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Australia has a murky history, being populated from shiploads of convicts from England. Despite this, there are regulations around travelling to Australia with a conviction.

For most Kiwis, a trip over the ditch is a worry-free experience. NZ and Australia have an agreement where Kiwis are given a special category visa on arrival. No planning, no visa applications, just turn up and get a cheery wave through. However, Kiwis with a criminal record are subject to additional rules and may need to apply for a visa. If you do have a conviction, make sure you check out the guidelines- you don’t want to be turned away at the border.

Criminal Background Check

Regardless of type of criminal conviction, you must procure written authorisation from DIBP (Department of Immigration and Border Protection) prior to travel. This includes convictions from any time in the past, even if they have been wiped from the record. Anyone who wanted to enter Australia must satisfy the character requirement as per section 501 of the Migration Act 1958.

This process will be required for anyone intending to travel to Australia, whether for a holiday or a more permanent relocation.

Process for disclosing convictions in New Zealand

Download the Consent to Disclosure of Information (NZ Police) Form. Once you’ve filled out the form, send it to the Australian Consulate-General at:

Australian Consulate-General
Level 7
PriceWaterhouse Coopers Tower
186-194 Quay Street
Auckland 1010
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The police send the outcome of the police check through to the consulate general. Once this has been processed, you will be advised if you must apply for a visa to Australia before travel. This will take three weeks to process.

Convictions from other countries

If you have a conviction from a country other than New Zealand, you will need police clearance from that country- ironically, this includes any convictions in Australia too.

Character assessment

If you do have to apply for a visa, you can apply online through The first screening starts at the Australian Consulate - General in Auckland and then on to the Visa Application Character Consideration Unit in Melbourne. This character assessment may take up to six months or more, depending on the circumstances.

What is a character test failure?

You will not pass the character test if:

  • You have a conviction arising from escaping from immigration detention. Similarly, if you have been convicted while in immigration detention, during an escape or after an escape you will not pass the test.
  • You have been or are a member of an organisation or are affiliated with anyone in an organisation that the Minister for Immigration suspects are involved with criminal conduct.
  • You have a substantial criminal record. This includes a prison sentence of 12 months or more, or sentences that add up to 12 months or more. In this instance, a suspended sentence is still considered to be a prison sentence.
  • There is a risk that you would engage in criminal conduct while in Australia. This includes harassing, intimidating, molesting or stalking another person, inciting discord in the Australian community, vilifying part of the Australian community, or being a danger to the Australian community.
  • You have been found guilty or convicted of sexual offending against a child.
  • You are subject to an Interpol notice, or a negative security assessment by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.
  • You are suspected of being involved with people smuggling, trafficking, genocide or other war crimes, torture, slavery, or a serious international offence.
  • Your history and current criminal conduct show you are not of good character.

Even if you fail the good character test, you may still be able to get a visa. The Immigration Department look at your behaviour since sentencing. If you think this may help your case, consider providing evidence of your good behaviour since.

Will a drink driving conviction affect my travel to Australia?

Yes. Regardless of the type of conviction you have, you will need to submit a disclosure to the Australian government. They will advise if you need to apply for a visa and prove your good character.

However, it is unlikely that a DUI will stop a tourist visa being obtained, although it will delay it. At times, a working visa may be denied where a tourist visa is approved.

Can I appeal a refusal?

If a visa is cancelled, you or a sponsor have 28 days to ask for the visa to be restored. You can apply for a review by the AAT. If the decision goes against you, you can appeal within nine days or seek a judicial review.

What if I don’t disclose my criminal convictions?

Australian immigration systems have a live sharing database with New Zealand. Any queries can be followed up with a verbal request for information from the NZ Justice System, which is responded to within 60 minutes. If you do not disclose and then lie on the arrivals card, it is possible that you may be detained and then returned to New Zealand on the next available flight back.

The best advice is that if you have had any criminal convictions in the past, submit the disclosure and ask if you need to apply for a visa. If the conviction is minor or a long time ago, then it’s likely they will let you in. This process takes time, so apply at the earliest stage possible.

If the conviction is minor, it may be waived. They may require a visa to be applied for. Or, worst case scenario, you will be denied entry. However, all three scenarios may result in a swift journey home to NZ if you do not disclose it.

If you do get through immigration unscathed and then immigrate to Australia, it might be found out at a later time and you can be deported then. At this stage, no further visas will ever be granted.

Is it worth the risk?

Our Fixed Price Guarantee:

Our Fixed Price Guarantee:

Unlike many other movers, we will provide you with a fixed quote based on your specific list of items.

Should you wish to add or remove any items, we will adjust our fixed quote accordingly. Hence, no nasty surprises at the end of the move process.

Our Service Promise:

Our Service Promise:

  • We will listen to your individual needs and requirements.
  • We will provide a prompt, competitive quote with in one working day.
  • We will provide you with the highest level of service.
Free In-Home Consultation:

Free In-Home Consultation:

If you are moving the majority of your household items from New Zealand to Australia, one of Ausmoves experienced relocation consultants will visit your home to establish your specific packing requirements and any unique moving needs. Learn more about moving to Australia from NZ.

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