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Norfolk Island is a self governing Australian Territory and is part of the Commonwealth of Australia. However, for administrative reasons, federal immigration legislation does not extend to the Island which has enacted its own immigration laws.
For immigration purposes only, Norfolk Island is therefore treated as if it were another country despite it being part of Australia. As a consequence, flights between Norfolk Island and other Australian states and territories are processed as international flights. This means that all passengers travelling from Norfolk Island must undergo immigration clearance when arriving in or departing from another Australian state or territory.
Note: The references below to 'Australia' reflect the above. For the purposes of this fact sheet, 'Australia' when used includes the other Australian states and territories and not Norfolk Island.
Entry and visa requirements
All travellers to Norfolk Island, including Australian citizens, must hold valid passports. The Norfolk Island Administration has responsibility for deciding whether they will allow an Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident to travel to Norfolk Island without a passport. The Norfolk Island Government also requires those who are not permanent residents of Norfolk Island, including Australian citizens and Australian permanent residents, to hold tickets for an onward or return journey.
The Norfolk Island Immigration Act (1980) requires that, except for Australian and New Zealand citizens and permanent residents of Norfolk Island, anyone who wishes to travel to the Island must hold an Australian visa. The visa must be valid for 30 days longer than the time the person intends to spend on Norfolk Island. The Australian visa is a pre-requisite for entry to Norfolk Island — a visa is required even if only transiting through Australia.
It is important to inform us about intended travel to Norfolk Island, when applying for an Australian visa to ensure multiple journeys are permitted. This will ensure eligibility to enter Norfolk Island and return to Australia. The period of validity of the visa is all that is relevant on Norfolk Island — otherwise the Australian visa has no effect on the Island. However, the visa holder will be bound by the period of stay and conditions on the visa in mainland Australia.
Norfolk Island's permit system
The Norfolk Island Immigration Act provides for four categories of permit holders. These are:
- temporary entry permit holders
- general entry permit holders
Further information on the Island's permit system is available on the Norfolk Island Government's website.
Australia's Permanent Resident of Norfolk Island visa
Permanent residents of Norfolk Island are not required to hold a visa to travel to Australia. They apply for a Permanent Resident of Norfolk Island visa (PRNIV) at an Australian airport (other than Norfolk Island) by presenting a current passport that is endorsed with their Norfolk Island Permanent Resident status, and a completed passenger card.
The PRNIV allows non-Australian citizens who are permanent residents of Norfolk Island to enter Australia and to remain indefinitely. The PRNIV ceases when the holder leaves Australia and a new visa must be obtained for each subsequent entry.
The PRNIV is evidenced by a port and date stamp in the holder's valid passport. Holders of PRNIVs are Australian permanent residents but only hold Australian Permanent Resident status (and a PRNIV) while they are in Australia.
Australian citizen permanent residents of Norfolk Island do not require a PRNIV, as Australian citizens do not require a visa to enter Australia.
Permanent residents of Norfolk Island who are New Zealand citizens
If a New Zealand citizen who is also a permanent resident of Norfolk Island wants to obtain a PRNIV on arrival in Australia, they must inform the primary line clearance officer on arrival at their port of arrival in Australia, so that the primary line clearance officer knows not to grant them the normal status (Special Category visa) granted to most New Zealand citizens.
PRNIVs provide greater benefits to their holders than Special Category visas, particularly if the traveller intends staying in Australia for an extended period.
Primary line clearance officers will not know of the traveller's permanent resident of Norfolk Island status unless the traveller informs them by showing them their permanent resident of Norfolk Island resident status as endorsed in their passport, and asks to apply for a PRNIV.
Australian permanent residents
Australian permanent resident visa holders should be aware that, while they are residing on Norfolk Island, they are outside Australia for the purposes of the Migration Act 1958, which may affect their future entitlement to a Resident Return visa.
Example: If the holder of a Resident Return visa which is valid for travel until 1 July 2010, remains on Norfolk Island beyond this date, the visa will cease, and another visa will be required to enter Australia. When applying for another Resident Return visa, the period spent on Norfolk Island will not count as time spent in Australia as a permanent resident under the residential requirement for the Resident Return visa.
Non-Australian citizens who wish to remain permanent residents of Australia need to ensure they continue to hold valid Resident Return visas for Australia.
Norfolk Island is part of Australia for the purposes of the Australian Citizenship Act 1948.
For more information on Australian citizenship visit the citizenship website.
Further information is available on the department's website.
The department also operates a national general enquiries line.
Telephone: 131 881
Hours of operation: Monday to Friday from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm. Recorded information is available outside these hours.
Fact Sheet 59. Produced by the National Communications Branch, Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Canberra.
Last Reviewed 21 June 2012.
© Commonwealth of Australia 2009.