The Department of Trade and Foreign Affairs (DFAT) is urging Australians to renew their expired passports or face lengthy wait times when international travel returns.
The department said more than 1.3 million passports have expired during the COVID-19 pandemic and 600,000 citizens delayed applying for their first passport, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
In fact, DFAT has sent about 1.4 million emails and texts this year to remind Australians to renew their passports.
A spokeswoman from DFAT told The Australian there was a significant increase in applications ahead of travel restrictions lifting in both the UK and the US, resulting in long wait times for keen travellers.
In July, Americans who needed to apply for or renew their passports faced wait times of up to 18 weeks, according to Bloomberg.
Meanwhile, the UK government is advising applicants to allow for up to 10 weeks’ wait time.
“While the department is doing everything it possibly can to prepare for a similar eventuality, longer than usual processing times cannot be ruled out,” the DFAT spokeswoman said, adding that some countries won’t allow visitors to enter on a passport that expires in less than six months.
Travel Weekly has contacted DFAT for further comment.
Australia’s international travel ban is set to lift in mid-November; however, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said NSW could allow international travel as soon as the end of this month.
Morrison said the NSW government is looking for ways to fast-track home quarantine in November.
The airline’s CEO, Alan Joyce, said he is expecting major pent-up demand from Australians keen to book overseas holidays.
“People are clearly keen to travel. We saw a 175 per cent spike in web searches in the week after we announced our plans, and we’ve seen strong bookings for December and January for our flights to London, Los Angeles and Singapore in particular,” Joyce said.
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