Australians are once again travelling overseas en masse, and from this month many of them will having their boarding passes tucked into a new-look passport.
Making their official debut today, the R series passports – named for the first letter in the individual passport number – will be progressively issued to applicants for new and renewed passports beginning this month.
However, until the end of 2022 “some passport customers will still receive a P Series passport,” advises the Department of Foreign Affairs.
The R series passports 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.
But recent events overtook even the R passport, with the Governor-General’s message still referencing “her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second,” the Department of Foreign Affairs explains.
“We will exhaust existing stock before issuing passports with revised text that reflects the accession of His Majesty King Charles III.”