Australians will have to pay an additional $65 for new or renewed passports from next year, adding to the cost of what is already one of the world’s most expensive passports.
2024 will in fact see two price rises above the current cost of $325 for a 10-year passport for adults, and $164 for a 5-year passport for those under 16.
The first will be the annual ‘cost of living’ increase on January 1, which is tied to the consumer price index.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ most recent CPI figures for 2023 reported a 5.4% rise, which would see the cost of the 10-year adult passport bumped up to around $340.
On top of this, Treasurer Jim Chalmers today confirmed a second increase of 15% or $50 would take effect from July 1, lifting the cost of a 10-year Australian adult passport to almost $400.
Chambers promised this “relatively modest change” would be a “one off”, and will raise $349m over three years to cover the increased cost of producing Australia’s super-secure ‘R series’ passports.
“The funds from this one-off are all about making sure we can resource our passport system to make them modern, and fit for purpose, especially at a time where there are ongoing threats to people’s security and their identity,” Chalmers told media in Canberra gathered for today’s release of the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook.
As long-time frequent flyers will recall, the government phased out the 66-page Frequent Traveller passport in 2017, with all Australian passports now containing 34 pages for immigration stamps and visas.
The Australian passport is currently ranked sixth on the list of the world’s most powerful passports, with Singapore in the top spot, followed by the many European countries and the UK, while the United States sits eighth on the ladder.
Australia’s new-look R Series passports
Australia’s R series passports – named for the first letter in the individual passport number – are packed with advanced security compared to the current P series introduced in 2014, with innovative features responding to touch, movement, ultraviolet and infrared light.
The photo page is made of a tough, high-security layered plastic that’s laser-engraved, not printed with ink – as a result, the photo on the main photo page is in black and white, although it appears in colour on the facing ‘Observations’ page.
A tactile raised map of Australia is embedded in the lower-left corner of the main photo, while a radio antenna for the embedded ePassport chip is visible at the far right of the page.
The front cover is more refined than the P series, while the back cover is decorated with two embossed kangaroos in Indigenous design, while inside pages showcase Australia’s natural beauty.
The inside front and back cover pages represent the country’s coasts – rather apropos, as that’s how all travellers enter and leave Australia – the blank ‘visa’ pages are decorated with photo-realistic double-page colour illustrations of iconic landscapes from around the country.
Under ultraviolet light, the sky in each image becomes a unique nightscape, and a local species of native fauna appears.
Other hidden features: the wattle on the ‘security features’ page changes colour when held at different angle, and under ultraviolet light a red and white wattle appears on the inside front cover, under the Governor-General’s message on the inside front cover.
Although the first batch of R passports saw the Governor-General’s message still referencing “her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second,” the Australian Passport Office is now issuing passports that reference His Majesty King Charles III on the inside cover.