How to Become an Australian Citizen

I imagine most of you reading a title like that are hoping to see something like this:

  1. Call this toll-free number – 1800 123456789-TEN
  2. When prompted, leave your full name and address.
  3. When asked for the purpose of your call answer, clearly, “Australian Citizenship”.
  4. Wait for your citizenship certificate to turn up in the post.

Citizenship CertificateBut, of course, it’s not like that.

The reality is, it’s very much harder than that.  For the vast majority of people, the only way to do it is to start by getting some kind of visa to come to Australia. To qualify for a visa you would have to have enough points.

You can find more about how that works over on my page about visas.

What I am talking about today is how to go from “permanent resident” to “Australian citizen”.

Two weeks ago I posted a reprint of one of my Australia and New Zealand magazine articles, it was called Becoming an Australian Citizen: It’s Just a Ride!

That was the article I wrote after becoming an Australian citizen. Turns out I printed that article out of turn, what I should have posted was my article called “Australian Citizenship”.

I’m sure you can see how easy it was to make that mistake.

That article appeared in the magazine in January of this year, but I wrote it on on 8 November last year, just four days before my fourth anniversary of living in Australia. That’s an important date as you will see in this article.

Here it is, slightly amended with links that I just couldn’t add in the print version…

The right to stay.

ANZ JanMoving to Australia isn’t easy, there’s lots of dull paperwork to fill in. Questions you need to answer; things you need to prove; medicals to take; criminal records to be checked. Oh, and a not insignificant amount of money will need to pass over to the Australian government.

Not to mention, which I’m now doing, Australia will need to want you. Is your skill in demand? Are you “young” enough? No, it’s not easy getting into Australia.

But supposing you do get in, supposing you get that visa? Well, that’s just great, isn’t it? You can now start your new life down under. Except, you’re not quite there yet. Because it’s most likely you will be entering Australia on either a temporary visa or a permanent residency visa.

Effectively, you’re in Australia as a guest. Guests can be shown the proverbial door. This door has the longest hallway in the world; as long as 11,000 miles for some. Yes, I’m talking about deportation. Not good.

You may think I’m getting carried away here, but that’s the scary prospect facing one British engineer. You may have read the story; I know it reached the UK. He was convicted of fare evasion and now has a criminal record. This could prevent him from being accepted as an Australian citizen, should he apply.

Being an Australian citizen is the only way you can secure the right to stay in this country. Under the terms of my entry into Australia, to get from a permanent resident, as I am, to Australian citizen, as I plan to be, I need to live here for four years. Without collecting a criminal record.

Well, I managed it for over 40 years in the UK, and I’ve now managed it for nearly 4 years here in Australia. I’m proud to announce that as I write this, I only have four days left to go.

So close, I can smell it.

So, as long as I don’t go fare dodging, everything will be okay, right?

Not so fast. I have to pass my citizenship test. “The citizenship test consists of 20 questions drawn at random from a pool of questions. To pass the test, you must correctly answer 75 per cent, or 15 out of 20 questions…”


But not to worry, help is at hand.

There is a free e-book which can be downloaded from the government’s website which will help me revise for the test. So I’ve got to go, I have work to do. 75% seems pretty high to me, I can’t remember getting anything as high as that when I was at school.

Hang on a tick; they also have a six part video series which you can now watch on my page called How to Pass Your Australian Citizenship Test! I don’t have to read the PDF!

Great stuff!

I’ll crack a tinnie, settle down on the deck chair by the pool and veg out in front of my laptop. No worries. Let me just get some snags to chuck on the barbie, I’m a bit peckish. Now I’m good.

Hold up, I can’t see the screen on the laptop, it’s too sunny.  I may as well get my togs and go for a dip. I can check that other stuff out tomorrow.

I’m sure I’ll be right, I feel a bit Aussie already.

Visa Assessment Service
{ 26 comments… add one }
  • Sheena Jeffery January 13, 2021, 3:00 pm |

    Hi Bob, we a family of 9 came out to Australia as 10 pound poms in 1970 we are all except one nationalised. How does my 60year young brother get his citizenship??

    • BobinOz January 14, 2021, 6:41 pm |

      I don’t really know, is the short answer. I am also not allowed to answer these kinds of questions, as it’s law here that only MARA registered migration agents can do that. I don’t think there’s any harm in me suggesting that you Google “Subclass 115 Remaining Relative visa” which may or may not be suitable for your situation.

      If you do seriously want to look into this though, then maybe you could consider going through my Visa Assessment Service and my MARA registered agent will give you more accurate guidance and answer your questions.

      Good luck, Bob

  • Amrit ? March 30, 2016, 5:35 am |

    hy ? bro?
    well bro m frm india nd m uncle live in australia nd he s cumin to india in june
    nd i want to live wid him for always bcuse his wife nd son dead in a car accdnt two years before
    he s really close to mee nd he also want to adopt to mew oR
    apply for m visa on my behalf so wat u think bro can i get the visa ? to live wid him ? m still a student m of 21 now .

  • Query February 26, 2016, 5:01 am |

    Hey Bob,

    Nice article. Some good information. I have filed my 189 PR visa and now awaitig a decision. I have following queries for which I need your help:

    1. For citizenship, I need to spend 4 continous years in Australia? Does this mean I cannot leave Australia even for one day to go somewhere our on a vacation? What is maximum duration allowed?.

    2. What is the visa fees for PR reneval visa after 5 years?

    3. Can my spouse work freely as me?


    • BobinOz February 26, 2016, 6:53 pm |

      Thanks, clad you like the article. You would need to speak to a MARA migration agent to get answers for questions 2 and 3, but I can tell you for the first question that yes, you are allowed to go away on vacation.

      You do need to check the latest regulations and the terms that apply to your particular visa, but you do get a maximum number of days during the PR period that you are allowed to be out of the country, I don’t know exactly what that number is but it’s reasonably generous.

  • Sophie June 13, 2015, 1:21 pm |

    Hi Bob, quick question – once you gain citizenship, are you required to stay in Australia for a certain amount of time, or can you leave to live elsewhere as soon as you’ve got an Australian passport?

    Some background…I’m a British citizen on the road to Australian citizenship via a Partner Visa, but me and partner would like to experience living in the UK for a few years too. The ideal situation for us would be for me to gain citizenship here in Australia, so we can return together whenever we like. But as soon as I do, leave for the UK to see how it goes over there (taking the necessary steps toward gaining long stay visas and citizenship over there too, of course).

    What are your thoughts?

    • BobinOz June 14, 2015, 11:34 pm |

      As far as I am aware, once you have Australian citizenship you can come and go as you please. I would advise that you keep your Australian passport up to date though, it would make things much easier. That said, I do suggest you verify that officially with the Australian government or DIBP.

      Good luck, Bob

  • Jo June 3, 2015, 7:00 pm |

    Just a quick question. If I get Australian citizen by descent – my father was born in OZ. Do my NZ born children get Aus citizenship?

    • BobinOz June 3, 2015, 8:47 pm |

      Sorry Jo, but I don’t know the answer to that one. You would need to speak to the immigration department direct about that or maybe talk it through with a MARA registered migration agent.

  • deep May 29, 2015, 12:07 pm |

    hi i was interested in knowing how much money will it take for a person to buy permanent residency in Australia… age 55

  • David April 3, 2015, 2:43 pm |

    Hi Bob,

    My family and I are permanent residents (189 visa) and have lived in Australia for 2.5 years. We are thinking of taking Australian citizenship in about 2 years time.

    However, my child was recently diagnosed with a neurological disorder that is chronic and will affect his ability to live independently in the future.

    Will this affect his eligibility to become a citizen?

    Thanks, David

    • BobinOz April 4, 2015, 8:36 pm |

      Hi David

      Firstly, I am very sorry to hear of your child’s condition. Whether or not it will affect your eligibility for Australian citizenship very much depends on the nature of the condition.

      My understanding is that highly contagious diseases can be a problem, but clearly this is not the case here. Then there are conditions that can require ongoing and expensive medical care which could be an issue with your child’s disorder, you would know better about that and I do.

      What I suggest is that you Google “Fact Sheet 22—The Health Requirement” for more information concerning the guidelines as issued by immigration.

      Good luck, Bob

  • Ali November 28, 2014, 7:34 pm |


    I have passed citizenship test and have to leave australia soon. I will have to return to Australia for the ceremony. But I am not sure if they allow me to re-enter Australia. I am currently permanent resident but i should not leave the country until I stay for few more year, which I can not afford. Pls let me know if I can get some kind of temporary visa to re-enter Australia for ceremony.



    • BobinOz November 29, 2014, 12:23 am |

      I can’t help you with this one Ali, I think you will need to contact the immigration department directly, I think most major cities have offices and you can go in and speak to them. Or you can telephone.

      Good luck, Bob

      • Sedat May 19, 2016, 8:07 am |

        Hey bob how are you my wife been Australia for 2 and half years here when is she getting the visa

        • BobinOz May 19, 2016, 7:24 pm |

          I am fine and I have no idea.

  • ali September 17, 2014, 8:40 pm |

    i want to ask that i have subclass188 at this time and i want apply citizenship can i apply or not

    • BobinOz September 18, 2014, 5:04 pm |

      I couldn’t tell you Ali, you should either do some research on the Australian government’s Immi website or discuss your situation with a MARA agent to see if you meet the criteria needed to apply for citizenship.

  • Valter Russo July 17, 2013, 1:24 pm |

    Hi Bob,

    Im glad you don’t know 1st person how to answer this question, so here it goes
    if you fail the Australian Citizenship Test will you be able to repeat it any time soon?
    im not even there but im already dreaming:D

    Valter Russo

    • BobinOz July 18, 2013, 2:05 pm |

      Trust me, it’s a very difficult test to fail, but yes, you will be able to take it again and again. Not sure on the exact rules, but you will get another go.

  • Mandy Melville-Love May 29, 2012, 11:47 pm |

    Well done Bob on getting your Citizenship. My partner and I are just embarking on our journey to emigrate to Oz and it’s very daunting, especially the ‘invitation only’ change that’s imminent!

    Anyway, thanks for your blogs – they always offer some wonderful piece of advice.

    • BobinOz May 30, 2012, 8:10 pm |

      Hi Mandy

      Thanks, it feels good to be an Aussie 🙂

      Yes, it is a daunting journey and also quite expensive. Worth it if you make it in the end though. I hope it goes smoothly for you.



  • Trevor May 24, 2012, 10:36 am |

    I came here back in the 10 pound Pom days of 1968 when all you needed was a travel document and a good attitude.The medical consisted of ‘cough,please’ and the paperwork was almost non existent.At 18,my best friend and I could not believe our luck when we rocked up to Southampton Docks and boarded the vast (it was to us) Angelina Lauro,the Italian liner that was to take us to Australia.We were early refugees from the turmoil in Belfast and both our fathers paid our fares in order to get us out of the firing line.It was a no brainer.All those images of sun filled days at the beach, scantily clad young ladies,career and study opportunities plus ,plus plus versus the dismal backdrop of a cold,wet,industrial city where people were firing guns and blowing up buildings.I was’nt that keen on ‘Skippy’ the TV programme being shown in the UK at the time but thought if that was the only feeble objection I could think off I had better go.
    Fast forward to 2012 and here I am living cheerfully on the Gold Coast.I had a stint back in the UK where I lived and operated businesses in Cornwall but the pull of Oz proved too great.
    It is never easy to emigrate.There will always be the pull of the mother country and the absence of family and friends.These days the airfares are very reasonable so it is not difficult to nip back every few years.
    I still wear beer googles and fondly reminisce of the ‘auld country’ but I honestly believe I am in the right place now.The real proof is in the development of your own children.My four have achieved well and make a real contribution to Australian society.You do get used to your kids having a different accent to you.
    Well done,Bob and family for completing your four year internship.The Oz authorities certainly don’t make it easy these days but the journey is worth it.

    • BobinOz May 25, 2012, 8:44 pm |

      Hi Trevor

      Things have clearly changed a lot since those “good old days”, it’s a great story of yours but I’m sure it has also made some people green with envy 🙂

      They’d be thinking, if only I could pay just 10 quid, cough in a medical and jump on a boat, I’d do it tomorrow.

      I think you hit the nail on the head when you talk about the proof being in the development of your own children. I came out here because I wanted something better for my daughter and I truly believe I have made the right choice. Sounds like you are convinced, even after all these years, that you also made the right choice.

      Thanks for taking the time to tell us your story, it’s much appreciated.

      PS. How can you not like Skippy?

Leave a Comment

If your comment doesn’t get answered, find out why…..
FAQs and Comment Policy.