For most people, the final step in becoming an Australian citizen is making the pledge of commitment. Once your application has been approved arrangements will be made for you to attend a citizenship ceremony where you will make the Pledge. Making the Pledge is the final legal requirement to become an Australian citizen. Most ceremonies are arranged by your local council. Generally, it takes three to six months from the time your application is approved to be invited to a ceremony. You will receive a letter of invitation from either your local council or the department.
If you need to change the date of your ceremony the department can generally accommodate you but you will need to let the department know as soon as possible.
Travelling before your ceremony
You cannot get an Australian passport until you have made the pledge and officially become an Australian citizen.
If you need to travel outside Australia after you have been approved for citizenship but before your ceremony, you must travel on your current passport. This will not affect your ability to attend your ceremony or become an Australian citizen.
Before you depart you must ensure you have a visa that allows you to re-enter Australia for your ceremony. If the travel validity period on you permanent visa has expired, or is about to expire, you will need to apply for a Resident Return Visa.
If you do plan to travel outside Australia before your ceremony, please let us know. Contact the Citizenship Information Line.
Telephone: 131 880 between 8.30 am and 4.30 pm Monday to Friday.
Attending a ceremony
Attending a citizenship ceremony is important. You will not become an Australian citizen until you have attended your citizenship ceremony and made the pledge.
Also, the decision to approve your application could be reviewed and cancelled if you do not attend a citizenship ceremony within 12 months of your application being approved. If you have an acceptable reason for not attending within that time, an exception may be made.
Some people are not required to attend a citizenship ceremony and make the Pledge of Commitment if you:
- have a permanent or enduring physical or mental incapacity
- were born to a former Australian citizen
- were born in Papua
- were stateless when born in Australia
- are a child 15 years of age and under
- are granted Australian citizenship by descent or adoption
- are resuming their Australian citizenship.
But most importantly, attending a citizenship ceremony is an occasion for celebration with friends and family and members of your new community.
Urgent ceremonies can be arranged in very limited circumstances. You will need to provide evidence that your need is urgent.
You will usually receive an invitation to your citizenship ceremony well in advance. This will give you time to arrange leave from work, if you need to, and invite family and friends to join you at the ceremony.
Your children can also attend the ceremony. If they are under 16 years of age and were included on your application form they will become citizens when you do. They will not have to make the Pledge but are welcome to do so.
If they are aged 16 years of age or over they will need to make the pledge.
Space restrictions at certain venues may limit the number of guests you can invite but your letter of invitation will usually advise you. Some organisations also arrange for citizenship candidates to sit together, so you may be sitting away from your family and friends. If you have to sit away from your children during the ceremony make sure that they are properly supervised.
If you have any special needs, please let the department know at your citizenship appointment or by calling the Citizenship Information Line during business hours.
Telephone: 131 880
What to bring
Your letter of invitation will ask you to bring your invitation and identification. Appropriate forms of identification are:
- a driver's licence, or
- a passport, or
- another official document which includes a photograph.
If you do not have any form of photographic identification you will need to bring at least three documents with your name, address and signature such as credit cards, bills and bank statements.
Children under 16 years of age do not need to provide identification.
If you want to make the pledge of commitment on a holy book please ensure you bring the book to the ceremony. Holy books are not always provided by the ceremony organisers.
What to wear
People attending citizenship ceremonies usually wear smart casual or formal clothing. If the ceremony is being held outdoors you may want to take a hat and some sunscreen.
What happens at the ceremony?
You should allow about two hours for a citizenship ceremony. Generally, you will be asked to arrive about 30 – 40 minutes before the ceremony so that you can register and find your seat.
The ceremony itself will probably take about an hour and most ceremonies have a similar order of proceedings.
After you are seated there will be a formal introduction, speeches and an address that precedes making the Pledge.
Then the presiding officer will ask you to repeat the pledge of commitment out loud. The Pledge you say will be the one you chose on your application form.
When you have made the pledge you will be an Australian citizen.
The National Anthem will be played and the ceremony will conclude with light refreshments. Sometimes the ceremony organisers provide a small gift.
The ceremony organisers may take photographs and film during the ceremony. Sometimes the media will attend the ceremony too.
Occasionally, the department photographs new citizens for promotional purposes but you will be asked for your consent before these images are used.
Your family and friends are allowed to photograph you during the ceremony as long as they do not disrupt other participants and their guests.
Once the ceremony has been completed you will be offered the opportunity to put your name on the Australian electoral roll, so that you can vote in Australian elections. You may complete your enrolment form at the ceremony or take it home to complete later. Whatever you decide to do, it is your responsibility to enrol to vote once you become a citizen. Voting in Australia is compulsory.
After you have made the Pledge you will be able to apply for and travel on an Australian passport.
Your citizenship certificate
Once you have made the pledge, you will then receive your citizenship certificate unless you are attending an urgent ceremony, in which case your certificate may be posted to you.
Your citizenship certificate will be issued in the name you gave on your application form, which should be your legal name at the time your citizenship was approved.
Your citizenship certificate is an important legal document, which you should look after. You will need it when you apply to get an Australian passport.
It is an offence to deface or alter this document. You must not write on it, laminate it or change any details on it. You should notify the department if your certificate is lost or stolen.
After you have received your citizenship certificate there may be an Australian citizenship affirmation ceremony.