Reportedly, the Department Of Foreign Affairs And Trade is currently experiencing a backlog of applications for new passports and renewals, and it’s no surprise why.
With international travel off the table for nearly two years and domestic travel repeatedly unavailable or heavily restricted over that time, it is little wonder many people will have held off obtaining new or updated passports. What is point of forking out hundreds of dollars for a document you can’t use?
But with most states nearing their vaccination targets governments are planning for the resumption of (somewhat) normal life, including a staggered reintroduction of international travel. Destinations popular with Australians like the United States, Bali and Fiji are set to be open for travel in the coming months.
In anticipation of this it seems many are getting their passports in order, and I am no different. So, let’s find out how long is it actually taking for passport applications to be processed presently.
My passport expired in early 2021 but I held off renewing for the simple reason that I had no pressing need for a new one. With no special trips planned I decided to renew it now anyway, since it’s better to have a passport and not need it than vise-versa. It’s also cheaper, as emergency passports come with a premium price tag.
So on October 13, 2021 I visited a local post office in suburban Melbourne and got my affairs in order. The previous day I had logged into DFAT to undertake a “streamlined” renewal. What this basically means is you provide your contact details and expired passport details, the DFAT system validates the data and you are issued with a two-page “checklist” to print out and take to the post office with you. It’s a pretty straightforward process and much quicker than applying for a passport from scratch.
The checklist is essentially a condensed application form, requiring me to provide current photos for the new passport (which the post office provided for an additional $19.95), sign the form and present the expired passport as proof of identification. They chop the front of the old passport in half, take my money for the renewal fee (currently $301) and hand me a receipt. I keep my old, massacred passport as a souvenir of how much neck and face fat I didn’t have ten years ago.
The new passport will be mailed to me in about three weeks, according to the helpful gentleman in the post office. The receipt he gave me said the same, suggesting three weeks is DFAT’s standard estimated turnaround time.
So, how is DFAT coping with its influx of post-pandemic passport applications? Apparently pretty well.
On October 22 – nine days after my lodgement – I received notification my new passport was on the way via registered post.
Given Australia Post has its own backlog issues of late, I wondered how long it might be before my new passport arrived. As it turned out, not very long.
My new passport was delivered on October 26, four days after dispatch, although this included a weekend so I can’t fault Australia Post’s performance on that one.
Essentially, it took 13 calendar days from lodgement to delivery for my new passport, substantially less than the three weeks advised by DFAT. When you take out the weekends then it has effectively taken them about a week or so to process my application, produce my passport and have it delivered.
Now obviously this turnaround time probably fluctuates pretty regularly depending on workload, but given the expected influx of applications around this time I cannot complain about the processing time. Anyone else looking to renew or request a brand new passport right now should do so with confidence that the wait time is nothing to fear.
Two weeks for a new passport? Given what the world has been through the last couple of years I tip my cap to DFAT for their efficiency. Many have expected them to struggle to meet demand by my experience indicates they are either exceeding expectations or receiving fewer applications than anticipated.
Now, with new passport in hand, I just want to use it! Time to book a trip? I think so!