you satisfy the relevant requirements:

  • Identity documents
  • Character documents
  • Any supporting documents showing exemptions/special residence requirements

Lodge the application online, unless you are required to lodge a paper application:

  • do not have a current or expired passport
  • have not travelled in or out of Australia since July 1990, or
  • are eligible for a fee concession or exemption

If this does not apply to you, apply online.

Stage 2 – Citizenship Test

Once the DOHA has determined that you are eligible for the conferral of citizenship, they will ask you to attend an appointment with a case officer. At this appointment, you will present your original documents, uploaded as attachments to your citizenship application, and sit the citizenship test.

The citizenship test contains questions regarding the rights and responsibilities of Australian citizenship, along with questions relating to life in Australia and what it means to be an Australian citizen.

Most applicants for citizenship by conferral aged between 18 and 59 years at the time of application need to have an interview and sit the citizenship test.

The test assesses your English language skills and what you know about Australia and Australian citizenship.

Who doesn’t sit the test

If you are applying for Australian citizenship by conferral, you do not need to sit the test if you:

  • are under 18 years old at the time you apply for citizenship
  • are aged 60 or over at the time you apply for citizenship
  • were born to a former Australian citizen who automatically lost Australian citizenship because they become a citizen of another country when they were an adult
  • were born in Papua before 16 September 1975 to an Australian citizen born in Australia (as Australia is now)
  • were stateless when born in Australia and are not entitled to the citizenship of another country
  • have a substantial impairment to or permanent loss of hearing, speech or sight
  • have a permanent or enduring mental or physical incapacity, that means that you cannot:
    • understand the nature of your application
    • show that you have a basic knowledge of English
    • show that you have an adequate knowledge of Australia and the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship

Stage 3 – Citizenship Ceremony

After you have passed your citizenship test and the DOHA has approved your application, you need to attend a citizenship ceremony. This usually takes place within 3 months of the date that an application is approved, although waiting times vary between different local councils. At the citizenship ceremony, you must take the Australian Citizenship Pledge to complete the process of becoming an Australian citizen. All eligible adult applicants must attend a citizenship ceremony – there are very few exceptions to this requirement.

Australian Citizenship Fee

AUD 560

AUD360 if aged 16 or 17 years at the time of application.

There is no cost for a child 15 years or younger applying on the same form as a parent. Other exemptions and concessions apply.

(Update date:2024.07)

Australian Citizenship Application Processing Time

Application typePeriod counted25% of applications are processed in:50% of applications are processed in:75% of applications are processed in:90% of applications are processed in:
Australian citizenship by conferral (general eligibility and other situations)1From date of application to decision25 months6 months7 months10 months
From date of approval to ceremony55 days4 months6 months7 months
From date of application to ceremony7 months9 months10 months13 months
Australian citizenship by descentFrom date of application to decision272 days77 days4 months5 months
Evidence of Australian citizenshipFrom date of application to decision21 day2 days7 days17 days

(Update date:2024.07)

Australian Citizenship: Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What identity documents do I need?

The Department needs evidence of your identity from birth to present.

With your application provide 3 documents that together will show your:

  • birth name, date of birth and gender
  • photograph
  • signature
  • current residential address

Also provide official evidence of any change of name.

Photograph and signature

Examples of documents include:

  • Australian driver’s licence
  • pages from your passport (photo, personal details, passport issue and expiry dates)
  • national identity card
  • UNHCR document
  • aircrew identity document
  • seafarer identity document
  • military identity document
  • proof of age card
  • student card

Evidence of date of birth and any changes of name

Provide a full birth certificate that shows your parents’ names. If you cannot provide a birth certificate, provide a family or household registration document or any other collection of documents issued to you prior to your arrival in Australia that collectively confirm your identity from birth

Documents showing evidence of a change of name include:

  • an official (non-commemorative) marriage or divorce certificate
  • change of name documents from an Australian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, or the relevant overseas authority
  • other official documents that show links between names you have been known by

Evidence of residential address

Examples of home address documents include:

  • electricity, gas or water bill
  • rates notice
  • rental contract
  • bank statement

Q: What character documents do I need?

Penal clearance certificates

If you have spent a total of 12 months or more outside Australia since granted a permanent visa, you need to provide overseas police certificates from every country, including your home country, where you have spent a total of more than 90 days since you turned 18.

Ask the country’s government or law enforcement authority for a certificate.

The Department might ask you to provide a penal clearance certificate in other circumstances.

Australian National Police Check

If you are 16 years of age or over, the Department will request a check on your behalf from the National Police Checking Service.

Q: What if I need to travel outside Australia after applying?

Let the Department know if you need to travel outside Australia while your application is being processed or while you are waiting for your ceremony.

In most cases, they cannot approve your application while you are outside Australia. You must also make the Australian Citizenship pledge within 12 months of your application being approved, or the approval may be cancelled.

If you need to travel, you must travel on your current passport. Make sure you have a valid visa that allows you to re-enter Australia. Apply for a Resident Return visa  if the travel conditions on your visa have expired or are about to expire.

Q: How do I prepare for the citizenship test?

You can find the Department’s official resources and practice tests on the Australian Citizenship Test here.

Q: What if my Australian Citizenship application is refused?

The Department will notify you in writing. You will receive a letter when they have made a decision on your application.

If they refuse your application, they will send you a letter explaining the reason. You can ask for a review by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Your notification letter will advise you:

  • the reason for their decision
  • where to lodge a request for a review
  • time limits for requesting a review

Australian Citizenship – Frequently Asked Questions During Processing

1. Check for an update on the progress

Your citizenship application’s progress can be checked through ImmiAccount.

DHA is unable to offer additional progress updates or provide specific timelines for individual applications. DHA will reach out to you if further information or documents are required, or if you need to attend a citizenship interview or test.

Please note that the processing times provided for citizenship applications serve only as a general reference.

The applicants must meet all legislative requirements to attain Australian citizenship. These requirements include comprehensive integrity assessments, identity verification, character evaluations, and national security checks.

DHA assesses applications on a case-by-case basis, acknowledging the unique circumstances of each applicant. Therefore, processing times may differ from those indicated on the website.

2. Requests for evidence of Australian citizenship progress can be made if outside the processing timeframe

If you’ve submitted an application for Evidence of Australian Citizenship to obtain an Australian citizenship certificate, and your application hasn’t been finalised within the indicated citizenship application processing times listed on the Department’s website, you can contact the Department.

3. Citizenship test appointment

Applicants who require a citizenship test appointment will be contacted and invited to attend an appointment. There is no need for applicants to initiate contact with DHA..

To prepare for the test:

  1. download the Australian Citizenship: Our Common Bond booklet, which includes Part 4 on Australian values;
  2. listen to the new Our Common Bond podcast series; and
  3. test your knowledge with the practice test.

4. Urgent citizenship application and citizenship test appointment

Applications for Australian citizenship are processed based on the date of application lodgement. Requests for urgent processing and citizenship test appointments will only be considered in genuinely exceptional or compelling circumstances, supported by evidence. These requests are assessed on a case-by-case basis and may not be guaranteed approval.

If you’ve requested expedited processing or an urgent test appointment, there’s no need to contact the Department for updates. You’ll be notified once your request has been assessed.

Please note that the following circumstances are generally not considered exceptional or compelling:

The following types of circumstances are not generally considered exceptional or compelling:

  1. any circumstance relating to overseas travel where you are able to obtain a foreign travel document;
  2. family members have been invited to a test appointment or a citizenship ceremony;
  3. financial or employment opportunities.

5. Will my citizenship application be refused if I fail the citizenship test multiple times?

Generally, applicants have three appointment opportunities to sit and pass the citizenship test. If you have sat the test and failed on two previous appointments, you will be provided with another appointment opportunity to sit the test again. If you do not attend an appointment and did not advise the Department, this is considered one of your three opportunities to sit the test. In circumstances where an applicant has shown steady improvement in their scores over the three test appointments, the test administrator may provide them with a further appointment opportunity to sit and pass the test.

If you have been refused for not passing the test, you will need to reapply if you want to become an Australian citizen.

6. Travel overseas while the application is being processed

If you plan to travel overseas before obtaining Australian citizenship, it’s essential to maintain your permanent resident status in Australia.

Ensure you have a valid passport from your current country of citizenship. If your previous passport is expiring or has expired, you’ll need to obtain or renew it.

If the travel component of your permanent visa is nearing expiration or has already expired, applying for a Resident Return Visa is necessary to ensure your return to Australia as a permanent resident.

Inform the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) about your proposed travel dates to and from Australia. You might be asked to provide evidence of your return, intention to reside in Australia, or intention to maintain a close and continuing link with the country.

Under subsection 24(5) of the Australian Citizenship Act 2007, DHA is prohibited from approving an application while the applicant is outside Australia. Additionally, in most cases, attendance at a test appointment and ceremony in Australia is required as part of the application process.

If you’ve spent 90 days or more in a country outside Australia, you may need to provide a police clearance from that country.

7. Citizenship ceremony

Your Australian citizenship ceremony is typically scheduled within 12 months of your citizenship application approval. You will receive written notification from your local council or the Department once your ceremony has been arranged.

There is no need to proactively contact DHA or your local council regarding your ceremony.

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