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 citizenship. You'll need to provide one of the following:
- A full Australian Birth Certificate (and if born on or after 20 August 1986 you must also be able to prove that one of your parents was an Australian citizen or permanent resident at the time), or
- An Australian passport (issued after 20 August 1986, with at least two years validity, and not cancelled), or
- An Australian Citizenship Certificate (including an extract from the register of citizenship or extract from the register of Australian births abroad).
Options for non-citizens
In 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 ineligible to apply for Australian citizenship as long as they are prepared to apply for citizenship within three months of commencing service (or six months if in the ADF Reserve), and
- 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.
Eligible New Zealanders
If you are a New Zealand citizen who is also a permanent resident or citizen of Australia, you can apply for the ADF if you can satisfy one of the following:
- Hold a permanent visa granted under the Migration Act
- Were in Australia on 26 February 2001 as a holder of a Special Category Visa (SCV)
- Were outside Australia on 26 February 2001 but were in Australia as the holder of an SCV for one or more periods totalling 12 months, in the 2 years prior to 26 February 2001
- Possess a Centrelink certificate, issued under the Social Security Act 1991, which states that you were, for the purposes of social security, residing in Australia on a particular date
If, as a New Zealand citizen, you first arrived in Australia on or after 27 February 2001 on an SCV, you are not considered a permanent resident and must apply for, and be granted, Australian permanent residence if you wish to obtain Australian citizenship.
If you're not sure about your eligibility for Australian citizenship, find out more on these Department of Immigration and Border Protection websites:
Department of Immigration and Border Protection
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:
A common handbook has been designed to help you understand the various stages of Australia’s overseas lateral recruitment process. It also provides key information to help you and your family with transition into the ADF and Australia.
Visit the Defence Community Organisation website for detailed information about the range of support services available to ADF members and their families and answers to frequently asked questions.
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 Immigration and Citizenship is the official source of information regarding moving to and setting in Australia, living and working in Australia. An excellent starting point is Beginning a Life in Australia, a booklet for migrants available to download in English and 37 other languages.