Last updated on December 16th, 2020
Once I knew that I was eligible for Australian citizenship, it was time to prepare the citizenship application. But before that, I had to collect all the required documents to support my application. As you will know from your PR application process, 90% of the time spent on any application goes into gathering documents. Australian citizenship application is no different.
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Which Documents Are Required For Australian Citizenship Application?
There are 5 types of documents you need to provide while filing Australian citizenship application.
- Your passport
- Birth certificate or any other document which can substitute as a birth certificate such as School Leaving Certificate or Class 10 mark sheet
- Proof of change of name such as marriage certificate, if applicable
- Your child’s passport (if a child is included in your application)
- Child’s birth certificate. This will also work as proof of custody for your child.
Proof Of Current Residential Address
One of the following:
- Driver’s license
- rates notice
- utility bill
- bank statement
- rental contract
Evidence Of The First Arrival In Australia
- Scan of the page with the arrival stamp on your passport when you first entered Australia
Proof Of Current Citizenship
- National identity card from your home country (in my case it was Aadhar card). If you don’t have Aadhar card, a Pan card, Driver’s license or voter card will do.
Evidence Of Identity In The Community
- Scan of Front and Back of your photo
- form 1195 Identity declaration for yourself
- Scan of Front and Back of your child’s photo
- form 1195 Identity declaration for your child
You don’t need to have all the documents to submit citizenship application. You can attach them later too.
Apart from this, you might be asked to provide an overseas police clearance certificate depending on how long you were out of Australia and how long you stayed in one country.
Getting The Most Crucial Documents Ready
While most of the documents required should already be with you, below three documents are crucial for the citizenship application and usually takes a lot of time and efforts.
1. Birth Certificate
A birth certificate is an important document which proves your date of birth and birth name.
Unfortunately, this document is also the root of all problems.
If you were born in the early 80s or before in India like me, you will understand the pain behind that statement. Birth certificates back then were not as professionally maintained as now. In rural areas, registering birth itself was a big thing let alone issuing a birth certificate. Even where they were issued, they would be without the name of the kid or without the full name.
Most of the time, it used to be handwritten, that too in regional language and hardly legible. I remember my birth certificate was a pink sheet which felt more like a hospital discharge card. By the time it was needed for Australian PR, it was half torn and the handwriting was illegible with blotches of ink.
If you have a birth certificate, fantastic! Thank your luck and your parents, but mostly luck.
Just make sure that it is in English. If it’s not, you need to get it translated to English from a NAATI approved translator.
No Birth Certificate? No Problem
If you don’t have birth certificate though, it’s best to apply for reissue of birth certificate to the municipality where your birth was registered. Given that it’s Indian government office we are talking about, it might take a month or two to get the copy of the birth certificate. That’s the best case by the way. *wink*
Since birth certificates are usually issued in the regional language, just make sure that you specifically ask for the language of the certificate to be English when applying. That way you will have a certificate in both, English and the regional language.
If you can’t get the birth certificate, the best thing is to call the Department of Home Affairs helpline and explain the situation. They are the right people to advise you.
Different people have different experiences. Some got approval based on the class 10 marksheet or school leaving certificate, while others apply for the birth certificate from VFS based on their passport. So I won’t recommend one thing over the other. Call the helpline and follow their advice.
If you don’t have a birth certificate, you can use School Leaving Certificate or Class 10 mark sheet as a substitute.
Thankfully, in my case, I already got my birth certificate during my PR process. Yee-haw!
Problems With The Birth Certificate Don’t End There…
One minor issue with the Indian Birth certificates is that they don’t mention the full name of the child (even the newer ones). So child name will be written separately and parent names will be mentioned in a different section. Though this didn’t create an issue for me during citizenship appointment, it caused a minor hiccup later during Australian passport application.
Sometimes, the Indian birth certificates, especially the older ones, don’t bear the child’s name at all.
Though it’s understandable in the Indian context where we take ages to name the baby, it’s baffling to the outsider. So if your birth certificate doesn’t have your name, it might as well be just a piece of blank paper. It has no value whatsoever. So the best thing is to get another birth certificate issued from India with all the details or call the helpline to see if you can use other documents like 10th marksheet or school leaving certificate.
Another common problem is that the name on the birth certificate doesn’t exactly match with the one on your passport. This is a very common issue with the Indian names.
For example, the birth certificate might bear the name – Anil Kumar Sharma and on the passport, it will be printed as Anil K Sharma. Though this looks like a minor issue, for citizenship officer it might very well look like you are impersonating another person with a similar name. So it’s best to either get your birth certificate corrected or to create an affidavit stating that both names are in fact of one and the same person. Again call the helpline and confirm which course of action is appropriate in your case.
2. Form 1195 Identity Declaration
Form 1195 is a simple form. It just asks for your name, address, date of birth and application TRN. The pain is getting it certified. I had faced a similar issue while getting this form certified for my newborn babies.
Three things make it hard:
a) You need to get it certified from a person belonging to a specific occupation such as doctor or tax accountant,
b) The person has to be an Australian citizen,
c) He/she must know you for at least one year
It’s the combination of these three conditions which makes it so difficult to find the right person.
I knew hundreds of Australian citizens who knew me for more than a year but they didn’t belong to the list of occupations mentioned. On the other hand, there were people who knew me for more than a year, like my doctor, but he was not an Australian citizen. Lastly, there were people like Justice of the Peace who was authorised to certify and were Australian citizen, but he didn’t know me for one year.
It’s like finding a good movie on Netflix. You get movies with good star cast but the idiotic plot. Or, you get a great story but poor direction. I urge the Australian government to do one of two things for us, migrants:
- Allow Australian citizen from your workplace to certify your identity or,
- Arrange a meeting with one of the professionals listed on the identity form when we migrate to Australia. That way they can’t deny that they don’t know me for a year.
Anyway, back to reality. Out of the long list of 38 occupations, below were my 5 best options:
a) Justice of the Peace
As it turned out, one of the directors from the company where I worked, was JP. Who could be a more apt person to certify my identity than my own employer? Unfortunately, he went on a vacation and I didn’t want to delay my application due to that.
b) Medical Practitioner
He was a good choice but he was not an Australian citizen. Too bad!
The pharmacist refused identity certification saying they don’t do it. However, some of my friends told me that they got their form certified from the Pharmacy shops. I am not sure how. Maybe some pharmacy shops do, some don’t. Okay, next!
d) Tax accountant through which I filed my tax returns
e) A full-time teacher
Thankfully, the tax accountant agreed to certify the identity of my wife, daughter and myself. Since we filed tax returns with her for a few years, there was no question of her not knowing us for more than 1 year.
Another obstacle cleared! This one took quite some time.
3. Police Clearance Certificate (PCC)
Not everyone is required to provide a Police Clearance Certificate or PCC. It is usually needed if you stayed outside of Australia for 12 months or more and if you stayed in one country for 90 days or more. You will know whether you need PCC or not at the end of the citizenship application because the system will show you the documents required. If PCC is mentioned as one of the documents, you need to provide one.
As for me, I didn’t need PCC but my wife was asked to provide one. Have a look at the article explaining the process to get an Indian PCC, if you are interested. Remember for now that it’s a long process and usually takes 4-6 weeks before you get PCC.
Once I had all the documents ready, I was ready to start the Australian citizenship application, which is coming up in the next article.
Read other articles in this series:
- My Journey To Australian Citizenship : Getting Eligible
- Getting Indian PCC for Australian Citizenship
- My Journey To Australian Citizenship: Citizenship Application
- My Journey To Australian Citizenship : Citizenship Test Preparation
- The Australian Citizenship Test: My Experience
- Virtual Citizenship Ceremony: An Incredible Experience