Applicants & Holders - Nominating referees

Referees play an important role in the security clearance assessment. They help to verify information provided by clearance applicants, and collected during the vetting process.

You should check with your referees before nominating them. Please ensure your referees are available to be part of the process and understand the requirements of being a referee. One of the main causes of delays during a security clearance process is the availability and responsiveness of referees.

When selecting referees, consider the following:

  • Where possible, referees should be Australian Citizens or permanent residents. Where this is not possible, referees should be citizens of the United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom, or New Zealand.
  • A referee must know you in either a personal or professional capacity.
  • A referee cannot be related to you, or be a partner/ex-partner.
  • A referee must have had regular contact with you over an extended period of time.

You may nominate multiple referees to cover different times over the checkable period where individual referees have not had continuous contact with you.

Each level of security clearance has different referee requirements as follows: 

Clearance level Minimum number of referees required Referee type
Baseline 1 referee minimum, including a current or previous supervisor or someone that knows you in a professional context 1 supervisor
Negative Vetting 1 2 referees who can account for every period of your life for the last 10 years

1 supervisor

1 personal

Negative Vetting 2 2 referees who can account for every period of your life for the last 10 years 1 supervisor
1 personal
Positive Vetting 5 referees who can account for every period of your life since the age of 16, or for the last 10 years (whichever period is greater) 1 supervisor and 4 personal
2 supervisor and 3 personal

Your nominated current supervisor must have supervised you for at least the last three months. 


  • you nominate a previous supervisor, they must have supervised you for at least six months during the last 12 months. 
  • your current supervisor has supervised you for less than three months, you should provide details of your immediate previous supervisor(s) to make up the three month period.
  • you are unable to provide a supervisor or other professional referee, because you have not worked during the last 12 months, a personal referee(s) can be nominated instead.

Personal referees must have known you for at least three months. They can be a work colleague, neighbour or friend, but cannot be:

  • a family member or other relation
  • spouse
  • de-facto partner
  • other partner (for example, boyfriend or girlfriend)
  • ex-partner