With many Australians eagerly planning overseas trips for 2022, there's been a rush on passport renewals – especially as would-be travellers discover their passport expired during the past 18 months it's spent sitting in a drawer.
According to the Australian Passport Office, it normally takes about three weeks to receive a passport – and we know it's actually taking quite a bit longer right now – but there are a few tricks which can ensure a speedier turn-around, even without paying the $200 'priority processing' fee.
Apply for ‘streamlined passport renewal’
Most Australians with a recently-expired passport qualify for the 'streamlined renewal’ process, which lets the Australian Passport Office reuse your previous passport record rather than begin from scratch with an all-new application.
Under the streamlined renewal scheme you only need to submit an application checklist form, two new passport photos and your most recent passport.
Streamlined renewal is available for adults (not children) with an Australian passport that
- was issued when you were aged 16 or older, and
- had a validity, when it was issued, of more than two years, and
- was issued in your current name, date of birth, place of birth and gender, and
- expired less than three years ago (or is still current), and
- hasn’t been reported lost or stolen, or been cancelled for any other reason.
(Why would you need to renew a passport that’s still current? Many countries won’t allow entry if your passport is within 3-6 months of expiring.)
With far less paperwork to be done, applications for a streamlined passport renewal sail through the system.
To apply online for streamlined passport renewal, begin by creating an account at online.passports.gov.au and you’ll be guided step by step through the process.
Lodge your passport renewal application at the GPO
It’s no longer possible to lodge your passport application at the passport office without making an appointment – and appointments are availably only “if you need to travel urgently for unforeseen compassionate or compelling reasons.”
Instead, passport applications must be lodged at a participating Australia Post outlet, and from there it can take a few days to reach the passport office.
But here’s a little-known trick: the GPO (General Post Office) in each capital city has a daily courier run which takes all passport applications submitted by noon straight to that city’s passport office, where processing can begin that afternoon.
This can shave days off the total turnaround time for your shiny new passport.
Collect your passport from the passport office
While passport offices are closed for applications to be lodged, they’re open (until 4pm weekdays) for people picking up their new passport.
If you live or work in the city, or can easily get to the CBD, then when completing your application for that streamlined renewal, tick the box to collect it from the city passport office.
With all the delays in the postal system right now, that could save you anywhere from a few days to a whole week waiting for your new passport to be delivered in the mail.
Pay the $220 priority free
Even those tips can’t guarantee your new passport will be back in less than the statutory three weeks.
If you definitely need it ASAP (because you’re planning on jumping on a flight next week), it’s worth paying the additional $220 priority processing fee.
This fast-tracks your application so that your new passport is ready to be picked up from the passport office in 2-3 business days.
But unless there’s that urgent need for a new passport, use the first three tips here – apply for streamlined rebel, drop off your application at the GPO and collect your passport from the passport office – will still see a much speedier turn-around than usual.