With an estimated 2.4 million Australian passports now expired, Aussies are desperately attempting to renew their passports, with blown-out processing times threatening long-awaited travel plans.
Footage shot late last week showed long lines outside the Australian Passport Office in Sydney, with wait times of up to five hours reported on social media.
While the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trading typically recommends applicants to allow up to six weeks to get a passport, ongoing delays have seen passports taking weeks and, in some cases, months to be processed.
And it’s not just here in Australia.
Australians kept overseas during border restrictions face new delays in returning home.
The situation is so bad that an Australian in New Zealand with an expired passport looking to start the process this week would not be able to travel until mid-September – even for emergencies.
“From realising I needed a new one in February to getting it in May … it was quite the saga,” Adam Myers, an Australian citizen living in Wellington, told AAP.
Mr Myers’ story is typical of several people Australian Associated Press has spoken to in recent weeks.
Upon realising his passport was expired, the 41-year-old waited a month to get an appointment and then around six weeks for his new passport to return.
New Zealand’s strict border laws have contributed to Mr Myers not setting foot in Australia since February 2020.
While he’s itching to get home for a visit, there has been no pressing need to return.
“My parents are 70 plus … I didn’t need the passport as an emergency, but I might have,” he said.
DFAT says it has issued more than 1.1 million passports since June 30 last year – almost double the 2020-21 financial year.
The average wait time for a passport for locally-based applicants is 17 business days, though some Australians overseas are waiting longer than three months.
“DFAT advises Australians to plan well ahead of their intended travel dates, including checking their passport’s expiry date,” a DFAT spokesman said.
“Whether applying in Australia or overseas, customers should allow up to six weeks to get a new passport or renew one.”
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