Australian Permanent Resident, Full Citizen, Passport Holder – What’s the Difference?

Australian Permanent Resident

Australian permanent residents are those who hold permanent residency visas, but are not citizens of Australia. They can remain in Australia indefinitely. These visas usually have validity of 5 years from the date of issue. As long as it is valid, they can leave and enter Australia any number of times.

In Australia, a notable feature of this visa is that the holder of this visa can stay in Australia even after the initial visa expires indefinitely without breaching immigration laws. If after the initial visa expires, the holder wants to travel to and from Australia, he has to obtain a Resident Return Visa. But if they stay outside Australia for too long, then they lose the permanent resident status. This type of visa is granted to skilled laborers and refugees usually. These visa holders enjoy most of the privileges of citizens. However, most of the states do not allow them to vote in Federal elections.

Citizens of Australia

So who is eligible to become a citizen of Australia?

Residents who have:

  • lived in Australia for at least 4 years, and
  • lived in Australia for at least 12 months as permanent residents

While this is the rule to be eligible for citizenship after July 2007, there is a different rule for those who have obtained permanent residence prior to July 2007. In that case an applicant must have:

  • lived in Australia as permanent resident for at least 2 years of the last 5 years, or
  • at least 12 of the last 24 months.

One would be automatically Australian Citizen if he fulfills the following conditions:

  • You were born in Australia prior to 20 August 1986;


  • You were born in Australia after 20 August 1986, AND
  • one of your parents held Australian citizenship or an Australian permanent residence visa at the time of birth;


  • You were born in Australia after 20 August 1986
  • neither of your parents held Australian citizenship or an Australian permanent residence visa, but
  • you have spent the majority of your life in Australia prior to your 10th birthday.

In this case, you automatically become an Australian citizen on your 10th birthday.”

Now there is an added advantage of dual citizenship in Australia. One can be a citizen of another country and still be an Australian citizen while the other way round is left to the discretion of the other countries.

Australian Passport Holder

Australian passports are issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade only to citizens of Australia. There are different types of passports:

  1. Standard passport issued for vacations and business trips
  2. Frequent Traveler passport for frequent travelers
  3. Senior passport for those aged more than 75 years
  4. Diplomatic passports to the Australian diplomats
  5. Official passport to those representing Australian Government.

A report says

”An Australian passport is conclusive evidence of a person’s identity and citizenship, and provides the holder with unfettered right of entry to Australia.”

If a person is married to a citizen of another country, it will not entitle the spouse to hold an Australian passport.

Australian citizens should enter Australia on their own Australian passport only. A child cannot be included on a parent’s passport. No pages can be added to Australian passports. It has to be renewed in the normal way.

An Australian citizen who has dual citizenship can enter or leave Australia only with the Australian passport. They are exempted only when they have been issued Australian Declaratory Visa.

Now citizens are even issued an ePassport. Most of the Australian passport offices have facilities for this and one has to make appointment with the local Australian passport office if he wishes to avail this facility.

If a person is born outside Australia, he must produce Australian Citizenship Certificate for issue or renewal of passport.

The following terms and conditions are to be fulfilled if one has to obtain Australian passport:

  • Full Australian birth certificate (if born after 20/8/1986 you will also need evidence that one parent was an Australian citizen or permanent resident at the time of your birth); or
  • Australian citizenship certificate; or
  • Previous Australian passport issued after 20 Aug 1986 and valid for at least 2 years


Australian Permanent Resident, Full Citizen, Passport Holder – What’s the Difference?
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