Passports, Visas, Permits, Registration and Dual Nationality

(Please note that the information provided is subject to change at any time)

PASSPORTS

A new Australian passport takes two to three weeks to be issued and you can get an application form from the post office or passport office.  It’s not a good idea to leave it until the last moment though as it can take time to obtain birth certificates and other documents.

Each person will require their own passport, including infants.  The adult passport is valid for 10 years and five years for children to 18 years of age.

You can request 36 pages or 64 pages.  Frequent travellers should consider a 64 page passport.  If you intend overlanding in Africa, most African countries require at least two pages so you’ll need a 64 page passport.  Work out what you might need before you go as Australian Embassies are not always close by.

If you happen to lose your passport while you’re overseas, you’ll need to prove your citizenship and identity.  Don’t carry your birth certificate with you, but rather give it to someone you can contact who will be able to forward it on.

Citizenship matters can be complicated.  When applying for a passport of another country, be careful that you aren’t applying for citizenship.  Call the Department of Home Affairs on 131880 for all citizenship enquiries and correct advice, or visit their website.

VISAS

You should check with the embassy/consulate concerned with regards to visa requirements as they will have the most up-to-date information.  It’s now possible to apply for some visas online or at an airport on arrival.

Some countries require your passport to have a validity of at least six months before they will allow you to enter, even if it’s only for a two day stopover en-route to your major destination.

Depending on the nationality of your passport, you may be required to attend an interview  in person at the Embassy/Consulate and it may require you travelling to another city.  Allow yourself plenty of time.

It is strongly recommended that you arrange as many visas as possible prior to leaving Australia.  Make sure you give yourself enough time as some take longer to issue than others.  Certain visas only have a short validity.  If you intend being away for a longer period of time, you can organise visas en-route.  A multiple visa is generally required if entering a country more than once.

You may require a visa even if you’re only transiting a country.  One of my clients had a situation a couple of years ago where he was travelling to Ireland on business.  He was travelling on a Chinese passport and his flight required a transfer in London.  I checked his visa requirements and he was required to apply for a transit visa for London.  I informed him of this.  It appears though that he didn’t take my advice and when he arrived in London, he was sent back to Australia as he didn’t have a transit visa.  So you can see, it’s very important to ensure you have all the correct visas. 

If you’re travelling on business, some countries require you to apply for a business visa, even if you only intend giving a seminar or lecture for example.  You may be required to submit employer references.  Australian passport holders currently don’t require a tourist visa for Thailand, however they do require a visa if travelling on business or for a conference.  I advise my clients of any visa requirements. Unfortunately, some choose to travel as a tourist and as far as I’m aware, they seem to get away with it as I’ve never heard otherwise.  However, there will be an issue if you end up getting someone at Thailand immigration who is scrupulous in his or her job.

I recall hearing several years ago, when it was a requirement to have a business visa for Japan, that an agent failed to inform a group of businessmen who were travelling to Japan that they required a business visa and they were promptly sent back home.

Not all passports will allow you to enter certain countries.  If you are intending to visit Israel for example, and plan to travel to Syria later on, you should request a loose leaf visa for Israel, that is, don’t let them stamp your passport.  Syria won’t allow you entry if there is any evidence that you have been to Israel.

When applying for a visa, you will usually be required to submit a flight itinerary or letter from your travel agent confirming your onward travel.  You may also be required to prove that you have sufficient funds for your stay. 

Please ensure you follow the instructions meticulously as you could end up having your application returned.  A few years ago, we had some clients who were travelling to Saudi Arabia for business.  The applications were returned because the photos which were glued onto the application form were slightly crooked!  (True story). The businessmen ended up having to cancel their trip as they had no time to re-apply. 

If you’re not travelling on an Australian passport, you may need to apply for a re-entry visa to get back into Australia. 

WORK/STUDY PERMITS

 Check with the embassy/consulate concerned at least a few months before you go as processing can take time.  Some countries won’t let you change status if you enter as a tourist.  

Check with your local bookshop for publications on working overseas.  You will also find useful information by surfing the net.

REGISTER WITH POLICE AND OVERSEAS CONSULATES

You may be required to register with a police station when you arrive into a country.  If you don’t, you could risk expulsion or having to pay a fine when you leave.  Check with the embassy/consulate concerned before you leave.

It’s a good idea to register with your overseas consulate as it will assist in you being located if you’re in a world trouble spot.  The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade can provide you with the addresses of Australian embassies overseas.

DUAL NATIONALITY AND NATIONAL SERVICE

Some countries offer citizenship to people who marry their citizens or to people whose parents or grandparents were born in that country.  This could have implications when visiting the country of your second nationality and you could be prevented from obtaining Australian consular assistance.

If you’re a permanent resident of Australia, but not an Australian citizen, or if you have dual nationality, you may be required to undertake national service if entering the country of your birth.  You should get in touch with the embassy/consulate of the country concerned to enquire whether you can get an exemption letter if national service is going to affect you.  Even if you have passed the age for military service, you may still be considered to be a defaulter if you failed to report at the time required – and you could end up in jail!

You should use your Australian passport when travelling out of Australia and back into Australia.

Please feel free to share and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Reference

Image 1 – Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Image 2 – Element5 on Unsplash

Image 3 – Rocio Ramirez on Unsplash

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