Citizenship

General

Who determines Australian citizenship?

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) is responsible for matters relating to citizenship.

Applicants should be referred to DIAC if they have any questions concerning their citizenship status including if they:

DIAC contact details:

Doubt regarding Australian citizenship

An Authorised Officer must be satisfied that the applicant is an Australian citizen at the time of issue of an Australian passport.

Where officers have reason to question whether an applicant:

Under no circumstances is an Australian passport (including an Emergency passport) to be issued to an applicant unless citizenship has been properly established.

Loss of Australian citizenship

Adult applicants who acquired the citizenship or nationality of another country by doing any act or thing other than marriage before 4 April 2002 automatically lost their Australian citizenship. Their children under 18 years also lost their Australian citizenship unless the other parent was also an Australian citizen or permanent resident. People in this situation should be referred to DIAC to determine their citizenship status and to inquire about resumption of their Australian citizenship if necessary.

From 4 April 2002 acquiring the citizenship or nationality of another country does not result in the loss of Australian citizenship. However this is not retrospective and persons who acquired another citizenship prior to this date may have lost their Australian citizenship.

Passport application forms include a declaration regarding citizenship. Applicants who sign the declaration and meet all other criteria do not need to provide proof that they have not acquired citizenship or nationality of another country.

All citizenship enquiries must be referred to the Citizenship Section of DIAC for resolution before any document is issued.

Born in Australia

Citizenship by birth in Australia

Evidence of Australian citizenship by birth

Since the legal status of Australian citizenship came into force on 26 January 1949, there have been various changes to the Australian Citizenship Act 1948 relating to the acquisition of Australian citizenship by birth. Different rules apply, according to a person’s date of birth.

Information on the various kinds of documents that are acceptable as evidence of Australian citizenship is contained in DIAC form 119, Application for a Certificate of Evidence of Australian Citizenship. This form, and other citizenship information, is available from DIAC and at http://www.immi.gov.au/allforms/pdf/119.pdf

Australian birth certificate: evidence of citizenship

An Australian birth certificate can establish citizenship, as long as it is:

Born in Australia before 20 August 1986

People born in Australia before 26 January 1949

Australian citizenship did not exist before 26 January 1949. Before then, people born in Australia were British subjects. In most circumstances they automatically became Australian citizens on 26 January 1949.

Further information about the citizenship of people born in Australia before 26 January 1949 is available from DIAC.

People born in Australia between 26 January 1949 and 5 May 1966 inclusive

People born in Australia between 26 January 1949 and 5 May 1966 inclusive became Australian citizens by birth unless their father had the immunity from suit and legal process accorded to an envoy of a foreign country.

People born in Australia between 6 May 1966 and 21 November 1984 inclusive

People born in Australia between 6 May 1966 and 21 November 1984 inclusive became Australian citizens by birth unless their father was entitled to diplomatic privileges and immunities or was a consular officer of a foreign country and was not an Australian citizen or a permanent resident.

People born in Australia between 22 November 1984 and 19 August 1986 inclusive

People born in Australia between 22 November 1984 and 19 August 1986 inclusive became Australian citizens by birth unless one parent was entitled to diplomatic privileges and immunities or was a consular officer of a foreign country and neither parent was an Australian citizen or a permanent resident.

Born in Australia on or after 20 August 1986

General

People born in Australia (including Norfolk Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island) on or after 20 August 1986 are Australian citizens by birth if at least one parent was an Australian citizen or a permanent resident at the time of the person’s birth.

In cases where both the applicant and the parent(s) of the applicant were born after 20 August 1986 and neither of the parents has held an Australian passport with at least 2 years validity issued on or after 1 January 2000, the following applies:

In cases where the applicant is unable to provide supporting documentation to confirm their Australian citizenship, refer the applicant to DIAC.

Permanent resident

For these provisions, a permanent resident is a foreign national who:

Evidence of parent’s citizenship or permanent residency

Evidence of citizenship of a parent includes:

Birth not registered

Late registration of birth

Applicants that claim to have been born in Australia but their birth was not registered, must apply to an Australian Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages (RBDM) for a late registration of their birth and the issue of a birth certificate.

Late registration of birth is normally possible but the circumstances and conditions vary from State to State.

Birth in Australia that has not been registered

If an applicant’s birth in Australia is not registered, then a birth certificate may not have been issued.

In these cases, the applicant should:

Late registration of birth cannot be obtained

If late registration is not possible then the applicant should request written evidence from RBDM stating that no certificate can be issued.

The applicant must also provide other documentation of acceptable integrity to establish their date and place of birth. The applicant must provide:

Adoption in Australia

Citizenship by adoption in Australia

Normally, Australian adoption orders are presented directly to the relevant State Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages and a new birth certificate is issued.

The child then automatically acquires Australian citizenship providing the adoption occurred on or after 22 November 1984 and, at the time of adoption:

People adopted in Australia before 22 November 1984 do not automatically acquire Australian citizenship and may apply for conferral of Australian citizenship. Applicants adopted before this date must produce a certificate of Australian citizenship in support of their passport application.

Applicants for a passport need to submit their full birth certificate and, if born on or after 20 August 1986, proof that one parent was an Australian citizen or a permanent resident in Australia at the time of the adoption.

See also ‘ Applications for adopted children born overseas ’.

New Zealand parents

Applicant born in Australia to NZ parents

New Zealand citizens are subject to special citizenship arrangements. If both parents are New Zealand citizens, evidence from DIAC is required unless the applicant has a citizenship certificate or previous passport issued after 1 January 2000.

Where the applicant is unable to provide supporting documentation to confirm their Australian citizenship, refer the applicant to DIAC.

Australian birth certificate

Sample of a full Australian birth certificate

Doubt regarding authenticity of a birth certificate

If an Authorised Officer has doubt as to the authenticity or acceptability of a particular birth certificate, the officer must contact the relevant RBDM to confirm the details.

Occupation of parent listed on full Australian birth certificate

The occupation of each parent on the full birth certificate must be checked to ensure that neither parent was entitled to diplomatic privileges and immunities because of their employment by a foreign government or international organisation in Australia at the time of birth of the applicant (e.g. diplomat, consular, technical official etc). See ‘ Citizenship by birth in Australia ’.

Applicants whose parents’ occupations fall into these categories should be advised that they have no entitlement to Australian citizenship.

If a child’s birth certificate does not show the parents’ occupations, ask the applicant to present evidence that one parent was an Australian citizen or had permanent resident status at the time of their birth.

Unacceptable birth certificates

Extracts of birth certificates, commemorative birth certificates and birth cards cannot be accepted to establish Australian citizenship.

Extract of birth certificate

Extract of Australian Birth Certificate An extract of birth is not a full birth certificate. It is often an A5 size and does not:

Commemorative birth certificate

Commemorative Australian Birth Certificate Commemorative birth certificates are certificates with a theme or fancy graphic design. They cannot be accepted because they do not establish a person’s name at birth if the person has had a change of name between the time of birth and the time of issue of the commemorative birth certificate. In some cases the commemorative birth certificate does not show the parents’ occupation at the time of the applicant’s birth.

In all cases where a commemorative birth certificate is issued, clients are also issued standard format birth certificates. Advice is given by the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages in the application for a commemorative birth certificate that it cannot be used for official purposes.

Birth card

Birth cards are credit-card sized cards that the NSW Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages introduced as an alternative form of identification to extracts of birth certificates. The cards carry the same information as an extract, along with a photograph and signature of the holder.

Birth cards cannot be accepted for the purposes of confirming Australian citizenship, for the same reasons that extracts of birth certificates cannot be accepted.

The birth card can however be used for proof of identity purposes as it shows a photograph and signature of the person, which can be cross checked against the person and application at the time of the interview.

NSW RBDM stopped producing the birth card as of 1 August 2008. Birth cards still in circulation should not be accepted after 1 August 2013.

Born in Australian External Territories

Norfolk, Christmas, Cocos Islands

Christmas Island

Requirements for establishing Australian citizenship for a person born on Christmas Island are:

Note: If born on or after 20 August 1986, at least one parent must have been either an Australian citizen or permanent resident at the time of their birth (refer to ‘ Born in Australia on or after 20 August 1986 ’).

Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Requirements for establishing Australian citizenship for a person born on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands are:

Note: If born on or after 20 August 1986, at least one parent must have been either an Australian citizen or permanent resident at the time of their birth (refer to ‘ Born in Australia on or after 20 August 1986 ’).

Norfolk Island

Requirements for establishing Australian citizenship for a person born on Norfolk Island are:

Note: If born on or after 20 August 1986, at least one parent must have been either an Australian citizen or permanent resident at the time of their birth (refer to ‘ Born in Australia on or after 20 August 1986 ’).

Papua New Guinea

Born in Papua or New Guinea prior to PNG Independence

Papua New Guinea (PNG) became a sovereign nation on 16 September 1975. Prior to that date there were two separate territories, i.e.

Papua was part of Australia for the purposes of the Australian Citizenship Act 1948 but New Guinea was not.

Assessing applications for Australian citizenship from people born in Papua, prior to PNG Independence can be difficult. This is because of the interaction between Australian law and the PNG Constitution which together created the independent country of PNG. Further information can be obtained from DIAC. Applicants should be referred to DIAC where verification of Australian citizenship is necessary.

See also ‘ Australian citizenship acquired under transitional provisions ’.

Born in the former territory of Papua before 16 September 1975

Papua was defined as part of Australia for the purposes of the Australian Citizenship Act 1948, but not for the purposes of the Migration Act 1958. As a result, people born in Papua acquired Australian citizenship at birth.

However, a person born in Papua prior to 16 September 1975 automatically became a Papua New Guinea citizen and consequently lost Australian citizenship if they:

Born in the former territory of New Guinea before 16 September 1975

New Guinea was a Trust Territory and was not defined as part of Australia under either the Australian Citizenship Act 1948 or the Migration Act 1958.

People born in New Guinea prior to 16 September 1975 were Australian protected persons but were not Australian citizens by birth. People born in New Guinea from 26 January 1949 could be registered as Australian citizens by descent if they had at least one parent who was an Australian citizen at the time of their birth. People born in New Guinea could also apply to be naturalised as Australian citizens.

A person born in Papua and New Guinea prior to 16 September 1975 who did not automatically cease to be Australian citizens on Independence Day may have subsequently lost their Australian citizenship under the Australian Citizenship Act 1948, Section 17 by making the Declaration of Loyalty to PNG or by acquiring the citizenship of another country, or lost their Australian citizenship as a child on or after 16 September 1975 when a responsible parent lost their citizenship under section 17 of the Act.

Birth certificates showing birth in Papua and New Guinea before 16 September 1975

Persons born in the former territory of Papua or New Guinea prior to 16 September 1975 may be issued with a birth certificate from the ‘Territory of Papua and New Guinea’. As these birth certificates do not clearly define which territory the person was born, it is necessary to verify their citizenship status, if they do not hold proof of Australian citizenship.

Born Overseas

Requirements

People born outside Australia granted Australian citizenship

Australians born outside Australia are required to provide documentary evidence of Australian citizenship.

Over the years various forms of evidence of citizenship have been issued:

Prior to 1 July 2002 if a child was granted Australian citizenship with their parent, their personal details were included on a parent’s citizenship certificate. From 1 July 2002 all children who acquire Australian citizenship are issued with their own certificate.

Citizenship by Descent

People born outside Australia may have acquired citizenship by descent under the Australian Citizenship Act 2007.

The following evidence is required:

Adoption overseas

Types of adoptions

There are three types of overseas adoptions: intercountry adoptions, expatriate adoptions and private adoptions.

Intercountry adoptions

Expatriate adoptions

Overseas private adoptions

Adopted children born in Mainland China

Applications for adopted children born overseas

Required documentation

Transitional provisions

Australian citizenship acquired under transitional provisions

The Australian Citizenship Act 1948, Section 25 provided for the automatic acquisition of Australian citizenship by certain categories of people born before 26 January 1949 who were British subjects immediately prior to that date. The repeal of section 25 on 1 May 1987 did not affect the Australian citizenship status of people who acquired citizenship under these provisions.

Relevant categories of people are:

Passport applicants who automatically acquired Australian citizenship under the transitional provisions of the Australian Citizenship Act 1948 and who do not hold documentary evidence of citizenship, must apply to DIAC for a Certificate of Evidence of Australian Citizenship.