Can I get a passport with a criminal record in Australia?

Reportable Offenders in Australia cannot travel outside the country without special permission. However, if you were convicted of non-reportable offenses and have completed your sentence, nothing is stopping you from getting a passport and leaving the country.

Quick Take:

  • Responsible Authority is the secretary to the department of foreign affairs and trade of the Commonwealth of Australia.
  • You may clear your record through the Spent Conviction Scheme.
  • Once you have completed your sentence, you are eligible for a passport.
  • You may enter the US by applying for a form 212 (d)(3) Waiver of Inadmissibility.
  • Over 189 countries offer visa free travel for Australians.
  • Reportable offenders cannot travel outside the country without special permission.

Can I get a passport with a criminal record in Australia?

In Australia, once you have completed your sentence, including parole and probation. You are effectively a free man. Because of that, the only travel barriers that stand in your way are the other country’s travel restrictions, visa requirements, or the type of crime.

The statute also allows competent authorities to deny individuals who have outstanding warrants a passport.

In short. If you have a pending court case or have not completed your sentence, or if you are a convicted sex offender. Getting a passport in Australia can be problematic.

What happens if a reportable offender illegally travels overseas?

If a reportable offender travels overseas without special permission from a Competent Authority, that individual is guilty of a crime punishable by 300 penalty units and or up to five years in prison. Furthermore, the ministry for foreign affairs cannot legally issue a passport to a reportable offender.

If the individual has a passport, the ministry or competent authority has the legal capacity to cancel it.

How do you get special permission to travel outside the country if you are a reportable offender?

Territories in Australia require reportable offenders to have an exceptional circumstance to grant travel permission. Therefore, the convict must contact the authority to whom he or she is obligated to report. Note: approaching the Department of Foreign Affairs directly will not work because the ministry makes decisions based on the recommendations of local authorities. Therefore, if you are on the reportable offenders list, you should first contact the Australian Federal police before contacting foreign affairs.

Once you have permission, you may apply for a passport.

Reportable offenders: what to remember:

  • When you get permission to travel, you do not need to report yourself as a reportable offender to passport office staff or post office.
  • The department checks ANCHOR entries, so you do not need to submit any special documents when applying for a passport.
  • It can take up to three months to get a passport.
  • If you apply for priority processing, it may take up to two days to process your passport
  • Passports issued to reportable offenders have an expiry date. Not obeying the restrictions is a violation of the law.
  • Australian federal police will notify authorities in the country you are traveling to.

What if you have completed your sentences and reporting requirements?

As mentioned, once you have completed your sentence you are a free man. Because of that, you can apply for a passport the normal way. The question is, how do you enter other countries?

Can you travel internationally with a criminal record?

Countries fall into two categories, some require a VISA, and others do not. According to Visaindex, there are over 189 countries that offer visa-free travel to Australians. Why is this important? To get an entry VISA, most countries require a background check. If the background check reveals a conviction, authorities may deny you entry. On the other hand, to get a passport, all you need to do is apply for one locally, which means you do not have to undergo screening by foreign officials to get one.

It is worth noting that most countries do not require travelers to apply for a visa if they intend to stay less than 90 days.

So yes, you can travel to visa-free countries with a criminal record. But it is good practice to consult with the embassy of the country you are traveling to before your arrival. Remember, laws change, meaning it is in your best interest to stay updated with current restrictions or travel requirements.

Can I travel to the US if I have a criminal record in Australia?

Because of VWP (Visa Waiver Program), individuals from Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom do not need a VISA to travel to the US. However, if you intend to stay more than 90 days, you will need a VISA. Note that travelers with a criminal record do not qualify for the VISA waiver.

How do you enter?

That decision is up to local authorities or ESTA. ESTA OR Electronic System for Travel Authorization is a system that requires the traveler to, quote “provide basic biographic, travel, and eligibility information online to receive advance authorization before departure for the United States.”

The system assesses your eligibility to enter the county based on the crime committed.

If you have a criminal record, you qualify for ETSA if:

  • You committed a juvenile offense.
  • The maximum sentence was less than 12 months.
  • The crime was political.

What to remember

Can I travel to Canada if I have a criminal record in Australia?

Just like in the US, the type of crime committed determines eligibility to enter. Individuals convicted of serious offenses, including murder, terrorism, and so on, are “criminally inadmissible.” The same applies to some minor crimes, including drunk driving or theft.

However, if you have completed your sentence you may apply for a Record Suspension. We have a detailed article on record suspension, so if you are interested to learn more. Give that article a quick read.

Follow this link to find out if you are admissible to Canada.

Can you get a criminal record expunged in Australia?

The Spent Conviction Scheme allows convicts in the country to not disclose a conviction after a period of good behavior. It also pardons and quashes convictions. Therefore, if you have completed your sentence, you may pursue it to clear your record. If successful, you will not have to disclose your conviction while travelling.

Check with local authorities or your lawyer.

Overall, immigration laws of the country you are travelling to determine eligibility to enter. Because of that, we recommend explaining your situation to the country’s embassy before making travel arrangements or purchasing tickets.

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