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Consular FAQs

** This page is regularly updated but may not reflect recent changes brought about by COVID19, particularly where it pertains to services provided by other government departments and third parties. **

Visas, immigration and citizenship

Births, deaths or marriages

Health

Benefits and payments

Money, tax and superannuation

Public safety, law enforcement and legal representation

Driving in Australia and the United States

Voting in Australian Elections

Australians returning to Australia

Tracing relatives and friends in Australia

Exam invigilation

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Visas, immigration and citizenship

Where can I find information on Australia visas, immigration and citizenship?

Consular staff cannot provide any information or answer questions about Australian visas, immigration to Australia or Australian citizenship.

For information, visit https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/ or contact the Department of Home Affairs Global Service Centre (GSC) on +61 2 6196 0196. The GSC is open 24 hours.

Who do I contact about my ESTA, US visa, US permanent residency (green card) or citizenship?

If you have questions about ESTAs and the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), contact US Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) Travel Communications Center on +1 202 325 8000.

If you have questions about US visas, immigration to the US or US citizenship, contact your nearest US Embassy or Consulate.

If you already in the United States, contact the Department of State’s National Visa Center on +1 603 334 0700 or US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on +1 800 375 5283.

How do I know if I need a visa for the country or countries I am travelling to?

Enquiries about entry and exit requirements (including visas) for third countries should be directed to the embassies and consulates of those countries. You can also consult the IATA Travel Centre.

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Births, deaths or marriages

How can I obtain an Australian birth, death or marriage certificate?

The Embassy cannot issue Australian birth, death or marriage certificates or obtain them on your behalf.

If you wish to register a birth, death or marriage in Australia, or obtain a copy of your existing Australian birth, death or marriage certificate, you can apply through the official web site of the relevant state or territory Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

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Health

Am I covered by Medicare (Australia) in the United States?

There is no reciprocal health agreement between Australia and the United States. Therefore, any medical or health care costs accrued will not be covered by Medicare.

Medical costs in the United States are extremely high, and payment is often required up front. In order to avoid excessive fees, ensure that you take out comprehensive travel insurance for the duration of your stay that will cover any medical costs (noting that you may not receive cover for pre-existing medical conditions).

Consular staff cannot assist you with obtaining insurance or determining what is or is not covered by your existing policy.

Can I bring prescription medication to the United States?

Prescription medication should only be taken overseas for your own personal use or the personal use of someone in your care who is travelling with you.

If you are travelling with prescription medication, carry a letter from your doctor containing details of your prescription, and carry the medication in its original packaging so that it can be easily identified.

Further information on travelling with prescription medication can be found on the Smartraveller website: http://smartraveller.gov.au/guide/all-travellers/health/Pages/medicine.aspx.

Not all medication available over the counter or by prescription in Australia is available in the United States. Some medications may be considered illegal or controlled substances, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

Contact the US Food and Drug Administration for further information.

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Benefits and payments

Am I entitled to receive Australian Social Security benefits?

The Centrelink program delivers a range of payments and services for retirees, the unemployed, families, carers, parents, people with disabilities, Indigenous Australians, and people from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, and provides services at times of major change.

To determine your eligibility, apply or obtain further information, contact Centrelink International Services on +1 866 343 3086 (toll-free from the United States) or visit https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/centrelink

Centrelink services are provided between 8.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday, Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST). AEST is currently 14 hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), and therefore 15, 16 and 17 hours ahead of the Central (CDT), Mountain (MDT) and Pacific (PDT) Daylight time zones respectively, and 20 hours ahead of Hawaii Standard Time (HST).

Will I continue to receive my Centrelink payments while I’m in the United States?

You should notify Centrelink if you are travelling or living outside of Australia, as your payments might need to be adjusted or discontinued.

These payments should automatically resume upon your return to Australia.

Further information on how travelling outside Australia may affect your payments can be found at https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/subjects/australians-overseas.

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Money, tax and superannuation

How can I transfer money between Australia and the United States?

Banks, money transfer services, payment apps and forex brokers can all be used to transfer money between Australia and the United States.

Bank transfers typically take between 1 and 3 days. 

If you require funds urgently, you may wish to utilise a payment app or a commercial money transfer service such as Western Union or Travelex. Depending on the money transfer service you use, funds may be sent to a bank account or collected in cash from an agent location and may be available almost immediately.

Consular staff cannot coordinate these transactions for you or source funds on your behalf.

Where can I find information about my tax obligations in Australia and the United States?

Understanding your obligations and ensuring that you have appropriate taxation arrangements in place is your responsibility.

Questions relating to Australian taxation, including how to lodge your tax return from the United States, should be directed to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) (tel.: +61 2 6261 1111).

Questions regarding US taxes should be directed to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) (tel.: +1 800 829 1040).

How can I access my superannuation in Australia?

Consular staff cannot assist with enquiries about superannuation.

For information or advice about your entitlement or access to superannuation, contact your provider directly.

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Public safety, law enforcement and legal advice

Can the Embassy or Consulates provide me with legal advice or help me find a U.S. lawyer?

Consular staff can provide you with resources to locate a lawyer (for example, the details of your local Bar Association and Lawyer Referral Service) but cannot provide legal advice or make recommendations as to which lawyer you should engage.  

How can I obtain an Australian Police Clearance or Criminal History Check?

If you require a Police Clearance or Criminal History checks, you should contact the Criminal Records section of the relevant state or territory police force in Australia.

The type, cost and application forms required for clearance certificates vary, however all Australian states can provide at least one of the following certificates:

  • Certificate issued on the basis of fingerprints;
  • Certificate issued on the basis of a name check; and
  • National Police Clearance Certificate.

Alternatively, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) can issue a National Police Clearance Certificate that covers all Australian states and territories. AFP has advised that this certificate is acceptable in all countries.

To apply, visit https://www.afp.gov.au/what-we-do/services/criminal-records/national-police-checks.  

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Driving in the United States

Can I drive in the United States on my Australian driver’s licence?

To drive in the United States, you must have a valid driver’s licence.

While some US states will allow you to drive for a limited time on your Australian driver's licence, others require you to obtain an International Driver's Permit (IDP) before you leave Australia. Some rental car companies also require you to have an IDP.

Contact your rental car company and the motor vehicle department in each US state that you intend to drive for further information.

Only associated members of the Australian Automobile Association (AAA) are authorised to issue IDPs.

To apply or for further information, contact the AAA-associated member in your state or territory.

Can I renew my Australian driver’s licence at the Embassy or Consulates in the United States?

Drivers licences are issued by the individual states and territories in Australia.

Consular staff cannot issue renewals or replacements but can assist with witnessing signatures on applications and certifying documents, if required.

For further information on renewing or replacing your Australian drivers licence, contact the issuing authority in the relevant state or territory.

For information on having your signature witnessed or obtaining certified copies of your documents, visit the Notarial Services page on the Embassy’s website.

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Voting in Australian Elections

Can I vote in Australian Elections while I'm overseas?

For information about voting in Australian elections, visit the Australian Electoral Commission’s (AEC) Overseas voting page or contact the AEC by phone on +61 2 6160 2600 (note: international call charges apply).

You can also monitor our Australian Elections page, which is updated if/when the Embassy and Consulates are providing voting services for federal or state elections.

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Australians returning to Australia

Can I take my pet to Australia?

There are a number of requirements that must be met before you can take your pet to Australia. These requirements differ depending on the type of animal, breed, and place of origin.

Quarantine may also be required upon arrival to Australia.

For current procedures and advice on biosecurity requirements, visit www.agriculture.gov.au/biosecurity-trade/cats-dogs.

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Tracing relatives and friends in Australia

Can the Embassy or Consulates help me locate persons in Australia?

Consular staff do not have the resources to assist with locating persons in Australia.

If your enquiry is prompted by some well-founded welfare concern, contact local police in Australia. 

Otherwise, we suggest that you systematically search telephone directories (eg. the White Pages) and/or social media websites (eg. Facebook) and establish contact with family, friends and known associates of the person(s) concerned in an effort to obtain further information.

You might also consider contacting the various registries of births, deaths and marriages (BDM) and electoral commissions in Australia or engaging the services of a reunion or family tracing service such as those offered by Oz Reunion or the Australian Red Cross.

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Exam Invigilation

Can I sit my exam at the Embassy?

The Embassy does not provide invigilation services.

Individuals who require invigilation services in or around Washington DC can contact Inlingua English Center in Arlington, Virginia (tel.: +1 703 527 7888).

If you are located elsewhere in the United States, contact the organisation requiring you to sit the exam to obtain a list of accredited exam centres.

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