Australian Visa Applicants and Debts



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Australian Visa Applications and Debts to Australia.

One question on the immigration visa application form that confuses some people is this one:

  • Has any applicant ever had any outstanding debts to the Australian Government or any public authority in any other country?

I have seen questions where people ask if they include house loans, credit cards, car loans, study loans etc.  The answer to those is: No, they are not outstanding debts to the Government.

A close description of the debts being referred to is more like this DoF one:

  • A sum of money owing to the Commonwealth which is known and not being disputed, due for payment now and legally capable of being recovered in a legal action for debt.

The Commonwealth in this instance probably refers to all Australian Governments

Probable definitions:

Any debt to any Australian government body would be included.


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This might even include unpaid speeding fines (Some Tourist Visa holders do get them prior to applying for Migration).
One person said they are only minor, and should not be counted to stop a visa.
The official line, for Citizens and residents, with unpaid speeding fines, is: State Debt Recovery (SDR) may suspend your Australian driver’s licence, cancel the registration of any vehicles you own in Australia, take money from (garnish) your Australian bank account, take property you have in Australia or put a charge on any land you own in Australia.

I guess that Visa Applicants may face that, plus a bit more, such as; Being told to pay the fines before the visa application is decided.

Older forms appear to have had a similar question but referring to “outstanding debts to the Commonwealth”, and that confused some people who consider the Commonwealth to be a group of 53 countries, of which Australia is a member. They actually meant the “Commonwealth of Australia”.


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The information we give is based on personal experiences, reading and formulation of available statistics.
Some Visa Applicants might find an Experienced Australian Migration Agent of great assistance.

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