I would like to go on holiday to Australia. Will my criminal record be a problem?

If you are a UK (or EU) citizen and you wish to travel to Australia for business or leisure, you can apply for an eVisitor visa. This allows you to visit Australia for up to three months at a time during any 12-month period.

To be eligible to apply for an eVisitor visa, the conditions state that you must not have any criminal convictions, for which the sentence or sentences are for a total period of 12 months duration or more (whether served or not), at the time of travel to, and entry into, Australia.

You will be asked to disclose any offences that are currently awaiting legal action and whether you have been convicted of an offence in any country.

You will not be eligible to apply for an eVisitor visa if:

  • You have a conviction that resulted in a prison sentence of 12 months or more (regardless of the time served)
  • You have been convicted for two or more offences and the combined length of all your sentences amounts to 12 months or more (regardless of the time served)
  • You have a suspended prison sentence where the period you would have served, had it not been suspended, was 12 months or more

If you are not eligible to apply for an eVisitor visa, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you cannot travel to Australia. It means that you will have to apply for a full tourist visa through the Australian Embassy. As part of your application, you will need to apply for a police certificate.

To be granted a tourist visa to travel to Australia, you must be deemed to be of ‘good character’. The Australian authorities will take your criminal record into account when determining whether you are of good character and will have particular concerns if you have a substantial criminal record. They define a substantial criminal record as the following:

  • A sentence of life imprisonment
  • A sentence of imprisonment of 12 months or more (regardless of time served)
  • Acquittal of an offence on the grounds of either unsoundness of mind or insanity if, as a result, you have been detained in a secure hospital or facility
  • A current, or previous, association with an individual, group or organisation suspected of having been, or being, involved in criminal conduct

If any of the above points apply to you, you will need to provide evidence of what you have done since the offence that can reassure them that you are of good character. This will be taken into account when they assess your application.

If your visa application is cancelled on the grounds of either a substantial criminal record, or past and present criminal conduct, you will be permanently excluded from entering Australia.

If you wish to appeal this decision, you must do so within 28 days. Appeals can be made to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.