In general terms, you must be an Australian citizen to serve in the Navy, Army or Air Force, but there are some exceptions.

Proving you are a citizen

For reasons of national security it's important you can verify your Australian citizenship.

The evidence you are required to demonstrate Australian citizenship is detailed in provided table and may differ depending on whether you were:

  • born outside Australia
  • born in Australia before 20 August 1986
  • born in Australia on or after 20 August 1986

Born Outside Australia

Any date

One of the following;

  • Australian Citizenship Certificate
  • Citizenship by Descent extract
  • Australian Citizenship Certificate of an Adoption
  • An extract from Register of Australian Births Abroad

Born in Australia

Before 20 August 1986:

  • Full Birth Certificate issued by RBDM.

On or after 20 August 1986 and;

one parent was an Australian Citizen born before 20 August 1986

  • Australian Passport issued on or after 1st January 2000 (that was valid for at least two years) or;
  • Your full birth certificate and;
  • One parent’s full Birth Certificate issued by RBDM confirming that parent was born in Australia before 20 August 1986 or Parent’s Australian Citizenship certificate.

On or after 20 August 1986 and;

one parent was an Australian Citizen born on or after 20 August 1986

  • Your Australian Citizenship Certificate or;
  • Your full Birth Certificate and;
  • One parent’s full Birth Certificate and;
  • Grandparent’s full Birth Certificate or Grandparent’s Australian Citizenship Certificate

On or after 20 August 1986 and;

neither parent was an Australian Citizen or Permanent Resident at the time of your birth

  • Your Australian Citizenship Certificate

You can apply for evidence of Australian citizenship from Department of Home Affairs if you spent the first 10 years of your life in Australia.

Options for non-citizens

In very rare and exceptional circumstances, if a position cannot be filled by an Australian citizen the citizenship requirement may be waived and applications may be accepted from:

  • Permanent residents who can prove they have applied for citizenship
  • Permanent residents who are unable to apply for citizenship and are prepared to apply for citizenship after they have completed 90 days of relevant Defence (effective) service.
  • Overseas applicants with relevant military experience (see below).

Please be aware that if, as a permanent resident, you refuse citizenship or fail in your application, your ADF service will be terminated.

More information

If you're not sure about your eligibility for Australian citizenship, find out more on the Department of Home Affairs website:

Department of Home Affairs

Info line: 131 881

Applicants from overseas

If, as a serving or ex-serving member of an overseas service, you can directly transfer your skills and experience to the ADF, you may be able to fill a gap that can't currently be satisfied by local recruiting. Applications are administered by the individual services, not Defence Force Recruiting, and you can read more about how to apply here:


Visit the Defence Member and Family Support website for detailed information about the range of support services available to ADF members and their families and answers to frequently asked questions.

Overseas recruits

Overseas or ‘Lateral’ recruits are military personnel who have gained entry to the Australian Defence Force based on prior experience in foreign defence forces.

The ADF lateral recruitment program addresses capability shortfalls that cannot otherwise be filled using Australian personnel. Visit the Defence Recruitment website for eligibility criteria.

While the ADF will become a strong support base for your family, you should carefully research and plan your move across the world well before you leave.

For specific military entitlement information visit the ADF Pay and Conditions website, and become familiar with the myGov website, a single-access portal to access all Australian government services.

The Department of Home Affairs is the official source of information regarding moving to and setting in Australia, living and working in Australia.