Check your passport's expiry date now, before overseas travel returns

Don't let your dusty passport stop you from travelling as international borders reopen.

By David Flynn, April 8 2021
Check your passport's expiry date now, before overseas travel returns

With the welcome return of international travel on the horizon, it's not only time to haul out and dust off your passport but to check its expiry date.

The reason? If your current passport expires towards the end of this year, you could find yourself unable to take that long-awaited overseas trip – including the first wave of 'travel bubbles'.

Most countries require that a visitor's passport has between three and six months of validity beyond their planned stay, or you can end up being denied entry upon arrival or even refused check-in at the airport ahead of your flight.

New Zealand, which is expected to reopen to most Australians from late April, is less restrictive in this regard.

For Australian passport holders, "your passport must be valid for enough time to allow you to travel to New Zealand," states Immigration New Zealand. "The passport must be valid on the date you are entering/leaving New Zealand."

(However, that won't be of much use if your passport has already expired, as we hear several people are now discovering as they rush to book their 'bubble' flights.)

But as other countries in Asia-Pacific region join the COVID-safe bubbles, your passport will need to have a longer use-by date.

Australians visiting Fiji need to carry a passport that's valid for at least three months after the date of their return flight; for New Caledonia, that stretches to six months.

Singapore also requires a passport with at least six months remaining after your return date to Australia.

So, step one: check your passport's renewal date now, to determine how far ahead you need to plan.

For example, if your current passport expires on December 31 2021, then should an Australia-Singapore travel bubble open in the coming months, you won't be able to visit Singapore if your return flight leaves after June 31.

Fast-tracking your passport renewal

The Australian Passport Office now allows what it calls "streamlined renewal", which even covers an expired passport: the only requirements are that your passport

  • was issued when you were aged 16 or older
  • has a validity, when it was issued, of more than two years
  • was issued in your current name, date of birth, place of birth and gender
  • is still current, or expired less than three years ago
  • and hasn't been reported lost or stolen, or been cancelled for any other reason

If you can tick all of those five boxes, then you need only lodge an application form (available online), two passport photos and your most recent passport, at either an Australian Passport Office or a participating post office.

It costs $301 to have a new passport issued, although that's valid for ten years.

Streamlined passport renewals will take three weeks to have that new passport back in your hands: if you need your sooner, an additional $220 for priority processing trims the turnaround time to a handful of days.

Unfortunately, all Australian passports are now a slim 34 pages since the government axed the 66-page Frequent Traveller passport in December 2017.

(Note that if your original passport includes travel visas for selected countries, you'll also need to pack that passport for each trip.)

For more information, visit the Passports.gov.au website.

Also read: How to make your passport last longer when running short of pages

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Good advice, and when more international destinations open up, be sure to check your ESTA and other visa-waivers in case they have also expired over the last 12 months.

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 361

I still have till january 2026 on mine but that means technically since i do overseas trips over christmas latest i can use it by is december 2024.i have to reapply sometime in january 2025.

P1
P1

24 Apr 2017

Total posts 76

Passports should be 10 years and 6 months, seeing as you can not use it in most places during the last few months of validity, and it takes a month or so to process the renew!

Either that or only charge us for 9 years and 6 months.

12 Dec 2012

Total posts 1014

The Australian government should also give any renewing a passport, that was valid during the time the borders were closed, a discount on the renewal equal to the percentage of time the old passport was unable to be used for due to their blocking of travel.

ie, they've barred the majority of Australians from leaving Australia for 1 year, thus they should give us a 10% discount on the next renewal.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Mar 2014

Total posts 192

Ive let mine expire for the first time,  wont be renewing it until i cant travel freely - probably 2022

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 377

Good advice, but realistically, we're not going to see much travel this year other than to New Zealand (provided you're already in Australia), so there is really no rush. In fact, unless you're going to New Zealand, it would be best to wait, otherwise you'll lose passport validity. Things have a way of being postponed again and again. Just look at the Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble, and the lengthy postponement of the "Phuket model" in Thailand and ditto for Bali. Until they actually happen, it's best not to get too excited.

I'm waiting until at least October to renew mine, and won't apply for my son's passport until at least that time too. Before that it's a pointless exercise as it's virtually 100% certain there won't be normal travel to Australia, including the lifting of quarantines for any other country happening. Even the last quarter of this year remains uncertain; it looks like 2022 will be the earliest for any relatively normal travel.

no

am going to USA in Nov & Jan.

Passports should have no expiry date. Same with drivers licences

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 377

Unless you hold a green card or are a US citizen, I don't see that happening. And if you plan on returning to Aus afterwards, expect to spend 14 days in quarantine.

I also tentatively plan to travel to the USA as soon as is practical, but this won't be before the 2nd quarter of 2022 at the earliest, in my estimation.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2502

Readers are reminded to keep their comments on topic and to add value to the discussion, as all new comments are now being moderated.

A shame the nice thick Frequent Traveller passport is no longer an option because you lose a whole page each time you have a visa pasted into your passport, and a lot of countries still use visas.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 377

Yes, that's true. If you hold multiple nationalities like I do, then you can always make use of another one of your passports. Some countries are still issuing frequent traveller passports, notably Belgium and I believe the USA. Thailand's standard passport has 66 pages, primarily because so many countries require visas or visas on arrival of Thai citizens. While Australians get access to something like 170-180 countries visa-free or with a visa on arrival, for Thais, it's perhaps half that number (based on pre-Covid rules). Hopefully this will be the case again, post-Covid too.

05 May 2016

Total posts 626

I’m torn between recommending a friend apply for a new passport when there’s about 6 months till expiry later this year or just waiting. Don’t really like the idea of paying for something that can’t be used to travel where we need to go. My friend is keen to travel as soon as borders reopen, but another friend renewed a passport last year only to then be denied an exemption to leave the country effectively meaning over a year of that new passport will be wasted.

Some clarity as to when the borders will reopen will be helpful but we won’t get that for some months at least.

Personally I have years left till my passport expires so I should be able to travel again on my existing passport.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2502

"Personally I have years left till my passport expires so I should be able to travel again on my existing passport."

That's a blessing! Alas, mine expires in August this year – if COVID hasn't happened it would be close to full and time to renew anyway, but of course it now has an embarrassment of empty pages :(

The nature of my work is that I rarely have more than two weeks' notice of trips, and that's not enough time for a passport to be processed unless I pay the $220 rush fee, so my current thinking is to wait and see what NZ trips eventuate in the coming months, and keep the passport at hand for such an eventuality (rather than submit for renewal and be without it for 3-4 weeks).

The next likely overseas destinations on my list would be Noumea and Singapore, which would both require solid forward validity of the passport beyond August, but bubbles to both of those might be a ways off, so I have a bit of breathing 

But once we get to mid-July and school holidays, those are weeks in which I almost never fly, so that's probably when I'll send through the passport (just as hols start, because the pre-hol rush will be over). 

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 288

A cousin works at the passport office, she says they've been flooded with applications this week following the announcement of NZ flights starting on April 19th, so many people have not needed to use their passport in 2020 and now opened it to find out it has expired. Apparently for the past year and even up to last month the "streamlined renewal" process was taking less than two weeks, now it's back up to the official "three weeks".

27 Nov 2016

Total posts 19

I discovered by accident that mine expires next week so am in the throes of the renewal process. I was going to delay but I do want to depart Australia this year at some point (& not to NZ) so I’ve had first jab and will be ready to roll once these two obstacles are complete!! Obstacle #3, the exemption, maybe a little harder to master!!

QF

03 Jul 2015

Total posts 16

Anyone notice that the passports are now not only expensive, but the larger size passport is no longer available?  A nice little money earner there.

Mc
Mc

BA

31 Mar 2014

Total posts 20

Big problems renewing a passport if you not in Aus. In the UK, whilst you can renew on line (in certain circumstances) you still have to travel to London for a 15 minute interview. Depending on your location that could mean lockdown for 14 days on your return to your UK address after visiting Australia House. Also imagine the cost of travelling to/from one of the Scottish Islands to London (which probably requires a hotel overnight). Our immigration department doesn't seem to be interested in Aussies overseas. Surely, given the problems with booking flights (which requires a current passport), there needs to be a relaxation or a more practical alternative to the 'in person'  interview requirement.


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