Renewing an Australian Passport

I want to let you in on a secret.

Applying for an Australian Passport? It’s boring and frustrating. So before you #ragequit the whole thing let me cut through some of that red tape for you.

(Note: this post is quite long. If you’re the ‘TL:DR’ type scroll to the bottom for a much shorter bullet-point recap)

Getting Started

First, some quick housekeeping – this post for renewing your passport. If you’re applying for a completely new passport I think the procedure is the same, but you’ll probably need more ID and maybe more money (?)

So.

Once you’ve printed the form and investigated a bit you’re going to notice something. The AU government is very cranky about what you can and can’t do.

In fact, they’re SO cranky that they get down to the nitty-gritty details of telling you what sort of paper you can use. After a few minutes of research you get the feeling that if you mess anything up there’s going to be hell to pay. The hilarious thing about all this crankiness is that, at the same time, they don’t follow their own rules or update their forms regularly.

Let’s start with the whole ‘renewing from a child passport’ thing. On the website it’s stated that to renew from a child passport the passport must:

  • have been valid for 2 years
  • be issued after July 2005
  • be issued when you were 16 or over and;
  • be issued in your current name, date of birth and sex

I renewed from my child passport in 2010 to go to the UK. It was issued for two years and stated my correct name, date of birth and sex, however, it was issued in 1997 and I was 13 at the time. But when I renewed it at the post office they didn’t bat an eyelid. The same thing happened to Monique – it was originally given to her when she was under 16 but no stink-eye!

So I’d say it’s safe to ignore this particular rule. If you have a child’s passport that was issued for at least 2 years and states your correct name, date of birth and sex I don’t think they’ll care at all. Unless you get that one asshole guy.

I hate that guy!

Finding documents

If, by now, you’ve had a good read through the paperwork you’re probably wondering what the hell a birth card is. While nearly everyone will know what a birth certificate is, most won’t know what a birth card is. And that’s because most of you aren’t from New South Wales.

Just so you know, in NSW a birth card is a “credit-card sized card that […] was introduced as an alternative form of ID to extracts of birth certificates.” The super fun thing about birth cards is that whole ‘only in NSW’ thing or even what it is isn’t stated on the form.

To be clear – this rule only applies if you live in NSW. If you live in any other state of Australia your child passport is sufficient proof for your passport to be renewed. If you‘re applying from NSW remember that the state government is currently phasing out birth cards and won’t accept them after August, 2013

Photos

Having photos taken for your passport is going to test your patience. That’s because of a certain nit-pickiness over the quality and type of photograph required. And yes, they must to be taken at the post office.

For example here’s two photos of Monique:

Monique gets a passport. Eventually.

Mon gets a passport. Eventually.

The left is the official photograph (hence the squiggles on her face) and the right is the reject. While I can see a clear difference between the two, I think it’s pretty goddamn obvious that they’re the same person. Even more frustrating is, that from my point of view, Monique looks more like the photo on the right than the left.

The right picture is unacceptable because the background is brighter than the light on her face causing a slight shadow to fall on her left cheek (near the jaw) and sort of highlighting her ears. That was all it took for them to be all:

Gandalf you shall not pass JaPlanning Freelance Whitehead

1.

But it’s not too much hassle to have more taken right?

Maybe.

But the thing about them is they also require a written statement and signature on the back by a witness (who isn’t a housemate or relative) who has also signed your form verifying that you and the picture are the same person. If your photos are rejected the same person must sign the new ones. So if they’re rejected in your interview you can’t just take more at the post office and be done with it. You have to go find that person again and reschedule your interview.

No thanks!

My advice is to make your guarantor someone you see regularly or who lives close to you just in case.

Inspect your passport photos carefully when you have them taken. If there’s anything about them that even slightly obscures your features have them taken again or go to a different post office. It could save you days of hassle.

Your Interview

Finally you must attend your interview to complete the process. The interview will be at a post office of your choice but you have to book your interview in advance. During the interview the person at the post office will go through your entire application to check that everything is correct. If even one thing is wrong they may make you do the whole thing again.

This actually happened to me.

I made my signature just a tad too large for the signature box so I had to complete the entire form again. You can imagine my expression I’m sure!

They’ll also want to see two of your endorsed photos, your birth certificate/card or Australian citizenship certificate along with other identifying items to make up 100 points of ID. Oh and they’ll also want the application fee which for a standard passport at this time is $238.00.

Once you’ve made it to this point your passport should be in the bag.

Three fucking cheers right!?

Let’s be honest, even with much of the red tape snipped away, completing this sort of Government paperwork is always an exercise in patience that’s going to take up a lot of your time. But you know what’s exciting? Receiving your shiny new passport and knowing that the most important step to visiting your country of choice is taken care of.

So what are you waiting for? Make this the first thing on your to-do list to cross off! 

Until next time,

Kally & Mon.

The Quick List

Getting Started:

  • START EARLY! Don’t add stress by ‘getting onto this’ three weeks before you’re due to leave. See, I know what you’re like!
  • If your child passport states your correct name, date of birth and sex and was issued for at least two years you can almost definitely use it to renew your adult passport.

Finding Documents:

  • Except for people applying from New South Wales you DON’T need a birth card just your birth certificate to confirm your citizenship.
  • A birth card is an equivalent form of ID to a birth certificate extract. They’re ONLY issued in New South Wales but won’t be accepted after August 2013. So if you’re a NSW resident and can find your birth card submit that. If you can’t find/access it I would wager a bet that your birth certificate will suffice.

Photos:

  • Your passport photos must be taken at the post office.
  • Be picky about your passport photos: If there’s anything about the picture that obscures your face in any way (including excessive brightness/shadow, facial angle, too close up/far away) request new ones or go to a different post office. You will save yourself a lot of time.
  • Try to make the photo guarantor a friend you see regularly or who lives close to you. It’ll be less effort if you need them replaced.
  • The guarantor of your photos can’t be relative or housemate.
  • Make sure to keep your signature inside the box when you sign the application form! BERRY IMPORTANT!

Your Interview:

  • Call the post office to book your passport interview.
  • When you attend make sure to bring your application form, two endorsed photographs, your birth certificate OR citizenship certificate, other official identification documents such as your drivers license/proof of age card and the application fee of $238.00.
  • Try to smile – it’s so close to being over!

Other Australian passport resources/information:

  1. Apply for or renew a passport
  2. The Passport interview
  3. Complete list of passport costs
  4. Information on birth cards (at the very bottom)
  5. Photograph guidelines

[Feature Image credit: Handicraft by Agis]

[Image credit (1): Lord of the Rings]

What was applying for your Australian passport like? Leave a comment! Help other noob travellers by letting them know what to expect. ^_____^

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2 thoughts on “Renewing an Australian Passport

  1. Pingback: Hello and welcome…(!) | JaPlanning

  2. Pingback: Tips for visiting Japan | JaPlanning

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