Moving to Australia from New Zealand?

Get all information you need to make a successful and stress-free move across the ditch.

Australian permanent residents or New Zealand citizens can become Australian citizens (by conferral).

From 1 July 2023, there is a new direct pathway to Australian citizenship for eligible New Zealand citizens who have lived in Australia for over four years.

On the 22nd of April 2023, Australia announced a new direct pathway to citizenship for eligible NZ citizens who have been living in Australia on a valid visa for 4 years immediately before the day they apply. They must not have been absent from Australia for more than 12 months in total in the past 4 years, including no more than 90 days in total in the 12 months immediately before applying.

The new law will apply to Kiwis on temporary, special category visas (SCV) who have arrived since 2001 and lived in Australia for four years and meet the standard criteria for citizenship – such as an English test, demonstrating “adequate knowledge” of Australia, and including character checks and intention to reside in Australia.

There is no income threshold or health check required.

The application fee is $540 for an adult, $330 for 16 or 17-year-olds, $330 for 15 and under, or no cost if included on the parent’s application. These costs are well below the old fees which were over A$4000.

Please note, this new direct pathway to Australian citizenship is for New Zealand citizens who are living in Australia and are 59 years and under. If you are 60 years of age or older, see Person 60 years and older. The eligibility and requirements appear to be the same as if you were under 60, but the form is different.

Children born in Australia since July 1, 2022, to a New Zealand parent living there, will also automatically be entitled to citizenship, making critical services available to them.

All Citizenship by Conferral applicants
From the Department of Home Affairs website

They are receiving a higher than usual number of requests for international travel movement records. When entering your travel dates, dates of first arrival or visa grant dates, an estimated date will be accepted and a processing officer will confirm exact dates within our systems as required after you lodge your application.

In this post you will find helpful information on:

Apply for Australian citizenship (by conferral)

New Zealand citizens living in Australia can apply to become Australian citizens after living in Australia for over four years if they meet the eligibility requirements.

From 1 July 2023, New Zealand citizens who have been living in Australia for four years or more will be eligible to apply directly for Australian citizenship. They will no longer need to first apply for and be granted a permanent visa. These changes apply to New Zealand citizens holding an SCV who arrived in Australia after 26 February 2001.


If successful, they are then a ‘dual national’ – a person who holds citizenship of more than one country (read more below).

You must not have been absent from Australia for more than 12 months in total in the past 4 years, including no more than 90 days in total in the 12 months immediately before applying.

You must be in Australia when the Australian Government decide on your application (in most cases) and intend to live in Australia or maintain a lasting link with Australia while overseas.

You can find what documents you need to apply, how to apply, about your interview, waiting for the decision and the citizenship ceremony here on the Department of Home Affairs website or continue reading below. 

Cost to become an Australian citizen (by conferral)

The application fee is $540 for an adult, $330 for 16 or 17-year-olds, $330 for 15 and under, or no cost if applying on the same form as a responsible parent.

For the list of citizenship fees, see Form 1298i – Citizenship application fees (159KB PDF).

Other fee concessions and exemptions apply.

 

Eligibility to become an Australian citizen (by conferral)

When you apply for Australian citizenship by conferral you must meet the below criteria:

Residence requirement

You must have been living in Australia on a valid visa for 4 years immediately before the day you apply and have not been absent from Australia for more than 12 months in total in the past 4 years, including no more than 90 days in total in the 12 months immediately before applying. Read more here.

Character requirement

You must be of ‘good character’ if you are 18 years or over. Good character is the ‘enduring moral qualities of a person’. When they assess good character, they consider whether you are likely to uphold and obey the laws of Australia and meet the other commitments made through the citizenship pledge. Read more here.

Knowledge of Australia

You must understand what it means to be an Australian citizen. To assess this, most applicants will sit the citizenship test.

If you score 75% or more on our citizenship test and answer all 5 questions on Australian values correctly, then you meet our knowledge requirement. For more information, see Citizenship interview and test.


At your interview, you must show you have:

    • a basic knowledge of the English language
    • an understanding of what it means to become an Australian citizen
    • adequate knowledge of Australia and the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship
    • an understanding and commitment to Australian values based on freedom, respect and equality

Language requirement

You need a basic knowledge of the English language to become an Australian citizen. English is their national language. Communicating in English helps you to live a full life in Australia. If you score 75% or more on your citizenship test and answer all 5 questions on Australian values correctly, then you meet our language requirement.

Close and continuing link to Australia

the Australian government must be satisfied that you are likely to live or continue to live in Australia or maintain a close and continuing link with Australia while overseas. Citizenship is a privilege that requires a long-term commitment to Australia.

A close and continuing association with family or other social relationships in Australia, including people who are Australian citizens, may not be sufficient to be considered as having a close and continuing link to Australia on its own.

For information on the supporting documents we require, see Evidence of close and continuing link to Australia.

When they assess your close and continuing link to Australia, they will consider your living arrangements and migration status, including:

    • if you rent or own property and where this property is located
    • if you have high-value items and where these are located, such as a house, property, car or bank account
    • any commitments or ties to Australia, such as your source of income, employment situation, family situation, and schooling arrangements
    • your travel into and out of Australia, your reason for travel, the number of times you travelled into and out of Australia, and how long you were in each place
    • participation in the Australian community, such as being part of community groups, clubs or charities that provides services or opportunities
    • if you have close Australian permanent resident or citizen family members who intend to reside in Australia, such as a spouse, de facto partner or child/ren. 


Reasons your application could be denied

The Australian Government cannot approve your application in certain circumstances:

  • Identity – they must be satisfied with your identity. Identity is assessed from birth.
  • Criminal offences – your application will not be approved if:
    • when proceedings for an offence against Australian law (including proceedings by way of appeal or review) are pending.
    • when it is less than 2 years since you were released from prison after serving a prison sentence of 12 months or more, or 10 years if you are a repeat offender.
    • you are subject to certain conditions set by an Australian court (such as being released on parole, good behaviour or bail) where action may be taken against you for breach of those conditions.
    • you are in prison or a psychiatric institution by order of the court at the time of decision.
  • Risk to National Security – your application will not be approved if you are assessed as a risk to the security of Australia.
  • Former citizen – your application will not be approved if you ceased to be an Australian citizen in the past 12 months.
  • Location at time of application approval – your application will not be approved if you are outside Australia at the time they decide your application, unless:
    • you satisfied one of the special residence requirements, or
    • the spouse or interdependent partner discretion was applied to assist you to meet the general residence requirement. 

Additional eligibility to become an Australian citizen (by conferral)

There are a few extra circumstances that change your eligibility or way to apply:

  • Age – the above information is for people 59 years and under. If you are 60 years of age or older, see Person 60 years and older.
  • Parent applying with their child/ren – A parent can include a dependent child aged 15 years or younger in their application at no extra cost.
  • Child applying without with parent – If a parent is not applying to become an Australian citizen, a child 15 years or younger can apply on their own and must pay the associated fee. See Child 15 years or younger applying on their own.
  • Incapacity or impairment (under 17 – over 60) – If you are aged 17 years or under, aged 60 years or over, or have an incapacity or impairment, see the other ways to become an Australian citizen.
  • Already an Australian citizen – you may already be an Australian citizen and eligible for Evidence of Australian citizenship if you were born in Australia:
    • and have been ordinarily resident in Australia throughout the first 10 years from your birth
    • to New Zealand citizen parents. Check your eligibility.


For further clarification please visit the Department of Home Affairs website. 

Dual Citizenship (NZ and Australian)

Receive the benefits of Australian citizenship and keep your New Zealand passport.

Dual nationals have the right to hold a passport from both countries and get the full benefits of citizenship such as social security payments, health care, and voting rights. New Zealanders becoming Australian citizens do not lose any rights but gain additional rights.

Find more information at the Department of Home Affairs

Permanent Residence for Citizenship Purposes

We no longer need to apply to become an Australian permanent residence (PR) first. We only need to apply to become an Australian citizen. New Zealand citizens holding an SCV are considered permanent residents for citizenship purposes.

For New Zealand citizens who are long-term residents in Australia, PR will be achieved by backdating their period of Australian PR for Australian citizenship purposes. This will allow them to meet the 12-month PR period under the general residence requirement.

The general residence requirement for Australian citizenship by conferral is set out in the Australian Citizenship Act 2007. To meet the general residence requirement an applicant must be lawfully present in Australia for four years, including 12 months as a permanent resident, immediately before the date of application.

You must not have been absent from Australia for more than 12 months in total in the past 4 years, including no more than 90 days in total in the 12 months immediately before applying.

You can read more on the Australia Government Department of Home Affairs website. 

Australian Citizenship for Children

The backdating of permanent residence for SCV holders will also impact children born to SCV holders. From 1 July 2023, any child born in Australia on or after 1 July 2022 to an SCV holder may automatically acquire Australian citizenship at birth. From 1 July 2023, children who meet these circumstances can apply for​ evidence of citizenship

Professional help from an immigration specialist

Specialist immigration companies save you time, money and stress when applying for a visa or citizenship. They are able to offer you professional advice and assistance when applying to be an Australian Citizen.


You can find an immigration specialist on the Australian Government website, Migration Agents Registration Authority (https://www.mara.gov.au/). Search for an immigration professional specialising in Australia.

I recommend you check out IMMagine: http://www.immigration.co.nz/. They offer a free preliminary evaluation to establish which Visa category may suit you and whether it’s worth your while ordering a comprehensive full assessment. Not many immigration companies do this. The next step is a full assessment where IMMagine will develop your detailed strategy, timeline and pricing structure in person or on Skype. Naturally, a small cost applies to this full and comprehensive assessment.

You are also able to ask IMMagine your visa questions. For a small fee (AUD$15.00) you can post your question online and one of the IMMagine team will be in touch with your answer within 24 hours (usually same-day response). This service is designed for people who need quick access to accurate information, but don’t want to trawl through the internet to find the answers or commit to anything just yet. Most importantly, your questions are answered by licensed advisers living in New Zealand or Australia.

About IMMagine

For nearly 30 years, IMMagine Australia and New Zealand have assisted migrants from all over the globe to move and settle in these two great countries.

They have delivered residence of both countries to close to 30,000 people since 1990, with a success rate of more than 99 per cent and are acknowledged as leaders in this profession on both sides of the Tasman Sea.

They understand the process of migration at a personal level and are not in the business of simply telling you what forms to fill in and lodge; they go beyond that. They become your allies and advocates and represent you to the Australian or New Zealand government in the most professional manner and leaving nothing to chance.

What are you waiting for? Complete a free preliminary evaluation and establish which Visa category may suit you and whether your dream of moving to Australia can become reality: http://www.immigration.co.nz/assessments/free-evaluation/

Frequently Asked Questions

Here is some guidance for non-protected Special Category Visa-holders (SCVs) applying for Australian citizenship under the new direct pathway.

Finding Your Visa Number

You can check your SCV details using the Department of Home Affairs VEVO system. Call 131 881 and ask for a VEVO password. You will need your passport details.

Is a SCV a permanent resident visa?

No, an non-protected SCV is still a temporyary visa. From 1 July 2023, SCV holders will be deemed permanent residents for citizenship purposes only

Do you need to apply for permanent residency?

No, the SCV will be considered permanent residency for citizenship purposes from 1 July 2023. See the Department of Home Affairs website for the eligibility criteria and application process.

How long do I have to live in Australia before I can apply for citizenship?

Citizenship applicants must live in Australia for four years immediately prior to applying. They must not have been absent from Australia for more than 12 months in total in the past 4 years, including no more than 90 days in total in the 12 months immediately before applying. Use the Home Affairs Residence Calculator to see if you meet the residency requirement.

Covid-19 border closures

There is no residency exemption for the Covid-related border closures. If you are outside of Australia for more than 12 months, your four years of residence will start again from the day you recommence residing in Australia.

This means that if you had already been residing in Australia for four years, but then left for more than 12 months, you would need to start counting your four years of residence again once you return.

How do I apply for citizenship?

The best way is to apply online, which will save you the $80 non-internet application fee.

Make sure you read all the information in the become an Australian citizen post on the Australian Government Home Affairs website, as it provides all the eligibility criteria, the application process and lists the required supporting documents. Especially the Step-by-step tab, before starting your application.

Paper application

In some situations, you might need to apply on paper. Use a paper form if you:

  • do not have a current or expired passport, or other travel documents including a DFTTA, IMMICard, PLO56 (M56) or Titre de Voyage, or
  • have not travelled in or out of Australia since July 1990, or
  • are eligible for a fee concession or exemption.

Complete Form 1300t Australian citizenship General eligibility (762KB PDF) if you are aged between 18 and 59. Complete Form 1290 Australian Citizenship Other situations (715KB PDF) if you:

  • are a child 15 years or younger and applying on your own
  • are aged 16 or 17
  • are aged 60 or more
  • have a permanent loss or impairment of hearing, speech or sight
  • have an enduring physical or mental incapacity that means that you cannot
    • understand the nature of your application
    • demonstrate a basic knowledge of English
    • demonstrate an adequate knowledge of Australia and the responsibilities and privileges of Australian citizenship.
  • are an unaccompanied humanitarian minor
  • were born in Papua before 16 September 1975
  • were born to a former Australian citizen

Pre-pay your application fee online through ImmiAccount. Send your application with certified copies of documents to the address on the form.

How long will it take for my application to be processed?

Home Affairs have employed hundreds of additional staff to process citizenship applications. You can check current wait times on the Home Affairs website, processing times.

Processing times are currently between 3-10 months.

The time it takes to process applications can vary from the timeframe shown because each applicant’s individual circumstances are different.

Completing your application online, where possible, and supplying all the documents listed for your application type, helps them to finalise your application more quickly.​

Do you need a valid passport to apply for Australian citizenship?

No, provided you have all the ID documents that collectively show your photograph, signature, current residential address, birth name, date of birth and gender then you can apply using a paper application (above).

An expired passport may also be provided as a form of identity when applying for citizenship by conferral.

If you have already requested your travel records you can upload them as proof of your arrival date. If you haven’t already, then use an estimated date and a processing officer will confirm exact dates within our systems as required after you lodge your application.

What supporting documents are required when applying for citizenship?

They need evidence of your identity from birth to the present.

With your application, you must provide 3 documents that together show your:

  • birth name, date of birth and gender
  • photograph and signature (examples of documents include):
    • Australian driver’s licence
    • pages from your passport (photo, personal details, passport issue and expiry dates)
    • national identity card
    • UNHCR document
    • aircrew identity document
    • seafarer identity document
    • military identity document
    • proof of age card
    • student card
  • current residential address (examples of home address documents include):
    • electricity, gas or water bill
    • rates notice
    • rental contract
    • bank statement

Additional documents include:

  • Travel records (estimation is accepted currently because of the high volume of requests)
  • Form 1195 Identity Declaration
  • a passport-sized photo.
  • a NZ criminal history check and NZ Ministry of Justice Authority to Release Information form if you have left Australia since turning 18, regardless of how long you have lived in Australia. Now only valid for 3 months for Home Affairs purposes. You can request one just prior to, or after, submitting your citizenship application.
  • NZ Ministry of Justice Authority to Release Information form.
  • police certificates from any country in which you have spent 90 days or more, since turning 18. The Department of Home Affairs will obtain your Australian National Police Check.
  • a copy of your discharge papers if you have completed military service.


They also need official evidence of any change of name. Documents showing evidence of a change of name include:

  • an official (non-commemorative) marriage or divorce certificate
  • change of name documents from an Australian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, or the relevant overseas authority
  • other official documents that show links between names you have been known by.

Make sure you read all the information about preparing your documents, including identity documents for a child 15 years or younger, photograph requirements, good character documents and supporting documents.

It’s really important to make sure your application has all the correct documents so your application is not delayed.

What can I do if I do not have Identity documents?

If you cannot provide a birth certificate provide evidence you have attempted to apply for one, such as a letter from Births Deaths & Marriages. Also, complete Form 1195 Identity declaration (above) and provide endorsed photos.

You may be invited to an interview to establish your life history if identity documents are not available.

Where appropriate, you may be asked for written consent for a Home Affairs representative to speak to other family members or long-term acquaintances to establish your life history and support your identity.

Do my supporting documents need to be certified?

Only if you have to use the paper application form. You will need to take the original documents to your citizenship interview.

Can I travel overseas after applying for citizenship?

Yes, but you must inform the Department of Home Affairs that you are planning to travel outside Australia while your application is being processed, or while you are waiting for your ceremony. Your application cannot be approved while you are outside Australia. You must also make the Australian Citizenship pledge within 12 months of your application being approved, or the approval may be cancelled. 

From the NZ Herald

The NZ Herald published an amazing article on 22 April 2023 announcing the new direct pathway for NZ citizens living in Australia. You can read it here NZ Herald article.

You might also be interested in…

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Still, got unanswered questions?

If you’ve read the above content and the answer to your question isn’t there, please write a comment below and I’ll research the answer for you. Please note, if the answer to your question is in the content above, I will not reply. Sorry, I just get too many questions these days and I can’t keep up.

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14 Comments

  1. Craig Bunn

    February 26, 2024 at 5:14 pm

    Hi JJ,
    Greatly informative website.
    I have a question about my South African wife who currently resides here in Australia with me as a New Zealand citizen on a Subclass 461.
    I have recently applied for Australian citizenship and am scheduled to do the citizenship test end of March.
    We both intend to travel to New Zealand in April for a holiday.
    My wife has recently re-applied for her 461 visa as it expired a short time ago.
    She understands that she will have to apply for a bridging visa to travel to NZ which we have done in the past so that’s all good.
    Her main concern is that if I am deemed an Australian citizen will her Subclass 461 still be applicable and will the bridging visa still stand for her to re-enter the country?
    I understand that I would be deemed a dual-national so therefore would the 461 visa still be valid?
    Upon returning to Australia we intend to apply for permanent residency for my wife but just want to make sure she can get in the country first.
    I also have the option to reschedule my citizenship test until after we return which may be easier?

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      February 27, 2024 at 12:04 pm

      Hi Craig,
      Thank you for your comment.
      However, unfortunately I can not help you. I am not an immigration specialist and know nothing about your wife’s visa.
      You will need to contact a professional immigration company: https://www.movingtoaustralia.co.nz/australian-visa/#professional-immigration-services.
      For a small fee (AUD$15.00) you can post your question online and one of the IMMagine team will be in touch with your answer within 24 hours (usually same-day response): https://immigration.co.nz/ask-us-question/.
      This service is designed for people who need quick access to accurate information, but don’t want to trawl through the internet to find the answers or commit to anything just yet. Most importantly, your questions are answered by licensed advisers living in New Zealand or Australia.
      Sorry I couldn’t help.

      Reply
  2. Alicia

    November 15, 2023 at 2:49 pm

    Hi there, I have a question re Australian Citizenship (by Conferral). You say there is no health check required. Does that mean my daughter, who is currently 13 and has Cystic Fibrosis, will still be eligible for Citizenship??

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      November 23, 2023 at 10:53 am

      Hi Alicia,
      I’ve done some research into health checks for citizenship and found the below:
      Predicting the need for health care and community services
      37.83 Genetic information can reveal a variety of things about an individual’s health status, which may have a bearing on his or her need for health care and community services. This information may demonstrate:
      – current conditions (for example, cystic fibrosis—a congenital genetic disorder);
      – conditions that will definitely develop in the future (for example, Huntington’s disease);
      – the presence of genetic mutations that are predictive of a person’s health in the future (for example, breast cancer); and
      – carrier status for a condition that might affect offspring (for example, Tay-Sachs disease).
      37.84 The Inquiry understands that predictive genetic tests are not ordered under current DIMIA policy because they are regarded as incapable of predicting, with sufficient certainty, that an applicant will develop a condition requiring access to health services.[94] MOCs focus on detecting conditions suffered by an applicant at the time of the examination and the likelihood that the condition will require care and treatment later, rather than looking for possible future conditions.[95] However, the permissive nature of the Migration Regulations would allow such testing if it were considered relevant.
      37.85 In the past, an applicant could fail the health requirement if he or she had a condition that would be passed on to children. DIMIA has now moved away from this approach, and failure on these grounds is no longer provided for in the Migration Regulations.
      Source: https://www.alrc.gov.au/publication/essentially-yours-the-protection-of-human-genetic-information-in-australia-alrc-report-96/37-immigration/health-testing/.
      The above leads me to believe that your daughter will be eligible for Australian citizenship.
      I then read through the Application for Australian citizenship document and there is nothing in it related to health: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/form-listing/forms/1300t.pdf.
      However, I am not an immigration specialist and can only advise from information I can find online.
      If you want a definite answer, I recommend asking the same question to IMMagine and one of their team of immigration lawyers and advisers will answer it for you for AUD$15.00, well worth the peace of mind: https://immigration.co.nz/ask-us-question/.
      Hope the above helps.

      Reply
  3. Panda

    July 13, 2023 at 8:27 pm

    Hi JJ,
    We are in the process of thinking about whether to apply for AU citizenship only but without applying for an AU passport as we know the NZ passport is already one of the best. AU gov suggests dual citizens should leave/enter AU with an AU passport for the reason that AU citizens may have no other visa to enter AU and may cause extra delays during boarding/custom, obviously this is not a problem with NZ passports but seems to be a grey area.
    So I’m not sure if anyone has such experience that if as a NZ/AU dual citizen but don’t want to maintain an AU passport, would there be any problem exiting/entering AU with an NZ passport after becoming NZ/AU dual citizen?

    Thanks in advance.
    Panda

    Reply
  4. SV

    July 13, 2023 at 2:26 pm

    Hi JJ,
    I’m an NewZealand Citizen relocating to Australia next month my question is i will be eligible for Australian citizenship after 4 years as per the new direct pathway to Australian citizenship for eligible New Zealand citizens?

    Reply
  5. Margy McEnaney

    July 5, 2023 at 3:26 pm

    Hi, I am seeing mixed reports on the 4 year eligibility. I have lived in Australia since 2006 (but spent two years in NZ 2012-2014). I also left in December 2021 but plan on going back. According to this site, it’s just 4 years (doesn’t specify when), but I have also read that those four years MUST be immediately preceding the application. Which is it? Thank you.

    Reply
    • JJ Smith

      July 17, 2023 at 12:13 pm

      Hi Margy,
      Thanks for your comment.
      Since receiving your comment I have further researched and updated the content in my post to reflect the 4 years living in Australia must be immediately preceding your citizenship application.
      The eligibility requirement is that you must not have been absent from Australia for more than 12 months in total in the past 4 years, including no more than 90 days in total in the 12 months immediately before applying.
      Thanks

      Reply
  6. Louise

    July 3, 2023 at 5:11 pm

    Hi JJ, Thanks for this summary. Have you had any feedback or heard of how this applies to children born to NZ parents in Australia before July 2022 (i.e not automatically citizens) and less than 4 years ago (i.e. not eligible to apply for citizenship). I’m trying to find an option for my daughter born in May 2021. Thanks!

    Reply
  7. Sandy

    May 15, 2023 at 5:10 pm

    Hi there… just starting my plan to move to Sydney from NZ I’m 70, retired, and have a son and granddaughter in Syd who I need to be closer to as I age. Own a freehold home and investments in an nz family trust. Need basic info, ie do I sell my nz house before buying in Syd? Should I set up an Australian bank account now? My questions are primarily about getting the timing/sequence correct to avoid unnecessary tax obligations. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks, Sandy

    Reply
  8. Priya

    May 9, 2023 at 8:41 am

    Hi JJ,

    I have question regarding the student loan (HELP) based on this point (New Zealand citizens granted an SCV for the first time on or after 1 July 2022 will be considered permanent residents for citizenship purposes from the date of their SCV grant.) are we eligible for the student loan?

    Waiting for your answer.
    Thanks,
    Priya

    Reply

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