Naturalisation (citizenship)

After immigrants arrived in Australia they could become naturalised and be granted the rights of a citizen. Before 1949, Australians were British subjects. On 26 January 1949 the status of Australian citizen was created when the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948 was passed.

The National Archives of Australia holds citizenship records from 1904. The two main types of citizenship records are naturalisation certificates and case files. The National Archives holds duplicate copies of certificates issued between 1904 and 1962. Naturalisation case files, which include the application for citizenship, oath of allegiance and other correspondence, generally have more details than the certificate.

Citizenship records provide much information about a migrant including date of arrival in Australia, ship (or flight) travelled on, town and country of birth, names of other family members, education, employment and address in Australia at the time of naturalisation.

In addition, the National Archives holds naturalisation records for the Colony of Victoria for the period from 1848 to 1903 and naturalisation records for the Province of South Australia before 1904. Naturalisation records for New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania before 1904 are held by the appropriate state government archives.

Fact sheets

Research guide


Searching the collection

The naturalisation file you are seeking may already be listed in our collection database, RecordSearch. Go to Search the collection and then RecordSearch. Enter the surname as a keyword.

The Citizenship Index

If the file you are seeking is not listed in RecordSearch, the Department of Immigration Citizenship Index may be consulted. A microfiche version of the Citizenship Index is held by all capital city offices of the National Archives. Arranged alphabetically, the index lists all applicants for naturalisation from 1904 to 1995. Because it contains information not yet in the open access period the index cannot be made publicly available. Our reference staff will consult it on your behalf to identify the file number and location of records of naturalisations.

The following information is needed:

  • full name (include any known alias or alternate spelling of the name)
  • date of birth
  • date of arrival in Australia
  • state of residence at time of naturalisation.

Many naturalisation files are held in Canberra, but depending on the person's state of residence at the time of naturalisation, relevant records may be held in another office of the Archives.

For assistance with searching, contact us via the Immigration records inquiry form.
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