Australian citizen by birth
Whether you are an Australian citizen by birth depends on the date of your birth.
Most children born in Australia before 20 August 1986 are Australian citizens by birth unless one parent was entitled to diplomatic privileges or was a consular officer of another country.
Children born after that date are only Australian citizens if at least one parent was an Australian citizen or permanent resident at the time of their birth.
Children born in Australia to parents who are not Australian citizens or permanent residents, automatically acquire Australian citizenship on their 10th birthday if they have lived most of their life in Australia.
Long term residents in Australia
Many long term permanent residents believe they are Australian citizens because they are able to vote or may have served in the Australian armed services. Until 1984, people born in the United Kingdom could enrol to vote without being Australian citizens.
Whether you are a citizen of Australia depends on your date of arrival. The Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948 came into effect on 26 January 1949. At that time, British subjects (or people naturalised as British subjects) living in Australia became Australian citizens provided they had been living in Australia for five years prior to that date.
British subjects, who had been ordinarily resident in Australia for the five year period between 26 January 1944 and 26 January 1949, automatically acquired Australian citizenship when the Citizenship Act came into effect on 26 January 1949.
Since then the Citizenship Act has been amended many times. These amendments and the transitional arrangements and provisions of the first citizenship Act have meant that some people could have automatically acquired or lost Australian citizenship over the intervening years.
For citizenship information that is more than 30 years old, please consult the National Archives of Australia.
Proof of citizenship
You are able to apply for evidence of your Australian citizenship if you ever had, or have been included in, a certificate that says you are an Australian citizen.
If you think you might be an Australian citizen, but you are unsure of your Australian citizenship status, you can also apply.
See: Proof of Australian Citizenship
You can also request confimation of the Australian citizenship status of a deceased parent or grandparent for official purposes.
See: Requesting confirmation of Australian citizenship status of a deceased person
Amending your personal details
If the name or date of birth on your current citizenship certificate is incorrect or has changed since you became an Australian citizen, you may correct or change your details.
See: Amending name or date of birth details for Australian citizens
Australian citizens travelling and living overseas
An Australian passport is the most conclusive proof of Australian citizenship when travelling. As an Australian citizen you must always leave and enter Australia on an Australian passport.
If you also have a passport from another country you can use that for travel once you have left Australia.
See: Citizenship and travel
As an Australian citizen, you do not lose your citizenship simply because you live overseas.
However, if you acquired citizenship of another country before 4 April 2002 you automatically lost your Australian citizenship because of the operation of the Australian citizenship legislation.
See: Losing your citizenship
Changes to the citizenship legislation mean you can now apply to resume your citizenship.
See: Changes to lodgement requirements to resume or renounce Austrlian Citizenship
Giving up Australian citizenship
You do not lose your Australian citizenship simply because you live overseas. However, if you acquired citizenship of another country and are required to or wish to give up your Australian citizenship you must apply to do so.
See: Giving up Australian citizenship
It is possible to hold citizenship of two or more countries if the law of those countries allow. This is known as dual, or multiple, citizenship.
People can become dual citizens automatically, or after being granted citizenship of another country.
See: Dual citizenship
The Australian Citizenship Act 2007 allows for revocation of Australian citizenship for convictions for actions prior to the acquisition of citizenship. Australian citizenship can be revoked if:
- a person has been convicted of making a false statement or representation in relation to the person's application to become an Australian citizen
- a person is convicted of a serious criminal offence at any time prior to becoming a citizen involving a sentence of 12 months or more
- the approval to become an Australian citizen was gained as a result of migration-related fraud
- the approval to become an Australian citizen was gained as a result of third party fraud; for example, fraudulent conduct by a migration agent in the citizenship application
- it would be contrary to the public interest for the person to remain an Australian citizen.
People who have their citizenship revoked become the holders of an ex-citizen visa and are subject to the provisions of the Migration Act 1958, including the requirement to be of good character.
The Migration Act 1958 provides for the cancellation of a visa, and removal of the former visa-holder from Australia, if the person is found to be no longer of good character.
An Australian citizen by birth cannot have their Australian citizenship revoked. Similarly, a person conferred citizenship, after fully disclosing all relevant factors, cannot have their Australian citizenship revoked.
Children under the age of 18 may also have their citizenship revoked unless the other responsible parent is an Australian citizen or the child would become stateless.