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Having just one Australian passport is sufficient for most travellers, but regular international jetsetters can actually apply to hold a second valid Australian passport, facilitating travel when the first is out-of-reach.
That’s handy when you’re waiting for a visa to be approved for one trip, but you need to take another in the meantime, particularly when that travel arises at short notice and can’t be delayed.
Holding a second passport can also be useful if a destination you plan to visit typically refuses entry to those who’ve visited a specific country, as you could keep those problematic stamps in your regular passport, and use the second, ‘clean’ passport for that trip (or vice versa).
Here’s what you need to know about qualifying for an Australian “concurrent passport”, and how to lodge your application.
Getting a second Australian passport: who qualifies?
Unlike regular Australian passports, concurrent passports are only issued when you can satisfy the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) that you have a “demonstrated need” to hold one.
For most business travellers, this would be to avoid facing significant travel delays by waiting for other visas to be approved, particularly when regular overseas travel is required at short notice and those visa applications can’t be timed around existing or likely travel plans.
In other words, if you’re required to jump on a plane at a moment’s notice, you wouldn’t be able to do that if your normal passport was sitting around in an Embassy or Consulate while a visa application was being processed, but with a second, backup passport, you’d be able to fly.
The other main reason for granting a concurrent passport is where a destination country will not accept a passport showing evidence of travel (passport stamps) or intended travel (a visa) to a specific country, an issue that can affect Australians who’ve previously visited Israel.
However, in this instance, the applicant would need to explain why obtaining a concurrent passport is a more practical and necessary option than simply renewing or replacing their regular passport, such as because that regular passport still contains valid visas for international travel.
DFAT advises that concurrent passports may also be issued in “other exceptional circumstances”, but notes that “granting of a concurrent passport is to be very tightly controlled and only approved where all other options have been exhausted.”
Validity of Australian concurrent passports
While standard Australian adult passports are valid for 10 years at a time, concurrent passports are only valid for between six months and three years.
If an application is made to facilitate a specific journey, the passport’s validity will generally be the duration of that trip plus six months, up to a maximum of three years (whichever is shorter).
Business travellers with “no defined end of travel” can instead be granted a three-year concurrent passport.
Keep in mind that some countries require a traveller’s passport be valid either for six months from their date of entry or six months from their planned date of departure, a rule that commonly affects passengers bound for Singapore which imposes the ‘six-month rule’.
As such, a three-year concurrent passport may only provide 2.5 years of uninterrupted global travel, if visiting countries that impose such rules, despite the document itself being valid until its expiry date.
Applying for an Australian concurrent passport: what it costs
Even though concurrent passports are valid for three years at most, the price you’ll pay to apply for one is the same as for a 10-year adult passport.
Currently, that’s $282 with the standard delay of three weeks, or $468 for fast-track processing within two business days, which includes the additional $186 priority processing fee.
Travellers applying for a concurrent passport purely because their existing passport shows travel to a country that could present issues on other trips, and who don’t necessarily need two simultaneously-valid passports, might consider applying for a replacement passport instead.
Since Australia no longer issues the larger 64-page ‘frequent traveller passport’, passport holders with at least two years of remaining validity can instead apply for a replacement passport at a reduced fee of $178.
This will provide a fresh Australian passport – by nature, with no travel markings on its internal pages – although the expiry date of the new document will be the same as the original, so consider whether applying for a new 10-year passport would be better value.
Of course, if the existing passport still contains valid visas, that’d be reason to take the ‘concurrent passport’ route, but just note, application fees are non-refundable should the request be denied.
Lodging an Australian concurrent passport application
If you’ve considered all your options and a concurrent passport looks like the only reasonable way forward, begin by downloading and completing this application form [PDF, 79KB].
Business travellers will need their employer to fill out the declaration in Section B, and to also write (and attach) a signed letter explaining and outlining the circumstances that makes the application necessary.
For the best chances of approval, the letter should also detail options that were considered in lieu of requesting a concurrent passport, such as renewing or replacing the existing passport or paying priority visa processing fees to best-utilise a single passport, and why all those avenues were unsuitable.
Business travellers with “no defined end of travel” might also consider including details of their recent trips alongside their request for a three-year concurrent passport, particularly where visa processing times proved an issue or where having two passports would have been highly advantageous.
When you’re ready to apply, contact the Australian Passport Information Service on 131 232 to request an appointment at your nearest passport office, and to enquire whether any other paperwork or information might be necessary to facilitate your application.
One final tip: Business travellers with an APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) should remember that these cards are tied to a specific passport number, so can only be used in conjunction with that same passport – not presented alongside a different document.
As such, if you’re planning to use your ABTC on an upcoming trip, but also need to lodge a visa application for a future journey around the same time, it’d make sense to request that visa in your concurrent passport, so that your main passport (linked to the ABTC) remains available for travel.