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Return Documents for Australian Citizens and Permanent Residents

Returning Residents

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This information explains the return document and evidence requirements for:

  • Australian citizens returning to Australia
  • non-citizen permanent residents wanting to return to Australia as permanent residents.

Australian citizens

If you are an Australian citizen you have an automatic right of entry to Australia and need only present a current Australian passport on your arrival. Australian citizens who travel without an Australian passport may have their entry delayed until their identity and claim to Australian citizenship has been verified.

You can apply for a passport from any Australia Post office, the Australian Passport Office, or Australian diplomatic or consular missions outside Australia. Further information is available on the Australian Passport Office website.
See: Australian Passport Office

If you hold a visa and you then become an Australian citizen, you will not be able to travel on that visa. Australian citizenship legally ceases any visa you hold.

Dual citizenship

If you have dual citizenship, you should still use your Australian passport when leaving and returning to Australia. The only exception is if you hold an Australian Declaratory visa (ADV).

Australian Declaratory visa

The Australian Declaratory visa is an administrative document that resembles a visa. In limited circumstances it can be issued to Australian citizens who hold a foreign passport, including if you are:

  • under 18 and will be travelling with a non-citizen parent
  • have an emergency or other compelling situation preventing travel on an Australian passport. You will need to provide supporting documentation.

There is a charge for processing Australian Declaratory visa applications and this charge is generally non-refundable.

The Australian Declaratory visa is valid for five years from the date of grant. If you cease to be an Australian citizen, the Australian Declaratory visa becomes invalid and you will need a visa to return to Australia. The Australian Declaratory visa can be evidenced in your passport.
See:
Form 931 - Application for an Australian Declaratory visa (364KB PDF file)
Visa Charges ( 86KB PDF file)

Non-citizen permanent residents

Australian permanent residents, former permanent residents and former Australian citizens must hold a valid permanent visa to enter Australia as permanent residents.

If you do not hold a valid visa for re-entry to Australia you may be refused entry to Australia or have your entry delayed until your identity and claims to enter Australia have been verified.

If you migrated to Australia in 1987 or later, your initial visa generally gives you permission to return to Australia for up to five years. After that, if you leave Australia and want to return as a permanent resident you must hold a valid visa, such as a Resident Return visa.

If you are a permanent resident in Australia you should ensure you have a Resident Return visa that will allow you to re-enter Australia, before leaving Australia.

If you migrated to Australia before 1987 or travelled overseas between 1 March 1976 and 31 December 1986, you may have been issued with an Authority to Return (ATR) or a Return Endorsement (RE).
See: Authority to Return and Return Endorsement

Grant of another substantive visa

The grant of another substantive visa will generally cease any visa you currently hold. Therefore, if you are granted a temporary visa it will cease your permanent visa.

If you are outside Australia and you hold a current permanent visa (regardless of whether you have a visa label in your passport), you should not apply for a visitor visa or authorise someone else to apply for a visitor visa on your behalf without first contacting the nearest departmental office.

If you hold an Authority to Return or Return Endorsement, you should not apply for any other visa, including a Resident Return visa because, if your application is approved, this will legally cease your Authority to Return or Return Endorsement.

Permanent resident applying for an APEC Business Travel Card

If you are a permanent resident who applies and is granted an APEC Business Travel Card, this will automatically cease the visa you currently hold. This is because APEC Business Travel Card holders are granted a temporary Business (Short Stay) (Subclass 456) visa. If you are a permanent resident visa holder, please contact the nearest departmental office before applying for your APEC Business Travel Card.
See: About the APEC Business Travel Card Scheme

Previous Australian citizens

If you have lost or renounced your Australian citizenship and want to return to Australia as a permanent resident, you must re-apply for a permanent visa, such as a Resident Return visa. Alternatively, you may be eligible to apply for resumption of your Australian citizenship.

Applying for an Resident Return visa

You should consider applying for a Resident Return visa if any of the following apply:

  • you are a current or former Australian permanent resident (whose last permanent visa was not cancelled); or you were previously an Australian citizen
  • you want to return to Australia as a permanent resident
  • you might not return to Australia within the validity period of your current return visa.

You need not wait for your visa to expire before applying for a new one. You should check your eligibility for a new visa well before your existing visa expires in case there have been changes to eligibility requirements.

If you think your current visa may expire while you are outside Australia, you should obtain a new Resident Return visa before you leave, although you may apply at an Australian Immigration office outside Australia. If your application is successful and a Resident Return visa is granted, any time remaining on your current visa will be lost.
Note: If you are or were the holder of a Business Skills (subclass 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 132, 840, 841, 842, 843 or 844) visa you will not be able to apply for a Resident Return visa if your visa was cancelled or is the subject of a notice of intention to cancel.

More information about requirements and payment is available on the department's website.
See: Resident Return Visas (Subclasses 155 and 157)

Visa evidence for non-citizen permanent residents

Visa labels

You must have a valid visa to enter Australia if you are not an Australian citizen. Australia does not require you to have physical evidence of your visa (such as a visa label or stamp) in your passport to enter or remain in Australia. This is because the details of your current visa will be available on departmental systems.

However, if you are travelling through other countries, you may be required by those countries to have an Australian visa label or stamp endorsed in your passport. If you want to travel through any country which may require you to have an Australian visa label or stamp in your passport, we recommend that you get a visa label endorsed in your passport before you commence your travel.
See:
Form 1405 – Visa label request and payment (253KB PDF file)
Visa Evidence Charge

New passports

Generally, you must obtain a new passport if your old passport has either:

  • expired
  • been damaged or reported missing, lost or stolen.

If you get a new passport and your visa is still valid for travel, you will need to complete Form 929 – Change of address and/or passport details, and return the form to the department. The department will link your new passport details to your current visa (and other records). There is no fee for this service.
See: Form 929 – Change of address and/or passport details (260KB PDF file)

If your visa is still valid for travel but evidenced in an expired passport, you can carry your old and new passports when travelling. Your visa does not cease if your passport expires, is damaged or reported missing, lost or stolen.

Last reviewed Wednesday 20 November 2013

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