2.2.4.10 Verifying Residence/Citizenship

General requirements

It is a basic qualification (or claim) requirement for almost all pensions, allowances and benefits that a person must be an Australian resident.

To be an Australian resident, a person MUST:

Criterion

More Detail

Reside in Australia, AND

SS Guide 3.1.1.10

Be ONE of the following:

- an Australian citizen, OR

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- the holder of a permanent visa, OR

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- an SCV holder who is a protected SCV holder.

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Note: From 26 February 2001 SCV holders (people who arrive on New Zealand passports) do not meet the definition of an Australian resident and are therefore not entitled to social security payments, unless they are 'protected SCV holders'. However, SCV holders have permission to remain in Australia indefinitely.

Act reference: SSAct section 7(2) Australian resident

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.1.1.10 Residence requirements

Verifying Australian citizenship

The concept of Australian citizenship was introduced on 26 January 1949 with the enactment of the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948, which is now called the Australian Citizenship Act. Prior to this anyone born in Australia was considered to be a British subject. On 26 January 1949 people born in Australia automatically became citizens of Australia in most situations.

Generally a person born in Australia after the commencement of the Australian Citizenship Act 1948 is an Australian citizen by birth. There are a number of ways of verifying that a person is an Australian citizen, depending on how and when the person became a citizen. A person could be an Australian citizen by:

  • birth, or
  • descent, or
  • acquisition (naturalisation), or
  • adoption.

People born in Australia

The following table explains how Australian citizenship is issued to people born in Australia.

If the person was born in Australia…

Explanation

before 26 January 1949.

If they were British subjects, in most circumstances, they automatically became Australian citizens on 26 January 1949, unless their father was a foreign diplomat.

between 26 January 1949 and 19 August 1986.

They are Australian citizens by birth unless their father was a foreign diplomat.

on or after 20 August 1986.

They became Australian citizens at birth if:

  • they were born in Australia and at least one of the parents was an Australian citizen or permanent resident of Australia, OR
  • they acquired Australian citizenship by their 10th birthday if:
    • neither of their parents were Australian citizens or permanent residents at the time of their birth, and
    • they have been ordinarily resident in Australia for the 10 years since birth.

Note: The Department of Home Affairs sight passports, baptismal certificates, school reports, club memberships or banking records etc. as evidence of a person's residence in Australia for the 10 years since birth. The Department of Home Affairs makes a determination regarding 'ordinary residence' similar to that which Centrelink makes regarding 'residence in Australia' under SSAct section 7(3).

People born in Australia to New Zealand citizen parents

The following table explains how Australian citizenship is issued to people born in Australia to New Zealand citizen parents.

If the person was born in Australia…

Explanation

between 20 August 1986 and 31 August 1994.

A person born during this period to New Zealand citizen parents (who are not also Australian citizens) did not acquire Australian citizenship by birth. However, they acquired Australian citizenship by their 10th birthday:

  • even if neither of their parents were Australian citizens or permanent residents at the time of their birth, and
  • they have been ordinarily resident in Australia for the 10 years since birth.

between 1 September 1994 and 26 February 2001.

A person born in Australia during this time became an Australian citizen at birth if neither parent was an Australian citizen or permanent resident but one of them was a New Zealand citizen present in Australia as an SCV holder.

The above does not apply if at the time of the person's birth the mother or the father was in Australia as a diplomat, official guest, members of crew of an aircraft or vessel, member of the New Zealand armed forces, or the spouse or dependent relative of such persons.

after 27 February 2001.

A person born in Australia to New Zealand citizen parents (who are not also Australian citizens) generally do not become Australian citizens at birth unless one or both of the parents have applied for and been granted a permanent residence visa.

after 27 February 2001.

A person born to New Zealand citizens present in Australia as SCV holders (except diplomats, official guests, members of crew of an aircraft or vessel, members of the New Zealand armed forces, or the spouse of dependent relatives of such persons) acquire citizenship at birth only if the New Zealand parent:

  • was in Australia on 26 February 2001, or
  • if not in Australia on 26 February 2001 was in Australia for a period, or periods that total, not less than one year in the 2 years immediately before that date, or has been issued with a Centrelink certificate stating that the holder was residing in Australia on a particular date.

after 26 February 2001.

A person born in Australia to New Zealand citizen parents acquired Australian citizenship by their 10th birthday even if neither of their parents were Australian citizens or permanent residents at the time of their birth, if they have been ordinarily resident in Australia for the 10 years since birth.

People born in existing external territories

Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Christmas Island, Heard and McDonald, Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Coral Sea Islands, Australian Antarctic Territory and Norfolk Island are Australia's external territories. The same rules apply to people born in these external territories as for Australian residents in Australia in relation to access to Australian citizenship. Prior to 1 July 2016, Norfolk Island was the only inhabited external territory that was not part of Australia for social security purposes.

People born in former external territories

Papua, New Guinea and Nauru were external territories of Australia until they were given independence.

People born in the former Australian territory of Papua before 16 September 1975

The following table explains how Australian citizenship is issued to people born in the former Australian territory of Papua before 16 September 1975.

If the person was born in Papua…

Explanation

before 26 January 1949.

They acquired Australian citizenship on 26 January 1949.

before 16 September 1975.

People born in the former Australian territory of Papua prior to 16 September 1975 who have at least 2 grandparents born in Papua New Guinea or adjacent areas are not considered Australian citizens UNLESS:

  • they have been granted the right of permanent residence in Australia, or
  • they possessed another citizenship, other than Australian or Papua New Guinean.

People born in the former Australian territory of Nauru before 31 December 1968

The following table explains how Australian citizenship is issued to people born in the former Australian territory of Nauru before 31 December 1968.

If the person was born in Nauru…

Explanation

before 26 January 1949.

They acquired Australian citizenship on 26 January 1949.

before 31 December 1968.

People born in the former Australian territory of Nauru prior to 31 December 1968 who have at least 2 grandparents born in Nauru or adjacent areas are not considered Australian citizens UNLESS:

  • they have been granted the right of permanent residence in Australia, or
  • they possessed another citizenship, other than Australian or Nauru.

Note: Lord Howe Island and Macquarie Island are both part of Australia and are NOT external territories and people from these territories are Australian permanent residents and citizens and the same rules would apply to them as for Australian residents in Australia and those from former external territories.

Policy reference: SS Guide 3.1.1.20 Residence in External Territories

Australian citizen by descent

Citizenship by descent may be acquired by a person born outside Australia who is the natural child of an Australian citizen. A person becomes a citizen on the date they are registered as a citizen by the Department of Home Affairs. A certificate of citizenship is issued after registration.

If the person was…

Explanation

under 25 years of age and born outside Australia.

They may become Australian citizens by descent if at least one parent was an Australian citizen at the time of birth of that person.

born outside Australia between 26 January 1949 and 15 January 1974.

They may become Australian citizens by descent if at least one parent was an Australian citizen at the time of birth of that person.

born outside Australia on or after 26 January 1949 and is over 18 years on 15 January 1992.

A person may apply to the Minister to be registered as an Australian citizen if a natural parent of the applicant was an Australian citizen at the time of birth of the applicant or is dead and was an Australian citizen at the time of death.

Australian citizenship by acquisition (naturalisation)

The following table explains how Australian citizenship is issued by acquisition (naturalisation).

If the person…

Explanation

was a British subject on 25 January 1949 and they were ordinarily resident in Australia for the 5 year period from 26 January 1944 until 25 January 1949.

They acquired Australian citizenship on 26 January 1949.

was a British subject born overseas to an Australian father before 26 January 1949.

They acquired Australian citizenship if they entered Australia:

  • before 26 January 1949 as a permanent resident, OR
  • - between 26 January 1949 and 30 April 1987 and was a British subject at the time provided the father was a British subject on 25 January 1949 and was born or naturalised in Australia or was born in New Guinea.

is a woman who was a British subject on 25 January 1949 and married to an Australian citizen, and entered Australia as a permanent resident before this date.

They may have acquired Australian citizenship on 26 January 1949.

was born in New Guinea and was a British subject on 25 January 1949.

They acquired Australian citizenship on 26 January 1949.

has resided in Australia as a permanent resident for 2 years.

They acquire Australian citizenship by naturalisation if they apply and have it conferred.

Australian citizenship by adoption

The following table explains how Australian citizenship is granted to people who have been adopted.

If the person was…

Explanation

adopted in Australia.

Where an adoption order is made under Australian law after the child arrives in Australia as a permanent resident, and at least one of the adoptive parents is an Australian citizen, the child will automatically acquire Australian citizenship. An application for Australian citizenship is not required, but parents may apply for a Certificate of Evidence of Australian Citizenship (also known as a declaratory certificate).

adopted overseas.

A permanent residence visa is granted to the child, which will appear in the child's foreign passport.

Where the adoptive parents have been resident overseas for at least 12 months at the time of the adoption and at least one parent is an Australian citizen, the adoptive child may be eligible for grant of Australian citizenship even if the adoption is not recognised under Australian law.

Where a full adoption occurs overseas, an application for the grant of Australian citizenship is required.

Where a state or territory welfare authority has arranged an adoption, Australian citizenship will not normally be granted until all the requirements have been completed and the adoption has been recognised under Australian law.

The requirements for Australian citizenship in this case are similar to the adoption visa requirements.

Following the grant of Australian citizenship, the adoptive child is eligible for an Australian passport. If Australian citizenship is granted prior to entry to Australia, an adoption visa is not required.

adopted in Australia on or after 22 November 1984.

Acquired Australian citizenship at the time of adoption in Australia if adopted by an Australian citizen and the child was a permanent resident of Australia at the time of adoption.

Note: An application for Australian citizenship is not required, but parents may apply for a Certificate of Evidence of Australian Citizenship (also known as a declaratory certificate).

Note:

  • To be eligible for visa subclass 102 (adoption), the adoption must have the approval of an Australian state or territory welfare authority.
  • If the child has been adopted under The Hague Convention or the Australia-China Agreement, the adoption is recognised under Australian law.

There are some other, much less common, ways of acquiring Australian citizenship not described in the above tables. For persons who claim to be Australian citizens but do not fit into any of the above categories, DHS staff are able to make enquiries that will often obtain proof of Australian citizenship. If DHS staff cannot obtain that proof they can suggest further avenues of enquiry available to the person themselves.

Verifying a person is the holder of a permanent visa

The most usual way of verifying that a person is the holder of a permanent visa is to sight evidence of the visa (i.e. a visa label) in the person's passport or obtain the information electronically direct from the Department of Home Affairs. Children may have been included on a parent's visa.

A person may have been granted a visa but not have evidence of the visa in their passport. In such cases, verification of the grant of the visa can be obtained from the Department of Home Affairs. Alternatively, Centrelink may accept an original letter from the Department of Home Affairs stating that the person has been granted permanent residence.

Explanation: A visa is permission to travel to, enter and/or remain in Australia. This permission is granted by means of a decision made under the Migration Regulations. The visa label in a person's passport is simply evidence of that permission.

Policy reference: SS Guide 9.1.1 Checking Visas, 9.1.2.10 Permanent visas

Verifying a person is a protected SCV holder

From 26 February 2001 new social security rules apply to SCV holders. See 3.1.1.10 Residence requirements for more information.

A person's status as a protected SCV holder can be verified by checking the date/s of arrival in Australia in the person's New Zealand passport or obtain the information electronically from the Department of Home Affairs.

All cases requiring assessment under any of the protected provisions are automatically referred to CIS for verification and recording.

Verifying a person is an SCV holder

An SCV is granted to New Zealand citizens lawfully entering Australia using a New Zealand passport, if they do NOT hold a permanent visa. Grant of an SCV is evidenced by a 'port and date' stamp in the New Zealand passport. There will not usually be an adhesive visa label.

New Zealand citizens may apply for an SCV after arrival, through the Department of Home Affairs. This might happen where, for example, a New Zealand citizen has dual citizenship and arrives on the passport of the other country (most commonly the UK). In these cases the person will receive an 'SCV holder' stamp in their New Zealand passport.

Act reference: SSAct section 7(2) Australian resident, section 7(3) In deciding for the purposes of this Act…

Policy reference: SS Guide 9.1.2.40 New Zealand citizens

Last reviewed: 1 July 2016