Australian Citizen vs. Resident – The Difference Between

The difference between an Australian citizen and an Australian resident

If you plan on moving to Australia it is important to know the difference between being a citizen of Australia and a resident of Australia. You may feel that they both refer to the same thing – that they both live in the country but there are differences in the legality of the terms.

Being an Australian citizen

A person who is deemed to be an Australian citizen has all the rights and privileges as the citizen of any other country of the world. This person can own property in the country and can avail of help from the Australian consul if problems arise when travelling to a foreign country. A citizen cannot be deported and if this person does move to another country, he/she can move back to Australia without any immigration delays.

Being an Australian resident

One can be either a temporary or a permanent resident of Australia. Such a person was born in another country and immigrated to Australia. As part of the residency conditions, this person is not permitted to be outside the country for long periods of time. Spending three out of five years in another country is acceptable, but longer than that is not. A resident can be deported and does not have the right to vote in elections. However, an Australian resident can own property and is eligible for medical insurance.

Difference between being an citizen and a resident of Australia

An Australian citizen does not have to adhere to any restrictions about leaving or entering the country and can be outside the country for any length of time. A resident, though, is not permitted to be outside the country for any longer than three years at a time. A citizen can vote and cannot be deported. A resident can be deported and does not have the right to vote. Therefore before you can call yourself an Australian, you do need to know the difference between being a citizen and a resident.


  1. In Australia a citizen can vote in elections and seek election to parliament. A resident does not have this right.
  2. There are no restrictions placed on a citizen with respect to leaving or entering the country. A resident, on the other hand, does have to comply with restrictions.
  3. A resident cannot retain residency status if he/she remains outside Australia for any longer than a three-year period out of five years. In order to stay outside the country for a five year period, a special Visa is needed.
  4. Children born to Australian citizens when they are overseas can be registered as Australian citizens.
  5. Residents cannot apply for work in government departments or be part of the country’s Armed Forces.
  6. A citizen can only be deported in exceptional circumstances.