Passport delays: If you’re travelling soon, here’s what you can do
The Passport Office advises a 6-week wait, but it could actually take longer to get your passport. What can you do about it?
As international borders continue to reopen, more and more Australians are getting ready to get back out into the big wide world.
Consider this scenario: you've booked your flights and a few amazing experiences, and you're ready to have the trip of your life after a couple of years of being "trapped" in Australia.
There's just one small (read: big) deal that could see all your hard work undone – your passport.
How long will I need to wait for a new passport?
It could take 2, 6, 8, 12 or 14 weeks. Reports vary. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) advises generally that Australians should plan trips well in advance of their intended travel dates, including checking the expiry date of their passports. Normally they should allow up to 6 weeks to get a new passport or renew one – this is up from 3 weeks pre-pandemic, due to the massive recent demand for passports.
However, we've heard anecdotal evidence that passport wait times may have blown out past this official 6-week time frame, with a source confirming they've waited for longer than 8 weeks.
One customer filing their application at the post office has been told to allow 8 weeks, and was warned that some people have been waiting 12–14 weeks.
On the other hand, another person experienced no delays at all. Their passport arrived within 3 weeks after applying through the regular non-express process (more on the express process below).
What's causing passport delays?
A spokesperson for the DFAT says the Australian Passport Office (APO) is "experiencing unprecedented high demand for its passport services".
"So far this financial year, the APO has issued over 1.1 million passports, which is almost double the total number we issued during the previous financial year (603,464 in 2020–21)."
The spokesperson told Finder that the APO has issued over 800,000 of these passports since 1 November alone.
"At present, processing times are, on average, 17 business days. While every effort is made to process applications as quickly as possible, actual turnaround times depend on the type and complexity of the application," the DFAT spokesperson said.
We had a run of public holidays in April (3 to be exact), which could have also added some delays for those waiting on their passport.
What can I do to get my passport faster?
We've done some research, and there are a few things you can do.
First, consider your type of application. First-time applications can take longer than renewals, as all supporting documents need to be verified. For a smoother process, double-check the requirements and make sure you've provided all the necessary information. Child passports can also take a little longer than adults, as all of the information needs to be verified to ensure both parents agree to the passport being issued.
Another tip: elect to collect your passport personally from DFAT in your closest capital city, rather than having it posted to you. This can shave another 4 business days off the processing and delivery time.
If you've submitted your application already, the DFAT spokeperson confirmed you should receive your passport within the 6-week time frame. "Customers who have been waiting more than 8 weeks to receive their passport, and have been unable to reach our call centre, should email the APO (firstname.lastname@example.org) with their contact details," they said.
Lastly, if you can't wait 6 weeks to get your hands on your passport, filing an urgent application may be your only option.
If you're eligible, you can pay an additional priority processing fee of $225 on top of your passport fee to expedite the process.
Priority processing is pricy, but it might be worthwhile for peace of mind, as it takes just 2 business days before your passport should be available for posting or collection. A passport being sent by post after priority processing should arrive within 1 week of your email from the APO.
What if I need my passport sooner than 2 business days?
If you need a passport even sooner, the APO may be able to process your passport in less than 2 business days for a compassionate or compelling reason, including the death or serious illness of an immediate family member or an unexpected need for urgent business travel.
In those cases, call 13 12 32 to arrange an appointment at a passport office and be ready to provide supporting documentation.
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