Travel

8 amazing benefits of holding an Australian passport

Australia allows dual citizenship, which means you can potentially hold an Australian passport while retaining citizenship of another country, offering increased flexibility and benefits.

Those little blue books we take overseas do more than just let us escape on holidays. Allison Tait discovers why an Australian passport is a solid gold ticket to travel and other amazing benefits.

By Allison Tait

Australian passport benefit #1: It’s one of the 10 most powerful in the world

Did you know that an Australian passport is one of the 10 most powerful passports in the world? 

According to the Henley Passport Index for 2024* there are 6 countries clustered in the number one position for most powerful passport (France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Singapore and Spain) because they can enjoy visa-free or visa on arrival access to 194 destinations around the world.

Australia landed in equal sixth spot, along with Czechia, New Zealand and Poland, thanks to our visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 189 countries. 

Australian passport benefit #2:  The peace of mind of Australian consular support

Let’s face it, travel doesn’t always go according to plan. So it’s good to know that Australian citizens who find themselves in hot water can rely on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to help out with Emergency Consular Assistance.

Well, mostly. DFAT can provide a helping hand with everything from replacement passports and travel documents (for a fee), to the details of local doctors and hospitals, advice and support on some legal matters, as well as contacting family and friends on your behalf. 

There are limits. Don’t, for instance, expect the consular to get you out of prison if you’ve broken a law in the country you’re visiting, or to arrange a visa or work permit for you, or to store luggage or postal items. 

Assistance is limited if your actions were illegal, you’ve deliberately acted recklessly or negligently, you’ve put yourself or others at risk, or you’ve demonstrated a repeat pattern of behaviour. 

Find the Australian Consular Services Charter here, outlining a full list of assistance and limitations.  

Oh, and consular support never negates the need for travel insurance.

Australian passport benefit #3:  We have health care agreements with 11 countries

Reciprocal Health Care Agreements with 11 countries mean that Australians can get publicly funded medically necessary care when visiting.

Australia has agreements with Belgium, Finland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the Republic of Ireland, Slovenia, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Which means that you can get help with costs for medically necessary care when you visit these countries, including emergency care, or care for an illness or injury that can’t wait until you get home.

If you visit the UK, for example, the agreement covers care from a British National Health Service (NHS) doctor or nurse at a GP surgery, care in a public ward of an NHS hospital, out-patient care at an NHS hospital or other NHS facilities, prescription medicine if the doctor treats you as an NHS patient. In an emergency situation, you’ll need to ask for care as an NHS patient and be ready to show your passport AND Medicare card.

If you’re visiting one of the 11 countries on the list, be sure to check the details of the specific health care agreement before you travel.

These agreements do not negate the need for your own travel health insurance. Read more about how to safeguard your health when flying, and don’t forget Citro partner Freely offers 15% cashback on all travel insurance when you pay on your Citro Card.

Australian passport benefit #4:  Age Pension entitlements reciprocate in 32 countries

Assuming you meet the qualification rules at all times, you can continue to access your Australian Aged Pension payments while overseas

If you’re away for up to 12 months, you’ll continue to receive payments every 2 weeks into your Australian bank account. More than 12 months, and you’ll receive payments every 4 weeks into your Australian or overseas bank account.

Of course, everyone’s situation is different and there is always fine print to consider. Visit the Services Australia website for full details about how your particular travel plans might affect your pension. 

For instance, if you’re away for more than six weeks, you’ll still receive your pension, but your pension supplement will drop to the basic rate and your energy supplement will stop. After 26 weeks, your rate will depend on how long you were an Australian resident between the age of 16 and Age Pension age.

Australia also has Reciprocal Social Security Agreements with 32 countries. What does that mean for you?

From the Department of Social Services: “Partner countries under each agreement make concessions against their social security qualification rules so that people covered by the agreement may access payments for which they might otherwise fail to qualify.”

These agreements are particularly useful to Australians planning to retire overseas or Australians who have lived part of their lives overseas. 

All details and a full list of countries is available from the Department of Social Services

Read more about Australia’s Age Pension, including

Australian passport benefit #5: Enhanced security benefits 

In September 2022, DFAT released the R Series passport, touted as Australia’s ‘next generation’ passport. The R Series photo page is made from polycarbonate, which is more durable than laminated paper (less likely to tear or suffer other minor damage). 

The R Series also includes a series of new security features, some of which only become apparent under ultraviolet light, designed to prevent counterfeiting and identity theft.

It’s not the first time the Aussie passport has been updated in its long and storied history. ‘Every Assistance & Protection: A History Of The Australian Passport’ by Jane Doulman and David Lee is available to download free on the DFAT website

Australian passport benefit #6: Reduced passport fees for older people

As of 1 January 2024, a 10-year Australian passport for adults (16 years and over) costs $346. People over 75 are able to take up a 5-year option for $175.

See the full list of Australian passport fees on the Australian Passport Office website. 

Australian passport benefit #7: Australia allows dual citizenship (which means you can hold multiple passports)

Australian citizens can have multiple nationalities, as long as it does not contradict the laws of other states. 

Whether you are a dual national depends on the law here and in the other country. 

You could be a dual national with another country if you

• have a parent who is a national of that country

• marry a national of that country

• apply for and receive citizenship of another country

• were born overseas.

So what does it mean? One on hand, if you’re eligible, you may be able to leave Australia on your Australian passport and then enter, say, Greece, on an EU passport, allowing you to reside there. 

On the other, travelling on another passport may bring other obligations, including compulsory military service (even if you’re past the age of military service you may be charged as a defaulter), and may impact on or restrict the consular services the Australian Government can provide you. 

DFAT recommends using your Australian passport when exiting or entering Australia, even if you choose to travel on your other passport outside Australia.

Find more advice for Australian dual nationals on the Smart Traveller website.   

Australian passport benefit #8:  You can easily retire to New Zealand 

If you’re dreaming of an overseas retirement, take a look across the Tasman. 

With an Australian Resident visa, Australians can visit, work and live in New Zealand for an indefinite period of time. The visa costs NZD$50 and you can only apply for it when you arrive in New Zealand, not before you travel. 

Find out more about retiring in New Zealand (and nine other popular destinations).

 

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