My Australian Citizenship Ceremony Experience: A Glimpse Into What It Entails
Wondering what the Australian Citizenship Ceremony looks like? I did too. After I finally had mine recently, I made some notes about it to help you prepare for the big day. Hopefully this Australian citizenship ceremonies guide will give you any answers you’ve been looking for.
Table of Contents
Applying for Australian citizenship
My migration story has taken me a whole 11 years to get to this point, so it was a massive day for me to finally get my Australian citizenship. I have been on Tourist Visas, Working Holiday Visas, Bridging Visas, Defacto Partner Visas, then I got Permanent Residency before finally getting Citizenship. Phew! Find out if you’re eligible to apply for citizenship as I thought I was going to have to wait another six months when I looked.
You can check out my guides on applying for different visa below if you’re interested:
It did take me longer than it should have done so, because in 2018 as we were about to embark on a one year trip around the world, the Australian citizenship requirements changed and I could apply literally a couple of weeks before we left the country. But, there was a mix up with my birth certificate and by the time I got it sorted, I had been away from Australia two months too long and my citizenship application was refused.
So, I had to wait another four years of being back in Australia before I could apply again, which is why it took me longer than it should have done so. Becoming an Australian citizen was super important for me so I would have the option to come and go for the rest of my life!
In July 2023 I took the Citizenship Test and then spent the next three months eagerly checking my post box every morning waiting for my citizenship ceremony letter to come through. It never did.
In fact, by September I got an email with the letter of approval. This means it took them three months from taking the citizenship test to getting the letter of approval. I then had to sit and wait for months for the citizenship ceremony date to come through, so I could finally attend the ceremony.
Then in March 2023 I got an email finally informing me that my Citizenship ceremony date had been set for one month’s time in April 2023. Ceremony dates can be widely different for everyone depending on where you’re living and local councils etc, but this is what it was like for me.
Applying for citizenship and finally attend a citizenship ceremony looked like this for me:
June 2022 – apply to become an Australian citizen
July 2022 – Take the citizenship test (I found out straight away if I passed!)
September 2022 – email stating my citizenship has been approved
March 2023 – email with date of citizenship ceremony
April 2023 – citizenship ceremony
How often are citizenship ceremonies held?
I’m not too sure about how often citizenship ceremonies take place but I assumed that because we’re currently in Sunshine Coast, I thought it would be quicker than being in a city (as in there would be less of a wait).
But, it seemed that they don’t take place that often here. At my ceremony, there were 250 people in the same boat as me, so I’m guessing the fact that it took 7 months to organise looks like they might take place twice a year here. I was expecting it to take place on Australia Day but it didn’t.
What happens when you get the letter of approval?
When you receive the letter of approval which is done via email, you have to firstly confirm your attendance and you’re given the option to invite guests to come along. You actually get the choice to invite two guests!
Where my citizenship ceremony took place
I don’t really know what I was expecting but my ceremony took place at a local RSL which wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for. I wore one of my favourite dresses because it was such a big day for me. I thought I would be overdressed as there is no dress code but everyone is dressed smartly (even for the Sunshine Coast).
Registering at citizenship ceremonies
Our ceremony was scheduled from 9:30am-11:00 but we were told to arrive from 8am because it would be busy. We arrived by 9am and had enough time to line up and register. At the registration, I had to give them some photo identification. Even though I could have given them my drivers license, I gave them my British passport to be on the safe side.
I was given a plant which I think is a nice idea. We will plant it somewhere special to remember this important day.
I was also given the option to choose between two pledges (one is mentioning God, the other doesn’t), the Australian citizenship certificate and a leaflet on how to vote.
As I received my Australian citizenship certificate before the ceremony took place, I wondered whether I needed to go to to the ceremony? To be honest, I would definitely recommend going, because it is a big moment and the ceremony doesn’t take that long.
There are some backdrops with the Australian flag, Aboriginal flag and Torres Strait Island flag to take your photos next to, while holding the flags that are offered around.
What the Australian citizenship ceremonies look like
My ceremony started at 9:30am and was finished within 40 minutes. We had a couple of people from the Sunshine Coast council give a really boring speech before local Aboriginal people came in and livened it up. They welcomed us to Country with traditional dance about custodianship and everyone loved it, including me.
We then were legally required to stand up from our seats, and say the pledge of commitment to Australia together with the other new Australian citizens (you’re given a booklet to read it from so you don’t have to memorise it).
Then at the end of the ceremony, we sang the Australian National Anthem together.
At my ceremony, it was actually quite loud with kids crying and screaming so it did feel a bit like a creche. Obviously you can’t help kids crying but I’m just saying this because the reality of your ceremony date might not be as dreamy as you might be expecting it to be.
A sense of pride
One thing that actually surprised me about my ceremony date is I actually felt like a sense of pride being there. It was really nice to be in a room filled with other people from over 42 countries and it made me felt like I belonged there. It was also nice to speak with my British accent and not feel like I was the only one who wasn’t Australian. I didn’t expect to feel like that but it was really comforting.
But most of all, I was very proud that my day had finally come and I am now an Australian, an opportunity that had spent a very long time waiting for.
I’m sure citizenship ceremonies must be different, but this is what mine looked like! And so that is my experience of finally taking part in the Australian citizenship ceremony and I hope yours comes soon too!