Disclaimer: We are not migration experts. The information below is from our research into options for becoming Australian citizens. For professional advice, please see the links in the Professional Help section below.
As a New Zealand citizen, you are granted a Special Category Visa (SCV) on arrival in Australia which means you can work and live in Australia indefinitely. If you want to live in Australia for just a few years, and eventually return to New Zealand, the SCV you receive on arrival may do you just fine.
But if you are intending to live in Australia permanently, it can be a very good idea to consider becoming an Australian citizen.
The main benefits to becoming an Australian citizen are:
Although the SCV lets New Zealanders live and work in Australia indefinitely, it is a temporary, unprotected visa - which means it can be cancelled by the Australian government at any time.
The most common way this can happen is when a New Zealander living in Australia is convicted and sentenced to 12 months or more in prison. In this situation an SCV is automatically cancelled, usually leading to deportation back to New Zealand. An SCV can also be cancelled based on character grounds, for example if you associate with a criminal organisation.
On 22 April 2023, the Australian Government announced a direct pathway to citizenship that allows New Zealand citizens who have been living in Australia for 4 years or more to apply directly for Australian citizenship, rather than first having to apply for permanent residency.
This is a huge change and it dramatically reduces the cost, paperwork and time involved for New Zealanders wanting to become Australian citizens.
From 1 July 2023 all New Zealand citizens holding an SCV are considered a permanent resident for citizenship purposes and are eligible to apply once they’ve been living in Australia for 4 years.
To explain how much things have changed: previously, all New Zealanders wanting to apply for Australian citizenship first needed to apply for permanent residency. And to be eligible for permanent residency you had to be earning over $53,000 for five years and pass health tests.
The cost of this permanent residency application alone was a whopping $3,600, not to mention the health check on top of this and then - later on - another cost to apply for citizenship.
We’ll talk in more detail about the new application process for citizenship below, but now costs to New Zealanders for an Australian citizenship application are around $500.
As of 1 July 2023, if you are a New Zealand citizen on an SCV and you have a child born on or after 1 July 2022, they receive automatic Australian citizenship and can apply for evidence of citizenship.
You can apply for citizenship online (don’t forget to save as you go!). In some cases, you may need to download a paper form and submit it by post.
Here is a very brief summary of the documents most New Zealanders on an SCV need to apply for Australian citizenship, but make sure you then read the full and most current details here before applying.
The Department of Home Affairs will request an overseas penal clearance certificate from New Zealand once you apply (you no longer have to do this yourself), along with an Australian police check.
You no longer need to get a health check.
Generally every individual needs to apply separately, however a parent can include their dependent child aged 15 years or younger in their application at no extra cost (if two parents are applying for citizenship, all children under 15 years should be listed on only one application). Children older than 16 must apply on their own.
The cost is currently $540 - concessions may apply. Check the cost for your specific situation here .
It usually takes a few months for your application to be processed. You can check current processing times for Citizenship applications.
After you apply for citizenship, you will be invited for an interview and may need to sit a citizenship test.
You will then be notified of the outcome by letter. If you are approved, you will be invited to attend a citizenship ceremony.
We wish you well in your quest to become an Australian citizen!
The information on this page about citizenship is specifically for eligible New Zealand citizens on a SCV.
If your circumstances are not covered by the guidelines above, you can find more information below: